Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NEED YOU NOW (How Many Times) by Plumb (LIVE)

I have wrapped this song around my heart and soul for a couple of months as I have travelled through some difficult truths.  The lyrics are the cry of my soul and Plumb rountinely points me towards the horizon with her art.  Thank you for your voice in this world Tiffany!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Favored Daughter

This was such a great segment on The Daily Show last week.  I highly recommend the extended interviews on the show's website.

Story is the most powerful way to connect and I can't wait to read her book.  Fawzia Koofi is an inspiration to me... she is doing something truly amazing right in the middle of the circumstances she has found herself in.  Such strength of character and conviction!

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Yes the last post was of the cute and cuddly, but really this is what a day of love should be about...

It's in the little things...

I have two primary love languages... in the Dr. Gary Chapman way.  Gift giving and acts of service are the ways in which I feel loved and often how I express love, though I have begun learning the art of expressing love the way another person feels love.  My marriage is a bit of a mess (biggest understatement ever) and I know one piece of the puzzle in this is that I have not done this well as a wife... expressing my love in a way that he understands love.  But really that is not the point of this post... because I mostly like to blog and update my facebook status with the things I do well in my life, so let's move on to how it's in the little things with my children, shall we?

Several years ago two of the most dear women in my life-my MOPS mentor moms, gave a talk to our group about how we can identify and understand the love languages of our children, and they based their talk on The 5 Love Languages of Children.  I learned so much that day about how important the little things are for my kids.  My older son craves words of affirmation.  My daughter loves physical touch and gift giving.  My younger son needs lots of time spent together.  So on a day that in theory is supposed to be about the expression of love, I feel like I have a huge opportunity to express my love well to each of my kids.

We have a few family traditions that anchor our living.  One is the use of banners to signify whatever holiday we are celebrating.  If there is no holiday, I usually create a banner made out of the kids art projects.  Several of those banners have landed pictures on this blog over the years... like here and here.  So in usual fashion the banner was hung...

And the table was set...

For my older son, I made sure the words were short sweet and meaningful.  For my daughter, the tabletop display and the mailbox helps her feel special, and for my younger son... well we are going on a date tomorrow to build a bear...just cuz we can.

I used to stress and work myself up into a tizzy making things just so...but I have learned how to keep it simple.  I've been building up craft supplies on clearance for each season for years now, so I just needed to dig into my Valentine's Day storage bin to come up with items to give.  Good planning in past years has made my life easier and that allows me to be more present with my children on the important days.  

So why would you care about such things?  Maybe you don't... that's for sure. So let me say this,  I don't share what I do, to suggest I have my shit together...because I most certainly do not.  I share to show my process, because I stole my process from others and tweaked it to my liking...because that's what I do.  Maybe something I share will ignite a great little idea in you!  On this Valentine's Day, may you be showed kindness and connection... not just chocolate and cards.  On this day, may we all remember that there are many all over the world that are treated cruelly under the veil of romantic love, religious piety, or allegiance to state.  Actualizing love takes practice and awareness.  I know I have a long way to go, yet I am grateful for how far the love I have been blessed to experience, has already taken me!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Downton Abbey, Mad Men, The Help, Lincoln, and Les Miserable... A Common Thread

Christmas special preview photos

Mad Men Season 1 Episode Photos - Mad Men Season 1 Episode Photos Photo Gallery

Disclaimer:  Some of what I am going to say will seem offensive to some, as they feel strongly about the choices they are making for their family.  I respect the homeschooling community and I respect new expressions of faith.  I just have some questions about the direction it's taking our culture.  I ask myself similar probing questions for choosing public school and and traditional worship setting, especially since the status quo is crumbling right now...

I am afraid we have grown complacent and disconnected in our current times.  We are quite removed from the reality that our country is fighting two wars at once.  We target enemies of the state with remote operated drones and our national conversations are an endless mess of polarization.  We are bearing witness to the fruits of fear based living as those who cannot cope, are acting violently and indiscriminately.  We choose more individualized options for education and faith expression under the tenant that we are providing more authenticity for our value system and allowing deeper connections, yet I am afraid we are only finding deeper connections with people who look like we want to and think the way we do, thus perpetuating the polarization that is tearing us all apart.  

I have long heard that when we don’t understand and remember history, we are doomed to repeat it... and thus the foundation for our need to have period dramas for our entertainment in this time.  I happen to believe that the US is a remarkable experiment in freedom, blemishes and all.  Over the course of our nation’s young lineage, one of the common threads has been that all men/wo-men are created equal.  Period.  Our biases from generation to generation have created unconscious amendments to that fundamental idea, yet there has always been a force calling the unconscious restrictive amendments out into the light is in an almost symbiotic measure.  This consistent tension has ensured that our basic fundamentals are constantly tested and refined.    

And now we are in a time when much progress as been experienced... just enough progress that we are not daily faced with brazen examples of inequality.  Signs of inequality are all around us, yet our current culture is expert at whitewashing and re-branding the harsh realities of this world.  When life was physically more difficult, it was hard to completely deny that being human is painful and difficult.  Wars could not happen in such a removed fashion.  People needed communities for physical survival and so the emotional need to connect and wrestle with differing opinions happened organically.  Now we have a much more leisurely lifestyle, thanks to the industrial revolution and so we have to pay good money to get anything organic... whether it be our food or our community.

Since September 11, 2001 our culture has been in a tailspin...or at least the tailspin we were already in became impossible to deny.  Threat is everywhere and one thing you can always count on is that human nature will be what it is in every age... depraved.  I believe fear is the dominant factor driving our culture right now, and when fear is in the picture, immaturity rears it’s ugly head.  Then we have a huge mess on our hand.  I do not think segregating education for our children is the ultimate answer to produce a resilient next generation.  So because I am middle class and I have the means for private education or the time to provide a home based educational experience for my children, I need to exercise that option to ensure a better future for my children?  What about my gardeners children?  Or the post carriers child?  (Says the woman who has a child in private school right now...gotta to keep it real)  

Because I am exhausted by the rhetoric spewed by the loud and angry voices in the church, I am supposed to do the new hip thing and break off into smaller expressions authentic christian living?  (Says the woman who has no desire to go “deeper”  because of spiritual trauma that is currently being healed for good...grace be.)  What about my neighbors and friends who could care less about the inner squabbling of my particular faith community.  Will doing that really bridge any divides?

I have felt the temptation to throw up my hands... for sure I have.  I volunteer regularly in the public classroom setting and I worked in the church for a decade.  What I have seen and what I have witnessed can sometimes cause much rage for me.  That is why I am thankful for shows like Mad Men and Downton Abbey or movies like Lincoln, The Help, and Les Miserable.  They remind me that my struggles are still an evolution of the issues humanity has faced over the course of time.  Both shows and all of the movies  have a tremendous integrity in their storytelling, from plot to set design and costumes.  They make such effort to stay historically accurate and still use story to press into the social issues of each time.  By using another era’s woes to focus on social injustice, I find it easier to take a hard look at my own life and what is really happening around me.  The artists in a culture seem to always lead the way and pound the drums when change is needed.  Will we wake up to what our most sensitive and creative voices are saying? 

 ...That going back towards a separated culture for any reason, will only bring more suffering.  Equality is the way forward.  Equality for all, with no amendments needed...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

...And so that I am fair.

...Or to be more specific:  This is the follow up post to my last post where I share a very unflattering story from my past that also demonstrates the degree to which gender socialization impacts our behavior.  Really it is two stories that are so similar it is pathological.  Or at least it was at the time anyway....hopefully I have evolved since then.

Two different schools, two different levels of education,  two different guys, and one common denominator: me.  In both situations I lost control and verbally attacked these guys in public, because I thought I could.  It takes two to tango for sure in both of these instances but my tongue cut far deeper than theirs each time.  

The first happened when I was in high school, with the same guy from the last post.  We were in a relationship and though the conversation was behind closed doors, everyone in the building could hear us.  We got into a rip roaring argument one day at school over who could remember what and the yelling began.  What I do remember is how verbally degrading I was to this poor guy.  I made a fool of myself and I humiliated him.  My dirty laundry smells as much as next persons.  

The second was in college, in a main academic building on campus with plenty of students passing by to witness it.  I do remember what I lost control over, though the gross over response is so pathetic in retrospect.   I was defending my roommate from some pranksters, but I counted this guy my dear friend at the time and I unleashed on him, publicly humiliating him...on purpose.

Like I said in the last post, I am not stupid and I am not meek.  I am however still figuring out just how much of my behavior is influenced by the media.  Take a look at some of the male archetypes in film and television.  There is the jock...tough and handsome, but no brains.  The nerd...who has plenty of brains and often money to boot, but no social savvy.  There is the predator... and I won't even go there in this post but they have neither brains nor social savvy. 

But the women around them are always there to pick up the slack where they fail, and remind them of their deficiency.  Television and film do not champion a strong, emotionally balanced, fully capable man.  No wonder young men are so angry these days.  I may not have the strength to physically usurp power, but I have almost always known how to usurp emotional power by degrading men with my words.  Ouch for the men I have victimized.  Ouch for the reality that when I bully, I hurt others and I degrade myself as well.

One last little bit... media is not the only dynamic shaping the cultural shift away from an egalitarian lifestyle, but it is a very big part of the puzzle.  Art reflects life and life reflects art... it is a symbiotic dance.  Our families shape how we behave socially and if we are modeled unhelpful depictions of adult opposite sex relationships...we will pay it forward.  So that I am clear, accountability for my behavior in relationship ultimately rests on my shoulders and in order for me to be able to face that truth I need to understand why I sometimes operate in a manner that is so disconnected from my values and morality.  With understanding comes an opportunity to change course, and to change course I have to discredit the unhelpful influences that tempt me down a path I don't want to travel.  For me it begins with awareness of the stillness that is within the truth of life around me.  Every day I want to return to stillness so I can have fresh eyes to view the world and my life.  May it be so...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

So Not Cool- Audi Super Bowl 2013 Commercial: Prom (worth it version)

I did not watch the Super bowl. I did not watch the half time show. I do not like the football scene, but not because I see no value in it.  It's just that when I was like 10 years old at some family party for some big football game somewhere... I stood up in the middle of the room blocking the television and declared, that when I grew up I would marry a man that didn't watch football, and the whole room erupted in laughter.  They all teased saying good luck with that one.  Well I did eventually marry someone who doesn't watch football.  In fact I watch more sports than he ever has, but baseball is my love.  True story.

So my only source for this commercial was the Ms. Blog post about the 5 most sexist commercials.  This one struck a nerve for me, because a very similar thing happened to me at a high school dance.  It wasn't as random as that though.  I had gone to the dance with the boy who surprised me with lust.  It was a mock wedding at a high school Sadie Hawkins dance, but we had never kissed privately, I did not agree to anything of the sort beforehand, and he forced himself on me.  It took everything in me not to make the scene bigger by slapping him and I was mortified by the gasps of onlookers and the reality that at the time he was my closest guy friend.  I felt humiliated because it was so public and I was openly mocked by most of my peers for weeks after the dance, but I never considered it to be as awful as it was until I saw this ad with my adult eyes and heart.  That mixed with the reality that I have two growing boys and a growing daughter that I am trying to raise to be egalitarian.  I would never want my boys to ever treat a girl like an object that would make their social struggles more manageable, and I would personally kill any boy who ever did that to my daughter.

I know I am a product of this culture, because of this:  I remained friends with this guy.  I dated him again later in high school... and then pined after him while at separate colleges for a couple of years after he had already moved on.  What I should have done however, was given him a swift kick in the you know.  (There is so much more to that story that I will allow stay unsaid because I would not want my dirty laundry from my teen and college days aired out in the blogosphere without my consent and will give the same respect to others.  I do feel it is important to say there is more that I'm not talking about just the same.)  I am not stupid and I am not meek.  I have been socialized in a sexist culture that is harmful to both men and women.  He is not a monster and was otherwise a very good kid.  Men shouldn't have to be marinated in messages  that they have to use power over others to be considered cool and women should not have to be brainwashed to believe themselves to be only valuable if objectified.

We are going backwards people...wake up!  We don't have to host conscious raising dinners in our homes anymore.  We have moved them to the blogging world.... and we must rise up and speak out about what is happening in our culture.  I highly recommend you read the Ms. Blog post...it is very important to hit the pause button and really evaluate what was on the airwaves yesterday and frankly every single bowl game and every single day.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Because I can...

... share a bit from my current creating...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The "F" word...


Why did I feel squeamish to identify myself as a feminist for so many years?  Maybe because of the way those in opposition of equality spun the word to have a negative connotation.  Maybe because the title feminism itself is exclusionary.  Whatever the reason, I have made peace with the truth and can speak freely about the idea I hold most dear in my value system.

I stand for equality regardless of gender, sexuality, race, age, fashion taste, economic status, religious persuasion or lack there of, etc...

I've been steeped in reading about gender studies recently and my mind is growing and spinning and creating.  Most of the fruit of my labour I am not ready to share just yet, but there is one thing I want to put out in the world:

We don't need a Third Wave of Feminism as much as we need a First Wave of Egalitarianism.  

Feminism is not a bad word and I hate that the spin doctors stole it and tainted it, but I now believe it is for the better... because the Feminist Movement can now evolve into a movement that will be more accessible to people everywhere.  We have an opportunity to organize around more than just women's issues.  We can organize around the underlying belief of feminism that suggests that men and women are equal, without getting caught in the fruitless power struggle that erupted at the end of the second wave of feminism.  Semantics are important when you are organizing around ideals and when the movement is identified in divisive language it put people like me off.  I have two sons and a daughter.  I want physical, emotional, spiritual, economic, and intellectual equality for all three of them.  So lets get to work and actualize this ideal for the next generations and stop being divided because of a word.