Thursday, December 26, 2013

My 4 Lessons of 2013

New years. A time of reflection, change, and rejuvenation. It was a pretty good year for me, I learned a few things. Here are the 4 most important things I learned this year.

1. Respect your children. I feel like I have done the best I can as mother, and when they were babies it was easy, feed, cloth, shelter, and snuggle. As they have grown and begun to think and feel as little individuals it has become more complicated. Respect is important to me; I won’t tolerate being disrespected especially in my own home. But now, I realize more than ever, it needs to be earned, not just because “I said so.”  I need to keep my word, create space for bonding, and try to foster learning without crushing their spirits. I have been called out, hurt, inspired, and awed by my growing boys and know there is work to be done as they transform into young men.  So thank you dear children for keeping me honest.

2. I need to be creative. Everyone has an urge to be creative, whether it’s painting, crafts, writing, singing. We all want to create something beautiful just for its own sake. I think it’s something that can easily be ignored and brushed aside, but that ignoring this aspect of your being can be toxic. I have been writing now more than ever and my blogging has been cathartic and healing. I also still have my grand dream of publishing a memoir. It still feels rather far off but I'm glad to have a dream. 

3. Healing is ongoing. I once thought I was as healed as I was going to get. But after some significant backsliding, and rude awakenings I know it’s something that is never done but needs continuous work. Thank you therapy for helping me unpack those boxes. Often unpleasant, and sometimes a lot of work but well worth it.

4. I am a lover. I am unabashedly, adoringly, enthusiastically in love with people. I need to express my love, my heart overflows with it. If I like you, I’m probably in love with you. I am in love with your uniqueness, your strengths, your weaknesses. I love the ways you are different from me, and the ways we are the same. I believe love is an amazing radiating energy and I thank the universe I have been given such a large capacity for love. I used to be apologetic about being too soft, making “excuses” for the way people were. No more. If I am soft hearted, that is my place, there is room for everyone in this world, being a "softy" is who I am.

So here is me wishing you a Happy New Year! My wish for you all to have continued learning, and more love than you can handle. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Brilliant Gift

I identify with this woman and her journey with her daughter. (See link at the bottom of the page.) I was one of those judgmental people, who blamed ADHD on bad parenting and what have you. Until I was blessed, yes that is right, blessed with an incredible, intelligent, sweet, curious boy...with ADHD. And just like woman in the story, we picked up on his gifts, yes gifts, early on. Here was a bright boy with a nearly gifted IQ, who was unable to succeed at school, struggled with appropriate behavior with friends and family. He had repetitive verbalizations, interrupting constantly, fidgeting, zero ability to concentrate, and impulsive behavior. (I have plenty of exposer to other children, so I know the difference between “normal boy” stuff, and what it looks like to be ADHD)But he was smart! And intuitive, artistic, empathetic, and FUNNY! The type of funny you have to be smart for. He NEVER gave up.
After years of struggling to keep up, testing with specialists and doctors, multiple diagnoses of Dyslexia, ADHD, and a vision disorder too complicated to explain, I was resigned that school was always going to be a huge challenge. I spent countless hours tutoring him with an expensive reading program, volunteered at the school, and took him to vision therapy, which was also hugely expensive.  I find it noteworthy that none of these interventions were covered by insurance.  Finally as a last resort, and not without hesitation, we started him on medication.
We waited a full year before getting a prescription because of the negative stigma attached.  The idea that parents throw their kids on medication as an easy-out is quite simply untrue. But it got to the point he was barely keeping up, there were daily tears and frustration (his and mine) trying to complete the simplest assignments, things that should have been easy.
When he started his meds...the change was amazing. He is so proud of his success at school now, he bursts through the door 90% of the time either having done his homework already or excited to do it. He gets happy little notes on his work from his teacher. And today, he was awarded top in class for WRITING! One of the most difficult things for him to do. And he also received a “Most Improved” award.  I am so very proud of him, and it brings me to tears to see the pride on his face. This little boy is a brilliant gift to me and has many many brilliant gifts to share. 
So if anyone wants to judge anyone else for the decisions they make to help their children have the success they deserve, stop and educate yourself.  
Are there problems with our education system? Definitively yes. Are there natural interventions? Of course and we use them as much as possible, diet, nature walks, and focused time doing things he enjoys. (Lately it’s cooking.) But to discount the benefits of ADHD medication, or worse, discount the existence of ADHD altogether, is only increasing the stigma, and making the struggle of these children (and adults) that much more difficult. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Atheists Christmas

On Christmas, being an Atheist, and what it means to me. Being an atheist one would think I would have no reason to celebrate the holiday. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
I am an atheist, but this does not mean I don’t experience reverence. Reverence for my fellow man and the capacity we have to love and care for one another. Reverence for things that are beyond me to understand, “miracles” if you will. Reverence for life and all of its unexplainable beauty, a frozen pond or tiny winter bird on a bare branch.
 I also value bonding with my friends and family through traditions. The memories we create at the holidays, when our hearts are full and we have lots of love to give, become treasures to future generations. Christmas carols bring tears to my eyes because of the sense of love and nostalgia they evoke. I love the cooking, and family gatherings, I love the snow and warm fires. There is an overall sense of family being celebrated. It is traditions that keep those who have passed on alive in our hearts.
Also charity and the generosity of the human spirit comes alive this time of year. People are reminded of the importance of caring for others. When we have so much, be it love or money, we are compelled to share it liberally during the holidays.  And whether we have everything we want or just what we need, people seem to be more grateful.
I know many people will argue that Christmas is about the wee baby Jesus, and that is fine, but it means something to me as well. And if I am wrong in the end, I am quite confident I will be forgiven for my non-belief, because the things I do believe in are Love of my fellow man, Charity, and Reverence for all the beautiful mysteries of life we cannot understand.  All of these things are important to me year round but I very much enjoy celebrating it in unity with so many others during this season.

Have the happiest most joyful holiday with those you love, celebrating it in whatever manner fills your heart. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bittersweet Repose

There is a space between sleep and wakefulness, when you have slept the deep slumber of a person exhausted by the racing of their own mind. A space where your regrets and mistakes both real and imagined, your unrealized ambitions rise up to haunt you. Sometimes you see clearly what it is you should be doing with your life, or the reparations you should be making to others, or the brilliant idea, the artistic expression that will cleanse your soul.  But you are powerless to move your limbs, to speak, to take action. You have been given an answer, and your greatest desire is to use this elusive resolve.
But as you begin to come into consciousness, those haunting half dreams, the clarity of those answers begin to fade, slipping back into your subconscious. You are left to try to groggily recall what it was you were shown. With heavy lidded eyes, and slow moving limbs, you climb from your warm repose trying desperately to cling to the inspiration, or resolution you know was just there moments ago. Now it is tickling the back of your mind, half formed, like a puzzle with missing pieces, hopelessly veiled in the space between sleep and wakefulness. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Soul Sister

One day when I was about 12, my mother told me she was going to have another baby. I was angry, how could she do such a thing without my permission? I don't know if that is the usual reaction of a 12 year old, or if it was just me. I was an angry confused young lady who had had a pretty rough start in my life thus far.
I already had 2 little brothers; the eldest was a crazy haired, scrawny, introspective and opinionated 8 year old. He was not particularly outspoken, but had a firm sense of what he thought right and wrong and we fought all the time.  He is the same way today (without the fighting) and everyone loves him dearly for his thoughtfulness and levelheadedness.
The youngest was around 2 or 3 years old, cherub faced with jet black hair, rosy cheeks, and piercing blue eyes. He had a never ending curiosity and propensity for finding trouble.  And you guessed it; he is the same way today. He is extremely intelligent and can figure out just about whatever mechanical/electrical problem you put in front of him and something about him makes you want to hug him.
So at 12 years old, I thought our family had had about enough of babies and found no reason another should be added.  I fumed about this until my mom began to show, it was then I realized there was a tiny being in there that was just waiting to come and meet the world. As I grew accustomed to the idea I began to get excited, I helped to go through the hand me down baby cloths, (there were a lot, there was no prenatal doctor visits and certainly no knowledge of the sex of the baby) and began to imagine what my new baby brother or sister may be like.
As the day grew near I stayed close, having been promised to be able to see the birth, the anticipation was unbearable! But the temptation of friends and sleepovers eventually won out and it was on just such an evening my baby sister was born.
I was awoken from a dead sleep at my friends house, and told to get up quick and come home, my mother was having the baby. You can bet I shot out of bed and rushed home as fast as I could…only to find the baby girl had already arrived. But the thrill of meeting her the first time alleviated any disappointment I may have had.
There she was, all pink and squished with a shock of thick black hair on the top of her head and soft black fuzz on her back and shoulders just like a little monkey, and I loved her.
From that very moment we have been almost inseparable, I changed her diapers, fed her, and sang her to sleep. (She even slept in my room as a toddler, with her fat little feet planted squarely in my face).
Over our lifetimes we have forged a strong and loving relationship, she calls me Sister Mama, and for my part she is the daughter I never had. We can finish each other’s sentences, get each other’s often crass, very dry and witty humor, and we would do absolutely anything to keep the other from being hurt.
For many years I did my best to protect her from whatever I could, took her under my wing, and made sure she had the things she needed even after I had left home and got married. Consciously or unconsciously I took her on as my charge.
And what I got in return is priceless. Today she is a bright, compassionate, thoughtful young lady who has a heart of gold and her head on her shoulders right where it belongs. Every moment I spent playing patty cake, or tea party, shopping for her first bra, talking about boys, being the holder of secrets and dryer of tears, has paid off tenfold.
Today, she is the holder of my secrets, the dryer of my tears, laughs at my jokes and listens to my rants. She has the wisest most thoughtful advice you will ever hear, and not one judgmental bone in her body. In my darkest moments it is her voice that soothes me.
Everybody who knows her loves her for her easy laugh, sense of humor, and generous spirit.  (And her dance moves are unmatched).If she doesn't know it already I would like her to know that she is indeed my hero, and probably a hero to many others and more to come.  I could not be prouder of her, or love her more,  if I tried.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Legacy of Violence

My mother was a battered woman, in every sense of the word. She was verbally abused, threatened, manipulated and physically abused. She lived in an environment of fear and helplessness he created to control her. He needed to control her because of his own insecurity and pain. The situation was a vicious circle.
Eventually, my mother ran, literally, in the middle of the night feigning a run to the store for presto logs. She was at the time heavily pregnant with me,  and leaving two young children with him. That is the level of fear she lived in. So afraid, so helpless she left without her children. This is something I know not many people can understand; leaving your children. It was difficult and painful and done out of sheer desperation. I watched that decision torture her all of her adult life. That decision, and the fact she had been broken down physically and mentally, seeped into every aspect of her life. The raising of her children, whom she chose as partners, everything was tainted with either guilt or fear.
She did fight to get them back through the court system, but he was a smooth talking convincing man and she was unable to win against him. This in and of itself took a great deal of bravery on her part. He was supposed to share custody, but somewhere along the way, through fear and manipulation, that never happened. My mother and I were separated from my two siblings for 20 years.
Violence against women, why does it happen? Is it the message society has fed us for so many years, that women are weaker, subordinate to men? How is it that a man can lift his hand, or lash out with violent and cutting words, to someone he professes to love? Is this a subconscious urge to control? A need to assert power? Superiority?
Whatever the answers are, it's past time to educate people, and to provide rescue for women from these horrible situations.  Because, even after a woman is removed, and years have gone by, there are still wounds that won’t heal. It is a far reaching and terribly damaging experience for any human to go through. Mentally imprisoned, and sometimes even physically. Post traumatic Stress is a very real repercussion for these women and their children.
I hope that before anyone judges a woman as weak, or stupid, or asks "why doesn't she just leave?" when they go back to the abusers, you must understand the level of manipulation and fear that has been leveled against them. It takes an incredibly strong woman with a network of people assisting them to get out of abusive relationships. Something the abuser has spent years breaking down and taking away.
Often the children of these relationships come away with anxiety, stress and fear. The girls choosing abusive men because that’s what they recognize of love, and boys abusing the women in their lives. This is a cycle that must end.
In our family, for the most part, we escaped but not without damage. Some of us narrowly avoiding the cycle. My first choice for a boyfriend was verbally abusive at the least, and at the very end pushed me down and put his hands around my throat. That was a turning point for me. It was then that I decided I would not allow a man to treat me like that ever again. At that time I did not understand the psychology behind the choices I was making. 
All the members of our broken family have dealt with the repercussions of our legacy in our own way, suffering from anxiety, depression, phobias, self medicating and other issues. But for the most part we have healed the best we can.

My point is this, batterers crimes are far reaching, and don’t stop when the battering stops. Society needs to step up, and better educate the populace on this issue, we need to fund programs for women to get out and get safe. To provide for them ways to keep their children together and make available food and shelter. These women are in essence victims of war, refugees in their own country. These women should be able to leave, without fear of losing their children, their homes, and their lives. It’s time for those who batter to be held accountable, not the victims.  I will share a link to my mother’s blog where she writes briefly about her experience.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Birthday Thank You's

I love my birthday.
Nobody has to remember it, I don't have to have a party, or get gifts, I have just always loved my birthday. Somehow I feel special on that day, a day just for me. I should hope everybody feels this way on the day that marks their entrance to this strange and wonderful life.

Birthdays are wonderful time to take stock of your life. To reflect on where you have been and where you need to go. This year I reflect on my many experiences good and bad, and how they contributed to who I am and how I feel about myself today. And I am happy to say, in the big picture I am as happy and fulfilled as I could wish to be. Not content by any stretch, to stagnate, but thrilled with life, its unpredictability, fullness, and ability to teach me new things all the time. I am delighted I have learned to roll with the punches as they say, and embrace life as it comes. This is not something that I have always been good at but have only begun to perfect in recent years. I also reflect on the people who have helped to form me. And the person I am, the person I love (most of the time) has so many people to thank.

My mother, for teaching me through example, empathy, tenderheartedness, and an appreciation for art and beauty. She also taught me graceful acceptance of what is, and an ability to love humanity however flawed it may be.

My siblings, for allowing me to learn to be a caregiver, to love and care them when they needed me. For letting me prove I am capable and compassionate. And in return, for caring for me, when I needed them.

My husband, who has been both friend and lover, and stood by me through many changes, that has not always been easy. He has been a safe haven during my many transformations, sometimes my whipping boy and always my anchor.

My children, for giving me back my sense of childish wonder, of bugs, and flowers, and the stars, and moon, and whether chocolate milk comes from brown cows or not. And for reminding me always what is really important, with their simple and sometimes brutal honesty.

My Love family (commune) friends, who are really nothing short of family. Whom I have bonded with through our shared experiences good and bad, and who are always there when they are needed. They understand me in ways I don't have the words for.

Also Love Family Community as a whole, who taught me to embrace differences, to love easily, and wholeheartedly, to question the status quo, and challenge the norm. Who instilled in me a strong belief in the unity of humanity through our need to give and receive love. Who taught me to live with an open mind and and open heart. 

My new friends I have made over the past year, who accepted me for who I really am, unquestioningly and with open arms. Who have helped me discover parts of myself I never knew were there. They have given me a renewed sense of community, inspired my growth in new and exciting ways, and challenged me to think more critically, reflect more deeply,  and love more fully. 

There is a long list of people I could thank individually, who have helped me along the way, but for today, I would just like to thank all of you who have crossed my path, whether it was briefly or whether we walked together a spell, for making my life a beautiful  and inspiring thing. I love and cherish you all, Thank you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thinking About Love

Thinking about love
I watched Broke Back Mountain for the second time yesterday and cried my eyes out. Such a beautiful and tragic love story.  It got me thinking about the real love stories that are still happening today and how sad it is that there are some people who risk losing family and friends…just to love. It makes no sense to me. Any time we can love and care for another is precious, it should be respected and held up as example, not disregarded and trampled.
I know we have come a long way, but we have long road still ahead. I will always be on the side of love, in all of its forms.


Does it have boundaries? Does it not exist where society says it shouldn’t? Is it not love when a man feels he is finally at home wrapped in another mans arms? Or when a woman’s tender touch makes her girlfriend tremble? When someone chooses to love many, or just one, is it our place to say nay? Does love see color or creed? Should someone’s fear and ignorance have the power to keep lovers souls apart? Does it even have that power?

I think not. I think love is boundless, it goes on for eternity, emanating from us in waves. It is not exclusionary, or explainable, it doesn't answer to fear and ignorance. When it is stifled or ignored it will only leave a deep and lonely emptiness.

Love is embracing, accepting, eternal, going on far beyond our individual selves. I choose to promote love, in all of its miraculous forms. To see love, happiness, joy, and fulfillment, that is one of life’s truest gifts. I say yes to love!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Amazing Grace

In the commune we had a lot of meetings; I would say the ones that were not about work and logistics, were much like church. But not the solemn boring kind…more of the hallelujah lets sing and dance kind.
One of the common threads through all of our services was singing. We would sing in our grief and sorrow in times of loss, and we would sing in celebration.  The songs could be written by our members, or classic hymns or songs we loved from various musical artists. (Of course songs from the grateful dead and the Beatles made a regular appearance).
When we would sing, whether it was in grief, reverence or celebration, all of our cares seemed to fall away. For that moment in time when all our voices were raised together, grudges were dropped, anger would dissipate and it seemed just for a moment, we were in perfect harmony.
We could not all sing, there were some with beautiful voices and a natural talent to carry a tune, and some who were, shall we say, somewhat less talented. (I fall with the later group). But none of that mattered because when we sang in unity we made something beautiful. We gave each other grace.
Reflecting on this brings to mind the song Amazing Grace, while I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination, the message of this song still rings true for me. Because who has not been lost and in need of being found? Who has not been able to see through the darkness and then been shown a light? I feel like that is what we were doing for each other during these times, showing each other grace. I saw people weep while we sang, and laugh too, there was a family song that actually incorporated laughter, and it was a favorite of everyone's. There is something healing about singing. I read somewhere that every human being has an intrinsic need to sing, it crosses all cultural boundaries. It is one of things I truly miss about living with the commune.

In those times when we are lost and blind, this is when we need grace the most.  
Enjoy this beautiful version: 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Birth At Home

Sweet baby girl probably somewhere around 1981
I am going to give you a little background on this next childhood memory. While the details are foggy, I was only about 5 years old at the time, what I do remember clearly is that I was a privileged witness to something  very special.
During this era we lived in a remote valley on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. Nestled in woods there were two rustic pine-sided cabins, equipped with electricity and limited indoor plumbing. (Hot and cold running water but no flush toilets) We used a wood burning iron oven for both heat and cooking.  We kept large and prolific gardens, and orchards. We also kept chickens for eggs and meat. We were at least an hour and half from a hospital and had no phones. So when I say we lived like pioneers I am not exaggerating. There were also several yurts perched on earthen platforms that served as the sleeping spaces for the several families that called this place home.  These were kept warm in the winter by hanging colorful parachutes from the ceilings, and lining the walls with moving blankets. Each one equipped with a wood stove. All in all we were warm and well fed. It was in the larger of the two cabins where this special event took place.
A Birth at Home
Me and my small step brother sit quietly at the top of the stairs listening to the bustle below. The hushed voices of the grownups floating up to us. The anticipation in the air is palpable, a baby is coming! We have been awaiting this day for a very long time. We are very quiet and do exactly as we are told.
Soon we are ushered downstairs to sit quietly in the corner of the dimly lit room. I don’t know if it is dawn or dusk, but the lights are low, voices are hushed, and the air smells of incense and tea. There are women working at the foot of my Godmothers bed, speaking words of encouragement. The men are laughing and speaking quietly to each other, helping to carry in basins of warm water and staying out of the way.
Low moans are coming from the bed, I sense that there is pain, but it doesn’t frighten me. When I look around the room the faces of the grownups reflect anticipation and joy. Soon my mother comes for my little brother and I, and walks us quietly to where we can see. The baby is almost here! I see a head squeezing through the birth canal, and suddenly with a gush the rest of baby enters the world.
It’s a girl! The air is filled with laughter and celebration.  The women help my Godmother to clean up and the small baby girl is washed and wrapped in blankets. My brother and I are allowed to look at her and touch her now. She is so tiny and wrinkled and her head is pointed, my mother tells me this is because she was so squished coming out.  We look at her and touch her soft cheeks and marvel at her tiny fingers and toes.
I know I have witnessed something miraculous, I know that it is special. The room is filled with love, and joy…it’s the peaceful beginning of a new life.
This baby girl, while from different genetic parentage than I, is every bit my sister today. I am blessed that I was able to be there for her very first moments on earth. She has grown to be an intelligent beautiful woman whom I admire very much.  Our mutual experience with communal living and the tight relationships of our families has bonded us together for life.  
As a side note, I am very opposed to the way our society treats birth as a medical condition. I did not have my children at home partly due to the fact I did could not find anyone to deliver the baby in my home environment, and partly due to the fear of the unknown. I had my first child in a birth center with very little intervention, and my second in a hospital because there was no one available to deliver me in my domicile. The two experiences were vastly different, and only served to strengthen my belief that our system is lacking.
Child birth is a natural occurrence and yes, many things can go wrong, but in all likelihood will not. We are frightened into thinking medical intervention is necessary. Many times the interventions received lead to more complications. My hope is that one day it will be the norm to birth at home, with family and loved ones, and that the glaring medical lights and latex gloved hands will be reserved for the very worst case scenarios.  Happy birthday!
Oh! I'm adding this in as an after post edit, this baby girl I witnessed coming into the world, in turn was witness to the birth of my first born! Now that, my friends is a beautiful circle! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Think Your Way To Happy

Peace of mind does not mean everything is right with the world and you are care free. It means you acknowledge your world the way it is, are doing what you can to better your reality, and accommodate whatever it is that you cannot change. It is a meditation in acceptance. I think when you reach this place in your mind you radiate a positive energy that comes back to you tenfold and amazing things start happening.
When you find peace of mind, your eyes are open to the goodness, fullness, and opportunities life offers you. You clearly see the difference between “want” and “need” and whatever you need comes easily, and many of the things you want follow. It’s about the ability to see these things.
When you let your mind wander into negative thought patterns, self doubt, insecurities, etc…It makes it very hard to recognize the goodness in your life that is already there, waiting for you to notice. It takes only a few moments, but sometimes a monumental effort to redirect your mind. If you can just for a minute or two, focus on one thing, one tiny thing that you are grateful for in your life you can begin to make a shift.
The sun on your shoulder, your faithful dog, the view from your office, anything can help. I have been waking up each day, trying to start my day with one positive thought, knowing it will set the tone for my day. I am not naive, I know life gets really rough, and sometimes one needs time to grieve or be angry, I am just referring to a whole-life practice.
I find by practicing this I actually develop a buffer to others negative energy, I don’t get sucked into drama, and when something happens in my life that’s not what I wanted or anticipated, I am able to let it just pass through. That’s not to say I don’t want to listen or reflect when loved ones come to me with grief or sorrow, It just means I put myself in a position to do what I can to help, and can let go of the rest.
Developing a pattern of positive thought can change your life.  Peace of mind, or happiness is not given to us by some outside force, it’s up to each individual to find or create their own happiness. To look for it outside yourself is not only giving away your power, but is also a fruitless venture. I know this is all very cliché, but it’s been my focus of late and just thought I would share. I am currently living my life with a very full heart and a peaceful mind. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Standing On The Precipice Of Awesome

Sometimes in ones life everything is so right, that quite literally your mind and body are buzzing with positive energy. It’s as if one little piece of your lifes' puzzle found its place, and then a dozen others followed suit. Suddenly your life fits.
Whatever it is that your soul yearns for is right there, within your grasp, and now, now you are empowered to reach out and grasp it.  Even the not-quite-right things are okay, you are going to beat this game of life.
You can feel the things that held you back before losing their grip, fear, self doubt, lack of inspiration, and you begin to step away. Like setting foot on a new path with a light pack, the sun filtering through the trees, birds are singing, and all is right with the world.
I know it’s not possible to always feel this way, but when you do, when you are most alive and awake to your life, your creative juice, the universe sees it. Opportunities come and you know without a doubt what to do with them. You know what to do to make amends, to clean up your messes, solve your problems, to make your life amazing. 

When you're standing on the precipice of awesome…you JUMP!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Coloring Outside the Lines and other “Antisocial" Behaviors

I have had people tell me I’m stubborn and even “combative” which while I can see why they might think that, I don’t see myself that way. Rather, I am unwilling to accept things as they are just because “most people” think that’s the way it should be.  In fact, I like to challenge the status quo, and challenge myself to try to see things the way others might. But I will always question someone if they are trying to be the boss of me. 

I grew up in a commune whose members relished going against the grain, for example, not using money for a period of time, not putting their birthdays on their ID’s, instead telling the powers that be they were “eternal”.  They also practiced non-monogamy or “free love” and other such things, that fly in face of acceptable behavior in our rather puritanical Christian dominated society. Ironically, within the community, expressing dissent with the communes’ leader and his guidelines, or being autonomous or independent in any way was highly discouraged.

So I believe I ended up with an interesting mix of influences. I was taught by example both to thumb your nose at established cultural norms but also to taught to accept blindly what I was told by my “elders” Guess which one won out? I love coloring outside the lines, I don’t like “society” to dictate to me what I should and shouldn't do, other than your basic good and evil issues such as rape and murder, the types of rights and wrongs that basically cross all cultures, or harm innocents. 

Beyond that, I find it rather distasteful for the government to have their proverbial hands on my body, or in my home.  (I did not give them consent, last I checked that was rape.) Now I understand there are people who feel we need to control what other people put in their bodies, or do behind their bedroom doors, or even how to educate their children, because we hold the higher moral ground don’t we?  Wrongo! It’s appalling to me to think somebody else can dictate those kinds of choices for anyone else but themselves.

I understand, and have heard, all the arguments.  There are many issues we make broad and sweeping laws to try to prevent, and fail miserably. Last I checked, not selling liquor on Sundays hasn't prevented alcoholic people from being alcoholic, illegal drugs are used by the masses every day turning good people into "criminals", and for Petes' sake you can't stop a gay from gay!  But this country was founded on “In God We Trust” wasn't it? Shouldn't we guide people to be morally upstanding? Wrongo…It was established with the idea that people would be free to practice whatever religion or lack thereof without fear of persecution, and with freedom as a foundation.

What we need to stop doing is wasting time and money trying to monitor people’s moral values; WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME!  If you want to go to church every Sunday and abstain from alcohol, guess what? That’s fine.  You are entitled. Worship Chickens? Have at it. Believe Aliens are coming to take you off the earth and into heaven…enjoy the wait. Just don’t try to force your beliefs on the rest of us. The War on drugs, the endless battle to suppress gay rights, restricting womens' access to healthcare etc…is heavily influenced by antiquated religious beliefs, and is a huge waste of resources.

And now instead of wasting all that money enforcing and arguing those ridiculous and tedious “moral judgment laws” lets EDUCATE! Educate our children about dangerous substances, responsible sex, and tolerance. Let’s TREAT addictions and mental health issues…and most importantly RESPECT peoples' choices to live their lives how they wish, instead of forcibly trying to make people conform. Because in the long run, that is the only thing that makes us a free society. I would like religion to get its dirty hands out of government, and let us have real “American Freedom.”

Now lets all go smoke a joint and get gay married! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stories as Fragile as Butterfly Wings

 When I started writing my blog I wanted to share my story, I have been told it’s an interesting one, and I believe it so. I also believe every person has an intimate and beautiful story that most of us will never see or hear, because something is lost in telling, even if you are one of brave few who try. So I began, but was barely able to scratch the surface. What I have found in my evolution as a blogger/writer, is that I am more inclined to share my thoughts, or stream of consciousness, and my opinions, (being both steadfast and flexible in my beliefs), than I am to chronicle my life.  

Perhaps it’s the narcissism, of someone who feels as if the world can't live without seeing what is in the dark recesses of her mind. Maybe it’s just the voice of someone who has in the past felt unheard and now shouts from the tops of mountains, finding comfort in the sound of her own voice. Whatever it is, I am driven to turn my thoughts inside out and expose them to light, all my musings, both the joyful and miserable.

But even more so, I feel that my musings are like lifting mental weights, practice for something more. I am still quite inadequate at expressing my thoughts as I want to. I have beautiful thoughts floating around in my mind like little orbs of light, beautiful colors and sounds and smells, only lasting a fleeting moment and then they are gone. I try to capture as many as I can, but I always seem to fall desperately short.  Like chasing a beautiful butterfly through a field of daisies, what will you do with it even if you are able catch it? Sometimes catching it harms the fragile creature, if your touch is not delicate enough.

Sometimes there are a few beautiful moments, when my thoughts transform from those little orbs of light, or fluttering wings, to something poetic and pure, in black and white on the page, but that is infrequent.  I have words like incandescent, and indelible, puritanical and putrid, audacity and auspicious, floating around in my brain…just words by themselves but to capture them, to use them to tell a story, to make someone hear, see and experience  almost as clearly as I do, what I am trying to express... is elusive.

And so I write…I write and write and write. Sometimes it’s dull and disappointing, (or dismal and drab if I feel poetic) But sometimes, very very infrequently, I capture a light, it’s like the words flow through me, they are of me, and are mine, but also take on a life of their own.  Fragile and yet tangible, and I am able to use those words to paint the pictures in my mind. It’s those moments I write for.
Thank you dear reader, for wading through the dismal and drab, for the rare gem, the fragile butterfly, that is a fleeting glimpse of the little lights in my mind. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Achieving Success

Me circa 1993 Full of Hopes and Dreams
As I approach my 20 year class reunion I reflect on success and achievement, as we all do at some point or another in our lives. What did my young girl self think success was? What were her dreams? Well being a shy and somewhat insecure girl, my aspirations were modest. I just wanted to be able to have a “normal” home, get married, have a decent income, just to fit in with what I perceived as societal norms.
Done, done and done. And yes it made me happy…for a while. As I grew older and looked at what I thought success was it became hollow, not what it appeared to be. I saw so many people breaking their backs at a job they hate just to make ends meet, to have a new car, and a better house…more, more of everything please. This did not suit me at all.
And as it does sometimes, life threw me and my family a curveball. My husband lost his very good job he had had for many years, and our main source of income. We both slipped away into panic, fear, and despair. The economy was in the dumps and it did not look good for us.  
But then, we looked at each other, we looked at our children, happy healthy and whole, we looked at our lives and what we had built so far, and how much of our lives were still ahead of us, and we stopped clinging to the hollow “American Dream”.  We let go of the fear, and said so what if we have to live in an apartment again? So what if we can’t drive new cars? Our lives are filled with family and friends whom we love and whom love us. We have healthy bodies and healthy children and we can get by.
So it was then we decided we weren't going to kill ourselves dumping our energy into that hollow existence any more. I worked more so my husband could go to school, he loved it! He grew and expanded his mind. He started a small home business with his newfound free time and we had plenty of time to spend with each other and our family. Things were tight, but we did it. He graduated and was never so proud of himself and I was proud of him too, he found a fun and fulfilling job providing us with enough income to get by comfortably, and I took over the business, allowing me to stay home and raise our boys.
My point is this, I think we cling to things, literally “things” and make them far too important. We Make them status symbols, or examples of our “success” but what success really is, is the relationships we build, the energy we send out to the greater masses, a positive attitude toward what life hands us, because even when it seems like a horrible and painful thing, there’s a gift in there to be found.
So when we thought we were being destroyed, we were really being offered a chance to rebuild, in a way WE wanted to. We changed our views of success, and achievement and now live knowing that each precious moment that we are alive, and happy and positive…is a success. Being a successful person is being true to ones self, looking in the mirror every day, or at least most days, and saying “what do I have to be happy for?” and being able to have a good answer, a personal answer, an answer that is all yours. Not a comparison to the neighbors or your brother or anyone else you think has “more”. Yes, it's cliche but it's true, success is "being" happy not "finding" happiness, and that is found inside yourself, no amount of money or things will ever do that for anyone. Yes, it's nice to have nice things but is not a requirement to live a successful life. I hope every single one of you find success.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This Little Light

This is what kept me up last night.
With all the things that have been in the news lately I have been noticing a trend. It seems that there is such a great underlying of mistrust and fear of differentness.  Divisive politics with social programs, class warfare, right and left wing squabbling, race relations, the recent tragedy of the Zimmerman verdict polarizing people along racial lines, but there have also been some good things too, such as legalizing same sex marriage in Washington State, but this also polarized points of view. Has there been an escalation? Are these growing pains? I hope we are moving in the right direction.
I don't understand how we can have so much fear, and even hate and violence toward our brothers and sisters. Why do we need to litigate laws to deprive others of their rights? Why do we act out with violence and hate speech? It seems so simple to me, to accept our differences, it is what makes us all beautiful. The one thing that makes us all the same is our humanness. Our desire for love, acceptance, respect, and freedom. 
Is it intrinsic to our nature to distrust and fear differentness? How did we get here? How can we stop teaching fear? Someone recently said to me something their father always said to them “different is not wrong it’s just different.” Why can't we all accept and even embrace this?
I know no one is immune to prejudice, I know I have those negative messages go through my head, but I try to let them pass through, recognize them as what they are, and try to change my thought processes for the next time. We are all fallible but we don't’ have to let that rule us.
I sincerely hope we can grow as a society to love, respect and cherish our neighbors, black, white, gay, straight, right or left, male, female, young, old and everything in-between.  I know it sounds cliché but this is what I hope our reality could become. 

As the children’s Gospel song says, “This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine”  We all have a light. 

Monday, July 8, 2013


Wow.  I am just blown away by the wonderful support I have received for my writing.  Especially with last week’s blog. If I had to compare writing and publishing publicly to something on the physical plane it would be this. Suddenly you are caught naked in the middle of the road, completely exposed and vulnerable to the rain, wind, and sun. It’s terrifying, but you can't just stand there for the entire world to see can you? But then, as you become accustomed, you realize how good the rain and wind feels cooling your skin start to notice how the sun gently warms you. You begin to feel  liberated and free, and that is a thrilling feeling. That’s what it’s like. Terrifying because you are exposed and exhilarating because you are uninhibited.
I have never had any formal training for writing; I did take a few literature courses in a community college mostly from pure love of the written word. What I do know is writing, as a form of self expression is not only natural and therapeutic for me, it’s almost a need. I have been writing for many years and I have my ancestors to thank for the example. My great grandfather wrote, my grandfather wrote, and my mother mother writes. I can remember laying down in bed at night and hearing my mother tap tap tapping on her Brother  typewriter my grandpa sent her because we had no electricity. This was high tech for her compared to the pen and paper she had been using for so many years. I loved that sound and understood even then that it was something important for her.
So thank you Great Grandfather for your influence in my life and your collection of Louis L'Amour books I still treasure.
Thank you Grandfather, for your encouragement and example of writing for the love of writing. And  for keeping our history for us.
And thank you Mom, for the years of support and for loving me and encouraging me even when some of my words must have been painful for you to read.
And finally, thank each and every one of you who have taken the time to read even one of my ramblings, the many of you who stopped and made a thoughtful comment, shared my writings with others, and encouraged me to keep going. It means more than you know.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hypocrisy and Our Great Nation

I feel the same about patriotism as I do about religion. It seems full of hypocrisy and fallacies.  Religion is brimming with mythology and misinterpretations and so are the commonly accepted ideas about the founding of “this great nation”.
There’s nothing like growing up in a commune to illustrate all the bold faced lies in religion, how it’s used to control and manipulate others and even to profit financially from. I turned completely away from religion, I would say about 5  years ago when I realized that any pretense on my part to believe there was some omniscient being micromanaging people’s lives and making judgment  on right and wrong was ridiculous. I just didn’t believe it; the white Christian theology we are fed from the cradle does not reflect the true diversity that is represented on our planet earth.  It is a narrow and condescending belief system that when closely examined by a critical mind cannot hold up to scrutiny.
This is also how I feel about patriotism; we are saturated by images of the mighty “Red White and Blue” and fed false ideas about how “Free” we are. I find many of these beliefs false. We are governed by a somewhat heavy handed government; we eat drink and sleep what our mighty democracy feeds us. When we speak as a people it takes a herculean effort to be heard over the influence of the all mighty dollar, and white male Christianity.
White Christian America and everything that goes with it, is offensive to me, and I'm sure my views will be offensive to many of you.
But consider who really built this country. It was the determination of a few souls fleeing their homelands seeking FREEDOM from condemnation; they fought tooth and nail to scratch out an existence for their belief in freedom. It was the First Nations, making sacrifices of their own freedom and their way of life. Suffering the humiliation and heartbreak of having their land and culture raped. It was on the backs of all the immigrants who came here seeking freedom. The struggle of the Chinese, Irish, Spanish, Mexicans, Africans and Jews. All of these vastly different cultures poured into one nation, with the same goal, to live free, to be free to believe and live how they see fit.
So reflecting on this I see America as needing to go a long way yet to meet its goal of true freedom. When we have erased bigotry against gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation, when we no longer have laws polluted with religious ideals, when we are really free to live without condemnation and our voices are heard over and above the clamor of the dollar, then I will we patriotic.   
And before I receive a lambasting for being critical of our Great Nation, please know, yes I am grateful for being here, and not in a country where suppression of human rights are even more egregious and abused.  I am simply stating my opinion on where we are, and where we need to go. Thank the universe I am free to write this.

Happy 4th whatever that means to you. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Circle of Trust

Being betrayed, is sour lump in your gut…a bitter and painful thing…your pulse races, your heart pounds, your stomach turns nauseously, and a sense of anger and confusion takes over…how could you do this to me? I gave you something so precious to hold…my trust and now it’s broken.  And we all know trust is not something easily repaired, but it is possible. 
I have been on both sides of this fence, as most of us have, because betrayal comes in all sizes…itty bitty…"I fibbed about why I didn't come to your party"…to triple extra large…"I wasn't working late at the office last night dear." Whatever side of the fence you fall on, it feels awful.
What I have learned is while the betrayal can be vastly different in scope, the root feelings are the same, much like my reflection on grief in my previous blog. It just comes down to how deeply and how long the feelings will affect you.
I think the thing that hurts the most, is sometimes it's not the actual crime itself, but the fact you were excluded, lied to, or tricked…it feels as if you were disregarded. No one wants to feel disregarded, let alone by someone they trust and love. I think often the perpetrator does not intend on any of these things…instead they fall into a trap they have set for themselves through bad choices, fear of judgement, and their own inability to trust in others.
In order to be honest you have to trust your relationships, you have open yourself up and trust that those you love will be accepting and considerate of your humanness.  There is that word again, trust…full circle. It seems to be a  a catch 22, when you are breaking someone’s trust, you are doing it because you don’t trust them with your honesty.
Why is honesty so hard? It’s because honesty will often make you vulnerable…vulnerable to criticism, vulnerable to feelings of anger directed at you, it often disrupts the status quo.  Self preservation is a very strong instinct; to make yourself vulnerable isn’t a simple task.
In  the end I think the most important thing we can do, is trust and be honest, build those relationships in which these things come most easily, and put your faith in your most cherished friends and loved ones. Try to be someone who can be trusted to be thoughtful with honesty, and be truthful in your words and actions.
When you make a mistake fess up, and try to learn from it. Then forgive…forgive yourself for being tripped up by life, for being human. But don't make excuses, take responsibility for your actions, learn something and move forward.
This actually feels rejuvenating, I am energized when I have learned something even if it had to come to me through failure. I am human, therefore fallible and malleable, I can make mistakes, see the error in my ways, change, and learn, becoming a better person for it in the end.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cry Me A River

Columbia River photographed by Randy Handorff
I don't know why this is heavy on my mind, but for some reason I have been thinking a lot about grief this week.  I even wrote a poem which I rarely do.
I feel like the root feeling of grief is the same for almost everyone, a clawing at your chest, a lump in your belly, shortness of breath, tears stinging your eyes, your throat closes up and you just feel like weeping. It just varies in intensity with the depth of whatever is causing you to grieve in the first place.
You can grieve for an hour, a day, weeks, etc…depending on the significance of your loss. Regardless, it hurts.
But I also believe it has a purpose, I don't think you can make peace with your personal tragedy or move on with your life without a proper grieving period. I think you stall where you are until you can mourn properly.  It’s like a purge of sorts, it will stay all balled up in there making you feel like, well…shit. Until you let it out and allow it to wash over you.  A cleansing of the spirit if you will.
“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” 
J.R.R. Tolkien
As I contemplated all of this, I had a couple of friends whom had things happen to them this week causing them grief in their lives, I had written a poem, and as I said before I rarely do, I know next to nothing about poetry other than sometimes it moves me when I read a good one. I don't know about style, content, composition… seriously, nothing. So I NEVER share. But I'm going to buck up and share this time because perhaps it is needed by someone.  Maybe even just me.  It’s probably not very good, but it is basically just an emotional from- the -gut sort of thing.  So here it is for what it’s worth.
Warm tears tracing a winding path down my cheek
Heart seized, aching, pounding in my chest
Breath short, catching in my throat
Sorrow breaking me into sharp and jagged pieces
Breathing in, breathing out
Slowly purging away my misery
Hope begins to lift my spirit
Broken places begin to mend
Grief begins to give back what it has taken
Strips me down to my very bones
Builds me back with courage and grace
I am better, stronger now than before
Whole, renewed, scared and beautiful

Friday, June 7, 2013

What's in your Backpack?

I like to think we all have mental backpacks, where we carry the things that are important to us or that we feel responsible for. I think for myself, and for many others we don't pay attention to what’s in there and how heavy it may get.
For many years I did not realize how heavy I had allowed my backpack to get, or even that I had a choice as to what to pack around in it.
What was in my backpack? My family, but not just my immediate family, my entire family…my mother my siblings, the whole kit and caboodle. (And I have a huge family for those of you that don’t know).I felt like I had to hold it all together, protect the integrity of our family, care for everyone’s feelings, keep all the secrets, be a perfect sister, daughter, mother and wife.
I covered up their mistakes, protected their feelings, organized holidays because if I didn't it wouldn't happen, I needed perfection and stability that I didn't get being a "commune kid". 
Also, I carried my pain in my backpack, pain from a traumatic childhood, filled with sexual abuse, instability, and confusion.  Pain I never fully expressed, burying it and covering it up because it’s ugly and doesn't fit my perfect life.
What happened when I tried to carry all that around? It got really heavy. And when I couldn’t carry it anymore, I didn't just set it down, I dropped it. At first it felt really good! But dropping my whole pack had its drawbacks. I went through some painful things I am not yet ready to discuss, made some mistakes and let important people in my life down.
But I learned! What did I learn?  Well, I had a choice as to what went into my pack, we all do. What I don’t need is:
Responsibility for covering up for others mistakes, people will have to live with the choices they have made just as I have to live with mine. If they have hurt me or caused me pain, I am allowed to feel it; I don’t have to cover it up to protect them.
Perfection…nope, don’t need it. Life is not perfect, it’s messy and wonderful. Christmas in January at the local Chinese food restaurant? Great.  My husband and kids taking off somewhere tropical for thanksgiving? Great. I don't need to be painting the perfect traditional picture and trying to force myself and my entire family into fitting it.
Pain…It happens. Feel it, express it, reach out for help if I need it, and then move on!
Control and fear, I don’t control what’s going to happen next, I can only weigh in, fear of change will only hamper me.
What do I have in my backpack now that I have repacked it and picked it back up?
Imperfection! It’s perfect, I love my quirky imperfect life and family; we are all just as we should be and are all traveling through life choosing our own paths. 
Acceptance, I accept change, I accept imperfection in myself and others, I accept my life the way it is, and accept that I can only control my own mind…everything else is going to do what it will.

Self care. If I am caring for myself, being responsible for my own actions, and living the best life I know how in the present…everything else falls into place. Now my pack is light and my life is good. So if you’re carrying around too much weight, lighten up!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Bookworms' Salvation

The cold damp winter and spring days seemed eternally dark, and endlessly dreary, trapping me indoors with only my thoughts and my loneliness. Living in rustic conditions with little or no modern conveniences made this even more difficult to bear. The acrid smell of kerosene lamps and wood smoke, combined with the ever present mildew-y tent smell permeated the air.  The days brightening only just a little in the hours between dawn and dusk, if there was a sun break it was barely able to penetrate through the thick moss covered trees under which our little shack was built. The Drip, drip, dripping of the rain on the yurt roof, mirroring the drip, drip, dripping of my dark thoughts.  Thoughts of hopelessness, betrayal, confusion, and sadness.
I was sinking.
In these days I did not see light or hope, I saw hypocrisy, hopelessness, and a betrayal. I was let down by nearly every adult in whose care I was entrusted. Fatherless, sexually abused, and virtually orphaned by a mother lost in her own struggle for survival and raising my young siblings, I felt invisible and unprotected; I was left to flounder without guidance, and to deal with heart wrenching grief over the loss of my innocence alone. My grief and loneliness was so complete I couldn’t see how it would ever be different.  There was no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel that I could foresee.
I did my best to escape these thoughts, these conditions I was surrounded by, with my books. Stacks and stacks of books, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, whatever I could get my hands on. The smell, the weight, the feel of these books in my hands was such a great comfort to me during these dark times.  They were a means to elude my own reality and dive into someone else’s. I would submerge myself in someone else’s story, someone else’s grief, fantasy, joy, or triumph.
I found solace and escape curled up under my blankets with a cup of hot tea, lost in the pages of a new found novel.  I would slip away into some elaborate tale, or fanciful adventure. I was encouraged by the likes of Anne Frank and Harriet Beecher Stowes Uncle Tom, and their perseverance in the face of enormous adversity.  I would also lose myself in the fantastical pages of Narnia or The Hobbit, and other such fantasies. In this way I would pass these dark days one by one, and soon my days became brighter. I learned to cope with my circumstances, looking forward to a future I knew could be different. Hope was finally something I could grasp.
I must have spent hundreds of hours reading, escaping, and surviving. Reading saved my life. I owe a great deal to a great many authors who inspired me to look beyond myself, whose words lifted me up and carried me on. The stories that enlightened and encouraged me. The little truths and bits of wisdom I found in the thousands and thousands of pages I read.  
Literature played a significant role in restoring my faith in humanity, made me look outside myself, helped to me educate myself and gave me the confidence to pick myself up and carry on.  I still find great comfort in the written word, both in putting pen to paper, and turning the pages of a book to see what new knowledge it has to teach me, or just to plain old escape into another world.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Ever Changing Current

My sons at the edge of the Smith River in the Redwoods

The one constant in my life has been change, and change has often represented loss. As I have grown older and wiser I appreciate how these things have shaped me and created character. I love people; their differences, similarities, weaknesses, and strengths. I sometimes identify heavily with someone experiencing a particularly painful loss or change and something in me wants hold them and let them know, while this doesn't feel good right now, It will soon be better than before! Change teaches us lessons that will help us learn and grow. That is, if we are living with our eyes open.

Losing the Love Family Ranch for instance, seemed at first a minor blow…before realizing what it would do to our hearts and traditions. It was our place to gather, where we went when we were lonely, or to celebrate, this place held our roots, quite literally holding the Family together. It didn't take long to see the damage that was done by losing this place. People, traditions, and even beliefs all changed. It was a very clear example of the power of change.

I have lost many things, innocence, friends, family, and even places…some things are harder to take than others, but we carry on don't we? I have learned the hard way, made mistakes I knew I was making but somehow felt compelled to continue, but I learned and I grew, and I didn’t look back and think “what if”…”what if” isn’t going to get you anywhere, it’s “Doing” that takes you places.

I still have my family and friends but we are changed, and I’m not going to mourn what once was, but instead take the opportunity to build my friendships and family anew. It’s a great chance to throw out all the rubbish and start fresh.

I love this process, and in a way thank my hippie upbringing for making it a more natural process for me. Nothing was constant, where we lived, who we lived with, nothing. I don't think it was necessarily a bad thing. I like to know to some extent what happens next, but I'm also confident that change will come, I can deal with it, even embrace it at times.

I believe people, places, and experiences, flow through us like rivers, changing us just a little, just as rivers slowly carve through their landscapes forming them anew. We cannot hang on to any of it, or we would turn stagnant and dull and eventually dry up.

That’s what it means to “Go with Flow” it can't be stopped so we may as well try to enjoy the ride, weather the white waters, and enjoy it when the water is calm. One thing you can count on for sure is change will come, the choice is ours to let it tear us down or build us up…I know what I choose.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ramblings of a Hippie Foodie

Our Tiny veggie Garden Apple trees in the back and Blueberries to the  right

Eating mass produced food is a 3 pronged assault on your wellbeing, any one of these should be enough for you to at least try to transform your eating habits.
1. Mega meat farmers dump untold amounts of toxins into our environment as do farmers of plant crops such as corn, soy, wheat, sugar and many more. These are POISON!  I'm sure we don't even know the long term detriment to the environment and our health some of these toxins will cause. 
2. Cruelty to farm animals is common practice, caging the creatures inhumanely for most of their lives before slaughter, cutting off body parts, and treating them like a commodity instead of living creatures. (supporting these practices should be depressing for you)
3. The amount of meat and processed food such as sugar and corn syrup we consume is making us fat and sick. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are running rampant...I'm not sure if you realise these things are much less of an issue in some cultures purely because of diet!
I am not perfect in my eating habits but things can be done to reduce your personal impact.
We saw these poor chickens in transport on our last family road trip

•Grow a little of your own food (awesome if you get enough yield to share with your neighbors!) Tiny little gardens can be grown on decks, patios and even the grassy patch between the sidewalk and street! This is a helpful website

•Buy locally grown organic produce and meat, and buy in bulk, it's cheaper and there is less packaging (I participate in a small food club where we jointly purchase from this company and have it delivered to one of our homes.  Most of their products are locally grown, organic and fair trade. Check them out here: if you live in the big city where you have access to a good co op, you won’t need this)

•Become a less-meatarian or vegetarian (I have perfected some delicious no meat dishes, and try to have them at least 3 or 4 times a week and we try to buy organic meat or purchase it directly from our local farmer.  Invest in a chest freezer!)

Simple. If we all adjust a little bit it will have a big impact on the whole. And who knows...maybe just maybe these huge food conglomerates will listen to us!
Here is an article that is very eye opening
And one I just read on Facebook addressing the fact that changes can be made on a legislative level as was done in other countries. Our government seems to need a tremendous amount of pressure from the people to counteract the dollars they receive from the huge food producing companies and companies such as Monsanto.

Also movies to watch 
Food Inc.
Forks over Knives 

Lastly...This woman is an inspiration! Check her out. She has a great youtube video too

Eat with your eyes open. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Just" A Stay Home Mom

“Just a stay home mom”, say that to my sister in law and you are likely to get an earful, and I dare say I agree.  There is really no such thing as “Just” a stay home mom, what we do encompasses so much more. Without going into the litany of things we are responsible for doing I will say it’s pretty thankless much of the time.
Somehow our society has evolved to a point where parenting and homemaking are regarded as less than important, because you can't put a dollar value on those things can you?  Spending your days scraping something sticky off the kitchen floor with your thumbnail (trying hard not to contemplate what it might be) while simultaneously arguing with your teen about his plans for the weekend and explaining to your elementary school child…”yes, it’s ok to wear miss matched socks today, I am behind on laundry”.  The toast is burning, and each child is wanting something different in their lunch. Plus, they hate each other and are on the verge of boxing most of the time.
 And this is before your day gets going in earnest.
There is no pay raise, (HA! There is no pay at all!) No health benefits, social stimulation or peer recognition. Before you get all envious of being able to stay home, think about the stigma our social structure has put on this position. I have even heard my very own child say to me “why don't you get a real job mom”. That stung. Parroting back the negative messages he picked up from god knows where, regarding what it means to be someone who is not gainfully employed. (Apparently my little cottage industry I engage in to make ends meet doesn’t have much value either.) And before you start in on how rewarding it is, take in consideration, depression and unhappiness is higher in stay at home moms than working mothers or women without children.
Is it because of the work? Are children that terrible? Is vacuum cleaning so horribly offensive? The fact that our job has no end and beginning?  I think not. It’s almost purely the lack of support from our dollar obsessed society, and lack of social stimulation and respect.   It is because it is “Thankless”.
I love my children, I love my domestic inspirations, when everything is order I feel accomplished, but I am not “just a stay home mom” I am more than that, I have an entire life outside of being domestic, personal dreams and desires, which are often sacrificed for my family and home, and all I ask for is what everyone really wants…A little respect. So please, with mother’s day right around the corner, thank your local stay at home mom, she will appreciate it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I am not a religious person, yet I have an angel. When I was young and naive and very in love I became pregnant. This was very much an accident. At first I was distraught, frightened, and not at all pleased with what had occurred. With the love and support of my fiancée, we decided we could and would, have and raise this baby however untimely the child would come. I was 19, my fiancee was 21.
So there we were reluctant expectant parents, still not realizing the full scope of change this would mean to our lives and future. But we went about doing what we needed to do working our low paying menial jobs, scouring the second hand stores for baby things, and slowly falling in love with the idea we were to be a family.
I did all the right things, quit drinking, smoking, and even drinking coffee. I ate the right foods, took vitamins, and went to my midwife. I spent hours daydreaming about baby, and planning for the future as best I could. At about 5 months I began to feel the flutter of life in my womb, like little bubbles, anyone who has ever been pregnant knows what a special and amazing feeling this is. I believe this is when the love really begins between mother and child. It’s like a secret and silent communication. “I’m here mama, I’m real!”  We were ready now, to welcome our baby into our lives.
I arrived at a routine check up with my midwife blissfully happy ready to hear all the exciting growth that would be happening with my wee babe.  Listening to the swoosh swoosh of the heartbeat on the monitor made it that much more real. Eventually after some poking and prodding my midwife suggested the amniotic fluid was low, and perhaps I should run down the the hospital for an ultrasound  just to check it out. I still did not think anything could possibly be wrong.
At the hospital, I dutifully lay still while the ultrasound was performed. Click click click taking pictures of all my wee babes’ parts, measuring each, and checking growth.  The technician of course gave me no information other than I should go back to my midwife for the results.
Upon entering her office, she asked me to please sit down. She also asked if I had come alone, it was then that it began to dawn on me that something was not right. She began with statistics, unbelievable statistics, one in one million; extremely rare, etc…I was numb. She went on to make me appointments with specialists, for more ultrasounds  and testing, only to confirm one horrible truth. We would not be welcoming a healthy baby; we would not be welcoming a live baby.
Our baby had Potters Syndrome; in layman’s terms the baby had no kidneys and no chance of survival outside of my womb. I drove home numb. I called my mother because who do you need most when you're sick or heartbroken? I broke down on the phone, hardly able to get the words out, “come mama, just come be with me.”  My grief was utterly complete; I believe it was the worst most painful thing in my entire life, and I had not had an easy life.
My mother was my saving grace through the next leg of this experience. My fiancée, wether it was his youth or his inability to deal with his own grief, or to watch me go through mine, kept his nose to the grindstone, got up each day, went to work and did all the necessary practical things. I look back now and know he was coping the only way he knew how.
Meanwhile my mother walked with me hand in hand through every step I had to take. Made my appointments, sat with me, cried with me, and loved me.
It finally came time to say goodbye to baby, who by this time we now knew was a little boy. I would need to deliver him just as if he was going to be a live baby.  Thankfully, there was no physical pain; I took everything they could give me. It was only a matter of hours before Angel, (a name my fiancée and chose for our baby boy, because that is how we wanted to remember him) made his arrival. Not a single breath ever crossed his tiny lips. He was taken and washed and dressed and placed in my arms.
I lay with him for what seemed to be hours, feeling oddly at peace, I had come to terms with this reality. I unwrapped his blanket, counted every tiny toe and finger, caressed his tiny cheeks, and I loved him. He was perfectly formed and beautiful. He looked as if he was just peacefully sleeping.
I’m crying as I write this, 18 years later, it was a very poignant and painful experience, but it was also a gift. My fiancée and I walked away with a deeper love and commitment to each other, and with a message. “Please wait, build your lives together, make a good home” and that’s just what we did. It was 5 years later when we welcomed our oldest son to the world, one of the most wanted and awaited children on earth.
We will never forget Angel and his lessons, I am even more sure that with every sorrowful loss comes some gift, when you pick yourself up, move on, and find it. We are thankful for our children we have now, and the lives we have built.
I am not religious…But I do have an Angel.