This blog is a stream of conciousness from my head to the keyboard to the screen. There will be talk of random subjects. If you have delicate eyes, proceed with caution. I like to talk about controversial subjects and sex a lot. So, take heed my friends. This is not a blog for debate, but for love and sharing. If your views do not match my own, love to you, but don't bring the rest of us down. That's all I'm saying.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What if...

I have an idea:

What if we decided that who we are is just that, who we are?

What if we decided that what other people think is just what they think?

What if we decided that what we have is what we have?

What if we decided that our life circumstances were just circumstances?

Confused? Think I've read one too many energy healing books? I might just have, but I am on to something big. It's just a little glint right now, but my inner energy is racing as I think these thoughts. So, bear with me.

What if all of those things I mentioned happened. We noticed the things around us, what we have, what we don't have, what we want, what others think and say and that's it. We just noticed it. We didn't assign emotion, or a 1-10/good or bad scale. We didn't judge ourselves or others based on any of these things. We didn't infer what it might mean or what it could mean.

Can you even imagine? It is difficult. I have been working on this for a few weeks now. And in those times that I am really struggling to do this I think to myself: Why am I struggling? Why is this issue, statement, person's reaction, etc. so important to me that I am reacting to it? What do I see in myself that this touches?

Wow. It's been interesting.

I tend to correct certain things in my kids more than others. This was a great place to start this experiment. Especially because they have been driving me crazy lately. Do your kids have the never good enough or just not enough bug? We go to the pool, but we didn't stay for long enough. We go to a favorite restaurant, but we didn't get dessert this time. We go to Six Flags and even get some special treats, but we didn't get to ride Batman because it started to lightning. It's never quite enough and that is frustrating as hell for me.

Why? Why does this make me so angry. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach. I usually yell something about being grateful because there are kids who have never even laid eyes on the Batman ride and I bought cotton candy (which I never do) and can't we just have one minute of gratitude you horrible little buggers?

So, I decided to just notice and think through my attachment to this reaction. It hit me going to the pool. Kalyn (my almost 12 year old) was apologizing for her latest ungrateful little bugger moment that I freaked out about when I found myself crying and saying: You dad and I just try so hard to make sure you are happy. That you have wonderful things to do and experience, We want you to be fulfilled and know we love you and we try our very best each and everyday to make you feel loved and cared for and know you are special.

Holy crap! That's what it is. When they don't act grateful I feel like I am failing them. I'm not mad at them, I am mad with myself. I should have done better, I should have taught them to be more grateful, I should have...

Instead of reacting to what Kalyn had not been grateful for, I looked inside. Why was this affecting me? What did this event mean to me? What emotion and importance was I assigning to it?

When it comes down to it, I am a great parent. My kids know they are loved. They really are grateful and compassionate children. They are smart and creative and really spectacular human beings. My husband and I  are doing a great job.

My kids may say things that sound ungrateful simply because they are young. They are developing their little egos, which always want. Once they have, that need is momentarily filled, but not for long and so they want again. They are at a stage where they=what they have. There are adults that believe in this idea. I am my awesome car, I am my big house, I am my important job. It is hard to realize "You are not your khakis." (Fight Club, brilliant line) If there are adults that struggle with this, then my 7 and 11 year old need a pass if they do not, quite yet, have a grip on that difficult lesson. And I need to realize that it has nothing to do with me.

My reaction to them has been so different since this event and realization. Now, if they or anyone else is getting under my skin, I immediately look into myself and think: Why am I reacting? Generally they are mirroring something I worry about in myself or a fear I have. Just noticing this is powerful, even if you don't know what to do with that thought quite yet.

Let go. Quit assigning importance to everything. It is all an illusion and a reflection of what we think of ourselves which is also an illusion. We are. That's it. No qualifiers or adjectives needed.

By the way, this rambling has been courtesy of "A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" by Eckhart Tolle. It's a great book, but it's killing me. I am having to re-think how I think. Check it out. If you read the first few pages and are hooked (which I was) get it and start to read immediately. If you think: What the holy hell! Put it down, and try back in a while.

Have a happy day, or not, it doesn't affect me one way or another ; )

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blaine and Laura 101

I adore my husband. I really do. Those of you who have been around Blaine and I know this is true. It is apparent by our constant hand holding, kissing and general grab-assing. My kids like to yell, “ewwwww” while the rest of the family prefers the: “get a room” statement.

While we may annoy folks around us, it makes us happy and so there you go.

Things have not always been this easy. We have had our share of difficult times and there were a few periods of time when we were not sure if we would make it as a couple or not. Those were heart breaking and horrible times. But, as with all dark days, we have learned a lot and those experiences have made us stronger as a couple.

I thought I would pass on some of the lessons we have learned as a couple.
Here’s how we share the love:

 Proximity, proximity, proximity! Blaine and I are by each other a lot. We pursue our own interests and do our own things, but at least once a day we hang out. Sometime that means holding hands on the couch, not talking because we are too exhausted and watching 30 Rock. Sometimes that means lighting candles and incense and putting on music and having intimate time together. We also like to drink wine on the back porch and watch the kids run around. Whatever the chosen activity, we find time to be together every day. And, we always have at least an hour together after the kids go to bed, even if I am exhausted and want to die. I still want that time together before going to bed.

 Support each other. Blaine and I tend to do things that make no sense to other people. Like quitting jobs that are no fun, deciding to move across the country with no jobs lined up, pulling children out of public school to homeschool and lots of other smaller, less life changing things. We always support each other, even if we don’t fully understand the reasons behind the decision. We take that leap of faith for and with each other. It can be hella scary! I have had Blaine walk in the house and announce he had quit his job and was starting his own agency. Blaine has come home to me announcing that I have scheduled movers and we were moving in 5 weeks back to St. Louis. Blaine has picked the girls up in a car that he bought while we were away. I could make this list go on forever. We just jump. Side by side and we don’t look back

 Laugh. We laugh our asses off all of the time. Even if we are in the midst of an intense fight, one of us will make a smart ass comment to make the other one laugh. (That is usually followed by “Just trying to ease the tension baby.” –Tubbs, from Billy Madison). We have inside jokes that have evolved into a language that few people understand. Often something will happen and we will look at each other and then are high fiving because I have just said exactly what he was thinking or vice versa. More likely than not it is a movie quote that explains the situation. Laughter is key!!

 We dork out together. We pass on stuff we have heard from NPR daily. We pass on important quotes or contents from books. We read constantly and share what we have thought or learned through the reading. We get intently engaged in a subject and want to tell the other all about it. And, we want to hear all about what the other one is learning. Right now we are having this crazy experience of learning in two different fields and having a lot of the same people referenced. It’s crazy. I am studying about meditation, life changes, and energy healing. Blaine is looking at mythology, archetypes, and following dreams. All I have to say is Joseph Campbell is the man. He’s showing up everywhere. Check him out!

We don’t take anything too seriously. You can’t. Life is just too damn unpredictable.  It will make you mad. This life is more or less just an illusion ala The Matrix anyway. So, you might as well enjoy the ride and make sure you have plenty of E Tickets (old Disney reference, look it up). If you can focus on the good, delight in the obscure, and love the quandaries of the day in and day out, you will have a great time with whoever you are with. Luckily for me, it is with my love and he views life the same way.

Now, everything is not always roses and sunshine. When there is an issue, these are the general parameters we follow:

Be honest and open, this does not mean rude and cruel. Often people will be blunt and thoughtless in their statements and mask it as “just being honest.” Honesty has to do with saying what in on your heart and mind while considering the other person. If you follow this step before things start to really bother you all the better. The longer things fester, the more difficult it is to be calm and kind

Keep your defenses down when discussing issues. This is so difficult. When Blaine points out something that I am doing that is upsetting him or not working for the family, my brain immediately goes to: Oh, yea? Well what about …(insert litany of issues that I have with him). This blocks my mind from considering what he is saying to me. If I keep my defenses down, I can hear him and think about the validity of his statements and concerns. It also allows me to make non-defense statements about my actions. Sometimes this turns into him seeing the method behind my madness and sometimes it leads to me choosing to change what I am doing. If I am defensive, it just leads into a nonsense discussion about each other’s perceived faults.

 Be clear and concise about what the current issue is, not past issues. One thing at a time! If you have something to discuss, there is no need to bring up every adjacent issue that might have to do with the current one. There is also no need to bring up every other example of the behavior in question, i.e. “You always…”

 Hold hands. I read this in a book one time and it is true. You are less likely to raise your voice if you are in close proximity. If you are holding hands, there is even less of a chance of yelling. Blaine and I seldom raise our voice toward one another,  I can recall very few instances of cussing, we have never name called. We try to stay close to each other and if voices start to go up, we step away for a moment or two or just stay quiet for a few moments. There is nothing wrong with someone saying, “We are at an impasse and I think we need a break before we continue this discussion.” There’s no blame, just a recognition that a settling down period is needed.

Acknowledge the other person’s feelings. You may not agree with the other person’s premise. You might think you are in the right, or at least the other person is in the wrong. However, feelings are always valid. People don’t make these things up. If a Blaine is mad, then he is mad. It doesn't matter if I think it is for a silly reason. If I am sad, then I am sad. It doesn't matter if Blaine thinks everything is fine and there is no reason for sadness. Allow the other person to feel what they feel and try everything in your power to see how and why they are in that space. It makes a world of difference.

We really do these things. I promise it works. It may feel really weird at first, but it is a powerful way to connect and have fun together.

This has been Blaine and Laura 101. I would love to know if any of these things ring true for your relationship or if you have other ways of staying connected.

I love you Blaine!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'll Take That Moniker

I’ll Take That Moniker
na·ive [nah-eev]  
1.having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absenceof artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.
2.having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, orinformation; credulous: She's so naive she believes everythingshe reads. He has a very naive attitude toward politics.
3.having or marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct stylereflecting little or no formal training or technique: valuablenaive 19th-century American portrait paintings.
4.not having previously been the subject of a scientific experiment, as an animal.

My original idea for this post was talking about how I feel I am not naïve. However, after looking up the word, because I wasn’t sure how to spell it as well as wanting an exact definition, I have decided that I am indeed naïve. And, I am fine with that.

For most of my life, if you asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say a teacher. When I reached high school that response changed to: I’m going to save the world. I would get a piteous look and the response: You’re so naïve. You’ll understand when you get older. So, being raised to listen to my parents, I settled for teacher. Not doctor or engineer, much to their chagrin. I felt this was an immediate way to help people and in fact, save at least part of the world.

I kicked ass as a teacher. I made sure my students were taken care of. I made sure my parents had resources. I did what I felt was best for the kids and didn’t care if the administration liked it or not. I was good. Up until the last year I taught that is.

I ran into an administration that would not let me do what I needed to for the kids and my team of therapists and aides were not on board with my methods either. It was torture. I could see the potential in these kids and I could see how to bring it out and I could see how to change their world. But, I was education blocked. It sucked and I became very ill.

I was barely able to get to work and back home. I spent a lot of time in bed and Blaine, bless his little heart, took care of everything. I would go directly to bed once I got home from work, Blaine would wake me for dinner I would try to help get the kids to bed and then I went back to bed. I went to a general practitioner, an endocrinologist, a rheumatologist, a tarot card reader and a neurologist to see what in the world was the matter. I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It was horrible and it went on for about 6 months until I had a beloved friend, Julie Pomerantz, who was in for a visit and said: bull shit. You’re fine. You can heal yourself and there is nothing wrong with you. She gave me some spectacular books to read (huge book list at the end), and I realized that I indeed could heal myself.

The first thing I did was quit my job. I still had 3 months of my teaching contract that I fulfilled but then I was finished. I mourned the loss of teaching in my life, and the first job I had to quit, for over a year. When the mourning period was over I saw a naturopath who saved my body. Just because my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was based in emotion did not mean it didn’t wreak havoc on my internal systems, thereby making me physically ill. And I have started to meditate, pray, reflect, whatever your comfortable term is, a crap load more!

It has been two full years of actively practicing love and self-healing to get to the point I am right now at this very moment. And I have rediscovered, in the process, that my viewpoint of the world is decidedly naïve. I could not be happier.

I am naïve about money, I believe that what I need/want will be there. Blaine and I do our thing and we never want for anything. I have no attachment to money and I know that we can always make things work. This is true, it happens. We have both worked up to three jobs at a given time, sometimes we have only one of us working one job, and we have had every combination in between. The less I obsess over money, the better it is.

I am naïve about people’s intentions. I assume the best in people and I see their best. I make no assumptions about why they do what they do other than it is exactly what they should be doing at that moment. Even if it is something illegal, immoral, douchey, or whatever. There is a reason they are making that choice and I do not have working knowledge of what all is happening to them. So, I cannot pass judgment on their decisions. It’s not my place and frankly, it takes a lot of damn energy and I want to be like a panda. Only moving so much and only for something really important like food.

I am naïve about God. I assume God, the universe, the cool book on the shelf next to me, whatever I look to for guidance and information has my best and highest intent at heart. So, if that is the way the world works, I feel it should work that way for everyone. This is great! It means everyone is right. However you choose to connect to your spiritual self (I didn’t say religious, not everyone has a religion, and that is right for some folks, too) is right. Congrats! You are a genius for connecting to your higher self in the way you do it. Once again, panda mode. Other people’s religious or spiritual nature has nothing to do with me resting or finding food.

I am naïve about love. I give it to everyone freely and it doesn’t have to be returned. Now, that part is not easy for me, but I work on it. I was a people pleaser for a long ass time and it is just too difficult (see how it didn’t help me rest, panda no likey). Love is abundant and does not need to be hoarded. For that matter, nothing needs to be hoarded. Not love, or animals, or great books, not even chocolate. The more you give the more you will get back. I mean this very literally. Try it out. Start handing out your favorite books to people who will love them with the intent that they may come back or may be passed on to someone else. This was so hard the first few times I did this. People will start passing other awesome books to you. It really does happen. If you aren’t the huge nerd I am with tons of books, choose something else for this experiment.

I am naïve about schooling my children. They are at this very moment trying out a Montessori school with the intent of considering it for next year. It may work, it may not. We’ll see. It’s an experiment. How will we pay for it? Oh hell, I have no idea. (remember the whole naïve about money thing, if it is a fit, we’ll figure it out). I pulled them from school because I thought it was dumb. I thought they were spending a lot of time lining up, preparing to learn, listening to the teacher and not a lot of time being educated. So, I have them at home with me and we do stuff. I don’t know what. It depends on the day and what we feel like doing. We started with a schedule, it was dumb, we threw it away. We started with workbooks and lesson plans, they were dumb too and we put them to the side. Julia started to hate reading so I told her she didn’t have to read anymore. The past week she continually picks up books and reads them to me way more fluidly than when we were working on it daily. I don’t know how. We haven’t been practicing at all. It works, they are learning and growing and they are leading the way (very Montessori principle like).

I am back to being naïve in my view of the world, too. I am so happy about this. I felt this was negative when I was younger and people would point this out to me. Somehow I took that to mean uninformed, unenlightened, unintelligent. Do you know what the antonyms are for naïve? They are, to name a few: experienced, sophisticated, complicated. I can live with that. I do not find sophistication very interesting if it has to be acted out in a way that is not genuinely me. I am not experienced in this life. None of us are. Even if this is our 20th time here (for those who believe in reincarnation) those past lives do not inform us here because we can’t remember them. For those of us that are on our first go-around, this is even more true. And I am so happy that it means that I am not complicated. We often really complicate things by trying to uncomplicated things. If you go through life with a naïve love and trust of everything, nothing is surprising, everything is as it should be and you can rest and get plenty of food like the beloved panda.

In conclusion (I always loved that essay ending), I am naïve. If you ask me what my plans are for the future, I will naively tell you: I plan to save the world.

Here are some of the books that helped on my healing journey:
Non Fiction:
Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup
Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil
Spontaneous Happiness by Andrew Weil
The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Misdiagnosis: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression and Other Disorders by 6 people (long list, panda mode)
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss
Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss
Finding You Way in a Wild New World by Martha Beck
The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan

Fiction (necessary for healing!):
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Any and All books by Richard Bach
Any and All books by Sherman Alexie
Any and All books by Chuck Palahniuk 
Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll
Any and All books by Tom Robbins

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I speak out a lot about intolerance. I have been at protests to show support for people who are being treated unfairly. I often speak to my children about having an open heart and an open mind to all people and ideas. I believe in this stance and philosophy. But, alas, I don't follow it.

I am an intolerant person.

There are so many things that drive me crazy that I will not tolerate. I went to a protest to support the GLSA (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Alliance) at a local High School when the Westboro Baptist Church decided it would come protest the tolerance and acceptance toward gay youth at that school. I was there to spread the love for the youth and administration at that school, but I had no tolerance for the stance of Westboro church. I don't tolerate people that will not spread the love.

I fully support a person's right to choose to wear clothing that they find to be spiritually/religiously correct. When I see young girls and women wearing a hijab (headscarf worn by Islamic women), I have no issue with it. However, when I see groups of women with exceptionally long hair wearing exceptionally long skirts, it bugs me. I just start thinking that the younger girls can not run and play in the same way as other girls there age. It bugs me, I have a hard time tolerating that religiously based choice.

I watch John Stewart and think he is hilarious and so right, or should I say correct as he is pretty far left. I get what he is saying. I believe it. I think that more people should think like us. On the other hand, the people in my family who are very politically conservative (and that is most of them), I can hardly listen to their thoughts. I try to be open, but I just think they are wrong. I do not tolerate their position and I wish they would at least start budging to the middle.

People who know me well know that multiculturalism is a passion of mine. I love to learn about other cultures, their sensibilities, ways of doing things, points of view, etc. I can see things from lots of different prospectives and I like to see things from various points of view. When other people can not do this, or think it is p.c. thugery to do this, or refuse to do this, I get annoyed. I do not tolerate the fact that they choose to see things from their prospective.

The list has gone on and on as I have thought about this. While I preach acceptance, I do not always practice that and I am having a hard time with that. I can't decide if my accepting these other points of view fits into my world prospective. Even if they don't, does that mean I can ignore them. Doesn't that mean that I am doing the same thing that I get mad at others about. Am I as bad as the people from Westboro Baptist church.

No, I'm not that bad. I do not go to funerals of fallen soldiers and tell them their loved one has died because the U.S. is not pursecuting gay people. I do not tell other people they are going to hell bacause they do not follow the same religious thoughts that I do. I do not tell people that the country is going to hell because of decisions "their president" has made (he's the president of all of us folks), and I do not exclude the view points and stories of marginalized people because I feel it takes power away from me.

So, I guess I am going to be ok with my kind of intolerance. I will still spread love and show support vs. speaking out against and spreading hate. I will be open to other religions and viewpoints and pray that other who are not currently doing this will have their hearts opened. I will also try to be more sympathetic when people get riled up by things that affect them. Often things that affect us are based on decisions that are out of our control. I mean, that's what angst against any politician is about at the core.

I may not tolerate or accept the ways of some people, but I can always acknowledge their humanity and their right to be who they are and the possibility that the world view that any of us have can change.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Keeping My Mouth Shut

I lost my car keys at my mom and dad's house. How and where, I do not know. My sister, brother-in-law, dad mom and I all searched everywhere to no avail. My mom had to drive the girls and I home after we crashed at her house for 5 days so that we could begin the school week at our house. One glitch. Kalyn, my oldest, needed to get to school for choir and her gifted class. So, mom came to pick us up. We  ate at Bread Co (Panara for non-St. Louis folks), mom took Kalyn to school and headed to a doctor apt. Julia and I stayed at the restaurant to do school work. The plan was mom would come back and get us after her appointment, we would pick up Kalyn, and then go to her house with my extra car key so that I could drive my vehicle home.

This explanation was intended to explain why I did not leave when I was so annoyed and I wanted to smack all of the women who were planning the winter party for their kids school. I had no way to leave.

Those of you who know me know that I will, and often do, talk to anyone about anything. I love hearing the opinions of others even if they are so different from my own that it is hard for me to  wrap my head around. However, my button gets pushed when others are not also being open. When what they say demeans others and does not take into consideration other's thoughts and feelings I get super steamed up inside. I am happy to admit that my own point of view is more likely than not flawed and there may be information out there that I am not aware of that would inform me. But, it's my point of view, I am comfortable with it and I have gone to great lengths to make it as informed as possible. I like to think others do this as well.

A second thing about me is that I am passionate about treating everyone with respect, dignity and love. Everyone! It is difficult and damn near impossible sometimes, but who am I to judge anyone? SO know that the group of women that I am about to speak about I feel were making their comments out of ignorance and mob mentality (they might not have made the comments in a one-on-one setting). No, I do not think they are horrible people. Yes, I do think they need to be more sensitive and concerned about the kids they will be hosting at their parties.

Monday morning at Bread Co: There is a group of 8 women discussing the upcoming grade school winter party. They start discussing crafts and games. They talk about things that have worked in the past and things that have been a disaster. I am laughing a bit because I have helped at school parties where both of these scenerios have played out.

Then they get to discussing that a particular craft can't be done because it is a "Christmas" craft. They lament over that for a while. Then another ideas comes up and is scrapped for the same reason. Then someone talks about making "reindeer food" (oatmeal, glitter, ect.) and they all agree that it would be fun. Then one women remembers that the reindeer have to do with Santa and that is Christmas and they all sigh. Then the one has the brilliant idea that it could be "animal food" and they could just not specify the animal. They all get excited again and the one mom says she will try to push it through with the principal, but "you know how she is."

People do not practice other faiths to put a crimp into your party plans. Last I checked  it is perfectly reasonable to expect there to not be religious overtones at the parties found in public schools. This is why I sent my kids to public schools for the time they were there. For exposure to other religions, cultures and ideas and so that the religious education my children do get is left up to me and the house of worship I choose to attend.

To choose to "push something through" when you know what it really is, and all the kids know what it really is, and if some kids don't the kids they do will be sure to tell them, is upsetting. That is blatantly disregarding a potion of kids. That is not ok in my book. In our area we have Jewish folks, Muslims, people who practice Hindu, atheists, Christians (like us) who don't celebrate Santa Clause, and many other religious beliefs. So, frankly, the reindeer food would piss me off as a parent since we don't believe in Santa because I personally feel it takes away the focus of a high holy holiday in my religion. With all the hype and commercials, etc. I am hard pressed to keep my kids focused on the religious aspect of Christmas. I don't need the schools adding to that insanity.

The next order of business was to come up with snacks. They decided to come up with one snack and then an alternative for kids with food allergies. This is hard. I know, I have been there and have many friends with kid with severe food allergies.  So, the conversation, laced with major annoyance, at the food allergy issue was particularly upsetting. It came up that there was a kid in one room allergic to all fresh fruit. They all laughed and said, "yea, right." One woman said, "That kids just doesn't want to eat cucumbers." Another commented that this is how parents make sure the committee buys treats the parent knows their kids will eat. If the kid doesn't like something, the parent just says they are allergic. She has seen this so many times and is getting tired of it.

Again, no one is trying to spoil the fun. We just don't want kids to get sick or die. Let's see, could one be allergic to fresh fruit. Oh yea, now I remember, I have been dealing with this for a year. For almost a full year I could not eat any raw fruits or vegetables, any nuts, and or fresh herbs otherwise my mouth, tongue and throat would swell up. I have an epi-pen I have to carry. Before seeing my naturopath, I was getting 4-6 shots a week with the hopes that in 5 years time, these symptoms would lessen and I would be able to eat some fruits and vegetables that were not cooked. It's called Oral Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome, it's serious, annoying, and can kill you. So can lactose allergies. So can nut allergies. So, please do not be so flip when thinking about allergy issues and the inconvenience it presents to you. Think about the kid that is having to watch his/her friends eat lovely treats and knows if they eat them they could become very ill. That sucks! That is a lot to ask of a grade school kid.

So, now with snacks and crafts decided, they needed to divide up who would buy what. They were talking about a certain item when one mom asked if they could not just get that from the art room. Another replied that no, the art teacher won't let them use any of her supplies. They all scoffed at the idea that she would not share. Did I mention that the one mom explained that she had been given a $500 check for the parties?

I don't know if they have heard, but school budgets have been being cut over the past several years. They might not be aware that arts programs are taking a big hit in this cut so that more time and money can be put toward preparing our children to take standardized tests to justify the money that the school does get (a big reason my kids are now homeschooled). The art teacher not wanting to share supplies with 2-3 classes per 6 grades that are at the school for the 3-4 parties the school has per year is self preservation, not selfishness. If he/she were to give one class supplies, then the supply train would have to be open for everyone. (Spoiler alert: snarky remark coming): I have a strong feeling these same moms would not be happy if there kids came home with crayon drawings on the back of recycled paper as an art project because the art budget was spent on supplies for school parties rather than these women using the school party budget.

So, the planning get together came to a close. Everyone said goodbye and started drifting away from the tables. But, little side conversations of twos happened here and there. Apparently none of these women like each other very much, they didn't feel like their ideas were listened to and they thought everyone else controlled the meeting. It was like being in the halls of my daughter's middle school. What craziness.

I have to say, it took everything in my power not to say something to this group of women. At first I wanted to tell them that I love the idea of a winter party. It includes everyone and leaves no one out. If you live in St. Louis, you experience winter. There are bazillions of great craft and game ideas on line. Save the "Christmas" ones for at home. I put that in quotes because most of the crafts deemed Christmas crafts ultimately bastardize my Christian religious beliefs by buying into the commercial and Santa hub-bub that I try to steer clear of. Plus, it leaves a lot of kids out. Some people will say, well all the kids in my kid's class are Christian. Awesome. But, do they all celebrate it the same way and at the end of the day, public school is secular. Separation of church and state. If I wanted my kid to go to a school with religious orientation, I would send them to one. Not all people feel that way, but I know a lot who do. The other argument is, well there is only one non-Christian in my kids class. Awesome. So, let's have that kid feel left out because it is more important for that class to make reindeer food than to teach the kids that there are lots of ways to believe and we should respect that and there are many ways we can find to celebrate together.

Food allergies, WTF, what do I say. I wanted to scream, "You're right. Fresh fruit allergies are completely made up. There is no way that kid has that allergy. You should force feed him fruit salad just to prove your point and teach that parent who is screwing with your party a lesson. Fruit allergies, what a load of crap!" Why did this conversation take place? Why is sugaring kids up more important than making sure that the safety of all kids is taken care of. Yes, safety. Food allergies are no joke. They can be life threatening. Even if they are not life threatening, why would you be willing to make a kid sick? Again, there are tons of resources out there to direct you on fun, delicious, allergen free treats out there. Use them!

Finally, thank your art teacher for helping your kids with math and science rather than bitching because they do not freely hand over supplies that you have a budget for anyway. It has been shown over and over that kids who are exposed to the arts, in all it's forms, score higher on tests and are better at math and science. It teaches them to think outside the box and be creative in their thinking. Think of any uber successful business mogul in any field, they have not played by the rules. They have pushed limits, thought differently, and colored outside of the lines. Thank the arts! Read some bio material on Steve Jobs if you need more info.

In conclusion. Respect all, love all and give each and every person the dignity they deserve. Don't merely tolerate. Tolerating people is a horrible thing. It's not enough. These women were tolerating the kids that weren't celebrating Christmas in their way, they were tolerating the kids with food allergies and they were tolerating the art teacher not giving up her supplies. They are reluctantly working around these "obstacles" rather than looking at the great things they could be doing that would show love respect and dignity to all those kids. Challenge yourself to do this everyday with every person. It's not easy, I struggle with it all the time, but it's the standard I attempt to hold myself to. Try it. let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where to Start

Where to start?

This is my question on a daily basis in so many aspects of my life.

Homeschooling: Where to start? Are we sticking to a schedule today. Which of the four versions of the schedule will we use if we are using one? Do we have an adventure to go on today? What learning will take place? Can I justify this deviation? Do I have to justify this deviation?

House Work: Where do I start? What needs to be done? Do I feel like doing that? Does it matter if I feel like it? Is there something I should have the girls helping with? Will I start feeling resentment if no one else is helping?

Family Relations: Where do I start? Do I need to spend more time with my kids, Blaine or by myself? Do I need to break up the fights between the girls or do they need to work it out? If I feel that Blaine is on the girls, do I step in or let them figure boundaries out on their own? I won't even touch the extended family issues, that's a whole other post.

Friends: Where do I start? I have such anxieties when it comes to relating to people, how do I overcome that? My friends are all so diverse, how do I find time for them all, can they come together to events, when do I find the time to hang out with them? How do I enjoy my time with them without over thinking how I'm dressed, what I am saying, and every other action I display?

These questions go on and on and on. Do other people's heads spin like this? It can make it hard to get out of bed and get going especially on days where there is schooling, cleaning, family and friend events all taking place within a 24 hour period of time.

If you do not have anxiety issues, this is what life is like. There are moments of reprieve. Good days where my head will settle a bit and bad days when tears flow freely due to the level of anxiousness about the events and accomplishments that have to happen in a given day.

Please keep this in mind as I relay the following information. I have taken celexa for anxiety and depression for the last 10 years. I have always been very open about this and have always been an advocate for the ability of meds. to stabilize whacky brain chemistry.

I started seeing a naturopath a few months back. I have exhausted all resources and medical doctors trying to figure out why I am always so tired (generalists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, chiropractors, etc.). I was sleeping 10 hours a night and still needing to nap several times a week. Western doctors kept chalking it up to depression, which was wrong. I just knew in my gut it was wrong. I know what it is to be depressed. That was not the issue. So, on to the naturopath.

We were trying different medications and my system could not handle them while still taking the celexa. So, it became necessary to stop the celexa in order to get to the underlying adrenal issues that were messing up my serotonin levels. So, within 2.5 weeks, I titrated down and stopped taking the anti-depressants.

The next two weeks were hell. No one tells you that there is a significant period of withdrawal. Well, I'm telling you there is. I had the following symptoms starting 36 hours after taking my last 10 mg. dose: migraine, "brain zaps" (it feels like an electric jolt going through your brain), loss of balance, inability to regulate emotions, uncontrollable crying, nausea, reflux, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, periods of extreme anger, insomnia, difficulty finding words, trouble with short term memory and I have little to no memory of the first week.

I looked on line to see if this has happened to other people. I found spotty information. Apparently it does not happen to everyone and there are many physicians that say it does not happen to anyone. The drug companies have termed it "discontinuation syndrome." They also do not subscribe to "withdrawal." It doesn't look good for the company or their drugs.

So, where do I start? I asked this each day. How do I put one foot in front of the other. How do I get through this? Is it worth it? THIS SUCKS and not only does no one know how I am feeling, half of the medical community denies that this is happening to me. There are no recommendations other than go on another anti-depressant that might be easier to ween off of.

What the hell? I have a life to live. I have things to do. I do not have time for this.

It is now 16 days after my last dose of celexa. I have been wondering how to relay this experience to people who might have wondered what the hell was wrong with me the past few weeks. Why was I ignoring everyone? Why was I bitchy when I did speak? Why were my eyes red all the time? Where to start. And also to let people know this can happen. Be ready for it. Consider it before starting a drug, any drug.

It is amazing the transformation that has occurred in the last 16 days. I have energy. I actually feel good. I still have some brain zaps, but they are not making me loose my balance or giving me headaches. I have a clarity that is wonderful. I was able to start this week with all those questions in the beginning peeling off and letting me go.

Even 4 days ago, I didn't think I could get through this, but I did. Knowing I got through hell like I went through makes me feel like I can get through most anything. It was like a rebirth.

I know this is not very coherent. Is is rambling. It is how my brain has been for a long time. Now that I am reborn I feel ready for so many new things. That insane list of question in the beginning has been replaced by just one:

Where to start...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Homeschool Starts Monday

It is an experiment in the making. I don't know how it is going to go. What I do know is I love my kids and I see their spirit, spontaneity, creativity, and spunk being squished out of them each year. There is very little room for those attributes in the current school system. These are not things measured on standardized tests, so the teachers are not given the time to cultivate these gifts. And they are gifts. 

We are not lacking for smart people in the world. We crank them out. What we are lacking is creative people. People who can think for themselves. People who can make a leap and do things differently. There have been many articles, interviews on NPR, and shows concerning this topic in recent months.

The school systems have gotten so bogged down in accountability that they are scared to death not to test the crap out of the kids. News flash: the kids don't give a crap about the tests. They know it has no effect on them. Many do not even bother to do anything but make designs with the dot. There are obviously those that try. My point is it is not a good measure of what kids do or do not know.

Should teachers be accountable? Hell yes. Are tests the way to do that? I don't think so. However, I can't offer an alternative at the moment. I do know I am ready to move beyond what is on the test and not look back. I will teach my kids what they need to know and even more importantly, what they want to know. They will be wonderful, smart, caring, well rounded and socialized individuals. We will be able to look on these years and say we did it together.

teachers are fighting the good fight. They are working their asses off and do what they can. The parameters they have to work within are shrinking by the year. Arts, music, physical education, and elective classes are being cut. We are loosing kids. It's not the teachers, it is the system.

On to our decision:

This decision has been a long time in the making and now it is done. Since Kalyn started kindergarten, seven years ago, each and every year I would start debating about not sending her to school the following year right after Spring break. That's when things would take a drastic turn for the worse.

I started asking about homeschooling and reading about the pros and cons years ago. I always felt it would be a good fit, but didn't know how people would react. I have gotten over that.

I also hesitated because Kalyn was such a challenge I didn't know if I could help her in the way her teachers did. She would do fine at school and then fall apart at home.

Socialization comes up all the time as a reason to keep kids in school as well as the standardized curriculum the public school can provide.

I was afraid to be lumped with crazy zealots who pull their kids from school to protect them from the immorality and crack whores (I think that's what the zealots do).

Could I have my kids at home all day, everyday and keep them engaged, prepared and not fighting?

All these things and so much more have been keeping me from taking the leap.

Well, I leapt.

I started realizing that perhaps my child would not need to be in therapy if she felt successful and not threatened throughout the day. Perhaps my younger one's day would start if I didn't have to wake her up at 6:30am, calm her from her tantrum of not being awake, not wanting to go to school and being pissed she had to leave and go somewhere she did not want to be. Maybe I know my kids better than anyone else.

Kalyn is a challenge, but that can be good. She questions things, does not take anything at face value and has a staunch code of justice and equality. Isn't thins something that should be nurtured? I don't think it can be in the schools. Not in 45 min. per class period. Not when teachers have to get through teaching 100 kids per day in a systematic way so that the scores on the tests prove they are doing a good job. I feel she was falling apart at home because there were so many feeling that there was no time to express that once she got home she just burst. Jules tends to do this preemptively in the morning.

My kids are very social beings. They are not going to all of a sudden become anti-social. I am not locking them in a box, I am educating them. Part of education is learning to live in the world. What makes a better practice of those skills: 1) being able to go out in the world on field trips, banking, shopping, visiting with people of all ages (including peers), hearing differing viewpoints all within the school day or 2) Hanging out with peers, talking with peers, getting advice from peers, playing with peers, learning with peers, doing things that only your peers do? I think this is such a narrow scope to work in. Have you noticed how narrow teens viewpoints are? Could it be because they have no other point of reference aside from this peer group who is not always equipped to give the most sound advice?

People who homeschool are not crazy zealots. (OK some may be, but there are crazies in all groups). I have spoken to several people who homeschool. Some do it for religious reasons (how is this different from the Catholic school behind me), some do it to increase academic rigor (same as sending the kids to a pricey prep school), and some do it because they love their kids and want to be with them and share in the growth and learning that happens at this time in life. Most do it for a combination of these reasons. All families run things a little differently.

As far as my abilities, why should I question them? I have taught over the last 16 years. I have had kids from pre-school through college aged in my classes. I have taught grade level through learning self-help and daily care skills. I have had up to 12 in a class with 4 different versions of a lesson plan going on. In Nevada I averaged writing 20 lessons per day when you counted the 5 different classes I taught and all the different versions of the lessons I had to write to accommodate for all of the ability levels.

So, we start Monday. I'm excited. I am busily getting our space together, getting lessons mapped out and getting our schedules straightened out.

Here's to everything! Cheers.