Saturday, April 27, 2013

It knocks you down


Have you been humbled lately? By life or the things you realize you don't know.

For a long time I  have adamantly known the things I will not do. Will not let happen. The life I am not about.

Only to be humbled by the things I am allowing to transpire. Things that happen whether you want them to or not.

The good, bad, and everything in between.

It's humbling to realize, with honesty, the things you've made worse or failed to enhance.

But there's also a certain peace in knowing you still have today to choose differently. To begin anew. Or to seek forgiveness.

And that makes me smile.

Monday, April 15, 2013

When a child tells you who they are...


Maya Angelou, the oft-quoted sage, once offered Oprah and young women the world over a piece of advice when dealing in relationships.

"When someone tells you who they are, believe them."-Maya Angelou

I would say that advice is true for children as well. When our children tell us who they are. Or how they feel. We must believe them and take their very real feelings into account.

Those who know me know that I can think and think and think on something within myself. And when I finally divulge what I've been pondering I'm ready to act on it immediately. And to the outside observer it can seem a bit impulsive, when more often than not the thought processes and ideas have been brewing for a while.

We just had a bit of a shake-up with our sons about the way they have been dealing with our recent move and the implications of our military life. And although I was shocked when at different points they each acted out on their feelings and anxiety, they had already told me before-hand that this move was not only unwanted but a major stressor.

But you try to patch them up and move them along. Get everyone acclimated and happy in school. Only to have them swiftly remind you through their behavior that the only thing more stressful than a move is the death of a loved one.

But they told me. And I only partially heard them. Was only partially listening.

It can be hard to always keep your ear to the ground and be present with children. They can be all over the place sometimes. And I've had my own anxiety about this move, leaving my job, my students, and my friends.

Then the alarm went off. Reminding me to listen to my babies. Their feelings and fears are just as real as mine. We are actually more alike than I had realized, which is bittersweet.

They are bright, but also contemplative and moody. Kind, yet demanding. Humorous and biting. And we all could do better with listening to both ourselves and each other.

I am blessed they are still willing to show me who they are.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My book is READY

The Diggery 3 look as happy as I am.











We are in the FINAL stages of my interactive children's book release!

Yay!

 "The Diggery 3" will go LIVE on the Meegenius website and app in less than 48 hours.

I have been anxiously waiting for you all to read this quirky story about 3 siblings who love to build and create. And just wait until you see the amazing illustrations by Tyler Parker. His drawings are such a great enhancement. Mr. Parker makes my story and characters just jump off the pages.

This read-along book will be set at the "can-not-be-passed-up" price of $2.99! So don't wait and miss the fantastic introductory price.

The Meegenius read-along bookstore can be viewed FREE online and is also available as a FREE downloadable app for your Android, iPhone, of GoogleTV. So go familiarize yourself with Meegenius now so you can be the FIRST one to check out my book, "The Diggery 3" on Thursday!

I am so excited. Can you tell?

Good! Now please go help me spread the word.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Long-term parenting


What is probably obvious to most is that I am a first time parent. Meaning that I did not do this job in a previous life. I haven't attended workshops or seminars. I have only trekked along on this mom-path with the help and advice of elders I love/respect and a laundry list of things not to do.

And I must say that although I have always had a vision for my children. Of what they could become. The peace and stability I wanted for their lives. I still thought of this mothering job as short term. As in, when they are 18 I am retired.

That eventually changed to when they graduate college I am retired. But then today I was thinking of several people I love, who are over the typical college age, but desperately need the support of a parent. And it hit me.

You are NEVER done. 

I mean, some children will need you more than others. Or differently than their siblings. But all children need their parents. Forever. Whether it is the couch to crash on/cry on/think on, we all need that connection and bond.

This got me thinking about birthing my eldest at the tender age of 19. I felt grown up. I acted grown up. But god was I a baby. It was all I could do to put on my big girl pants and raise and protect this child to the best of my ability.

My granny and I were talking about my husband's and my first place, which was an airy trailer in Junction City, KS. She said she was so worried that we were out in there Kansas all alone, with no money.

Whelp, we didn't have any money. Fortunately for us we didn't need at lot of snazzy things to entertain us. We had about $10 left over after bills and groceries. I nursed the baby. And we just made it work.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry alone in the bathroom sometimes wondering what I had gotten myself into. Or that my husband didn't stress all the time about getting promoted and making rank. We could have used that parental support, but it was a luxury we just didn't have.

That mindset of MAKE IT WORK comes in handy when you need to survive. But some children/adults just can't make that happen on their own. And the one's who do don't want their kids to have to do the same. They need that couch. And that's okay.

I know I'm too young to say this...but as I age...I think more and more about the opportunities and skills I want to bequeath to my boys. The information I need to pass along in order to give them the best shot at success.

An elder I affectionately title "My Fairy Run Mother" was so right about the 2011 Chicago marathon changing my perspective on life. These things/decisions/obstacles have to be viewed over the long haul. Step-by-step and day-by-day. Each day I'm adding stitches to my couch. Ensuring stability for the seat my babies may one day need. This truly is long-term.

Parents don't retire.


Friday, March 1, 2013

MAKERS is Everything

I am a lover of history. So when Twitter was all aflutter about PBS's new documentary, Makers, which chronicles the Women's Movement in the United States I immediately began salivating.

Let me tell you, Makers did not disappoint. I learned so much from the 3 videos which are all just under an hour long and currently available online. Keeping with that number I will share three things I gleaned from the viewing experience:

1. As a woman who has played sports, worked after becoming married, ran a marathon, and uses birth control I have directly benefited from the women who fought/marched/ran/litigated so that I could lawfully do those seemingly basic things.  Some of which were unheard of/illegal when my grandmother was a girl

2. These were REAL WOMEN, not saints. They made missteps and mistakes. But the fact remains that the individuals who supported this movement wanted equal rights and protections under the law for women. Not exceptionalities. Just equal opportunities for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

3. It does not matter what you call yourself if we are all working toward the same goal. I spent a tremendous amount of time with my great Aunt before moving to Georgia. She is 78 and would never call herself a feminist, but she would call me and tell me to invest my own money in my own account. To complete my degree. To turn down a position she felt was beneath me. To love my boys and husband, but to more importantly love myself enough to make sure I am whole and well.

Here is the first installment of the documentary:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ease on down the road


I've had to make some tough decisions lately. I have had to decide in black and white what I feel I am worth.
How much do I value my time?

Evaluating what I bring to a job. What I offer to an organization. And what I deliver to my students. So many times I have come into a situation or potential relationship knowing what I need, what would make me happy, and what is my bottom line, only to back-pedal when the negotiation begins.

Each time that would happen I would leave feeling a little bereft and put upon.

Didn't they know the value I added to the team.

Weren't they standing to reap an enthusiastic worker?

Perhaps they just didn't "like" me enough.

But I am learning that my worth has nothing to do with "like". When it all gets comes down to the nitty-gritty this question remains:

What am I willing to take?

If I am satisfied and happy with the arrangement then we are all good. But when I feel short-changed or taken advantage of, it is simply not a good space to be in. Not a space worthy of me, my time, my energy.

Now some people/positions/partners may value you, but truly can not (for one reason or another) accommodate your needs. It is not for lack of wanting. It may be due to funding or timing or contractual restraints. And that is fine.

At a time like this you must decide if the relationship is worth pursuing in spite of limitations.

Then there are times when the other party is just not interested in meeting you 1/2 way, a quarter of the way, or even 1/6th. At those times you can stay or you can go. Choosing to stay may serve as a means to an end. Or it may simply feel like another knife to your gut.

Most recently I have had to decide whether to accept or decline new working partnerships. And one essential thing I'm looking for is mutual accommodation. When we come to the negotiation table I can not be the only one there.

Thankfully, I am discovering that is is OKAY to respectfully decline and walk away. Not always easy, but definitely OKAY.

I have gotten to the point where my gut will NOT allow me do otherwise. And for that I'm thankful.

Taking whatever is offered me would be/could be easy. Dealing with myself/my voice everyday after once again settling  and selling myself short would be terrible.

And I'm done with terrible.


Monday, February 18, 2013

About this Life


We are getting more settled in our new home/state/environment everyday and I am missing my old job, my moms (yes plural), and run friends more and more each day.

My current job hunting has brought up an extra dose of wistfulness. Before we left Illinois I worked for an amazing non-profit that trained me, nurtured me, and trusted me to deal 1-on-1 with students, teachers, and volunteers. We worked with generally low-income/high-need learners on a daily basis.

It really gave me life.

Because after searching, volunteering, and trial & error I had stumbled upon my dream job. And now it's gone.

So I'm back in the market for work. And it's tough out here. I'm pretty much dedicated to the non-profit sector, but with that also comes many minuses. Fair pay is a big one. Although these types of organizations operate on fewer funds than their for-profit counter-parts some still find a way to mimic the discrepancies between administrative and ground level staff pay; on par with that of corporate America.

I commiserated with a friend in the non-profit sector about these elusive negotiation processes and the frustration wrought by the talk really strengthened my resolved to become the change I want to see.

I want to create/fund/work with an organization that serves the educational needs of the community. From child to teen to parents. To offer solutions, help, and directions that work to eliminate the cycle of poverty in pockets of America. 

And I want to do that while fairly compensating my staff. Because while people can support you and believe in you, they ultimately burn out or become resentful when they are underpaid and overworked. Trust me I know.

Who knows where my family will evidential plant our roots, but whether its with my beloved literacy organization from home, or a place of my own. I'm about this life: living, learning, sharing, paying.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reaction/actions

So much of learning involves letting go. Letting go of assumptions. Old habits. Blinders. Sometimes we let go of things without ever realizing we held them. Other times its damn near impossible to relax our grasp.

You know how some things can trigger an automatic reaction inside of you. No thinking or analysing. They just cause you to react. For better or worse.


For instance, a child running across a parking lot makes my arms flinch, wanting to reach out and stop them even if I'm several cars or rows away. Or how poor grammar usage triggers the auto-correct inside my head, which usually comes out my mouth.

Then there are times when your usual reaction is no longer enough. It's just the same tired dance you've done for so long. The dance that often causes relationships to end, friends to grow apart, or people to fall down in despair.

The good thing about becoming tired of a repeating cause and effect is that you can begin to disassociate yourself from the drama of the moment and instead observe yourself.

You can ask:

What am I doing?
Why am I doing it?
Is this action working for me?

Then you wait for the answer to one or all of those questions. Sometimes the answer involves creating a new dance. Other times a new song will do.

It just requires letting go of the old one.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Deliverance


There's this thing I used to believe in.

Instant Deliverance. 

It's a rather common religion-centered belief.

Here's how it work. You identify a problem. You and possibly others pray/talk about the problem. If God wills/you will, you are then spontaneously delivered. Another name for this could actually be: Cold-Turkey. The act of stopping something immediately and completely.

The premise being that if you want something bad enough, if you want to be "right" strong enough; you will stop whatever harmful thing that you are doing.

Deliverance/cold-turkey works great for some people. They quit smoking or swearing or clubbing with friends at the snap of a finger. They release anger, because they say so. They heal from old wounds because they believe so. Which, if it works, is great for them.

The problem for me lies in the fact that everyone isn't a cold-turkey person. It's just not possible that everyone can just drop all their luggage just like that. We're not all built the same. And often our messes/problems are an inter-related jumble. We smoke because we're stressed or have simply formed a bad habit. We over-spend because we are depressed. We sleep around because we are afraid to be alone.

So just stopping anything/everything that may not be productive or good for us is not only complicated, but messy and overwhelming.

I have come to realize that I greatly value acceptance. Accepting my ugly, even if it screams:

I am angry. I am sad. I am scared. 

This is what is. I am not trying to change me or berate me or accommodate others. This is what is. And I accept it.

I am noticing the more that I accept me, the freer I am becoming. Then I can ask myself without judgement, "Why am I angry?" "Why am I scared?"

And as I become ready, I answer some of my questions, and leave others for later. But through it all I am gentle with myself. If I cannot treat myself with care, who will?

That is how I see deliverance now. Not a behavior to desist, but a state of mind-peace and love to attain. Flaws do not own me. I am who I am. I accept me. That is my deliverance.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

This is


Right after Thanksgiving I received one of the best emails of my life. It was the Vice President of Content at Meegenius, an interactive book platform/publisher telling me one of the editors thought "The Diggery 3," a book I had submitted many moons ago had potential. And would I like to work with them?

I immediately began jumping up and down, as is my fashion when I'm excited. I ran into the kitchen to tell my husband and hug him and continued to be too bouncy to be contained.

Since then the editors and I have smoothed out the text, the illustrator has sent sketches and revisions, and my book baby is getting the layout formatted and narration set!

When the Producer in charge of my book sent the final illustrations last night (after the initial jumping and running to show the family) I became so overwhelmed with emotion I hurried back upstairs to call my mom.

I don't know what came over me. But the move. The house. Now my book. Still unpacking. I was just a bundle of tears.

Before bed last night I read a blog post about people feeling they deserve certain things in their lives. In the comments readers were divided on whether people "deserved" happiness. Or just erroneously felt entitled to it.

Buddhism has a term/principal: idappaccayata. Which means; This is, This becomes. I take that to mean what is, is what will come. What is cultivated, is what will grow. There is no deserving here. Just cause and effect.

Only what is and what becomes. And sometimes what becomes reduces you to tears. Explodes into happiness. Fills you with joy.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Picking up the pen


I'm back.

When I decided to take a blog break in October I never expected to be gone so long. My intention was to sit back and breath and think for a while.

Blogging has a way of getting into your head where everything becomes a potential blog post. And even the posts you choose to write can become over edited.

And I knew I needed to stop editing and instead pause to think.

In late August I started seeing a social worker/mental health advocate for talk therapy. It was one of those things that I've always 'believed in' but never made the step to commit to. I'm such a verbal, expressive person that (for a long time) I felt I didn't really need to sit down and sort out anything. I didn't have a problem feeling my emotions. Expressing my thoughts. Why would I 'need' therapy?

But after intimately seeing/noticing people around me reject help or remediation I began to see the similarities between us. No, I'm not hot-tempered. I don't throw daggers. I do not self medicate. But if I am still feeling (yet editing) pain, resentment, confusion from different unresolved episodes in my life aren't I rejecting the lifeboat as well?

So with that I talked to my lady-parts doctor and told her I wanted to speak with someone. She referred me and I started going once a week.

It wasn't until I sat down and opened up in a session that I realized how much I was actually holding back. How often I edit me feelings, speech, and thoughts as if my life is an extended blog post. And although I wasn't comfortable enough to tell her everything, my doctor asked me to make at least one journal entry in between visits. Entries I could share or not share.

But I was editing my journal too! So I needed to choose. Keep blogging, which was feeding my need to edit), or write and speak freely. I chose freedom.

And it was the most uncomfortable thing ever. I began to just write hard and fast whenever the need hit me. Which was usually before, during, or after high stress moments. And all this reflection directly coincided with several new things entering my home life that I greatly resented. So this has been my Fall and early Winter.

Whew.

I cannot say that all things are now resolved. But I can say that I am stronger, fresher, more honest.

I'm 85% sure that most people's biggest fear/issue about receiving mental health services is that it will be discovered that you actually are "crazy", broken, dysfunctional.  But I'll tell you this, the crazy thing is to continue not functioning. To insist on dysfunction out of fear  of what functioning looks like.

One thing running a marathon taught me is that discomfort is okay. You just have to press through it. Because the end; that home stretch, the medal and feeling of accomplishment, all that is the reminder that victory/peace/wholeness is often born out of being broken down and built brand new.

This is where my Zen is.