Friday, June 29, 2007

8 Things About Me

I was tagged by Diana, so here goes.... Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

(You know, this would be much more fun if my mom and any other elders-I-can't-let-down weren't going to read it.... *wink wink*.... ;-)

So hmmmm, let's see.... safe-to-share tidbits....

1. I have thin-thin-thin Pisces skin, even though my Taurus rising sign doesn't let me show it. I can be stubborn and opinionated and I am super extroverted, so folks just assume I have no qualms about putting myself out there. Truth is, depending upon the day, my mood, and where my hormones are at that particular moment, the slightest thing can send me into a serious tailspin. We pisces have porous skin, so we take it all in - the good, the bad, the subtle nuances that you think no one picks up on.....

2. I always sneeze three times. I guess the first two are just warm-ups for the big'un. My dad used to think it was funny, so as I'd sneeze, he'd count. "One more... yep, there's two... where's three... THERE it is!" It was sorta weird that he'd count every time, but now I miss all those silly things.

3. I am terrible in times of crisis. The closer you are to me, the harder it is for me to run to your side. Now, that's not to say I won't run to your side, because come hell or high water I'll be there, but it is oh-so-hard for me to do it. I don't know exactly why. I think partly it's because you're all so damn important to me, critical to my survival in life-as-I-know-it, that I can't bear the threat to that stability. And partly, it's that whole worry that I won't know what to do or what to say, even though I know there is no one-right-thing to do or say, it's the togetherness and outreach that is healing. I'm not proud of this trait - it's something I'm working on.

4. I want to live somewhere else. I've made no secret of it, but it's been a very serious practice in 'bloom where you're planted' mindfulness to not let it consume me with longing. I can honestly say I'm happy here, and I'm appreciative of my roots and family connections, and it's really not that I want to leave anyone, it's just that I've always had this wanderlust inside me and it hasn't been sated.

5. Out of all the potential leg-shaving years, I've probably only shaved during about 5 of them. Even when I was a teenager, sunning on the beach with cousin Erin, perching coyly to impress the boys, I had hairy legs. Seriously. And as an adult, well, I figger the hair is there for a reason, y'know? And it's so much damn work to get it off. I know, this probably falls under TMI, but for what it's worth, ever since my dad died I've had the desire to shave and have had silky smooth legs ever since. I don't know what that means.

6. I want to pierce my nose. Surprise! I'm not sure why on this one, either, I just do. I'm not a tattoo kinda grrrl, and I'm pretty particular about my adornments. Love-love-love printed skirts, funky shoes (I've got so many, they block the entrance to my closet), bracelets (I wear 2-5 on any given day), dangly earrings (but not too big, and handmade and artistic/beaded are best), and the occasional ring (used to wear several, now I often don't even have my wedding ring on). But I don't care so much for necklaces (I wear them on occasion, but even small ones make me feel "too done" - when I look in the mirror, the necklace is the thing that sends it over the top, "visual clutter"), and I have only colored my hair once. So a very discreet, simple nose ring is right up my alley. I broke the news to my husband who more or less cringed in horror, so I haven't felt encouraged to pursue it much further. Let's take a vote - what do you say? I even have a kindred piercing partner who's awaiting my cue....

7. Wow, what else... I'm really clutter-phobic, but only in my own house. I'm a regular contributor to Goodwill, and I hate keeping things around for 'just in case.' I actually enjoy other people's clutter, though, because it speaks of a life that is being lived, not some neurotic need to keep a house that looks like no one lives in it. Like I do. Well, used to. Things are a bit messier 'round here these days, because I'm working hard to lighten up and because I got tired of picking up. I can't breathe when my own space has too much stuff in it. Once, at a workshop, we did a guided meditation where we traveled to visit with our future selves (it happened to be the first guided meditation I was ever able to really tune in to), and my future self lived in a very, VERY spare place, with only a bed, a rustic wooden table, and the minimal essentials. I'm not aware of any conscious need to live especially primitively, but openness definitely brings me peace.

8. Sheesh, I'm running out of ideas... I rarely, almost never forget a face. I can't always remember when I met you (cuz linear thinking ain't my thing), but I can very often remember where we were, what was going on, the mood of the day, whether or not you and I were comfortable in the moment, etc. And if I don't recall those things, it could only be because I was hyper-tuned-in to something else at the time, something else really nabbed my all-consuming attention. Because when I can't recall an instance, it really rattles me, cuz it's one of my thangs, a gift.

Alright, that's enough sharing outta me! pant pant... Let's see, do I know 8 people with blogs? Who haven't been tagged yet? Here goes:

I tag (even though I know most of them won't do it!):
Peace Goddess
b . v o c k

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Take Action against Hate Crimes

Only Love Allowed

Today I was standing in a check-out line at a store. The cash register malfunctioned and we were all waiting for a manager to show up. As we waited we could hear a loud humming noise, but we didn't know where it came from. It went on and on, until finally a little girl showed up in front of me and said, "I'm the most interestingest singer!"

"You sure are!" I said, "I could hear you the whole time!" And it was about that time that her mother, in front of me in line, started in on the little girl, told her to shut her mouth and stand still, yelled at her about her clothes, and basically controlled her every move from there on out. I gave the mother a look of surprise, because I certainly wasn't bothered by the little girl - it sure beat waiting for the darn manager to arrive. A minute later, the girl found a cooler and cups and helped herself to a glass of water, when an older man, a store employee, said, "You can't drink that! That's for the employees. The employees ONLY!" to which the mother replied, "She don't know no better, she's just a child, if you have a problem you talk to me, not to her."

Deep breaths. This was not going well. My heart ached for the little girl caught between these two negative people.

I don't get meanness. I just don't get it. It makes my heart hurt to hear about the horrid things people do to each other; it gets in my head and hurts deep down and I can't shake it. I remember one time a friend said to be careful what you take in, because once you've taken it in, it's there forever. With my porous Pisces skin, being witness to meanness or abuse can send me into quite a tailspin.

The video above made me cry. It was posted on a blog I visit on occasion, and I'm compelled to share it here so that we might all take a moment to make a difference - go to The Human Rights Campaign and send an email to your congressperson, urging their support in passing the Matthew Shepard Act.

On May 3, the United States House passed the federal hate crimes legislation with bi-partisan support (237 - 180). The legislation now heads to the United States Senate, where it has been renamed the Matthew Shepard Act. In response to this, Judy Shepard, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said "I can’t think of a better way to honor Matthew’s memory. He was a 21-year-old college student just living his life."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Inner Girlie Girls, Unleashed

photo: ready to shop!

It was Tuesday. It was bloody hot. It was a day to seek A/C, embrace our inner girlie girls, and strike out on a mission - new shoes!

It all started when I noticed Ana's super-cute sandals one day... and told her she should take me shopping sometime and help me pick out some shoes.

Ana's inner girlie girl is alive and well, hungry for bling all the time. She will stop her mother in a store, point to the most glittery, shiny, gaudy, sparkly pair of shoes and gush, "Mom, those would look beauuuutiful on you!"

And to understand the whole picture, Ana's mama, my sister, isn't exactly into glam. She is an earth mama, who wears little if any make-up, runs the family farm, and shows up to meet cattle dealers in berkenstocks. Not that she can't doll up something fierce when she needs to - she can turn heads as easily as any grrrl - but she prefers bare feet and comfort-over-fashion most days. So she grimaces whenever Ana shoves a pair of hot-pink glittered stilettos at her.

photo: our "before" picture, with plain old shoes

So after my passing comment, Ana got jazzed. My sister sent me an email that said, "I hope you were serious about taking Ana shoe shopping... you can't say things like that unless you mean it!" And there began the quest, to find a day to shop 'til we dropped. Ana asked "When!?" every time I saw her until I was finally able to set a date.

Our first stop was a shoe store called - of all things - Girlie Girl Shoes! We thought that sounded like the perfect place to start, but unfortunately they only had women's shoes. I did a quick scan of the place to see if anything screamed "buy me," but there were no prices on any shoes and that is never a good sign for frugal-me. After oohing and ahhhing over some decadent handbags, we struck out for the mall.

We had a price limit in mind, and we weren't stopping until all three of us had new shoes. We got waylaid just inside the mall entrance, when a kiosk clerk nabbed us to rub lotion into our hands and buff our nails for a demo. That was fun for a while, but the man was less than thrilled when I kept saying, "Don't do it to my arm, do it on their arms!" as the girls got excited at the mini-pampering. Thankfully, just as the man started with his sales pitch, Maddie rolled her eyes and said, "WHEN can we go shoe shopping!?!" and that was the perfect exit strategy. One of the giggles of the day began... "don't let the lotion man see us! Oooh, there he is - let's go up the elevator so he doesn't see us again!" and we made a game out of dodging him for the rest of the day.

Maddie was the first to strike shoe-gold, in store #3. After trying on dozens of shoes, she put on these smart little yellow polka-dotted sandals and exclaimed, "I want these!" One girlie girl down.

photo: Maddie's new shoes!

Ana felt the pressure and hemmed and hawed over several pair at the same store, but I reminded her we had all day and many more stores to see and not to buy any unless she was really sure. So off we went. We passed a children's store that I almost didn't suggest, because I was thinking Gymboree prices and knew they'd be too costly. But we ventured in anyhow, and Ana took one look at a wall full of glittery flip-flops and said, simply, "Those." I found her size, she tried them, and the biggest grin crossed her face as she did a little jig in her new shoes.

photo: Ana's new shoes!

New sunglasses were on my list of things I need, and just then I spotted kids' sunglasses in the same store. The girls tried on several pair until they were satisfied with the ones they wanted. So, first new shoes, then new sunglasses! We were stylin' now.... little old ladies were chuckling as we posed for photos in front of the stores.

Photo: After shoes, sunglasses!

Alright, so now it was time to get serious about finding a pair of shoes for Aunt Laura. I'd spotted a cute pair as we'd passed through Macy's on our way into the mall, so I knew I had those to consider as a back-up. I didn't think it'd be as much fun for the girls to help me shop, so at each store I'd do a quick scan, and we'd move on to the next place. We decided we were hungry so we visited the food court. I'd hoped to be done shopping so we could find a place with good food, but we settled for mall food. Ana got a slice of pizza from Sbaros that was as big as her head!

Back to the task at hand.... shoes. We stopped at JC Penney's and saw an adorable skirt on our way to the shoe department. I made a mental note about it, but the girls surprised me by saying I HAD to try it on. Such a difference from shopping with my kids! If I even sniff in the direction of such a store, my boys begin their litany of begging not to go there. "No, no way, mom. Please don't make us go." And I don't. So it was such a treat to be with someone who actually encouraged me to try something on! Sadly, the skirt gave me that hmmmm, something's-not-quite-right feeling, even though the girls were enthusiastic about it. Ah well, we have a mission to accomplish, and it's not skirts!

Nothing in the shoe department there jumped out at me, so we took another skirt detour and went back to Ana's store so the girls could try on clothes. After they picked out their favorite skirts, they didn't want to take them off. The clerk had to put Ana on a stool so they could remove the plastic alarm tag! They were amused that we kept returning, buying things, and taking pictures.

photo: After shoes, after sunglasses,... skirts!

Time was running out, so it was back to Macy's where I was hopeful I'd find a pair of shoes I liked that weren't too expensive. The ones I'd spied earlier were very cute, but they were $50 sandals and they didn't meet my 'must have' criteria. And then we spied the racks and racks of hats near the racks and racks of discounted sandals. Double score!

The girls played in the hats and scarves while I tried on shoes, stopping them every so often to ask, "This one, or this one?" They'd look, very serious in their shoes, skirts, sunglasses, scarves and wide-brimmed pink hats, and give me their most astute observations. Then they'd skip back to the hats.

After I finally found "the ones" - woohoo! - I joined the girls for some fun in the hat racks, causing more than one shopper to stop and laugh at our antics. We were having a ball, and we didn't want to stop!

But alas, 'twas time to get home in time for Ana's baseball game, allowing just enough time to pitstop for a sugary treat.

photo: Aunt Laura's new shoes!

We paused in the mall exit to take just a few more photos - of our newly clad feet! We giggled the whole time, as Maddie wasn't tall enough to lean back, stick out her feet, and not fall off the bench!

All in all, a wildly successful girlie girl afternoon, our inner shopaholics sated .... at least for now....

Photo: The "after" picture - our new shoes!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Knowing When to Shut Up

Today was a "spin my wheels" kinda day. A rainy, chilly Monday following another overly busy weekend. An ADD type of day. An oh-crud-I-forgot-about-piano-lessons sort of day, where one thing got forgotten, another added last minute, and another cancelled, which had me doing the "need to wash my hair - oh wait, no I don't - oh shoot, yes I do" dance of indecision. (For the record, I write with pony-tailed, unwashed hair. :-) This is the sort of day where I sleep just a little too long, when I get that nagging feeling I should get something done - though I know not what that 'something' is. And this is especially the kind of day where my mind wanders in several different directions, emulating my not-getting-much-done actions. And I realize again, tonight, when the usual reading before bedtime seems a bit moot since I've been in evening-mode all day, that my Pisces mind meandering is really something - something frightening.

All day long I'm writing in my head, though little of it gets through to paper. All day long I'm channeling my unschooling voice whenever I'm tempted to throw a big fat hissy fit about the mess on the floor (and on the table, and desk, and counter, and bathrooms, and....). All day long I've got one eye toward the garden and half a wit considering what's for dinner (and why the hell I didn't think to take anything out or - here's a thought - think about it yesterday) while my hands fold clothes. And I look longingly toward the book I'm reading just about the time I realize I'm going to be late to get Jonathan from theatre camp. When puffed-up and needing a good brag, we women like to call it multi-tasking. For me, it's usually multi-daydreaming.

Rob is afraid of the wide-swinging pendulum of my mind. And hell, he doesn't get to hear the half of it. (More like 5% of it - I wanna keep him around, you know.) Since he's been really laid up since his back injury, he actually started cleaning up the kitchen in desperation for something, anything, to do. Now THIS is a shocker. I mean, he's cleaned the kitchen before. By HIS standards. My standards, well, actually include putting dishes in the dishwasher, food in the fridge, and wiping the counters. (Which probably leads one to wonder what he DID do before - as it should. :) So when I started coming home to a clean kitchen, really clean, clean as in "they haven't eaten in the 5 hours I was gone?" - which, for those who don't know my boys, would be a feat worthy of the Guiness Book of World Records - I was happy. SO happy. Now-I'll-stay-married-to-you happy.

And then I made the mistake of saying that out loud. To Rob. I told him how much I appreciated coming home to a clean kitchen. (That was a good start.) I told him it made my day to not walk in and immediately have my eyes see mess and my brain fire *WORK - DAMN IT*. (That was a nice addition to my gushing.) But see, I just don't always know when to quit. I continued with, "When I come home to a clean kitchen, I'm soooo happy. When I come home to a mess, I just want a divorce."


Rob's head jerked up at this new piece of insight into the mind-of-Laura. (Because while he likes my fawning, I'm sure, he had one eye on the baseball game during the previous two appropriately complimentary comments.)

"That's where you go in your head? Straight to divorce?!?" he asked, eyebrows raised, lower jaw dropped.

Well, yeah.

I'm not proud of it. And I'm even less proud that I admitted it. Out loud. I mean, some things are better left in one's head, especially irrational, mind-bogglingly drastic, and stoooopid thoughts like "Yes, your honour, I left him because there were crumbs under the toaster oven. Crumbs!!" He really didn't see the humor in it, and I don't blame him... especially considering it wasn't spoken with even a hint of sarcasm. Just plain, showin'-my-hand confession.

There is a monthly collection of blog posts on the topic of unschooling at An Unschooling Life, where the author offers questions as writing prompts and unschoolers submit writings. (I was a recent contributor with this post.) The latest question (which I didn't specifically address) was How has unschooling changed you? You as an adult? And in addition to all the ways I've become a more peaceful parent, I have to say - it's made me a better wife.

When I'm not talking about divorce over dishes, that is.

But unschooling is about more than education. It's a radical shift in how one lives life, seeing value in all things and being joyful and not succumbing to societal expectations of what is valuable and necessary and cool and acceptable. It's about showing respect and love. It's about honoring others and their needs. And that's just the tip of the unschooling iceberg.

And so I think - I hope - my marriage is better for it. I admit I made the transition to honoring the children in their uniqueness years before it even occurred to me to do the same with my marriage. In the early days I worked a whole lot harder to get my way, until I realized one day that I didn't like a man without an opinion. Go figure.

So I re-evaluated. I remembered that the only way to be trusted is to trust, the only way to be loved is to be loving, the only way to earn respect is to show respect.

I sound like a book jacket blurb for Chicken Smarm for the Soul. And you may notice I have a long way to go in the treat-the-husband-with-the-same-respect-I-hope-to-receive department.

Sometimes Rob likes it when I reveal the odd and secret thoughts that go through my head. Like the time when I told him that unloading the dishwasher is foreplay. (And yes, picture Rob doing a slow bend over and saying, "Hey Laura, I'm unloading the dishwasher now...." in Don LaFontaine's voice. Which happens, like, a lot now.) And when we travel together, just the two of us, and he is especially romantic and I am especially carefree, I am more able to be open and acknowledge how much he makes me laugh and how, really, he's such a damn good guy.

So while I've got a little ways to go, I'm getting better. (Really, I am.) I've been seeing a holistic doc to get my hormones in check (my mood swings were *wicked*, and I finally found a doc who figured out I had a raging hormone imbalance); I've been stopping before I spew any sort of ugliness and waiting for option #2 to come to me (thank you Diana for that nugget of wisdom); and I've been seeing my husband for who-he-is and not for who-I-think-he-should-be. And you know what, despite my misguided ideas in the early years, I like him that way. I like a person who knows who they are. I like a person who lives their truth. And Rob does that. And always did that. And I've finally caught on and caught up.