Thursday, December 30, 2010

Don't go changing...


Alas, it didn't pan out. But do visit this very cool resolution generator by Monica Velarde.
I totes (totes is a cool new way of saying "totally" for all you old-sters out there) get caught up in the resolution frenzy on an annual basis. Certainly there is nothing wrong with personal inventory, a quest for self improvement, and reflection (in fact that is sort of my MO) but the over-focus on change robs us of the moment, the "be here now" kind of life that is purportedly the whole bottle plus a drop.

At best resolutions help us change bad habits or adopt new, healthier ones. At worst they promote all or nothing thinking that gets us throwing out the proverbial baby with the metaphorical bathwater. I know you and, trust me, you are fabulous. So consider for a just a minute an un-resolution, one where we resolve only to celebrate what is.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is that my mother on the phone?

* Foreword: Other title options for this post included "Sister friend" and "O cousin where art thou?" In the end, I just thought this Police song is crazy cool. Just wanted to put that out there in case a reader, who also happened to be my mom, was wondering.

from me to're welcome
Just in time for the holidays: a post on the importance and challenges of family connections. Festive, yes?
It is all easy enough if you have cool family members. But what if your bro is a white supremacist?  Or if your cousin manages a credit-default-swap-hedge fund, or manages a TGIFridays?

We all know that family relationships matter. But we aren't always sure why, and we are almost never sure what the cost/benefit of maintaining them is compared with tossing them aside like last night's meatloaf.

I've noticed a couple things about the nature of family relationships which sets them apart from others in our lives:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Don't Hate Me Because I am Blog-iful

<<< Kelly Le Brock, how could we hate you when you gave us luxurious Pantene hair AND "Weird Science"???
And now a string of seemingly unrelated stories ...
-- I hate memoirs. No matter how well-written, how riveting, by the time I am halfway through I am hating on the author. Come on, to be so filled with thoughts about oneself that you write an entire book? I was taught that was "bragging" or at least "acting hot-shot." Seriously it doesn't matter who wrote it -- I start feeling that way. After four chapters of reading about a nun who served with Mother Teresa in Calcutta all I can think is, 'on and on with leprosy, at least you got to travel.'
-- Ichsnay on the Talkie-Talkersons. I took a class my freshman year of college entitled, "Ethics in Society."  I remember only a few things from the class. One is the girl next to me with the folder displaying "Ethnics in Society" in extra-wide Sharpie marker. She either never realized the difference between ethics and ethnics or did but wasn't embarrassed about the misunderstanding.
Secondly, I remember a girl. Let's call her "Liz". That was actually her name, I can't come up with her last name but I vividly recall her glinty eyes and unusually big hands which gesticulated wildly as she talked. And talked, and talked, and talked. She was smarter, louder, and way more aggressive than the rest of us. Incidentally, she really hated me. It might have been because at 18 I didn't know my Bosnia from my Herzegovina or because I have lady-like hands and a sunny disposition. Her constant narration and cool, edgy devil's advocate-style was actually painful. Sort of like a constant assault. You get my point. And if you don't, because really who would ... stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A festive Halloween post ... with razor-blade apples.

Remember when we were kids and someone put a razor blade in an apple? From then on your parents always fished out the apples, leaving you only the sugary candy. sharp objects couldn't be placed into something else? Was this a plan hatched by the Cavity Creeps ... eradicate the healthy food from the trick-or-treat bag? Next thing you knew, people were lining up at the hospital to have their Halloween candy X-rayed. Geez! Doesn't this seem like a failure of imagination?

Like that fun 80s anecdote, an excessive emphasis on outside influences seldom helps. We lose when we are just reacting. We spend all this time sorting metaphorical candy when we really should be educating our kids and setting a foundation so they simply avoid treats that look weird. (that is supposed to be metaphor for equipping kids to say no to dangerous behaviors because you have given them a strong sense of internal morality -- that was totally clear, right?)

In other words: the focus belongs not on the evil world around us, but on the culture and climate inside the home. My theory: to accomplish this we need, A) boundaries and, B) communication. It is still in hypothesis mode, so let me lay it out for you and you tell me what you think ...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gee Manee, Cricket -- Enough Already!

"If you are watching fanatically over the morality of your children you may yourself be not completely in order." - Janusz Korczak, How to Love a Child
When I wrote about my daughter's love of admonishing rule-breakers in "i always feel like someone is watching me" it was really just a funny anecdote to segue into an exploration of how I compulsively and harshly judge myself.

But then... I became hyper-aware of my daughter's obsession with rules. And I started to wonder if it was "normal." Not the preoccupation aspect; I got that. And by-the-bye, thank God for child development class or I would have totally pathologized that too. But rather, I became concerned she wasn't more able to apply the rules to herself. I was consumed with the thought that, despite my best efforts, she WASN'T GETTING IT.

Then I had the privilege to witness something. A moment of grace. A moment where I was caught so by surprise by the beautiful nature of my daughter's spirit, that finally and thankfully, my analytical brain was superseded long enough for me to GET IT.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

mixed tape for my peeps

 Thanks and much love for the awesome suggestions on "rock out with your cacophony out. I made you a playlist to show my gratitude--and it rocks.
FYI- F-bomb alert for the first song. If you have more suggestions, post them in the comment section and I will add. Also-if you make a playlist, please share the link in the comment section. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ad Nauseum

Sometimes I am hesitant to write or talk about matters close to my heart.

This hesitation stems from a fear that my writing, my thoughts, my life is all one big plagiarization. It's true: subjects and issues close to my heart are very often close to the hearts of many others as well ... close to the hearts of people who started their blog a long time ago, or wrote a book, or went on TV ... or talked your freakin' ear off at last week's playgroup.

In other words, I fear I can't bring anything new or original to the table. I never took Latin but ad nauseum and nausea seem too close to be purely coincidental.
 Shut Your Mouth', Eda Akaltun, 2008

But lately some events have blown the lid clean off of my writer's block and rendered this fear obsolete. By drawing information and inspiration from many sources, I now see how this connects us. It allows us to share, to make the whole greater than the sum of our parts. I'm finding the highest level of learning occurs during synthesis after all. Here's what has led to this personal enlightenment:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rock Out with your Cacophony Out

Listening to the radio while driving recently, I caught a snippet about how marketers determine a demographic's musical preference. They take their target group's age and then subtract back to the time that demographic was in the 18-22 range. So, if the radio station was wooing 50 year-olds, they just would conjure up the Billboard Top 100 list from 1978-1982-ish.

This just incensed me -- the nerve of these marketing types. Wouldn't they just love it if we were all so easy to figure out. Just put us in one of a few preset boxes, simply plug in the variables and cha-ching: it' a sale.

Well, people are just a bit more fluid and dynamic than that, I thought. DAMN THE MAN! I switched off the report, cranked up "Guns-N-Roses" and gunned my bitchin Camaro down the street (you can totally listen at that link, you're welcome).

  <<< This was my car in high school. Now imagine it loaded with four or five white, western Kansas girls singing "Nuthin' but a G Thang".

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

streetwalkers update 2

There are some really exciting things to put on your calendars. Okay, really exciting if the thought of walking around safely makes you as giddy as it does me. (see inception of pedestrian/Linda Hamilton mania here)

-A volunteer opportunity! Be involved in taking a count of cyclists and pedestrians. These numbers are going to be used for exciting and official  things! Here are the details:

Monday, August 30, 2010

please be nice to my friend (that's YOU!)

This is a call to action!!! The action: practicing not a random act of kindness directed at a stranger, but a purposeful act of kindness to yourself.

<< It's a mouse pad, a declaration, a belief system, and possibly an example of my bad judgment. 

In "NO shame on you!" I explored the awful and oedipal things that can happen to children when they are shamed. Immediately after that post, I had the pleasure of happening upon an interview by leading "shame researcher," Dr. Brene Brown. Her blog rocks BTW, and it is the biggest gift I can give you -- although back to the tacky boxed wine give-aways in the next post!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

hey sister, can you spare some bling?

UPDATE: This event was a wonderful success. We raised $3500 due to your generous donations. There are still some pieces and checks coming, so it is not too late, if you are still interested in making a donation just email me. My friends are in actually in the process of bringing their baby home, so the timing is perfect. Again, thank you all from the warm cockles of my heart!!! Read on for the whole story....

You know how certain people in your life just warm the cockles of your heart? You're not sure what "cockles" are, but you know they exist because you feel them get warm when you think about those people?

I have the enormous blessing of being friends with just such a cockle-warming family. They have spent the first year of their daughter's life at Children's Mercy Hospital, exhibiting profound grace and forbearance throughout. Every day they demonstrate the enormous power of family. They have loved, supported, and held each other up during a very challenging year. All the while, they have afforded their daughter the routine and regular family experiences of the first year-- in an environment that naturally does not feel like a home. But they've made it unbelievably homey.

Friday, July 30, 2010

NO shame on you!

When I was a kid, certain parts of a person's anatomy (including my own) were referred to as "naughty parts." This was common practice in those strange, post-Victorian days of the 70's and 80's. But here in this new millennium and I smell the whiff of progress. Or just the whiff of some kids who need to get in the tub and wash their parts.

We are wising up: it isn't necessarily helpful or useful to shame any part of a child's body, or their thoughts and curiosities.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'll have the #3, no wait...make it the Confit Arctic Char (part II of II)

I showed up about 3 decades late to the "thing" party. Somehow it feels important for me to figure this out. I should know how to:
a) order the oyster,
b) open the oyster.

Otherwise, I would be all, "Hey girls, the world is your oyster. I have no idea how to order it off the menu or eat it when it gets here though, so let's just safely order from a numbered fast food menu." (If you post comments I may later plagiarize them-thanks for funny fast food joke, sis.)

Hence, my recent piano lesson and goal-setting binge. I wanted to model something for my children. Something that showed them the importance of working hard, weathering the storms, perseverance, blah, blah, blah. But signing up for lessons and making proclamations was the easy part. I was unprepared for what followed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

landlocked geniuses-yay for comments and contests!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my contest. I had lots of fun with this and learned so much. It is my most sincere desire to keep the dialogue going. As one of my friends said, it can be a "sea of idiocy out there" but clearly the opposite is going down here (see clever title).

I am going to be experimenting with some ways to track comments and do give aways from time to time. Not so much as a bribe (although I am not above bribes, hint hint) but because this was fun and a nice way to give back to my readers and commenters who truly give so much to me; I hope that everyone takes away as much as I do.

<<<me giving you a present...or you greasing the Franzia wheels? 

And while you are all winners in my book; we do have an official winner and it is.....KAY!!! Thank you all again and please keep it coming. There could be an oyster shucker or Mombie coffee cup in your future.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

it's your thing (part I of II)

A friend of mine was telling me about a recent workshop for writers. She said, in referring to the other attendees:
"writing is to them ... as I am to running."

Meaning they were all quite serious about the craft (my friend is a crazy good runner – she actually wins races). This stayed with me for weeks. And not because I am obsessed with analogies, although I did once score quite highly on the Miller Analogy Test. But because I realized, with stark clarity, that I have no " as I am to ... (thing)." I don't have a "thing." I can't keep trying to slip the Miller Analogy Test deal into conversation. Besides, they changed the scoring a few years back so my score is now both uninteresting AND irrelevant.

There is a story in the Bible about 3 people. God gives them each a talent – some use it, some squander it. One day I asked my mom what my talent was. She gave some very appropriate answers but nothing that satisfied my kid self. For many reasons – one being a lack of self-confidence – I never really figured this talent thing out.

The silver lining was that I imagined some crazy, latent talent was about to bust loose up in here. My talent would lead me to become a media sensation, with the YouTube video of me doing [talent] going viral instantly. Here are some sample headlines and a picture of Susan Boyle (because I thought that would be fun):

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

brain food

<<< Do you want this as much as I do? Seriously, don't even talk to me until I've had my 2nd cup o' brains.
Over the next few weeks I've decided to re-envision this project. You are certain to find it absolutely fabulous. The first order of business: steer this ship towards being primarily an exchange -- less about what I write and much more focus on the (hopefully) resulting dialogue. I love you for your brains (in a non-zombie way) and I want your comments.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

streetwalkers update

I wanted to have more to report when updating on our pedestrian safety campaign but things are pretty slow going so I am going to go ahead and give the breathless masses the skinny.

<<< I got married to this image after my original post. I am thinking of adopting this as my alter-ego for the duration of the campaign. Would going to meetings in full costume be too much?

I was able to meet last week with David Woosley, the head of the Lawrence Traffic Safety Commision. Mr. Woosely was incredibly helpful in giving me some very clear direction in the Now What/What Next department. I spoke at length with a traffic officer at the Lawrence Police Dept today and will meet again with a community liaison sometime in the coming weeks, then it will be back to the city commission. The lags are a bit frustrating but the city and the LPD have been WONDERFUL in helping me get in touch with the right person, set up meetings etc.

Thank you so much for all of your continued interest and active support!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

i always feel like somebody's watching me (part II of gin...)

My 4 year old is in that wonderful stage of development where she is obsessed with rules. I have read Piaget and I get it. She is at an integral and first stage of developing a functioning morality. She will move on to a time when she can be more nuanced, less black and white, less rigid; unless she ends up a Republican (relax Small Govt Steve-I kid!). But holy crap, is she ever hard to live with right now. Of course I can't say crap, that's a bad word, and I so don't want to get hauled in for questioning. She has instituted a preschool police state, a toddler-tarian regime.

 these two fellas are so heavily represented in my house that it reeks of pipe and cigar smoke

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

gin and dys-tonic (part I of II)

egosyntonic /ego-syn·ton·ic/ (e´go-sin-ton´ik):
a psychological term referring to behaviors, values, feelings, which are in harmony with or acceptable to the needs and goals of the ego, or consistent with one's ideal self-image ... Acceptable to the aims of the ego.

egodystonic /ego-dys·ton·ic/ (e´go-dis-ton´ik):
a psychological term referring to thoughts and behaviors that are in conflict, or dissonant, with the needs and goals of the ego, or further, in conflict with a person's ideal self-image ... Repugnant to or at variance with the aims of the ego.
- Wikipedia

As parents there are things we're really proud of. We tend to express these things vocally, while actively disowning (just as vocally) what does not fit with the complex beast of a self-image we have constructed. My question is: why? Why are we making these loud and bizarre announcements?

Monday, June 7, 2010

mom in the mirror

Recently, I attended a parade with my daughters. My four-year-old, in an effort to signal her pleasure and excitement, pumped her fist into the air with a loud "woop!" I was delighted but also befuddled. To the best of my knowledge she doesn't even know who Arsenio Hall is. Look at this amazing creature unfolding herself in front of my eyes -- my non-projecting, open-environment, free-to-be you-and-me, eyes.

Then I began to notice something. Me ... fist pumping.

It seems every time I turned around that week, I was pumping my fist and wooping about something. Why? Beats the hell out of me; I didn't even know I was doing it. With this observation, a reckoning was ignited: I began to look at my daughter, and -- like a cartoon character on an island seeing their side-kick as a chicken wing -- saw only a mirror. And a bizarre face staring back at me.

Left: Random fist pump baby found on awesome site of fist pumps pics

Sunday, May 30, 2010

the word of the day is...magic (AHHH!!!)

I believe in something. There are many terms; serendipity, synchronicity, coincidence, God....I always think of it like a giant, colossal, episode of Pee Wee's Playhouse. Well, there is no Chair-e and I have no disembodied blue head anywhere in my house. But remember the part of each episode where he would state the "word of the day" and then anytime anyone said it, SCREAM!? (I know you are feeling nostalgic right now-if you need to break and hear the theme song, go ahead-I'll wait). Before you know it everyone in Pee Wee's life was using the word. This was great because it gives everyone the opportunity to scream as well as the opportunity to see something very real in action; magic.

I get a word, lesson, or theme and then listen as the universe starts screaming it back. Sometimes I have to be beat over the head a bit but it NEVER fails. In fact, the process is so reliable that I seldom publish a post  straight away. I write what is on my heart and let it gestate for weeks, sometimes even months. In the interim, I watch in utter amazement as the cosmic Pee Wee puts me in touch with books, people, ideas, stories on NPR, encounters, life experiences, you name it. I get what I need not only to finalize my post but to understand my "word of the day" on a whole new level.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

chasing a good time

You can chase your kid, you can chase your youth,
but "you can't chase a good time."

This pearl was delivered by a wise fellow tired of driving my friend and me around from place to place one evening. Certain we could catch up with a good time, we just would not call it a night. Hours later, we conceded and dejectedly headed for home. We've repeated "you can't chase a good time," so many times over the past decade -- it perfectly sums up the movie that wasn't worth it, the unjustifiably large tab, the night that just will not come together.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fear and Loathing...Part 2

part II
What is it you intend to do with your one wild and precious life? ("A Summer Day"-Mary Oliver Brown)

Posing this question to myself used to exhilarate me.  Lately, I just sort of glumly answer, "this, I guess."  And by-the-bye, my "this" is good stuff, no, great stuff.  Since penning the first half of this post (see "Fear and Loathing) I have had a bit of an epiphany.  It is not really about relocation or a move across town (both of which I have made some very serious plays for). It is that I am having some angst at facing the next stage of my life.

Without my realizing it, I had completed a major part of my life cycle.
*Marry a great guy who "gets me" and makes killer blueberry waffles-check.
*Figure out what I want to be when I grow up-check.
*Deliver two amazing human beings into the world-check.

So into the throes of family planning was I, that, like a bride after her wedding day, I was unprepared for the emotional upheaval of mission accomplished.  Finally having put all of this together it is apparent that my real trouble was never with my locale (although I am not suddenly a  parka  lover) but a trouble with feeling that this family was at the end, out of options; our story written.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

measure this

So it is Mother's Day and another one of those articles came out. The subject matter to which I refer is one that attempts to put a $ value on staying home and child rearing. I have been sort of uncomfortable with these reports and figures that surface from time to time, but I have been uncomfortable without knowing why. So since it is Mother's Day, instead of spending time with my family, I am going to sit down and try to figure out once and for all why these articles bother me. It seems like a reasonable way to spend the day.

Since I don't have a lot of coherency or organization around my thoughts at this point I am diving in with a list. I have major chagrin over the college papers I grade that contain lists. It seems lazy to me, but what they hey, it's Mother's Day and I am trying to take it easy.

-It doesn't amount to a hill of beans. I might change my tune really quickly if a money truck (or even a bunny money truck) pulled up outside but as far as I know these speculations aren't paid out in so much as monopoly money.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Lawrence

I am California Dreaming, but on such a spring day? It doesn't even make sense. Winter is over. What gives with the atlas gazing and frequent visits to FYI-this is a site that gives overviews of cities and really not naughty at all. Somehow the spring thaw has yet to happen in my psyche. This winter left me bereft. I am so out of love with this, the town of my heart. Instead of buoyant at the change in season I feel a sense of impending doom. I have to get out before "it" happens all over again.

Frankly, I am obsessed. All I think about is life somewhere else. I am so consumed that I actually found myself wondering where "Clifford the Big Red Dog" is set. There seems to be proximity to the ocean, constant blue skies, and people/dogs who seem cheerful without the use of a sun lamp. In case you don't set your child in front of moving images (aka-tv) and don't know-this is a cartoon. Hence, it is not really set anywhere and unlikely to hold the answer to all of my location related woes.

What gives and what is it all about? I hail from western Kansas and should be made of heartier stock. Is this some kind of mid-life crisis (titillating future post alert-more on that very real possibility right around the bend). Do I have some kind of bona-fide seasonal affective disorder? In which case, don't I owe it to myself to live my best life?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I was born in Kansas, so I guess technically I have always been a Jayhawker.  But, gentle readers, I have never, at any time, been a jaywalker. (Seriously, even before kids.) I guess it is the Capricorn in me. I could be the lone survivor of a nuclear holocaust and I would be surveying the post-apocalyptic landscape with the traffic signals. It is just who I am. 

So it is with a heavy heart that I report to you that myself and my youngest, while following the law to its very letter, were nearly hit by an SUV last week. I wish I could say that this was a first, or even rare, occurrence. But I can only say that is was, to date, our closest call. I have been lamenting the people who bully through the intersections, vehicular-ly saunter into crosswalks, and turn right into pedestrians crossing at corners for at least two years. It is the combined horror over the nearness of the hit and also my recent impetus to be change, and all that jazz, that I am determining to do something about the situation. A few summers ago my friend had some great suggestions and I want to piggyback off of them and build some momentum for safer streets.

And this is where I would like your feedback. I am going to open this up to replies; I want to get an active document going. Since this bad boy has yet to go viral almost everyone who reads this knows me and lives in my town. I want to know what you think would help keep our kids (and their beloved mothers) safer on our streets. What would you like to see changed? What are your ideas for enforcement? And in the event you live elsewhere, I would love to hear what has worked in your community. I am going to prepare a list of demands/ suggestions, get some signatures, and then I will take it to a city hall meeting. And if you come too, I will buy you a drink after. We can get rowdy and cross against signals!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Got your ears on, good neighbor?

Lately it has come to my attention that I do not attend well when listening. My mind is very busy and the more scattered I become the more I realize the technical impossibility of trying to multi-task in this way. Trying to simultaneously listen AND think AND/OR talk yourself is like trying to listen and talk on a walkie talkie or CB radio. You simply aren't allowed to by the function of the machine. You must hold a button to talk and then stop what you're doing and let the button up to listen. The point is maybe we would all be better off if we had to choose which mode we were in and stick to it. And if that involves colorful, CB trucker talk, then so be it. Or, big 10-4, mama bears. ( slang terms are great . I am really starting to want a handle and who didn't love "Smoky and the Bandit").

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