10/17/2009

Now, What Did I Come In Here For?

I'm having a lot of trouble finding my words, lately. I wrote about something related before, in a joking way, but this is... a lot of the time, now.

I'm feeling such big things, and having deep reactions, and I know what I want to say... but the words don't come. I haven't written here, and there are many, many replies on unschooling email lists that I've wanted to write, and haven't been able to. Even on facebook, I start to update my status and the word that I need will be just out of reach. I can think of other words that start with that letter, or that end similarly. Sometimes I calmly wait until a substitute word floats its way to my mind, or sometimes I pull up thesaurus.com - starting from way, way out from where I want to be, 'cause that's as close as my mind will get, then circling in closer and closer through clicking on related words, narrowing it down, until: a-ha! That's it!

I'm mostly at peace with it; it is what it is. I am here, with whatever this space is of not finding the words I really want.

I was talking with my sister the other night, and we were joking about it (getting older!), and she said, it could be from lowered estrogen levels. Which makes sense, 'cause I remember those studies that said for every word that a man said, women said 3,000 words, or something like that. So a word-estrogen link makes sense to me.

It's taken me three days to write this post so far, off and on. I was commenting on someone's facebook status today, and it took about 5 minutes for the word "integrity" to come to me. I knew it started with an "i", and I could picture what I wanted, a wholeness...

And I'm so frustrated, 'cause I've wanted to write about being in recovery, no longer being in recovery, and Patti Digh's post today would be the perfect springboard for that - because of these words: "Sometimes I wonder how much we invest in our own woundedness when investing in our capacity for joy might be right at hand, just there, just on the other side of the glass." Because I stopped going to my 12-step group because I stopped believing I was broken, and that's where the groups met, at the broken places. No one in meetings saw me as whole, and OK. I want to meet with people with whom I can invest in our shared capacity for joy.

But I can't write about it, because the words are hiding from me.

I'll look into Estroven, which my sister told me about, and see if it's something I want to try. If I feel able, I'll do research on losing your words and what it might mean. (I'm also finding it difficult to read very much at a time.) I really, really wish I qualified for Medicaid, or yes, that we had a public option already.

I'll trust that I'm right where I'm supposed to be, for whatever reason, and work to see how I might not be here any more.

I'm wondering if, as a new me emerges, through life coaching, and looking inside, and growing - maybe this blog doesn't fit me any more? Maybe it's not the words, it's the container? I haven't tried writing too many other places, that might be something to look into.

Well, actually, yes I have tried, but I get frustrated and stop.

I also wonder, maybe I'm not supposed to be writing, I'm supposed to be doing. And be-ing.

I'll keep you posted, one way or another ~

Gassho

8/19/2009

What I Offer

In some past posts, I have alluded to starting a website - I'm working on that, and in the meantime I thought I'd write out here what I'll be offering on the site. If you're interested in any of these, drop me a line, or pay by clicking the "donate" button on the right over there, and indicate which you're getting in the paypal note.

Intuitive Readings

Do you ever feel a little stuck on an issue, like maybe there's an aspect you're not seeing? Have you sought clarity with something going on with you or in your life, and just weren't able to find it? I can help! I have the ability to connect and intuitively sense those underlying concerns, bringing them to your attention. I can offer insight after a short conversation with you that will help you bring a solution to fruition, or bring peace to a confused area.

This is NOT a psychic reading, I don't usually see the future for my clients. I have clairsentience and strong intuition, and I'll use those to help you! Blocks to your growth will be more visible, helping you to release them, and BE in this moment more clearly, allowing you to move forward in a beneficial direction.

A reading lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour, and costs $45. I will call you, and if you're outside the US, we can use Skype. Let me know if you have any questions!

I'm also offering a package deal, 3 readings for $115. You can use these yourself, spread out over time, or give a reading as a gift to a friend!

I have some testimonials, just a couple for now (I'm putting a bunch on the site):

I would not hesitate to refer people looking for a reading to you ~ Paul P

You picked up on details, and helped me find the answer I was looking for! Your insights are amazing, and very helpful. ~ Cindy K



Happily, because I finally, finally have the use of a car:

Drum Circles

I have been facilitating drum circles for several years. It brings me SUCH joy to reach and connect with people in this way. Drumming in community is SO powerful. If you haven't experienced it, I highly, highly recommend it. My specialty (every time I write that, I hear Wallace from Wallace & Gromit, saying, "It's our spec-i-al-i-ty.") is healing or intentional drum circles. I teach the basics of hand drumming if anyone needs that, we drum for a bit, then I lead a guided meditation. I rarely go in with a meditation in mind; usually, I just say what I'm seeing when I start, and go from there. After the meditation, we drum some more to send that centered healing energy out - or in, depending on need! It is always, every single time, a magical experience, and I am always, every single time, surprised and pleased by what happens. I have never led two circles that were the same. These circles are some of the best things I've ever experienced - and I get to make them happen! How cool is that?!

I am also very, very good at getting people drumming who have never drummed before, especially people who might be just a *teensy* bit scared.

I have done healing circles in the community, for women's groups, for spiritual gatherings, and for companies that wanted to offer wellness options to their employees. Drumming is proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, reduce burnout, and a host of other health benefits has been observed.

I have also led circles as a team-building exercise, for corporations or other groups - especially youth groups. I can, through the drum circle, emphasize and bring out any theme your gathering might have. I have opened and closed conferences with drum circles - it brings a group together in a unique, memorable way, and if it's the conference opener, speakers and presenters will start with reduced stress and greater mental clarity.

Pricing on drum circles varies, depending on how many participants, how long you want the circle to last, if I'll be drumming several times through the event, etc. Just send me an email, and let's talk about it! Right now, I'm prepared to offer circles within 50 miles of Charlotte, NC. I'm willing to travel farther, but a travel expense would need to be added to my fee.

I could write a whole lot more about drumming, but I'll stop here. Contact me with any questions!

Reiki

I am a certified reiki master. If you're not familiar with it, reiki is healing energy channeled through me to you, or whomever I'm working with. I was initially skeptical when I first heard about it, but was moved to take a class, and I loved it so much, I continued on to become a reiki master. I've had such incredible experiences with reiki! The word reiki is from two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy."

I channel this energy, and it flows to my client, being drawn to places of imbalance or low energy. I intuitively know where to place my hands. The feeling of receiving reiki varies from person to person and session to session, but over all, it is a refreshing, gentle radiance, restoring wellbeing and peace. It works on a physical, spiritual, and emotional level. Reiki can unblock and heal past hurts and wounds. I don't know of a single imbalance or situation that reiki cannot help. It is good, positive energy. You do not have to hold specific beliefs for reiki to work for you.

It lowers stress, and leaves you feeling centered and confident.

The work I've done with reiki informs my intuitive readings, and flows through my drum circles.

I can give you reiki in a session in my office here in Charlotte, or I can give distance reiki, at a time we'll agree on.

A reiki session lasts anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes up to an hour.

The cost of an in-person reiki session is also $45, and can be combined in a 3-session package for $115. For distance reiki, the cost is $35 per session, or $95 for three. Again, feel free to save those sessions for yourself, or give someone the incredible gift of receiving reiki.

So - those are the things I'll be offering on my site, and I'm very happy to be able to offer them now!

8/01/2009

Namasté, Veruca Salt

Sooo.... I've been working with a life coach, to help me reach some goals that I've had for a long time, but wasn't consistently working on. The few times we've met have been *amazing* and very, very helpful.

I can FEEL a shift in my energy. I'm waking up early now without setting an alarm, ready to start my day. I don't have as much patience for just sitting. I've always laughed when people have said, "I just can't sit still if I have things I can do!" I have never, ever, in all of my 43 years been that way. People have said, "I just can't relax!" and I completely could not relate. I have described myself as "Type Z". I have never had difficulty relaxing. But, suddenly - or, maybe not so suddenly (note the 43 years, above) - I am impatient if I know I have something I could be doing.

In terms of kundalini and chakras, a blockage has been cleared, and more energy is flowing freely.

I got in touch with a part of myself a few years ago, when I was actively looking at my history of cleaning, or not cleaning, which has long been an issue for me. I did an exercise from Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life, which I won't go into here, but had the result of me coming to realize that one reason I didn't clean, was because there was a part of me that really, really liked the idea of people being shocked when they came into my home. I am a peaceful person, and I usually bring calming energy where I go, so there was a part of me that really loved the idea, that people that had that view of me would come into my very messy home, and they'd be like, "YOU? Live here? In this chaos?!" I called this part my inner teen - very rebellious when controlled, full of fire and sometimes anger, strongly desiring to bring about change. I did some writing, and told my inner teen that I'd really like a clean house, that it's easier on us as a family if we can find things when we need them, that things would flow better in general if our space was clear. AND, we could create a very shocking piece of art that would go right on the wall, visible right when people walked in the door. So the same effect would be there, but our home would be clean.

A note about inner teen - This is also the part of me that, at one point, was wailing, "But when is it going to be MY turn? When can I be the asshole parent? People always said when I was a grownup, I could treat my kids the way I wanted, and it would be my turn! But you're here with your peaceful parenting, and listening, and honoring! I WANT MY TURN!" This part of me was resentful, and angry, that my kids weren't going to be subjected to the amount of control I had been subjected to. It took a lot of writing and working through that, to make peace with it. I think a lot of people want their turn at being the asshole parent, and that's where a lot of unschooling families can get hung up, if they don't do the work to look at that and let it go.

SO. There's my life coaching going on, and me having more energy, and working on a website for my intuitive readings, and drum circles. And my inner teen. Going, "I'm going to have this doughnut for breakfast! AND coffee! And you can't stop me! I don't care if it brings you down later, stops that energy. I want it NOW!" I talked about this with Laura, my life coach. I told her about Meredith, an unschooling parent whose son came to live with her after he had been to school, living with his birth mom, being controlled and judged and punished. He was angry, and was making some hurtful choices. At first, she tried to push her value of peace on him - then she realized she needed to meet him where he was, honor everything about him. They did things like buy him panes of glass to break, so he wouldn't feel the need to break windows. They asked, "What is it about breaking these windows that you need?" and they found a way for him to do that, without destroying others' property. I met Ray at an unschooling gathering, and he is an amazing, exciting, happy-to-be-alive unschooling teen. I have loved being privy to their journey, through Meredith's postings on unschooling lists.

Knowing them, and their story, is helping me with this part of my journey. Doing the work to get in touch with my inner teen is helping me with this part of my journey. Unschooling is life is unschooling.

When I told Laura about Meredith, and about my inner teen, she suggested I find a way to allow my inner teen to be of service to the bigger picture for my life. How can we take the passion, and anger, and fuel these changes I'm making - while honoring that part of me? I had set aside a few hours today, when I was going to get in touch, do some writing and exploring, and listening. Before I started that, though, I logged on to facebook, to say "hello" and see what my friends are up to today. Another friend named Laura had changed her profile picture to Veruca Salt, and she posted, saying, "my inner Veruca". I immediately heard Veruca in Willy Wonka's factory, face red, yelling, "But I want it NOW!", so I commented with that. Laura replied, "She is a powerful creator."

Wait. Huh? Oh! She is! She IS a powerful creator! And with that, I'm beginning to see how I can channel that destructive energy... I want my website NOW! And I want it to look like I want it to look!! But instead of looking to Daddy or outside myself to make that happen, I'm stoking my own engine with her fire.

I'm still going to write, and make sure I'm hearing my inner teen well, and meeting her needs, like Meredith has done. But, ah, the gift of Veruca, so unexpected, an image SO clear, it can't help but inspire me. She's not a bad egg, she just needed someone to help her channel that amazing energy, and desire.

I am loving how all these different aspects of my life come together, and how radical unschooling has fed me like no other change I've made in my life, how it teaches me to be present and listen, and honor. Not just my two sons, or other kids, but parts of myself, too, so I can grow up - at 43 - with a strong sense of centeredness, and groundedness, and self, and support.

And I love how when I set a goal and am determined to meet it, everything flows together to help that happen, even facebook.

Gassho ~

7/13/2009

123456789



Screen capture of a moment that happens only once a century: 12:34:56 7/8/09

I posted this on facebook, but Seth, who LOVED seeing this, asked me to put it here, too.

It was kinda cool.

7/12/2009

*Who* Needs to Get Fixed?


So, yesterday, we were supposed to get Chip neutered.

We have a free clinic here, if you don't have any other options, you can go there & get your pets spayed or neutered. They will also give a free rabies shot.

I had asked Evan's dad if he could give us a ride out there. He said he had to work, and I asked if he'd be willing to wake up a little earlier and take care of it beforehand. He said, "I'll have to see." He has a really hard time saying yes or no directly -- especially "no". I should have, at that point, called another friend to see if they'd be willing to wake up early on a Saturday and give us a ride. I asked him because I *knew* he was working, knew he'd be up fairly early anyway, and I could use his truck later, while he was working, to pick up the kitty.

That was a couple weeks ago, then this Thursday we basically repeated the conversation. I meant to call him Friday to bully my way into getting him to do it - not nice, I know, but I can see that's what I would have been doing. I totally spaced it! Forgot to call, until around 10:30 Friday night. I knew he'd be asleep, but left a message anyway, then got really, really stressed about the appointment.

If you miss the appoinment without at least 24-hours notice, they won't reschedule. They're very busy, and don't have time to deal with flakes. Chip is 8 months old, he's just about at the age where he'll start to spray if we don't get him fixed, plus I hope to have it done before testosterone floods his system; he'll be calmer and less likely to pick fights and wander. Of course, I don't want to add to the feral kitty population here, either.

I couldn't think of anyone else I could call that late at night, and ask them to get up at 6:30 to take us to the clinic. I decided to set my alarm, wake up early, and call him. He didn't answer. I left a message, waited a while, called again, no answer. It's hard for me to admit this, but I was kinda freakin' out at this point. I *need* to get Chip fixed, and I didn't want to miss this appointment! Finally, Ben answered, but there was no way, at that point, that he could take us and make it to work on time.

I was PISSED. At him, and at myself. Especially him, at that time. He knew I wanted him to take us there! He could have called on Friday, even if I forgot! He doesn't know what it's like to live with no car, dependent on other people! WHY couldn't he just say NO, right away, if he didn't want to do it? I was on spin cycle, big time. A big, mad, snotty spin cycle, because I started crying when I realized we weren't going to make it.

I was so angry with him! I actually posted as my facebook status that I was frustrated and angry at someone else's thoughtlessness!

WHAT?! It's like, somehow, there I was, mad at HIM! For no good reason! I had a lot of shoulds in my head - He should be here for us! He should want to help us! His truck's just going to be sitting in that stupid parking lot, all day!

I was also looking inside - what is this about? Why am I having a hard time finding acceptance here? It came to me: I felt powerless. I felt completely powerless in that situation. I wasn't, in actuality - I could have made other arrangements. I could have made sure to save up cab fare. Actually, I could probably rent a car for the day for what cab fare would cost, there and back. I made the choice to be dependent on someone who wasn't always dependable, whom I knew wasn't always dependable, AND who had never, ever said, "Yes, I'll take you", but whom I was going to push into taking me.

I vented in an angry e-mail to a friend, but still didn't feel much better. I left a sobby message on the clinic's voicemail (how embarrassing!), letting them know I wouldn't be there. I sent a much more composed e-mail later, asking if there would be any way to reschedule.

A couple hours later, Evan came running in to the livingroom: "Oh, no! Last night, I forgot about skipping Chip's food, and I fed the kitties!" He feeds them at night before he goes to bed, and I had reminded him not to feed them Friday night, that we'd feed Peanut Butter in the morning, but Chip couldn't eat because of his surgery. I also intended to pick up the kitties' bowl as a reminder, and had forgotten that, too.

I looked up - "Well, that worked out, because your Dad wasn't actually available to take us."

Oh.

If we had taken him in, there's a chance he would have gotten sick, and aspirated some of his vomit, and possibly gotten very, very sick, or died.

My anger dissipated. Not all of it - it's hard to look at the choices I made with any kindness towards myself - but my anger toward the situation as a whole did. My anger toward his Dad did.

It all worked out perfectly. If the clinic can't reschedule, we'll find other options for Chipper.

I'll look at the choices I made and, I hope, grow and change a bit.

There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening.

Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster. He begins to get upset and starts to yell, "Hey, hey watch out! For Pete's sake, turn aside!" But the boat just comes faster and faster, right toward him.

By this time he's standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat.



This is the classic story of our whole life situation. There are a lot of empty boats out there. We're always screaming and shaking our fists at them. Instead, we could let them stop our minds. Even if they only stop our mind for one point one second, we can rest in that little gap. When the story line starts, we can do the tonglen practice of exchanging ourselves for others. In this way everything we meet has the potential to help us cultivate compassion and reconnect with the spacious, open quality of our minds.

~ Pema Chodron, in "Comfortable With Uncertainty"

6/09/2009

Unschooling Meme


Picture by Pam Laricchia from the article Unschooling Passions


There's a list of questions going around facebook now, it started as questions for homeschoolers but they were very school-at-homey, with things like "What do your children wear to school?" or "Favorite subject?" or this weird one, "Sports, music, or art?". I weep for the homeschooled child who has to choose! Someone changed the questions around to better suit unschoolers. You can see the questions on Ronnie's blog. I chose to do just one question, question 5.

Here's my answer.

What kinds of ways do your family members learn about stuff these days?

I don't even think about learning any more. It's not something I can quantify, or say how it's happening for anyone other than me - and quite frequently, I can't for me, either. It's organic. It's in bits & pieces so small we don't notice.

It's in this or that conversation, chance meeting, or something we come across on google. I can say, "I want to learn the lyrics to I'm Yours" so I google that, but who can say what I learn along the way? I learn how sing365.com lays out and organizes their search function, I learn that lyricsmania has a bunch of pop-ups, I learn how to block pop-ups. I learn something from every visual image I come across - wow, that lime shade of green on that site looks really good with that blue. I learn Jason Mraz sings barefoot - or did at least once. I learn his drummer hits the drum differently than most people I've seen. Along the way, I'm seeing ads, links to other videos, etc. I can't tell you what I learned because it happens so quickly it doesn't make a conscious impression. Apparently, Land o' Lakes has a new half & half they're very proud of. I learned that.

I got this years ago, when, on a walk with Evan and the dog, Evan started talking about the origins of the universe, and different theories about it, and his thoughts about it all. I know he's never checked out a book from the library on the origins of the universe. He may have read a magazine article about it, but at that time, we mostly had Utne Reader, XBox, and Game Informer in the house. He may have seen something on Discovery or Nature or PBS or History, but I know we had never sat down together to watch anything like that - it's something I'd want to see! What I realized happened is that he had picked up a piece here, a piece there, probably not even consciously. All those pieces got put together in the joyous amount of free time he has to dream and ponder and BE, until he had this cohesive collection, and wanted to share it with me. He couldn't have told you where he learned it. Or when. I doubt he would have said that he had learned it. It wasn't a conscious thing.

That's what unschoolers mean when we say learning happens all the time. It doesn't mean at the end of the day we can list and quantify and sort out everything that was learned, neatly into school subjects. It means it happens like breathing, you can't stop it from happening. You can't tell when it's happening, because learning truly isn't separate from living.

That's one thing that helped me let go of controlling television - I saw in Evan's drawings how he used shading to create a mood, or changed his characters' eyes to show how they were feeling. He learned that through living with real people who interacted with him, but also through TV. Even if he hadn't been interested in drawing, I could see I could not tell what he was learning from watching. I wasn't able to get inside his brain, and even if we talked about it, he wouldn't have been able to tell me everything. The play of one character off another. The colors of the sets. How dialogue was working - or not working - to sound natural. Lots of people find farts funny.

We learn through all five senses, frequently the sixth, and through connection with each other. We learn from books, from magazines, from movies and TV and You Tube Poop. We learn from Barbies, from guns and swords and Bionicles and Legos. We learn through talking, through watching and asking, or waiting. We learn through cooking, shopping, eating, eliminating. We learn from driving or riding the bus or walking or biking. We learn by listening to music, or playing an instrument or singing or banging a rhythm on the table. We learn through living, whatever life looks like that day, whether it's a trip to Discovery Place and the library or a day of not getting off the couch because we're so hooked by David Tennant as Dr. Who we watch all the episodes on the XBox.

There are as many ways to learn as there are... people. Multiplied by infinite ways to learn. Learning's not an event, it's in every moment.

So I can't answer that question. The answer's too big for my blog.

5/26/2009

Sharing His Sole


Years ago, when I first got married, my husband would get SO frustrated with finding Evan's shoes in the doorway. He would say, "Why can't he take them off somewhere besides right where he knows we'll be walking?" or "Can he not pick them up and put them somewhere else?" Even though that was before we started radically unschooling, it didn't get to me at all. It was just something Evan did - I didn't take it personally or anything. I would just move them (when I remembered) before my husband got home.

Those shoes in the doorway have become such a loving symbol to me - every time they're there, I think, "Evan wants me to think of him," so I do, and I smile, and send love. I am so grateful to have him as my son; he has taught me so much, this boy who made me a Mama. I would not have started the parenting path I did had he not been so sweet and kind. If he had been a "typical boy" (what does that mean?), it's possible I would have put him in school and he would do OK, and we'd have the regular arguments about homework and time on the computer and video games... and shoes in the doorway.

As it is, his spirit was so great and he was so amazing (and still is!), I knew he needed to be nurtured at home, not forced to become someone he's not in order to fit in. His needs were the inspiration for me to grow, to question conventional parenting, and the impetus for us to make this amazing life.

A recent post on Always Learning made me smile:

You ed: (this was written to the list, but Pam Sorooshian in particular) wrote:

Stop thinking about changing "for good and not just for days or moments." That is just another thing to overwhelm you and you don't need that!

Just change the next interaction you have with the kids.

Stop reading email right now and do something "preventative" - something that helps build your relationship with them. Fix them a little tray of cheese and crackers and take it to them, wherever they are, unasked. Sit down on the floor and play with them. If nothing else, just go and give each of them a little hug and a kiss and say, "I was just thinking about how much I love you."

Okay - so that is one good, positive interaction.


Here's the link:

http://www.sandradodd.com/peace/becoming.html

That thing about the cheese and crackers really jumped out at me then, whenever it was (years ago, I'm thinking) that I first read it. The simplicity of it, the love and tenderness in the gesture. Such an ordinary thing, fixing a plate of cheese and crackers, and yet--and yet--

"Take it to them, wherever they are, unasked." Anticipating a possible need, showing love with action, not making a big deal or grand gesture out of it. It's an active kind of love that is thinking about the other person and putting yourself in his shoes and imagining what would make that person feel happy and loved.

I don't know why that post gobsmacked me the way it did the first time I read it, but it made me examine the best relationships in my life and appreciate the magnitude of the little things people did for me, like the way my husband always keeps our Brita water dispenser filled up. I don't even notice it & could easily take it for granted. I'm the one home all day drinking the water, but I bet I haven't refilled that thing more than five times in five years--probably times he was out of town. He keeps it filled up because he loves me. There are things like that I do for him, and for each of my kids, some things I was doing even before I read that post and started really thinking about how much love there can be in a simple quiet act like bringing a plate of snacks to someone playing a video game. Ever since I read the post, I think of it all the time, looking at my children, thinking, What kind of cheese and crackers could I bring them right now? It's figurative--"cheese and crackers" has become my mental code for looking for nice little things to do for my kids. Or sometimes if I catch myself starting to be cross or distracted, I'll think: "where's the cheese and crackers?" It's a memory-trigger for me, a reminder to be present and nice.

So now, when I see Evan's shoes in the doorway, I think of something kind I can do for him, then I go do that thing. His shoes won't be there forever! He's already 16. His shoes provide me with an opportunity to open my heart a little bit, spread a little bit of love & caring.

I am one blessed Mama.

4/29/2009

Baseball Cap Koan - part 1

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.



I got this hat several years ago - well, on the back is the date; it's almost exactly 5 years ago - at a wedding reception where I was bartending. It was at a country club here, one of Charlotte's oldest, home to Charlotte's "old money" and the Charlotte elite. I was working for a temp foodservice agency; basically, I was a "cater waiter" and I'd go wherever the agency needed me to. There were aspects of the job I loved - meeting all kinds of people, getting to go to all types of events, even if I was working. I enjoy bartending, too, and was good at it. I don't think I'd be so good at it now, what with all the new flavored specialty liquors out there. Watermelon-tini? What? But it was enjoyable, and I had lots of flexibility.

That business goes through phases, though, and there are times of the year when work is basically nonexistant. It surprises me, now, when I look back, at how little money I was making, and it was never consistent.

I kept this cap because I experienced something at that wedding that I wanted to make peace with. I was in a particularly struggly time, there had been very little work, I was behind on ALL of my bills, most pressing was the rent. I was so stressed out.

Anyway - I got this assignment, and was really glad, because it was a lot of hours, and sometimes at weddings, I might get tipped. People think bartenders always get tipped - not so for temps, especially in country clubs. A tip gets included on the final bill, but that tip gets divvied up among the permanent employees of the club who had worked the event; I'd never see a dime of it, even though frequently the temps were the ones doing the sh** work, the hauling and dumping and cleaning. But there was a chance! Sometimes out-of-town relatives who don't know any better will slip a tip in. We could not put up tip jars, we'd get fired if we did.

So, we got everything set up, and it was just hitting me, the contrast between the people who were celebrating, and my financial situation. Knowing that what they spent on one pair of shoes could have paid my rent for at least one month, those kinds of thoughts. Not helpful, really, but there I was. Running through numbers in my head - hmmm... club members have yearly dues, monthly minimums, for the wedding there was the cost of the space, the cost of the food, the staff, the band.

I was feeling resentful. I was feeling indignant. What good is it? I thought. If these people weren't spending their money on this stuff, they could donate it somewhere where it could really make a difference! I was judgmental, my friends, very judgmental.

I have to add, this was after I had called our housing authority here to see if I could get put on their waiting list for housing assistance. My plans to watch children after my husband and I had split did not work out, and I was living on very little income each month. I had no doubt I would qualify for help. I picked up the phone, made that call - and got laughed at. Literally, laughed at. I found out the waiting list was at least 3 years long, and they weren't taking any more names for it. I made the call in desperation, and was scared about what I was going to do.

I was not in a good place.

So there I was, at the wedding reception, watching the bride and groom hold each others' shoe up to answer cute questions, listening to toasts and the clink of silverware on crystal to make them kiss. The family was going to have a formal reception, with 250 people and dinner and drinks for 3 hours, then they were going to open it up for a more informal reception for 500, with passed hors d'oeuvres and open bars. While we were clearing tables and restocking our bars for the after-dinner party, the groom's mom came in with all these boxes. She'd had these caps made, and wanted to give them out to all of the guests, and could we help with that? Very nice baseball caps, with custom embroidery, the bride's & groom's name and the date on the back, how sweet. My stomach turned over.

What?! 500 baseball caps? And these were not people I could see wearing baseball caps, either. She said it was kind of a joke, because her son loved to fish so much. She was giving away 500 baseball caps... as a kind of a joke.

My head was spinning. Numbers were racing again - at a conservative estimate of $4 per cap, that was $2,000. Two. Thousand dollars. Rent for over three months. For a joke.

I HATED those caps. Hated them. I couldn't believe it. At the end of the evening, when she saw that lots of people were leaving their caps behind, she said all of the employees could each have one. My, how generous, lady.

I was pissed. Even more so, when I got home and looked up the brand of cap, and found out they were closer to $8 each. So - $4,000. For a joke.

I couldn't believe it.

to be continued

4/24/2009

Unschooling is Not a Method of Education

I was reading on unschooling basics this morning, and someone put into words something SO important:

While unschooling is considered, for the purpose of the law, to be a form of
homeschooling, radical unschooling is not a method of education. Its an approach
to living with children in partnership, as if school did not exist.

The phrase that helped make unschooling really click for me was a similar quote I first heard from Ned Vare: Unschooling is living your life as if school didn't exist. That helped me drop any expectations I had about grade level, who should learn what by when... it helped trip me over into living more authentically with the boys, more in the moment.

There are so many more aspects of unschooling, of course, but I wanted to pull that quote out and save it.

4/22/2009

Another Day in Paradise

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.

I don't talk about my work very often - as in, the thing I do Monday through Friday for pay. Part of the reason is that I believe my real work in this world is being with the boys, unschooling with them, guiding and sharing with them: they are my priority.

Also? It's kind of a tough job, in some ways. Mentally, emotionally tough. I know I have it easy compared to, say, a coalworker. I work for a non-profit that helps connect people with affordable housing. It started out as a small company, just locally here in Charlotte. A man (now my boss) thought the internet would be a great way to let people know what affordable housing options were out there. To hear the story of how the company started... it's magical, in a lot of ways. It started with, literally, a dream that my boss had, and has plenty of the right people being in the right place at the right time. Coincidences, some people call them.

The company has grown a LOT - we're now in 26 states, and we just got the contract for another one. Shortly after the site was launched, we started partnering with the housing authority here, to list the homes that were available for section 8 rentals, and because we do that efficiently and very well, we just keep growing.

I am very, very lucky to have the job I do. It started with an e-mail from a friend, they were looking for someone for maybe 10 - 15 hours a week, in the office. I talked to the owner, went in for an interview. My boss makes a point of hiring people who need some stability in their lives - people out on work release, people who are in recovery, people who need a second chance. I have heard story after story of the gift this has meant to some of my coworkers, and my boss is proving something: give people some trust and some responsibility, and they'll pay you back with their loyalty. Our turnover is very, very low. We're a call center, and I don't know the average turnover rate for those - I know it's high! - but we rarely lose anyone. We hire people because we grow. It's an amazing company.

So, I was hired, and my second day in I realized the work was internet-based, and I asked my boss if I could work from home. We talked about that, and 3 months later I was set up with an office computer and phone at home, and I've been working for them for over 3 years now. I am SO grateful for the ability to earn an income while I'm home with the boys. Before this job, I was taking what I could get here and there, bartending on the weekends the boys were with their Dads, barely making it every month. A stable job with stable income has meant so much to us. The fact that the work itself is meaningful is a huge bonus.

I have the best boss in the world - he listens to his employees' ideas, everyone really feels like we have a stake in this company. There were months when the company was just starting out that he took no pay, going into debt to make sure his workers were paid.

The hard part? My job is answering e-mails, from both the property owners and people searching for homes. Here are some examples:

My son is disabled, and he's trying to make it on $516 a month from SSI. He needs a place to live.

My husband and I have been unemployed since last year. He has asthma and a heart condition. We were evicted, and have been living out of our van since September. His health is getting worse and worse, and we need a place to live.

It's just me and my two kids, I paid a man a deposit on a house, but he's gone and won't answer his phone and there's a note on the door saying it's been foreclosed. I don't have any more money, and don't have a place to live.

HELLO,MY IS ________ I AM THIRTY YEARS AND I HAVE FOUR CHILDREN AND NO JOB, NO INCOME,ALL SHELTERS OF ________ ARE PACKED NOT ACCEPTING ANY MORE FAMILIES BECAUSE OF LONG WAITING LISTS.I HAVE BEEN TO HOUSING AUTHORITY,THEY HAVE NO EMERGENCY HOUSING.MY PARENTS REFUSE TO HELP OUT I HAVE NO FRIENDS HERE THAT COULD HELP.ALL I KNOW IS THAT I AM VERY SCARED OF LOSING MY KIDS BECAUSE OF THIS SITUATION.WE SLEEP IN A VAN OUT AT WALMART SUPER CENTER PARKING LOT.HOWEVER,I HAVE A 5YEAR OLD,4YEAR OLD ,1YEARS AND A 4 MONTH.I HAVE BEEN OFFERED WORK FROM MANY PLACES THATS HIRING THE ONLY PROBLEM IS NO DAY CARE,THEIR FATHER IS NOT HELPING OUT ENOUGH.I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW CAN SOMEONE PLEASE OFFER US A CHANCE BY MOVING US INTO A HOME.

can you helping me with housing.ssievery month $740.i have a burglery charge.no money depost.please call me! .need help with medical,dentist

Hi, my name is _________. I was a Section8 recipient recently. I moved because the neighborhood I moved in I could not let my kids out to really play and people would just be in the yard and grown-ups were fighting in broad daylight with each other on the outside. The landlord refused to let me out of the lease, so I decided that I could just do it on my own. So I saved and left the property. At this time on my current job I am really struggling cant seem to make ends meet. I wanted to know if I would be eligible to reapply or what I would need to do in order to get on the waiting list. I am willing to do whatever I need to in order to reapply.

Hello my name is __________ and i am in need of assistance , i really need employmet i was layed off on my job. Now i cant pay my bills wich means i cant aford to live in my aparment anymore .Im just asking could your organazation could help me with my heartship.


Again, and again, and again. Every day, story after story after story. These were the tamer ones - I've had page-long e-mails, filled with everything that's happened to the family over the past year, in ragged, horrible detail. All ending with: Can you help? Is there help for us?

The answer? Really, really, often it's: I'm sorry, there's nothing in your rent range, or, everything in your rent range is on a waiting list. I can give you the numbers of some agencies that may be able to help.

In Charlotte, where I live, our section 8 waiting list has been closed for years. Years. People can't even put their names on the waiting list - that, at the time it was closed, was at least 3 years long.

Ironically, on the other side? I get e-mails, too:

My home has been listed on your site for 3 months, and I've gotten only one call. Am I doing something wrong?

I just wanted to make sure our property was still listed. It's been available for quite some time, and we haven't heard from anyone.

Do you have any suggestions for how to get our property rented? I've gotten 4 calls, but no one has come to see the property.

Plenty of properties sitting empty, plenty of folks needing housing, and rarely the twain shall meet. Actually, that's not true - properties are rented all the time, some people do find help. But it's hard.

So often what the people on the other end of the e-mail need is for someone to HEAR them, really hear them, and that person, because of my job, is me.

I won't be just another person shuttling them off somewhere else... well, I might need to shuttle them off, because of the limited service our company provides - BUT! They will know they were heard. They will know someone cares.

I don't know if that helps someone sick and tired, who really just wants a place to live. I hope it does. It's often all I have to offer.

4/20/2009

Risk

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.




And then the day came,
when the risk

to remain tight

in a bud

was more painful

than the risk

it took

to Blossom
~ Anais Nin

Resistance, resistance, struggling - but I just don't feel like writing. I'm tired of being on the computer! It's boring, anyway. No one cares. Do you think anyone cares?

I'm coming to find, it's less about the revealing of me, and more about the clever ways I can continue to remain hidden.

Because if I stay hidden, then I can stay safe. I can remain in my bubble, and not be touched by others - because, ultimately, connection with others leads to pain. Why would I want that?

That belief: "Connection to others means pain" was revealed to me during some intense coaching I experienced last summer. Since last summer, after being thrown for a loop and acting out in old ways - spending money I didn't really have, allowing the house to get ever messier - I kind of unplugged from connection.

I'd come out every now and then, but overall, I've stayed deep within. Stayed home more, asked for help less (with getting rides and things).

It's been an exercise in deep connection with the boys, because I can even keep myself "safe" from connection with them, too: staying on the computer when they're speaking to me, not making eye contact, thinking of a million different things rather than BEing with them when we're together.

That was the first thing I noticed, how I can still hide from them. So, the first thing I started changing. It's like a spiral, I've mostly been connected with them - but this is on an even deeper, more honest level. It's like - running toward them, connect, run away, run toward, connect even deeper. Since that session that kicked my ass last year? Lots of running, some connection. So, over the past few weeks, I've really been focusing on being present with them. Making what they're asking for a priority, whether it's a sandwich or snuggle time or a book or to share a youtube video.

It feels thrilling, this deeper presence. What strikes me most is, I'm Safe. It's OK. It's really OK, and better than OK.

It's how we were meant to live, and how I so rarely remember that.

I'm afraid something happened when I was little to make that belief - connection = pain - be what has dictated my choices, without my even knowing that. I am afraid if I open more, connect more, I'll reconnect with that initial pain.

I have to remember that even if I do, I'm safe now. I'm OK now. I'm 43, a grown-up, with a grown-up's power and choices in the world. Not only can I keep myself safe, I can keep my little self safe, too.

Pema Chodron has said, 'Typically what happens when we experience pain is that our habit of avoiding pain gets stronger, or the pain gives birth to other sorrow-producing habits based on the fiction that there's something wrong. But when you taste experience fully... the doorway opens into what I would call "a timeless now."'

She means - feel it. Feel the pain. Stop creating distractions from it.

So, I'll keep writing, even if it's stupid or boring. I'll be gentle with myself. I'll love those around me.

I'll keep blossoming, into the timeless now.

4/17/2009

Day mumble-mumble-mumble

Seth woke up this morning with a faux-hawk! Kinda-sorta.

I'm working on another post, but mercy me, it's boring to ME, and I'm having trouble being motivated.

So I thought I'd let you see what I'm privileged to be greeted with every morning:


4/13/2009

Day 18, because I say it is

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.

I was unsure whether to call this Day 18 - 18 days since the exercise started, or Day 13 - the 13th day I've written since the exercise started. I'm not calling it Day 1, even though I know I could. Maybe the thing I'm saying today is that I'm not so great at long-term commitment. Can you even consider 37 days to be long-term? Apparently I do.

I found myself dreading this morning, dreading Monday. I never thought I'd get to this point again in my life. I worked a few full-time jobs from the time I was 18 - I never really thought about it, I just thought that's what you're supposed to do as an adult, so I did. It was only after doing that, and seeing how soul-sucking and deadening it was, that I realized THAT life is not for me. The life of punching a clock (or being on salary), going to work five days out of seven, spending most of the day indoors, waiting for the weekend and my real life? Nope. But that's what I was doing when I got pregnant with Evan - biding my time, I guess, until I knew for sure what I did want to do.

After having Evan, there was no question - what I wanted to do was nurture and be with this tiny little person. I was actually surprised by that! I had figured I'd take maternity leave for ten weeks, then put him in daycare and keep working... because that's what people did. After I met him? There was NO WAY that was happening. I was a single mom when I had him, and I found ways to make it work - watching kids so I could be with him, working on the weekends when his Dad had him. We lived on next to nothing so I could be with him - I found a place to rent for $200 a month that was, admittedly, falling apart. It didn't matter.

It was during that time that I asked myself, "If I had all the money I needed, and all the energy I needed, what would I do with my life?" My thought was - and this was before I had read anything about Law of Attraction - if I know what I would do with all the resources I needed, I can find a way to do it now. What I wanted to do was be with him, be there for him.

I also found out - because I am a champion navel-gazer, people!, always questioning my thoughts - that I didn't WANT to work. I wanted to be taken care of. At the time, that seemed like something to fix: why would I not want to take responsibility for my life? How immature was I? In the intervening years - marriage, another child, divorce - I have grown so much in that regard. It was actually shortly after our separation that I got - really, really got - that I was responsible for our lives. It was on my shoulders. Man, it took a lot of growing, a lot of making bad choices, etc. But I'm definitely in a different place with all that now than when it was just me and Evan.

The problem I'm having - I'm not living the life I want anymore. I want more. When I got the job I have now - and I'm planning a post about that soon, my job and what I do - it was meant to be 10 - 15 hours a week, in an office. I went in on my first day and realized I could do the job from home, so a few months later, I was set up with a company computer and an office phone, and here I've been, ever since, for three and a half years. My duties have changed, my hours have grown. For years, I struggled with not making enough money each month - pay one bill one month, one bill the next, always trying to stay just ahead of the cut-off... I'd get really far behind and ask friends for help. I managed my money poorly, on top of under-earning. What a mess! But for the last year or year and half, I've kinda gotten it together. I pay my rent on time, and now, most other bills, too. I earn enough each month - well, combined with child support - to pay our bills, get groceries, etc. We're not in a totally secure place, but much, much better than it's ever been.

But in gaining that security? I lost time with my boys. I've lost some connection with them. I didn't even really GET that, until we moved last year, and my office is in a separate space from them. We were all in one room at the other place - the TV, game systems, books, computer, drawing stuff, toys. I struggled with it being quiet enough when I made phone calls, so I was glad to get a separate office here. But in doing that, I realized how much I'm not here. I actually wasn't at the old place, either, but because I was physically in the same space I didn't realize it. Now? I feel so separated from them, for large chunks of the day.

My dream? Man, it's been a long time since I've asked myself what I would do if I had all the resources I wanted. But without looking inside too deeply, just off the cuff here, I'd say - to have more free time with the boys. To have resources we needed to travel more, be with other unschoolers more. I don't even have a car! I'd want to explore wherever and whenever they wanted to explore, and we'd have time, too, to just hang together. I'd also want to share drumming with more people, promote my drum circles.

I am a gifted intuitive reader. I know this. I've had success giving people readings, been told that what I "saw" was right on - and beyond. I want to study this, get stronger, find a mentor. There is so much healing I could offer - if I dared. I haven't taken one step to promote myself, or find support for learning.

But I can see that life - I could learn to give effective readings, earning enough each hour so I could take care of our needs, but still have plenty of time for us. With phone readings, I could give readings wherever I went. I'm not feeling that rush of excitement as I write this, meaning - maybe this isn't what I'm meant to do. Or maybe, it means I don't trust that I would be good enough at this any more. It's been a while since I've done any readings.

I feel stuck, and scared, and frustrated. I'm not finding the gratitude right now - gratitude for my current job that has allowed me to work from home, and gain some security. Gratitude for an incredible boss, and work that makes a difference. Gratitude for the fact that any time I want, I can step outside, plus, my office has HUGE windows on both outside walls. I went downtown this past weekend, and I was walking in the overstreet mall - there are offices where people don't even SEE the outdoors!! Every single day, in this artificially-lighted place with no windows! I've got it good, compared to those folks.

But I want more. I want the life I want. I want to not dread Mondays.

And I'm feeling unsure about how to get there, out of touch. Which means it's time to look within again, time to re-prioritize, time to figure out the next step, tiny step to take. That's all it takes, most times, one small step in the direction of your dreams.

Maybe one small thing every day for, say... 37 Days? Hmm... someone should write something about that.

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." ~ Thoreau

I've learned that even if one flails awkwardly, full of self-doubt and insecurity, in the general direction of her dreams, that's enough to start. It wouldn't sound as good on a plaque, but it works.

I first wrote that imminently quotable quote on a comment on a post by Christine Kane. In remembering that, I looked up which post it was - and found one way out. Wow! I've read the answer... two years ago! Answers really are everywhere, once you start looking.

I'm feeling overwhelmed, unable to pull this off. Once again, I'm wishing someone would come in and help me.

And again, something I read by Steve Pavlina - posted this morning, how's that for good timing? - is offering hope. I just need to get out from the overwhelm just enough to take that first step. Or take it even in the overwhelm. Maybe that's it.

4/11/2009

Day Which?

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.



So, I write that I haven't had a date in forever and a day and what happens? I have a date.

Out of the blue, unexpected, really fun.

And listen to how it happened -

I had won tickets to see DanceBrazil by entering an e-mail contest. Neither of the boys wanted to go, so I invited a friend whom I thought would really love it. The show was on a Sunday night; she decided to go out of town the next week so ended up being unavailable, and I couldn't find anyone else to go.

I seriously thought about staying home... I have that problem sometimes: it's nice at home, I like it here, I love being with the boys and the dog and the cats - BUT - I thought: Go see the tiny ninjas! So I went, thinking I could give the extra ticket away. Well, every single person coming through the door was part of a couple. Couple, couple, couple - oh! Here comes a single person! Oh, no, wait - they're meeting THAT person... couple, couple, couple. FINALLY, a single woman walked through the door, and I asked if she needed a ticket - nope. But someone overheard me ask, said they needed a ticket, I gave it to 'em, they were really glad it was free... great!

Oh, DanceBrazil was incredible. Incredible. Just beautiful - very athletic. Every single dancer was so muscular and toned, their whole bodies. And the drumming was great to watch! There are videos at the link I posted above, and on youtube - check 'em out! During the break, the gentleman who got the ticket and I started chatting, and it ended up he lives in Portland, Oregon. He had a conference in SC, and decided to bookend the conference with a stay in Charlotte the weekend before and the weekend after - just to go somewhere he'd never been, check it out, see what it was like. I gave him some ideas for things he might want to see when he was here, and we chatted just a tiny bit...

Then, this is SO unlike me - I gave him my number just as the second half started. It just felt like the thing to do. I said, "I don't mean to be forward, but I can look into things going on next weekend, and if you call, I'll let you know what's happening." And you know what? I have cards, with my name and that I'm a drum circle facilitator, and my number and e-mail address, but I *never* remember to put them in my purse. So, as a friend reminds me, basically I don't have a card, because I don't have them with me when I need them. I ripped a page from the program and wrote my number on it. He handed me his card.

I had to leave the concert early, because the bus runs only once an hour on Sunday nights, and I didn't want to be waiting at the bus station for 45 minutes late at night.

So - long story short, he called, we had dinner last night, and we chatted. And chatted and chatted. And then talked. We were at the restaurant for close to 3 hours. It felt like - there was no pressure. I was so at ease, I didn't feel like I needed to impress him, it didn't feel like he was trying to impress me. We just... got along.

It was really, really cool. As I said on my facebook page, I think I like this dating thing. It was very enjoyable.

I can no longer say it's been five years since I've had a date. phew

I have no grand plans for this person, we will probably stay in touch 'cause it was a fun night... It was enjoyable in the moment. I don't need for it to be anything else.

4/07/2009

Day 11

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.

Saw this on Madeline's blog, and couldn't resist.

I am from a bunk bed shared with 2 sisters, from cornbread in milk, and biscuits with molasses eaten with weak hot tea.

I am from the country, cows across the road, buggy summer nights and the hum of the fan in the window.

I am from the cherry tree, the dogwood, the pink and white azaleas bursting forth each year. I am from earthworms and lightning bugs as friends.

I am from Sunday dinner at Grammy's, from Monopoly played as quietly as we could and the old Royal typewriter with its letters on long metal arms, from That Room We Could Never Go Into and the front porch glider.

I am from the silence, and no crying or laughing, from no talking during the evening news.

I am from the rural mountains of Maine, from outhouses and bathing in streams, and sleepovers with cousins.

I'm from Charlotte, NC and Mobile, Alabama, from sweet iced tea and practicality so rigid it sang when plucked.

I'm from a Methodist Church that we never talked about, from Jesus Loves Me and the youth choir, from revivals where I fell in love with God.

From two sisters, and Barbies, and a lavender room with lavender pillows, curtains and bed shams. From my sister and I making our oldest sister miserable, hiding under the bed to surprise her, from our old playhouse built by my father's hand.

I am from one old picture album, pages and pictures falling out, from stories told with laughter until we catch each others' eyes, from shared understanding of what was.

4/06/2009

Day 10

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.




Years ago, I realized that whenever I would tell a lie, what I lied about would somehow end up coming true - if I said I was sick and couldn't do something just to get out of doing it, invariably, I'd get sick a day or two later. If I said I was late because my car broke down? Yep, my car would break down within a week.

I don't claim to know how the universe works; at the time, I looked at it as Some One Larger Than Me was moving things around so I wouldn't be a liar. I've read things since about the Law of Attraction, words being powerful, etc. In the immortal words of Bill Maher: I don't know. I don't know why that used to happen.

I do know it helped me stop lying.

Last week, I overheard Seth playing on XBox Live - he was telling his friends that we had Oreo cake, that he loved it, and that his mom made it all the time. All of which are wishes on his part - I never even knew such a thing as Oreo cake existed. I didn't tell Seth I overheard him or ask him about it; he has always been a champion story teller. This past weekend, I came up with a recipe for Oreo cake that I'll try later in the week - white cake with crushed Trader Joe's Jo-Jo pieces mixed in, or deep chocolate cake (I haven't decided) and creamy Jo-Jo-flecked frosting. I want to surprise him with it, and I love that he doesn't know I overheard him. There it will be: an Oreo cake! (the no-high-fructose-corn-syrup version)

It wasn't until today that I remembered what used to happen when I lied, before I learned to be honest, just me, unadorned. I used to feel cared for in a way when I'd get sick or my car would break down after I had lied about it. Like Some One was saying: I won't let you make that mistake.

This isn't exactly the same thing, but it feels right to do this for him.

But, really? It was mostly me, going... Mmmmm.... Oreo cake.

4/05/2009

Day 9

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.

Why I don't want to cut my grass:

I'd have to behead all these tiny lovelies:

Bunny food!












You wouldn't believe how teeny-tiny these flowers are






Why I must cut the grass:

The cats bribed the dog into breaking trail for them so they could find their way back home from the back yard:

4/04/2009

Day 8

This was my day yesterday: Wake up and snuggle with Seth, read some books together, watch him play Zelda, then work. At lunchtime, hang with Evan and Seth, fix their lunch, watch a few more Chuck Jones cartoons we had DVRed, go get groceries. Return home, watch a video on YouTube Evan wanted to show me, make a smoothie (pineapple, strawberry, spinach); share half my smoothie with Evan, hang with Seth while he plays Castle Crashers.

Get violently sick, go to bed.

Is there anything worse than that sudden pounding headache, hot, flushed feeling, and general woozliness that lets you know you're moments from throwing up? Maybe the throwing up itself.

It must have been something I ate - after I slept ALL night (with a few moments here and there to get a movie-on-demand for the boys and pay for their pizza when it arrived), I feel OK today. The only thing I had that the boys didn't was a little sample salad at Trader Joe's - would just a little bite of salad cause all that?

That was my Day 8.

4/02/2009

Day 7

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.


I make what the boys and I call Cheezburger kitties - submissions to the I Can Has Cheezburger site. They haven't picked any of them to feature on the site, but it's fun coming up with them!


Awww, my first one:

funny pictures



Seth came up with this one:

funny pictures



I couldn't believe they didn't pick this next one! Guess the Requiem for a Dream reference was a bit much. The kitty doesn't really look like Ellen Burstyn anyway -


funny pictures



I really like the next one of Evan along with Seth's Christmas kitten, Chip:

funny pictures


I also can't believe the following didn't get chosen:

funny pictures



And this next one I just made today, after seeing the picture on a friend's facebook page:

funny pictures


It's just something goofy I do, that I don't tell many people about. Because now, people will think a) I'm a crazy cat lady or b) I live and breathe the I Can Has Cheezburger site, and won't rest until they pick one of my entries.

Neither of those is true. Completely, anyway. ; ) I'm learning to embrace my goofy, non-hip self.

I love the site 'cause it makes me laugh frequently - here is one of my absolute favorites:


wash me


Still makes me laugh.

4/01/2009

Day 6

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.



I was going to write more on my concert list yesterday, but Evan needed the computer and I had already been on here for EVER (My emphasis, not his - I had worked all day online), so I cut it short. I didn't get to explain that I was posting the list to look for connection, so maybe people who read it who liked the same artists could let me know. I was going to write about the concerts where I felt that heart-level connection that happens at concerts sometimes. It wasn't just going to be a long list, it was going to have context and meaning... But all I wrote was the list, and it was hard to click "publish", because without the context - what would people think? Then I realized the whole exercise of this 37 days is to de-emphasize what others are thinking - I'm me, and I know who I am, so people can think what they want!

So, today, I thought I'd write out some of the brain chatter I've been hearing.

Oh, my God, you are such a loser. Who cares which concerts you've been to? That big list looks like an exercise in egotism, that's what it looks like. What are you - showing off? Not to mention, this whole thing, the whole writing about yourSELF thing... for 37 Days?! Come on. Surely you could think of something different than that! Good grief. Do you really think this is going to change anything? Do you really think anybody cares? Someone called you brave for doing this. Ha! Brave? You know who's brave? Firefighters are brave! People who go into burning buildings to save others are brave, not someone sitting on their ass, typing at a computer.

Isn't that lovely? I hear it, and I breathe, and I say, "OK, brain, you think what you want. I am at peace." And repeat about a hundred times.

Yesterday, I sent Lev Yilmaz a facebook friend request - and he accepted. I've written about him before, here. He had a new video, and I watched it, and uh... googled him... and found his facebook page. (I've got a little crush. He's kind of amazing.) So - when he friended me - I was all: Eek! I need to change my profile information! I need to look really cool! What should I change? What should I put as my favorite books? Should I put up a new profile picture? Oh. my. God. He's going to see the link to my blog, and click over and see that totally egotistical list of concerts! And - there was no context!

I want him to like me.

So, uh, yeah, his facebook page, wherein he has many, many fans, many of whom are women with crushes. And I was worried about what he was going to think. Of me. It's like... a little crazy. Just a little bit nutty.

Again - breathe. "Thank you for those thoughts, crazy Caren. I appreciate those thoughts. I am at peace." I gave myself a good laugh with that one, at least.

Another good laugh - I had a dream last night, where I was working in some kind of restaurant/cafeteria place. Part of the dream was that I was caught stealing food so I was fired. In the dream, I was really, hugely overweight. I woke up feeling awful. In my dream, I was scared and sad - how was I going to pay the rent? What was I going to do? How could I tell the boys? And - I was angry! Even though I was the person stealing food, they didn't really have proof! How could they think it was me?

So when I was thinking about my dream this morning, trying to shake off that panicky, yucky feeling, I saw it clearly: Me, quite largely overweight, going, "How can they know it's me?" Oh, boy, I cracked myself up with that. I'm still chuckling.

3/31/2009

Day 5

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.

A partial list of the concerts I've been to, in no particular order:

The Kinks
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Yes
Elton John
Simon & Garfunkel
The Cars
Cheap Trick
Harry Chapin
The Grateful Dead (many, many times)
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Billy Joel
Lou Reed
Christopher Cross
Adrian Belew w/The Bears
Adrian Belew (solo)
Richard Thompson
John Cougar
Tom Chapin
The Eagles
Pink Floyd (with Roger Waters, before the split)
The Who
Heart
James Taylor
Paul McCartney
John Denver
Tom Petty
The Allman Brothers
Little Feat (many times)
The Rolling Stones
Steve Miller Band
Bonnie Raitt
Talking Heads
Jeff Healey
Roger Waters
Mary Chapin Carpenter
John Fogerty
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Eric Clapton
David Bowie
Fleetwood Mac
Phil Collins
Michelle Shocked
Robert Plant
R.E.M.
Joe Satriani
Jerry Garcia Band
Phish
Nanci Griffith
John Prine
Peter Gabriel
Robert Plant
The Go-Go's
Linda Ronstadt
The Bee Gees
Rod Stewart
Dar Williams
King Crimson (w/Adrian Belew)
Carlos Santana
Catie Curtis
Patty Griffin
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones (the first time I saw them was also my first acid trip. Holy moly.)
Jimmy Buffett
U2
Neil Young
Sting
Medeski, Martin & Wood
Doc Watson
Paul Simon
Loudon Wainwright III
Allison Krauss
Emmylou Harris
Reel Big Fish
Steve Vai
Amy Steinberg
Laurie Lewis
Duncan Sheik

That's the big, national acts; I've seen many, many local singer/songwriters and bands, too.

There's nothing else like live music.

3/30/2009

Day 4

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.

I haven't had a date in 5 years. (And that's had in all senses of the word.)

There are reasons, sure, but, actually it's something I don't think about that often, until I do think about it, then it seems sad and unnecessary. So I just don't think about it that much.

After my husband and I separated, my heart got broken, big time. You'd think an ended marriage would do that, right? Well, this was after the marriage - Though if I'm being honest, emotionally, it started after my husband and I decided to separate, but before we actually did. The relationship was intense and passionate, over the phone and IM, anyway, since it was a long-distance thing. I have never been left feeling the way I felt over this man - I was, literally, curled up on the floor in pain when it ended. It took months - months! - for me to even hear his name without going pale. He didn't treat me so well. I didn't even look at anyone for over a year, because of the pain I'd been in. That had never, ever happened to me before, in the twenty-something years I'd spent dating, I had never, ever been in so much pain because of another person before.

It was a growth experience.

So it took a several years before I even wanted to date anyone. After that... well, I'm just not in circles where I'm gonna be meeting a bunch of people. I would have to put myself out there, and I don't feel comfortable doing that. Maybe it's that I don't want to be vulnerable like that? I'm not sure.

I did get together one afternoon, with a former boss. We stayed in touch after my temp job was over, he was smart, and funny. We e-mailed about little things. One day, he asked me for coffee, just on the spur of the moment. I went - it didn't feel like a date. I was open to dating, but this just felt like... hanging out. We had good conversation, we laughed... and he never, ever e-mailed me again, nor did he answer mine. OK - I saw the Sex & the City episode and read the book - He Just Wasn't That Into Me, I can handle it. But it was weird.

A good friend - very, very dear friend - says it's 'cause I'm SO awesome, he was intimidated by me. Ha. I'll go with that.

Then there was Handsome Married Man. Um, married. And, really, I've gotten to know him better since my infatuation, and I'm very glad we were never together in that way. I've also gotten to know his wife better, which I highly recommend if you're ever interested in a married person - get to know their spouse. Because she's a lovely, brilliant woman and I wouldn't want to do anything to cause her pain. Not to mention, I can easily see she's the glue in their family; she helped make him into the beautiful man he is. I don't need the pressure to be that for someone.

I'm not interested in finding a step-parent for the boys, I think a marriage and separation are a lot to deal with already (I was a single mom when I met my ex-husband; he and I had Seth together). I don't think I want a relationship relationship, just because I can't imagine meeting anyone special enough to introduce to the boys. But a date might be nice. Friends with benefits, maybe?

Except for those dates with John Cusack in my head, or that dalliance with Liv Tyler, I've been alone. I like being alone, there's a lot about it that suits me, but I get lonely sometimes. And I think I have a lot to offer, too, in the way of friendship and support. And - I'd kinda like to get laid. That would be a good thing.

Who knows? I'm open to meeting someone, but not interested in pursuing anything. I'm incredibly picky. I hope if someone is ever interested in me, that they're incredibly picky, too. I'm starting to feel restless on the weekends that the boys are with their Dads, it's starting to get on my nerves to be at home with Food Network or Netflix, me and and the dog and the cats. This could be the year!

Or not.

(No wonder I haven't had a date!)

3/29/2009

Day 3

At the prompting of Patti Digh (and life, and timing, and the universe), I'm doing one thing every day for 37 Days, and sharing that journey here. You can read about what I'm doing in this post.





So. Well. I pray the rosary. As in, the Catholic church one, with the beads and Mary and all. I am not Catholic, nor was I raised Catholic. When I started, I had to google to see exactly what the rosary was, and how it was said.

It started a few years ago... almost 3 years ago, now. I do have a regular meditation practice (hi, Deirdre! It can change your whole life! But don't think about that, OK?), and when I meditated, I would frequently see Mary, right in the center of my heart. Yep, that Mary - mother of Jesus. I was surprised the first time I saw her! But the love I felt was so intense, and the peace so profound, that I welcomed her... well, I welcomed her with an open heart.

I have a little history with Mary, which I'll have to tell you about in another post. Hmmm... that's two "other posts" I've found to do, and I've just started this writing every day thing. Cool!

She wasn't a complete stranger, I'll just say that for now. We (my mom, sisters and I) attended a Methodist church when I was growing up, but it wasn't something we really talked about at home. We stopped going to that church when I was about 13 or so, and I never really thought about faith, religion, or spirituality at all until I was around 23 or 24. And wow, *there's* several stories there, or maybe it's all just one big story, about my awakening and exploration at that point. But none of that involved Mary at all - for me, personally, anyway. On a conscious level.

I don't identify as Christian - I'm Unitarian Universalist. I won't go into detail about my beliefs, here, but I do think Jesus is a pretty cool guy, who had some amazing stuff to teach.

Anyway, so I would see Mary, just kneeling - being Mary. This went on for months, then one day, I saw she was handing me something. What? What's she got there? I could see her, offering me something, holding it out. It was rosary beads!

My first thought? "I've gotta get some rosary beads!" Where do you even find those? Aren't they supposed to be blessed or something? I was out walking the dog the next day, thinking about all that, when I realized: she wasn't offering me BEADS, she was offering me: THE ROSARY. Bless my sweet little materialistic heart, it wasn't about the beads. Oh, I just laughed and laughed. Then called my sister, who had converted to Catholicism a few years before that. We had a wonderful conversation about the rosary, she told me her understanding of it - and she also said she believes it's a very, very powerful prayer.

I didn't get any beads (still don't have any, actually!), but I went online and found out about the rosary, and started saying it, with my little print out of what to say on which days, etc. right along beside me. I had said it for a couple of days, when one day, as I was saying it, I just started cracking. up. I mean, laughing until tears rolled down my cheeks. 'Cause you know what it says? Part of the words of the rosary are, "Holy Mary, mother of God..." Mother. of God. I mean: The Mother! Of Go-o-o-o-o-d. How freakin' powerful is THAT? If God is all, and God is love... and Mary is the MOTHER of God... Uhhh... That's somethin', right there. It sure is. And I feel like here's this secret that was kept from me for all these years, that here was a woman, and she gave. birth. to God. I mean, I know, spirit of service and all that, but - still. Wow.

I've come to believe that Mary is a protector of children, and a helper for families - among other things. I have received what felt like guidance after praying the rosary, and it's always, every single time, led to amazing things and a bigger life and more love.

I'm not suggesting to anyone that they need to pray the rosary - I just totally followed my heart on this one. I don't think about it very much, try to rationalize or mentally understand. I just know that praying the rosary brings me peace, and sometimes, a fire for love and an even-wider open heart, so I'm gonna keep doing it.

I think of Mary as a friend, now - which makes me laugh, 'cause I know some people make fun of people who believe in God by saying they have an imaginary friend. But Mary? She lives in my heart, and I can tune in to her vibe at any time, and her vibe is bright light and love and protection - and sometimes, anger and action, 'cause she's a mom, after all, and we gotta keep it real.

I've tried to write this post before, several times since I started blogging, but I felt like I'd be misunderstood or people would jump to conclusions about what it means, so I didn't, I was afraid. But in the safe space of this 37 Days cocoon, I can do it.

So I have.

Namaste ~