Saturday, December 31, 2011

T= Time teller

In the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, they talk about two different kinds of leaders who build great companies. A time teller is someone who builds a great company through the sheer power of will. They tend to be charismatic and demanding and although they create a great company, the company generally flounders upon their exit or death.

The other kind of leader is a clock maker. They build companies with a good solid base of principles. They can be charismatic but often are not. The companies they build are resilient and can bounce back from years of not doing very well.

I could not help but start to form the idea that families function in this same way as well. It got me wondering if I as a parent am a time teller or a clock maker. And, if I am a time teller, how do I shift over to being a clock maker instead? What attitudes would I need to change, what choices would have to be made differently? Am I building a principle based life that can bring our children a greater possibility of success long after their father and I are gone?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

S=Stepping through...

This article from Discovery News relates some of the research being done on memory. Not surprisingly, research has found that moving from one space to another results in a loss of memory about what a person was doing or looking at in the previous room. I have thought about this article a lot since I first read it. What may seem like a vexing human challenge at first glance, might be an incredible boon for forgetting things all of us want to leave behind.

The research explains that even walking through a virtual door had this effect of clearing memory. It seems to me that a person could actively choose to use doorways as a way of clearing memory of unuseful things like ideas or events that have been fully processed and serve no good purpose but to hang out and drag a person back in to the muck. A person might be able to use an imagined doorway to leave behind what no longer serves them.

An end of a year could also be an important symbolic doorway. What if we chose to leave some things on the other side as we walk through that door? Each new day could be a doorway. An opportunity to glean the important lessons from the day and then walk through to a brand new one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

R=Rebellion

I have thought a lot in the past couple of weeks about the Occupy movement. I know very little about the movement and have not really been interested in seeking further information. Last week, driving in the car alone past the park in our city that housed the occupiers I realized something. So much of the life our family is living is a protest.

For years, I have known people who around this time of year choose a word of focus for the next year, without ever feeling compelled to do so myself. This time, the word JOY found me and I knew it would be my focus for my choices in the coming months.

Everything came together when I found this quote: "The greatest expression of rebellion is joy." Joss Whedon. My personal occupy movement is to own and live JOY.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Q=Quiet

If I am lucky enough to be up before the kids and I am also so fortunate as to still have dark outside, the only thing I want to do is stand in the kitchen or sit on the floor and stare at this...

Friday, December 23, 2011

P= Past, present, and perspective

Up until 2 years ago I remembered very little of my childhood. When I first started to remember things, I wanted to stop. The memories were mostly bad. Then other memories started to rise up too. Happy ones. Ones that would make me giggle. Memories that would transport me back to my grandpa's farm, or the creek we played in near our house, or my brother taking me for rides on his bike. Then, the bad memories did not have such a powerful affect, because there was something to balance them with.

I really have no control over when a memory will arise. Last week, I had a very powerful memory from a past Christmas. One that knocked me on my ass for a bit. A memory that made me weep and one that explained so many of the things that I often feel this time of year. Around the same time a friend on Facebook posted a quote the gist of which is "You can't control whether or not winter comes but you can control what you plant in the spring". This gave me an idea.

I started to think of life, my life, like a movie. This is my movie and I get to choose. Not every scene that is shot makes it in to the final movie. That does not mean it was never shot, it just means that somehow it did not fit in to the final product and ended up on the cutting room floor to be discarded. I decided that I would much rather remember Mina toasting marshmallows over a candle, or Ari jumping up and down for joy over a new discovery. I decided that I now have so many good scenes to replace these other ones with, even the ones that have not risen out of my memory yet. And that once I feel the memory and look at the pattern it may have to show me, I am going to replace it.

This does not mean I am going to start denying the material facts of where I have been. I actually have lived in that reality and it is not a better place. It means, I am going to focus my energy on elevating my own perspective. On actively choosing to stop seeing the world through the lens that was created in my head so long ago and to move in to a frame of mind where any scene can be cut and replaced with something more beneficial to living a better life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

O=Onward

In the past couple of weeks I have been given many wonderful opportunities to stop, look, listen and evaluate. Even the yucky stuff has given me some space and reason to pause and revisit what we are doing in our home and most importantly...WHY?

Ari has had many moments lately to shine, such a beaming brilliant shine. So much joy and happiness pouring out of her, it is magic to watch.

I feel I know Mina better lately. I understand her better. Although, I am a long way from the relationship I want to have with her, we are finally on the right track. She is starting to show her physical, adventurous side. She is such a happy child, always giggling and making jokes.

Just today we had a situation that could have gone badly. One where my husband and I could have handled with our logical brains and instead we both chose to use our intuition and empathy. And tonight, only Ari is home while Mina stays at her cousins and everyone is so happy about it. Several times tonight Ari has told us how much she loves us and I feel good about where Mina is at and who she is with and imagine she is getting along well there.

Life is really quite simple and effortless when I can get my head out of the way. When I can live with the fact that I don't know why something feels right, it just feels right. This is the same way we found ourselves on the life path we are now on. I cannot give anyone facts or figures or a logical reason why this is the right path for our family. Although, over time, many pieces of information give me a good idea that we have chosen well for us.

This idea that we have chosen well "for us" has been sinking in lately. That what I felt so strongly when it was time for Ari to go to school, the feeling that school would not be the right place for her, was simply not what everyone feels. And, as I view my friends and families lives from the outside looking in it is so important to not value or de-value their experience in some comparative way to our families. Each life is a different experience, as all human lives should be.

Friday, September 30, 2011

N=Not Natural

This morning while doing laundry, I found a ladybug in the hamper. I picked it up and said, "You don't belong here." and then proceeded to release it in to a proper environment. Funny enough, I had been thinking all morning about community, belonging, and the environments we might find ourselves in as people.

I recently started a knitting class. I enjoy knitting and I like to learn new things. But I don't really look forward to the class. I was pondering this idea when I realized that for me sitting in a room for two hours with people I don't really know making small talk is about as close to hell as I can get. I am a social person but I am the kind of social that says, "Hi" and "Good Bye" with very little else in between. For this reason I love running on my local trail. I love running by people, many of them the same people I see day in and day out and making pleasantries. I would probably make a damn fine greeter at Wal Mart.

I tend to exist most happily on the two extremes of social interaction. If it is brief and shallow great, if it is a meeting of souls who can really talk to each other fabulous. I also have endless time to listen to a person who is passionate about what they do, or about a hobby they have. I don't have to enjoy the same things but if another person is passionate about what they are speaking of, I can listen and interact for a very long time.

I could take in these realizations and continue to push myself in to environments that do not fulfill me. Kind of like taking my little friend the ladybug and making her a cozy home in the laundry room. I could probably keep her alive. She might survive her time in my basement. But the real question is, would she thrive and although I am not sure what capacity an insect has for such things, would she be happy?

Friday, September 9, 2011

M=Making the Most Of It

My friend Kellee sent out a challenge this week and the timing could not have been more perfect. With the changes in the weather, school back in session, and the coming holiday season, I feel now is a good time to assess where we are at, where we would like to go, and possible plans for getting there. Here are 10 of my personal "To-Do's" for the coming months:

1. Yoga- My daily practice whittled down to a never practice during the summer and it is time to get back to it.

2. Learning- Not that I am not learning all the time but I want to add some more structured class time learning to my agenda for the fall. First up, knitting socks through community education.

3.Budget- I have been playing with our family budget this summer but feel it is time to challenge myself to find ways to use money more efficiently.

4. Facebook- It is time once again to lower my overall computer time and Facebook is always a good starting place for me to lower screen minutes.

5. Play More- The girls are young, they will not be this young forever. Now is the time, here is the place, and fun is on the agenda.

6. Scare myself- Halloween is around the corner but this challenge is not about spooks. I have always been a nervous, slightly fearful person. I have found the best way to overcome that is to push myself to do things that scare me.

7. Mess it up- This one goes along with #5. Life is messy. It can always be cleaned up again.

8. Invest in friendships- Now that I am no longer hanging on in life by my fingernails I have the energy to invest in good friends.

9. Alone time with my kidlets- One on one time with both of our girls helps me to get to know them better. It gives me the ability to just say "yes" to whatever it is that particular little person wants to do, or mostly yes without having a compromise session balancing multiple needs.

10. Alone time with my sweetie- Our kids are bigger now. We have a few more babysitting options like grandma and cousins. John and I started this adventure together and will be here when the littles head out the door for the wide world. Now seems like a good time to catch up and maybe go for a walk or two sans children.

Well, there you have it. Thanks for issuing a challenge Kellee and the reward surely offered incentive.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

L=Life is...

Yesterday I got out of bed, leashed the dog, and headed out the door for our morning exercise. Lately, this ritual has been happening later and later because of the changing time of sunrise. As the time has gotten later it has forced me to rush more and consider time more carefully as it is necessary for me to be home for John to head out to work. The rushing has been getting to me and as soon as I got on the trail to run yesterday I could hear a little grumpy voice in my head cursing the changing seasons. My inner curmudgeon said, "I hate it when the seasons change." and then I began to laugh out loud.

Truth is, I love fall. I love the changing of the leaves and the crispness in the air after all the heat. I love apples and cinnamon and harvest festivals. I love this time of year and how it nudges me back towards my home and family. I adore the unexplainable desire to cuddle with my kids and husband and cocoon ourselves in the joys of home.

Okay then, if I don't hate fall or the changing of the seasons what is my inner curmudgeon going on about? Aha, the real issue here is I know once again I have to change things up. I have to find a new solution for the dog and I getting exercise. The direction of my energy moved to the task at hand. What are all the options for meeting this need? I made a short mental list and then whenever I found another solution I added it to the list. Next thing to do, try the things on the list, be ready for some of them not to work, find a working solution and then be ready to abandon that one if and when it no longer works, like when the seasons change again.

Life is change. Really that about sums it up doesn't it? And the quality of life seems to be directly related to how well a person can manage change and find workable solutions that meet every ones needs. Cursing change, as I was starting to do, is pointless and a waste of energy. Energy that can be used to find new solutions and opportunities, making our lives richer and more joyful.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

K=Kindness

When I was a little girl my sister and I shared a bedroom. We had twin size beds with red metal frames with bars all along the headboard and footboard. Both of our beds were on wheels. Every night we would go in to our room and we would be very, very quiet but we would not go to sleep. Without making any noise we would push our little beds together and begin to put all of our stuffed animals and dolls around the edges.

I remember either having a discussion or just the mental thought process of working out where the toys would go. I wanted to sleep with the toys but not suffocate them and I wanted each and every one of my toys to know how much I loved it. I determined that my only option was to sleep in the middle of the bed without covers so I could make sure the stuffed beings could have what they needed. I had to sacrifice for their needs. Something strikes me really hard when I write this story today. At the age of 5 I was already utterly and dangerously co-dependent.

I went along continuing to behave in this pattern until just 2 years ago. At that time I made a huge and fairly drastic life decision. The first 3 days I just cried. After that it was 2 years of remembering and digging through, falling down and getting up. I spent long bike rides pulling apart my own thinking and hours on the phone with my mentor Jennie. When I got hung up I called my husband and asked him to remind me how bad things were before I made the decision to change my own life. My good friend Julie got to hear my rants or my sobs more than once. Other people knew nothing, could not possibly understand that the me on the outside was barely holding things together while the me on the inside completely fall apart.

That was scary, probably the most scary thing, watching me fall apart and just having to have faith that somehow, someway I was heading in the right direction.

Step by step, that little girl learned that love contains respect, that healthy people have boundaries (not to be confused with walls my friends) that taking care of your own needs has to come first and only leaves you more able to take care of those that depend on you. That little girl learned that when whole people come together magic and beauty and joy light up our lives, even in the midst of chaos and destruction.

Most importantly, I learned that kindness is not something we do. It can be something we do, but first it is something we feel. Kindness comes from an open and willing heart. It comes without strings and it can come from anywhere. And I am thankful to many people who knowingly and unknowingly offered even the smallest kindness in the past 9 years when I have most certainly not felt very kind.

This ride started long ago, I thank those who have taken it with me. Those who have known me from the earliest of days that always knew who was inside the facade. I thank those who joined on late, who have only known me during some of the most tumoultous years of my life, the nine years since I gave birth and first started to open Pandora's Box. And, I even thank those who sort of left me on the road. Of course, this ride is not over, it has just taken on a different tone and any and all of you are welcome to stick around to see where our adventures take us to next.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

J=Joy

I have a picture of myself that I carry around in my planner. The picture was taken when I was about 4. The 4 year old in that picture had already experienced many things other people won't ever experience in their entire lives. Yet, that 4 year old is joyful, vibrant, buoyant. It is my favorite picture of myself and I carry it around to remind me that this is the most essential part of me, the joy that has always been a part of my being.

There are times in life when I have forgotten that person. When I have been angry, resentful, sad, when I have wanted everyone to leave me alone. That is part of who I am too. The grief, sadness, and even the anger have made me more in touch with the joy, even though that seems strange. And all of these emotions and feelings are part of what it feels like to be human.

Lately, when I am around people who are unhappy, I have a keen awareness that I know what it feels like to be unhappy. I know the years it took to be able to even think about my brother and his death and not be completely overtaken with anger, sadness, or loss. I know about running away faster and faster thinking you can out run the past or at least pretend it did not happen. And I know what I know now, that sometimes people get through it and get on with their lives. That peace can find you at the oddest of times in the most unexpected of ways. I am also aware that I cannot assume when meeting someone where they have been, what they have seen, and the events that have made them who they are.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I=Intention

Several times recently as I have been working through one situation or another I have found a common thread. The common thread always comes back to the intention I have when I am pursuing an activity. In the past couple months, every situation that has led to discomfort, bad feelings, and challenges for me personally can be traced back to not having the proper intention when making choices. Some of my choices have come from a desire for me children to do something I want to do or want them to do and others have come from feeling pressure to do culturally "normal" things.

For sure, these are pretty normal things to do and I am not beating myself up about my choices or the consequences I get to face because of them. On reflection, though, I feel that a huge part of my job as a parent, especially of my oldest daughter, is to help her make choices in keeping with her heart. And, for this reason, I feel lucky to have taken a long look at my choices and how they are actually not in keeping with my role as the person who helps her learn to listen to herself.

Friday, July 15, 2011

H= Heart's Desire

In the last month or so, I have noticed my little family has been coming upon challenges that are interpersonal in nature. Things that take a quiet mind, a kind heart, and a thorough examination before acting. This is not something at which I excel. My first instinct is to run or fight when in these situations, this is the skill set hard wired in to my biology and the same one promoted by my family of origin. Fortunately, I have honed a certain degree of skill in sitting and waiting. Waiting for an opportunity, waiting for an instinct, waiting for myself to settle, and more waiting. I know that the pattern I have had in the past of zooming in to fix, destroy, or otherwise just make myself more comfortable with a situation leaves an absolute path of burnt nothing, hurt feelings, regrets, and nothing I want to carry with me as I go forward.

It occurred to me this morning, that it is my utmost heart's desire to change these patterns. The ones my biology and my family superimposed upon my young self. It is my heart's desire to have something entirely different, something my soul can feel good about, and something my children can learn from. It is a deep yearning I carry within me to do what is kind, to evolve, move forward, and carry myself with more love tomorrow than I did today. So, though these varying situations had me a bit overwhelmed a day or so ago, I now see that I am being handed the loveliest of opportunities.

Whenever you reach the edge of your ability in anything, there is the opportunity to grow. The opportunity to push past what was once a barrier and to find a whole new person capable of more on the other side. So, though what I am looking at requires grace and tact, careful choices and the willingness not to run away and though these are all skills I have struggled with at some point in time, I feel capable and willing to wait and watch and act when appropriate and hopefully find myself on the other side.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lenses

Monday night as I prepared for bed, I found myself thinking about the historic events of the day. I found myself pondering how my emotions were so different than some of the people who I know and respect. At first, I started concocting a rock solid argument for why I was right. It occurred to me that this, in itself, is an act of war. I intend to invest no energy in war. Therefore, I had to do something different.

Funny thing, even with the strong desire, the focused attention, and a background in yoga and meditation, I found it incredibly challenging, almost impossible to move my thoughts away from "being right" for very long. Even harder, was trying to have any notion of why a person might feel the way they did about an event or situation.

Every person comes from a unique background comprised of the culture they are born in, the family they are born to, and even the birth order in which they find themselves. I know from my experience as a parent, that the way you look at life when you have your first child and the way you see it when you have your second can be radically different. Each of us then has our own life experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, and with our sophisticated brain, we draw large conclusions about life while living it. Each conclusion then becomes a part of the lens through which we view the world and each person's lens is very different. By the time we are adults these lenses are so ingrained in the way we think, that we rarely question them.

So back to me sitting on my bed. I realized the only thing for me to do was accept that each of us comes from someplace very different. I realized I must radically accept, especially those I love and respect, as having viewpoints equal in validity to my own. I understood that the situation at hand was calling me to make a choice. That choice was to either close down and make enemies with ideas and people whom I do not agree with or to walk a different path and greet these difference with open-hearted acceptance.

The next day my oldest daughter, who knows nothing of the war in Iraq or Bin Laden, asked me what I thought could bring peace to the world. I thought for a moment and responded that we can really only bring peace to our own hearts and that we have to be satisfied at some level with that. That our presence in the world peacefully was proof that peace was possible. And I remarked that this honestly is a huge challenge that most of us will struggle with for a long time.

I found this TED talk today that really illustrates the challenge of understanding another person's experience.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

G is for Glee

A couple of weeks ago I was looking around for inspiration. Funny thing was, I was looking in all the wrong places. I noticed that my kids have an effective and omnipresent ability to find inspiration pretty much everywhere. Our oldest went on a Glee jag. Both of the girls then began to sing and dance around the house all day and night. It reminded me how much I love music, most genres and how quiet our house had become. From watching them use a television show as inspiration, I started noticing when I felt inspired, when I felt the most creative and open.

I also began noting all the different ways the girls use everything around them for inspiration, education, and exploration. What I saw really amazed me and what follows is a few pictures of the random ways the girls use the things around them.
The skull model that becomes...
a bed for a polly pocket complete with a diaphragm from another model that became a blanket.

The roll of tape that became a web...


that became a tape ball and then became...

an ice cream cone.
The metal frame, pool, sandbox lid, and umbrella that became a shelter from the rain.
The flash card box that became...
a house for little people.
The fallen tree branch that became a balance beam and jumping hurdle.
The limbs from the same fallen branch that added a little more shelter to an existing frame.

I really need look no further than the creativity of our children and their open minds about how something ordinary can be used in a new and novel way to know that inspiration is a state of mind.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

F is for Friend

Last week I walked in to the kitchen to hear Ari engaging in a very interesting conversation. Without divulging too many details, I will try to give you a sense of the conversation.

Ari has a couple really close friends. Other than that she is not that interested in being social. Both my husband and I are a lot like her. I knew everyone I went to high school with. I mean everyone. I knew kids a year and two years older. I knew kids a year and two years younger. I knew a bunch of people no where near my age because of my mother's gas station and my older brothers. That is what happens when you live in one town for 15 years. And when that one town has 4 elementary schools that feed in to one junior high and eventually one senior high. But even knowing all those people, I had maybe 5 close friends.

So back to Ari. Ari does not do the acquaintance thing. Either you are someone who is her friend, someone she has not decided on yet, or someone she does not really want to spend time with. I used to obsess over this quality. I wondered if I was not giving her enough opportunities to meet other kids. I pondered whether our lifestyle had made her less social. And then I realized it is just her personality.

Last week a boy she likes to play with came over. I could tell they were not playing well together. The boy kept asking Ari what she wanted to do. Although she had plenty of ideas and found things to keep herself occupied, the two of them were just not playing together. This has happened many times over the last 6 months or so. At some point the boy said he was going to go and play with another one of his friends. This is where it got really interesting.

Ari very directly asked him if he came to our house to play with her or if he came to our house because it was convenient and he had nothing better to do. This is the point at which I walked in. The kid looked like a deer in the headlights. I asked Ari if she needed some help and she asked me to stay and help them talk this situation out.

Ari explained to the boy that she does not play with people she does not want to. She said it was important to her that he was coming over to play with her. And then she told him that she was trying to understand his intentions. If he made his decision to come play because he wanted to play with her then she was happy to have him over. If, however, he was coming over because there was no one else to play with or to play on our computers then she would rather he not come over at all. He mentioned that he did not want to hurt her feelings. She explained that she would rather have her feelings hurt by someone being honest with her than believe something that was not true. I explained to him that no one in our family was going to be mad at him or be mean to him. We had no ill will about what he chose to do, but that Ari was requesting that he be clear about why he was coming over.

The boy left. Ari went out in to the backyard and looked a little solemn. I went out to check on her and she said, "Don't feel bad for me mom, I have lost friends before." I gave her a look of "are you crazy", and told her "I don't feel sorry for you." I went on to explain to her that I felt what she had done was really mature. She was willing to state exactly what worked for her in a relationship, she was willing to lose a relationship that did not work for her, and she was so direct about what being in relationship meant to her. She was not mean or abusive in any way just very up front.

And once again, I get a much needed reminder that I have as much to learn from our kids as they do from me. And, a reminder of what my mentor/ teacher has already told me about being in relationship:

"...we cannot be truly powerful in a relationship if we are competing for dominance, or being subservient or avoiding conflict. We may even realize the simple truth that both of these methods are equally about controlling what happens in the relationship, the first dominating, is about winning the fight, and the second, being subservient, about avoiding the fight altogether. While the conflict avoider may appear to us somewhat as more sympathetic- "nicer" than the dominator- the reality is that energetically, both are playing the same game; they simply have chosen different poles on the polarity of domination and subservience. The real sacrifice is authenticity. There is no authenticity here. It is all a game, a competition, an exercise in the misuse of power and energy. What drives this behavior is the perception that losing the relationship or the person is worse than giving away power or abusing it. The authenticity must be sacrificed in order to maintain the relationship." Spotted Eagle

Friday, March 25, 2011

E is for Essence

Essence is a peculiar word. You really do not hear it used often. I am tainted by my first experience with the word essence in the movie The Dark Crystal. I cannot think of the word essence without thinking of gelfling's and the vital essence that is drained from them. I was going to post a link but that scene in the movie still gives me the creeps.

My second encounter with the word via my teacher and mentor, Jennie Marlow, has been much more enlightening. The essence of any activity or thing is the feeling experience you would like to have. It is important to distinguish essence from form. A form may hold a desired essence and it may not.

In the book Personal Magic, Spotted Eagle says, "The focus on essence is one of the most transforming shifts that you can make in your thinking. When you focus on form, what you are really doing is trying to control the outcome. You close the doors on the Creator's spontaneity, and you do not leave room for Spirit to co-create with you. When you focus on the essence of what you want to create, you open up limitless possibilities by allowing Spirit to bring you that essence in forms you may never have imagined. If you want to change what you are creating in your life, then you must cleave to the truth that life is a feeling experience, and the essence of what you want should be foremost in your thoughts."

I keep a list of the essence words that are most important to me on my computer. It amazes me how this subtle reminder that I look at daily changes my perceptions and choices. Mostly, I see this in my interactions with my children. It is easy to get caught up in my own chores, thoughts, and my own ideas about what should happen next or how we should resolve a conflict. When I take a deep breath and remind myself that the essence of connection is much more important to me than any outcome, I can relax into a conversation with the girls about my needs and theirs and how to meet them all. Sometimes, I realize my "need" was not a need at all but an attachment to an idea or outcome I wanted.

Another important essence for our family is joy. My husband said recently that, "Joy is our religion." and indeed we are constantly looking at our choices from the perspective of whether or not what we are choosing is making our lives more joyful.

I have found that when you boil decisions down to essence, things become very clear. there is no longer a nagging idea that I need to force my kids to do things or make a situation what I want it to be. Spotted Eagle says it this way, "Essence clarifies for you what it is you want in your heart. "The mind speaks in urges, appetites, and attachments. The soul speaks in desires of the heart. "

Thursday, March 24, 2011

D is for Do Nothing Days

I woke up reaaaalllly early today, well early for me. The girls are generally up pretty late and therefore I am up with them. This usually allows me to get up at a reasonable time and have a couple hours to myself. I think I was out of bed around maybe 6. But I could defiantly feel that I wanted to be back in bed and that my physical equilibrium was just a little off.

Being up early gave me an unusual chance to talk to John before he went to work. Any lost sleep was well worth the treat of his company without kids. I headed back to bed after he left.

When I finally did wake up I was sure today was a "Do nothing day" I like to use the term "do nothing" but it is so misleading. It is kind of like "Learn Nothing Day" which is on July 24th every year. I cannot conceive of a single day not doing or learning anything. A "Do Nothing Day" is more of a day where I let go of my ideas about what I need to do or get done. Honestly, I want to do that every day but on "Do Nothing Day's" I usually achieve it.

Mina's first order of business was to look at the voo doo doll.


Isn't she lovely? John brought her home from work last night. She was a gift from a co-worker. The girls and I took turns looking at her last night and laughing at the advertisement on her attached card that suggested your voo doo would be more powerful if you bought special pins from a certain company.

The voo doo doll somehow reminded Mina of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas so we started to watch it, but never finished. At one point Mina told me she was still tired and would I come lay down with her. We went to lay down and accidentally woke- up Ari. It seems this is exactly what the little one had in mind, she missed her sister and wanted to play with her.

I took a shower and put on my favorite socks- yes I have favorite socks. You want to see them? sure you d0.


Here they arrrrrrrr.
And sweats and my fluffy pink bathrobe and the day proceeded in lovely "Do nothing" flow.

The girls have vacillated back and forth between computer games, make believe, GameCube, and role playing with their stuffed Sonic, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Amy Rose figures.
This is Shadow the Hedgehog with Mina for those who are not in to Sonic.

I read bits of Scientific American the magazine, bits of Flow, parts of at least two TED talks, only bits and parts of everything, why I have no idea.

I would call today a highly successful "Do Nothing Day".

Monday, March 21, 2011

C is for Coolest Cat in the Country

No this was not a one time thing. Yes, Little Whisker lets the girls push him around in the stroller. He also allows Ari to take him on walks and sleeps belly up in her arms.

B is for Bodega

The little one (Mina who is 4) and I both have a love for odd words. There was a month or so where Mina would say the word Ming over and over. Ming is kind of an odd word but it is also the name of her cousins cat. Bodega is not a word you hear in Utah very often. My first real experience with common use of the word bodega was when I went to visit my sister in law in New York. There, of course, a bodega is a small market. It was of course no surprise to me that the word bodega was originally Spanish.

Upon my return from New York, Mina and I would use the word bodega randomly and excessively, much to the annoyance of our housemates. The usage faded over time until I took another trip to California.

On my way to San Francisco, I drove a road in the middle of nowhere that led to the middle of nowhere. Only the second middle of nowhere happened to be on the coastline of California. While traveling down the coast I happened upon a town called Bodega Bay. Wow, the combination of Bodega and Bay was even more lovely to say. I noticed in the shops in Bodega Bay that there were a lot of t-shirts and other items with the movie The Birds on them. It turns out Bodega Bay was the filming location of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

Funny enough, I spent a good share of my tween years in an old run down theater in a town not far from the one I grew up in watching black and white Hitchcock movies. There was Rear Window and Vertigo, along with The Man Who Knew Too Much and To Catch a Thief. I had not thought about watching these movies or the old theater in years. It was a wonderful bit of nostalgia for me.

When I told my husband about this memory he said, "God, no wonder you were such an anxious kid." To which I then pointed out that movies are not real and I was an anxious kid because my childhood home was real and almost as scary as things Hitchcock could imagine. Then we both laughed cause we are kind of deranged like that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A is for Awesomesauce

(A could have been for Ari. She is my first born and I love her. I love her so much that I know her need for privacy would not allow an entire blogpost devoted to her and I respect that fully. )


I think I am embracing the idea of doing a Niedermeyer Family alphabet, so where better to start than with awesomesauce? Awesomesauce is a word my hubby uses a lot. I have no idea where he got it, probably from a movie as we tend to watch a lot of movies.

Awesomesauce is how it feels to pull nasty, smelly carpet out of a room that had water damage, even though it means the floor is now concrete.

My husband and I have very different personalities. At first he was not convinced that the room smelled terribly. I wanted to have his olfactory checked. It was BAD. Then he realized it was smelly and on Saturday while the girls and I were at a birthday party he tried steam cleaning the carpet. Then he was absolutely convinced that the smell was gone. I on the other hand was absolutely sure that his sense of smell had completely left him. Instead of pointing that out, however, I waited to see what would happen.


Yesterday, Mina asked her daddy to come to the smelly room to watch her walk on the treadmill. She loves to walk on it but we like to be near, just in case. So John and Mina went downstairs and when I went down to throw in some laundry I stopped to say hello. As soon as I walked in to the room, John said, "This room stinks." In my head I did backflips and little fireworks went off, oh thank god. So we spent the rest of the morning pulling out the carpet and pad and scraping off glue from the concrete. Now the room does not smell and that my friends is awesomesauce.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mina is Always Up to Something

Chicken feet
Fingers can be friends.
Old t-shirt mummification
"Look mom, I am an old lady."
The yoga mat that handily doubles as a skirt.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"But how do I feel this good sober?" P!nk

Note to self: Always view blog post before publishing :)

"The power of faith in the now moment is what allows us to embrace the uncertainty of the now, and to embrace it with non-resistance that allows for pain to coexist with joy. We can do this because we recognize that discomfort is always an opportunity to evolve something." Spotted Eagle

This last week or so with all the things I was experiencing, life did not stop. There was still so much joy intertwined with the sobering truths I was facing. The word sober is interesting. In our culture it is generally related to being free from drugs and alcohol. I have thought about this word a lot in the past week.

Sober:
–adjective
1.
not intoxicated or drunk.
2.
habitually temperate, especially in the use of liquor.
3.
quiet or sedate in demeanor, as persons.
4.
marked by seriousness, gravity, solemnity, etc., as of demeanor, speech, etc.: a sober occasion.
5.
subdued in tone, as color; not gay or showy, as clothes.
6.
free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration: sober facts.
7.
showing self-control: sober restraint.
8.
sane or rational: a sober solution to the problem.

Definition 2 refers to temperate.

Temperate:
Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English temperat < Latin temperātus, past participle of temperāre to exercise restraint, control

I had pondered the words above for a couple days when I received an unexpected phone call. The person calling I have not spoken to for some time. She called to let me know that some one important to me that has had lifelong issues with drugs and alcohol had now been sober for 52 days. She then went on to tell me about her own struggles with addictive behavior. It was a refreshing, eye opening, totally authentic exchange. I left that phone call with so much new knowledge about what it means to be human and what it takes to walk away from the things that hold us back from lives of joy and authenticity.


I believe that almost everyone has some sort of addiction to something. I know for me the only way to walk away from the things that rob me of essence is to be sober and temperate. Not the sober and temperate involving alcohol, but sober and temperate in using my unique make-up to make the decisions that are best for me, no matter what the consequences. A moment to moment connection with what is intangible and forever and therefore most real.


At the same time, sober and temperate do not mean devoid of laughing and happiness as so many in our culture believe. They mean finding happiness that is real. It means finding humor wherever you find it, for some of us that is almost everywhere. Sober and temperate mean knowing where the middle road is and constantly returning to your connection to spirit, especially when circumstances are pulling you from that connection.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Life has pain in it

One time while speaking to my mentor she stated rather neutrally, "Life has pain in it." Part of me thought, "no duh". But some other part of me realized that I had a belief that if I was "doing it right" life would be pain free. The idea that life should be pain free is really debilitating. If a person holds this belief, then when things get painful, as they always will when you have to face a truth that is unpleasant, there is a tendency to resist. Resisting truth, however painful it may be, leads to increased bondage. The only way to free oneself from bondage is to face whatever is there, even if it is ugly, or unpleasant.

This weekend, I was given the opportunity to see a huge pattern in my own perceptions, behaviors, and choices. This seeing had many threads that wove around and in to every relationship I have ever had and every relationship I currently have. The seeing was incredibly painful. In fact, the confrontation was so powerful, I had symptoms of asthma, nightmares, and an acute pain in my chest. A pain that I at one point briefly questioned as a heart attack.

Even while I was in pain, even while I could feel this incredible pull to curse my body, to blame it for just not acting properly, I did not. I managed oddly enough to remain present with my family, to conduct myself in ways I do not now have to regret. And even though it hurt, I knew I was being shown something important, something that if I could just be honest about it, would allow me to really see what I was up to.

When the pattern became obvious, when I could see where all the pain came from, when I could feel all the grief, the disappointment, the anger, the confusion; suddenly I felt peaceful. I knew what came next. I knew that a pattern had been shown to me, one that held the keys to my bondage or liberation. I know that if I am present and open, if I trust my intuition, and if I really immerse myself in living from my heart, I can make headway on that old pattern. I know that it will not be a one time fairy dust, emancipation experience. I know that I have to do the work and that doing the work can be both joyful and rewarding.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Addiction

I have been thinking about addiction since yesterday. I am reading a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In it he talks about the amount of sensory input a person can process at one time and then through simple multiplication arrives at how much sensory input a person can process in their entire lifetime. The number is approximately 185 billion events in an entire lifetime. This sounds like a lot, but really when you are talking about an entire lifetime it is not that much. Csikszentmihalyi says, "Therefore, the information we allow into consciousness becomes extremely important; it is, in fact, what determines the content and quality of life."

This got me thinking. Although, I can do a little about past content that may or may not already exist in my consciousness, I have almost complete control of what new input I expose myself to. This is not a new idea either but for some reason it became very relevant as I was reading last night.

This is where I began to ponder addiction. What behaviors, choices, and patterns do I have that add nothing to the quality of my life? Addiction is defined as:

the
state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

But the root of the word is
this word: (Latin) addictiōn, and it has a different definition: a giving over, surrender.

So then I framed a question for myself: What I am surrendering my 185 billion possible lifetime events to that adds no quality to my life? For me the answer to this question lies in patterns of behavior that many people would probably not call addiction but patterns I feel clearly are. Here are some of mine: worry, caring to much what people think of me, spending too much time engaging with electronic media in a non quality fashion, and many more.

But then this question followed:

What events do I need to surrender more to to add to the quality of my life? Some of the answers are playing with our kids and pets, creating more in whatever form I choose, laughing more, loving more, dancing more, using my intuition more, and having more gratitude for the wonderful life I already have. All of these things will require me to surrender the things that do not add to my life. All these things will take moment to moment discipline in cultivating. But , when I look back down the road of life 5 or 8 years I realize I have already surrendered many things to have a life of quality. I see that I have the discipline to walk away from old patterns of behavior. It does not happen over night but it happens in a flowing fashion of opening myself up to the grace of each unfolding moment.

Monday, February 28, 2011

These are the moments

This morning the girls and I were watching Fantasia, the original. This song was next and the narrator was giving some background information on the music and animation. If you listen to the narrator you hear him something about the difference between hope and life and; death and despair. Ari turned to me at that moment and said, "Death is nothing to be feared, it is a resting spot for your soul."

These are the moments I am the most appreciative of in our lives. The moments when I get to see that our kids are learning to think for themselves, learning to question, to build a framework of how they view the world. I often feel I am the one who is learning the most. For all the things I might be able to teach our kids, the things they are teaching me are more important.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Potty Training

When we first got our newest pup Panda about 4 weeks ago I went in to a local pet store to buy a kennel to keep her in when we had to leave the house for whatever reason. I have had puppies before and although it has been a long time, I knew that if we wanted her to be safe and our belongings to be chew mark free, we had to have a place to keep her. The kennels were back in the corner of the store and this particular store is pretty small. A dog obedience class had been set-up right in front of the kennels and so I stood there and looked around the participants and looked at the different sizes and at the same time was trying to figure out how I was going to get the kennel once I had made a choice. Soon the teacher of the class zeroed in on me and asked what I was doing. I explained, puppy, need kennel, and nicely pointed out YOU ARE IN MY WAY. I did not really say they were in my way but I wanted to.

She then helped me to get the kennel I needed and load it on my cart. Which was good because up until that moment I had not figured out that this was going to be a challenge. I thanked her for her help and as I went to leave she mentioned that if we needed some help, the store offered "potty training" classes. I hope my face did not give away the HUH? are you serious that I was thinking. I nodded politely and headed to the door.

Potty training is not easy but it is simple. A puppy usually will get it over time. One of our dogs was potty trained in a matter of days, one a matter of weeks, and our Yorkshire Terrier took years to be completely potty trained. I think Rice (our yorky) would have gotten it sooner if we had been more consistent. I honestly think it is odd that there is an option to take your dog to a potty training class. It seems like a whole new level of, "experts know best" and "you people cannot possibly figure this out on your own".

Of course, in my mind it brought up the idea of potty training kids, which is similar but different. I hear people talking about potty training their kids quite often as I am a mom and on FaceBook. Potty training is the first thing people feel they must push there kids in to and possibly the first thing parents feel they must "teach" their kids. Up to this point, oddly enough, the child has learned to roll over, pull up, walk, and usually talk, all without rewards or parental intervention.

I look back on my own ideas about potty training and they certainly have changed. When my oldest was around 2 I decided it was "time". I now think that is a really funny idea. How can one person decide for another person it is time to learn anything. Ari made it very clear right away that she ran the show and that any sort of bribery or reward I might offer was not going to help. Rather than fight what felt like a losing battle, I decided to give up and regroup. I left her alone for a year.

The spring of the year Ari turned 3 she potty trained herself. It looked something like this. One morning we get up and Ari refuses to wear clothes. Okay, I roll with it. When she pees she looks down and sees that she is peeing. I had no idea what she was doing at the time so I think my response was, "AAHHHHHHH, lets go to the potty." After a week of nudism and some accidents Ari was completely potty trained. Not a single M&M, no books read while sitting on the John waiting for nature to follow my timeline, and surprisingly over the coming years only 1 accident EVER. "Huh", I thought "that was interesting." But what was more interesting to me was that she was also continent at night as soon as she was potty trained during the day.

When Mina came along, I never thought about potty training at all. One day, the spring she would turn 3 she decided she was not wearing clothes anymore either. End of the week, potty trained. I certainly did not expect it but I was more than happy to see her take initiative and learn how to use the bathroom herself. Once again, continent day and night and in the 2 years since very few accidents.

In general, I think the belief that we need to teach kids much of anything is outdated. Few people understand that learning to talk is actually much more challenging than learning to read. Just as some kids will be walking at nine months or talking at one year, learning many other things has a very variable timeline. Each person also will more than likely have their own unique path to this learning as well. Some people thrive with the use of phonics and follow a common path of letter recognition, then sound recognition, then word recognition. I think Mina will follow that path. Ari however, is a learner who goes from the whole to the part. She will learn to read later and I am watching her do it backwards of convention.

Standing back and letting my girls potty train themselves was my first lesson in child led learning.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Investments

"Invest fearlessly in your joy." Spotted Eagle

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Put On Your Big Girl Panties

Yesterday was a Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It, sort of day. Oh and this one applies quite readily too. I put on my hazmat gear too and went in to the shed and cleaned that baby. You see, the only thing really keeping me from getting in there and cleaning it was my fear of what I might find. I was doing what my mentor calls, "letting my fearful mind drag me off." And whoa Nelly was I being dragged.

I had a vision in my mind of moving a few things in the shed and having mice start to stream out by the hundreds. Yes, I have a wonderful imagination, imagine what I will do when I take its control back from my fear based head. Guess what I found instead? Not a single mouse. Not one. Not a live one, no dead ones. Just a whole lot of bird seed, mouse poo, and pee smell. No exterminator necessary and $10.00 for ventilation masks. (The girls wanted one too so I picked up a few.)

Item number two on my list was the water damaged bed. The smell from having water damage was not going away and in my gut I was pretty sure it was making us sick. I could not even sleep in the room it was in. I did some research on mattresses because we paid a lot for that bed not even 6 months ago and I really was not interested in dropping that kind of money again. I found a reasonably priced bed and honestly on some level I think a bed is a bed. I ordered it and it will be here today. We all slept in the livingroom, a sort of slumber party.

During the day while cleaning up after mice and ordering beds, I played with the girls. We danced in the kitchen and I also dragged them across the kitchen floor while they held on to my ankles, much to their delight. We had tea parties, we did laundry, we played with pets, and we just enjoyed each other.

I found my flow again basically by doing what had to be done. And although I cannot say "it will never happen again" maybe over time it just becomes easier and easier to catch ones self and your own head and see what you are up to. I will take progress, progress is good.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oh Entrails

So in all honesty, it became obvious that the events of the last week or so were in some ways affecting my overall mood. I was mostly myself but not entirely myself. I have had many conversations with John about the difference between mice and birds. Apparently, dear husband actually thinks birds have more potential to cause disease. Hmm, that's a new perspective. Of course, John is likely to pull stuff out of his lower sphincter when he wants us to move on (usually Ari and I) but in this instance I am going with it. I asked John if he would take care of the invaders in the shed as I really was not sure I could deal and he was all for it. Only over the weekend, it did not happen. Probably because I am freaked out about them and he kind of thinks they are like flightless birds who do not spread avian flu.

Today, I was out in the yard with the pups. The 3 year old Yorkshire Terrier Riceburgh and his more than willing accomplice these days Panda the 4 month old mutt. This time of year John and I have long reffered to the backyard as poop soup. Not delicate but pretty honest. When you have a steep set of stairs in to a backyard and dogs and you rarely go out in winter- it gets messy. This year it is mostly soup. Our big dog Freeway passed on around this time last year and Panda and Rice together barely make as much poop as Freeway did on his own. That and I have had some opportunities to clean up the yard off and on as we have had temperatures as high as 60 in the past 2 weeks.

Our girls were jumping on the trampoline, I was cleaning up after the pooches, and Panda and Rice were running around and chasing balls when we threw them. Suddenly I noticed that the dogs were fighting over one particular spot on the lawn. They are rolling over on their backs and pushing each other off of the spot and then taking their turn rolling over on the spot. "Hmmm, I wonder what this is about", thinks me. Curiosity kills more than cats, it kills bliss induced by utter denial too.

I walk over and find what at first looks like a very small dead mouse. Nice, our dogs have been outside rolling on dead mice, from our lovely shed infestation. I am stuck. Can't leave mouse or dogs are going to keep rolling on it and I do not have any way to pick it up. I call for reinforcements and my oldest daughter brings me a used produce bag, laughing the entire time. She has to look at the dead critter for some reason and that is when I realize that I only have the back part of a mouse in my bag covered hand. Shortly thereafter, I realize that the dogs have moved to a new spot on the lawn and when I get to where they are I find they have been rolling on the head portion of the deceased mouse.

That was it. Over the edge, done for. Our first plan was to open the shed and let the neighbor cats and migratory hunting birds take them down, but I can't do it anymore. I am one more mouse entrail or squeaking mouse in the night when I take the dogs out to go potty from insanity. So, I do something I don't feel great about but something I am not sure I have a choice in at this point, I call an exterminator.

Then I give 2 dogs a bath.

Going With It

Sometime ago I heard a comedian who worked in the art of improv explain what he called, "the first rule of improv". The first rule of improv is to go with whatever comes your way. You don't resist or argue, you use whatever your partner adds to the skit to your comedic advantage and you go with it.

I think about this rule quite often. I try to apply it to real life. What does "going with it" look like in real life? Well, it looks like letting go of your assumptions about everything, letting go of what you want to happen, and letting go of being in control. It looks a lot like flow, the flow of taking whatever comes your way and using it for your growth and to promote your happiness.

Said differently, "Willingness implies that we are present and open. We are willing for the present moment to be exactly what it is. We are open and facing all of the uncertainties, disappointment, pain, and fears that what we find in the now prompts us to feel. Willingness is really the flexibility to come to the moment willing to let go of anything that is not true for you in this now. It is the ability to recognize where you are attached to a belief, habit, circumstance, or relationship that no longer serves you. Willingness is really the ability to be present with whatever is placed before you on your path without trying to control what happens to you out of fear." Spotted Eagle

Being willing to live like everything is an improv, because life is an improv with the universe and everything in it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yoga Knee and Loofahs

Yesterday while doing my morning yoga I noticed some nasty, scaly skin on my knees. It seems bare kneed yoga can have some side affects, this particular one I am calling yoga knee. I looked it up, no one else has used this particular term so if it becomes a common part of the vernacular, I want credit. My brain set about pondering ways to get rid of yoga knee. The first thing that came to mind was using a loofah.

As if the word loofah is not funny enough, the pure funniness about the loofah lies in the fact that my husband is obsessed with them. For a long while we had a nice bright purple loofah. It hung in the shower and I think was mostly lonely and solitary except when John used it. Then one day it disappeared. I noticed it was gone but really did not think about it twice. We have two daughters and things get re-purposed all of the time. But while I barely noticed the missing loofah, it soon became a real issue for John. He asked me to find a new loofah for him one day while I was out.

I found a new kind of loofah I thought would be really cool. It had a handle on both ends and the loofah in the middle. I thought it could make solo loofahing a little easier so I brought it home. Upon opening the package I discovered it also had a little battery operated massager in it. Nice bonus, I guess.

The battery operated massager disappeared as soon as the girls discovered it could be removed. Soon it was showing up all over the house. It had various uses that the girls found undeniably attractive. It made a great and annoying noise. It could be placed on unsuspecting people much to the victims surprise and the girls' delight. But, it could also be used to give parents a massage, one use of which John and I both approved wildly. Okay, so no massager but we still had a loofah...or did we?

Soon after purchase of the new- fangled loofah and the massager relocation program, John came in to the kitchen with a deflated look on his face and asked if I would buy him a new, REAL loofah. I suggested this was really a job for him as he seemed to be the loofah conissouer in our home.

The next evening John came home with not 1 not 2 but 3 loofahs. 2 for him and one of my very own. Of course my loofah was just the average, ordinary loofah John knows and loves. His was something called "The Detailer" and he had 2 of them. Apparently, if you are a man who likes to loofah a name like "The Detailer" is more supportive of your manliness than an ordinary loofah.

Oh so where was I going with this, oh yah yoga knee(tm) (That means trademark) Apparently, yoga knee is impervious to loofahs magic powers of exfoliation. I am not sure how I will cure it actually. I think my next attempt will be to use the foot scrubber and maybe a whole bunch of lotiony goodness.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who Knew?

Sometimes a change in life is forced on you. Just the fact that it is forced often makes most of us resistant. But, the resistance always come from an assumption that what we are changing is forcing us to give something up. If we were capable of being neutral, it would be fairly obvious that to each change, a chosen one or a forced one, there are a vast number of potential outcomes.

Earlier this week we were forced to move around our living arrangements. This is something we do often by choice, but this time it was by force. Because of the way our house is set-up we asked our youngest daughter if we might move the "sleeping room" to her room until we could figure things out. This room is much smaller than the one we previously used. Our family was previously sharing one room but two beds, one a king and the other a twin. There was no way we were going to fit both beds in to this smaller room.

We were able to move the king bed and set-up its frame. We thought we would attempt to have all of us sleep in this one bed. The first night did not go well. Often the first little while after any change is unsettled. Our oldest daughter was really upset that we had to move the bed. She would really like it if nothing ever changed.

Then yesterday, I had an idea. If I cleared the closet and placed my daughters pillow sac in it one of the girls might be willing to sleep in there. The doors were already off of the closet so it would not be separate from the room but might feel like a nice cozy little nook for one of the girls. This little nook became really comfy really quick. Filled with the pillow sac and some down comforters and more pillows than probably belonged in the space, even I wanted to sit in there.

Ari took to it immediately. I laid on the bed while she laid in the nook and we chatted. She even slept in there most of the night. Everyone slept well. And, there was at least one surprising bonus to the move. Ari likes to stay up late while the rest of us turn in earlier. Because the room she was hanging out in was across the hall from where we all were, she was more than happy to stay up on her own.

I am not sure what the house set-up will look like when we clean up the mess that prompted the move in the first place. Honestly, I am not even going in to the room we evacuated right now. But, hopefully, I will see what ever comes next with much more neutrality knowing that every change has an infinite number of possibilities and in those possibilities is potential for good things you did not expect.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Of Mice and Mold

It has been an interesting couple of days around here. On Monday night I mentioned to my friend that because we were having a few people over it would be nice to have the trampoline out. My husband overheard my conversation and I found him in the backyard putting it up. He mentioned in passing that there were some mice in the shed. He suggested washing the pads that go around the outside of the trampoline in the morning.

The next morning I went out to wash the pads and found them well past saveable. The smell was awful and the rodents had chewed holes in the pads as well. Soon after the cat started catching mice and even attempted to bring one in the house. Now, I am all for furries. We have 2 cats, 2 dogs, a guinea pig, and a fish. But, for some reason mice just set off my "OH MY GOD HANTAVIRUS" alarm. I was dealing with this fairly well. Sure when I saw the cat with a mouse in its jaws I was more than a little creeped out, but I resisted the urge to light a match and throw it in the shed.

Friends came, we had a splendid time. Friends left, we had dinner and settled in for the evening.

Wednesday was the day of Ari's first ever filling. She had a cavity and the dentist also wanted to seal some of her teeth. Now, Ari is a lot like her mom. Which means we are both incredibly resistant to new and unknown. I have had 37 years to work on this particular quality and I still find it rearing its head and having to remind myself that life is mostly about the new and unknown. She headed to the dentist with her dad and although I had planned to keep the day low-key, I felt there was some cleaning that was hollering to be done.

Mina and I armed ourselves with a bucket of soapy water, rubber gloves, spray cleaner (because spraying borders on obsession for the little one) and various rags. Our goal? Wash the walls in the "sleeping room", clean the light fixtures in the same room, and vacuum the carpets. Okay, so we all sleep in the same room. We all like it, it works for us, and I am sure soon at least one of the girls will outgrow it but for now, we have a sleeping room.

With one wall down, I moved to my next task, moving the king size bed. The bed has been on the floor. With us all in the same bed and with Mina still on the young side, falling out becomes impossible if there is nowhere to fall to. So, I lifted the edge of the mattress, then had to stop and prepare myself to lift it the rest of the way. I have only been able to lift it a couple times without help so I realized I might be in a losing struggle. As I pushed the wall up against the bed, I smelt something really nasty. It was like a mixture of musty old towels and pee. Mina described the smell simply as "smelling like butt". There on the mattress was a substance, I have yet to figure out what, and it came from the floor beneath it. I am fairly certain it is not mold but the title was too attractive. :)

The rest of the day was consumed with making new sleeping arrangements. I did this with no enthusiasm- meh- would describe the feeling well. John attempted to cheer me up- which really I found annoying because seriously is anyone going to be bouncy happy under the circumstances. I mean I was not overly dramatic or despairing, just meh.

Then a thought occurred to me. This was not anywhere near the worst day of my life. Nowhere near. This was a minor nuisance compared with the events of the worst days in my life. No one died, no one had an incurable disease, we had a place to sleep, food, hot damn my life was GOOD.

Then another thought occurred to me. I once saw a tv show where the family was remodeling their whole house, while living in it. That sucked way worse than my day. I have a friend who has been building a house for I think the past two years, that was much more work, took much more perseverance, and I bet there are days she feels like meh. In the words of my mentor, "It is a big universe and shit happens"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valium

Ari has to have a cavity filled today. The doctor requested we give her a Valium before her visit. It took a little convincing but we wanted her to be as relaxed as possible and even though drugs in general are something we try to avoid, we felt this could make the difference between a kid who could get her dental work done and one who would fight the whole thing.

John gave her the pill and then came down the hall of our home just minutes later and said, "I would not want the kid we would get if Ari were medicated. Go look at her." She was a shell of herself. Sure she was calm and docile. But she was also so obviously numb and unengaged. I think both John and I are more appreciative than ever of who are kids are and the spirit they have.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Buddha

Somehow today Buddha came up. Ari asked if he was a real person. I told her there was a real person that was thought to be the "Buddha". I loosely told her the story of how his parents were told he would either be a great ruler or a wise man. I mentioned that his parents sought to protect him from all the sadness and misery in the world and so they would only take him to the nice parts of the kingdom and they would steer him away from old people, the ailing, and anything else that would signify that the world had suffering in it. She gave me a really shocked look and said, "Isn't that just a little overprotective. I mean what did they think he was going to do when he found out eventually those things existed."

Funny enough, that is one of the reasons we have tried to be really up front with Ari when something comes up. We then talked about what parents in our culture attempt to hide from their kids and to what benefit or drawbacks this could lead to in life in general and in the relationships between children and parents. Certainly, there are times Ari wished her dad and I were not so up front. But, since we have no desire or inclination to change who are and we just happen to be people who are not afraid of tough conversations- at least not anymore- we will continue to do as we are doing. How will it turn out? We don't know, but neither do people who do not tell their kids the truth.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Counting

Second grade was the year I really started to hate school. I am not sure why I am thinking about this today but there you have it. It could have been that my second grade teacher really did not like me. This was the truth. To be fair, I do not remember myself as a child but I imagine I was a hand full. Not only was I quick witted and sharp tongued but I also lived in a crazy house. I am willing to bet that the transition from being in charge of my house in to a setting where someone told me what and when to do things all day was not seamless.

It may have something to do with the second grade play in which I had a huge role. A role facilitated by another second grade teacher who discovered I could sing and became my champion that year. I used to wish that I was in her class and at least the play afforded me a large amount of time with her, until it was over. My role in that play would follow me for the rest of my schooling life. Even when I was graduating from high school people would still bring up that play. I did not learn until ninth grade that many of the girls in the second grade resented my part in said play. That information explained a lot about how the other girls in second grade behaved towards me.

This was also the year I got to go to Disneyland. I actually remember very little about it. My big sister, one from the United Way Big Brothers, Big Sisters program not a blood relative, was getting a divorce and we took the trip while her soon to be ex husband moved out of the house. Where I grew up you did not get divorced. You could live the most unhappy, unfulfilled, hollow life but you did not get divorced. This is actually one of the many things I love about my big sister. She could always be counted on to live her life according to her own design and naysayers be damned.

But when I think of second grade, one of the things that comes to memory first is learning to count in units. You know like by 5's, or 10's. I remember hours and days that then turned in to weeks of doing the same damn thing. We would be instructed to get out a piece of paper. Then we would fold the paper accordion style going across the width of the page making several long columns. Then we would be instructed to write out numbers using the boxes we had just created on our paper. I remember doing this so often and for so long I thought I would die of boredom.

Imagine my surprise then after this long and boring and tedious process of learning to count in units when my oldest daughter learned to count by 5's, 10's, 20's and even 100's without so much as a piece of paper or a single "lesson" on the subject.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Spiritual"

I have to be honest, the word spiritual is one that makes me throw up in my mouth just a little. Of course, that is a vast improvement over the reaction I used to have to the word. I am not really sure why. There are many possibilities. It could have its roots in my upbringing in a fundamentalist religion, or in my dabbling in new age philosophy. Either one is a likely culprit. One at its root was about an established organization that exerted control over the people in its congregation and the other about how people can somehow magically control the universe. Maybe it is because I have never been capable of fitting the mold that either of these ideas of spiritual would bring to my mind.

When I talked this over with my mentor some time again she laughed at me, this is a very common occurrence actually. She said, "End game is living well." It has taken me this long to really chew on that and then use it.

I am an incredibly spiritual person with a goofy, some would say, sick sense of humor. I feel being spiritual is about a continuous search for truth, a journey to ones wholeness. It is no accident that my favorite nuggets of truth right now are:

If you plant flowers in the front yard and never pick up the shit in the back yard something will start to smell.

And

You can sprinkle sugar on shit and it might sparkle but it will still be shit.

You see, I am sort of in the middle of my own "coming out." It has become too inauthentic for me to not have all the parts of me together all the time. So, yes you will begin to see posts about my ongoing and life long spiritual quest to me. And yes, they will still have swear words and a slightly off color perspective.