Sunday, August 14, 2011

For the Kids!

My trip to the grocery store highlighted yet another inconsistancy in the education system and the hold that corperate america has on our children. Don't tune me out just yet. Nathan's school is having a "box tops for education" contest. The class with the most box tops wins a party or something like that. The food we usually buy is not imprinted with this magical seal of approval and so is utterly useless to my son. Now, the food we usually buy is organic, unprocessed and has no added anything. Useless? I'm sorry the fresh organic produce we buy is doing so little for your social status. Though my frustration is not pointed at him. I'm pointing to you, Brownsville Elementary. During his first year at your school you preached nutrition so much to him that he thinks anything with a gram of fat is going to kill him. He checks nutrition labels on everything. While I am glad he does, it's almost an obsession. So in complete contrast to your teaching nutrition, you are bribing our kids to beg their parents for the following (if you could call them this) foods: Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Hamburger Helper, GoGurt, Trix yogurt, Gushers, and the rest of the candy (fruit) snacks. These are obviously not all of the products but you get the idea. I guarantee that not one nutritionist would recommend feeding any of the above products to our children. As if commercials and constant advertising wasn't enough to have to fight, now I have to fight the promise of a pizza party. I have again been made to be the villain because I am trying to do what is right for my children while other factors seem to be going against my efforts. Get off my kids, Betty Crocker!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tough Questions

One of the biggest things that sucks about adulthood, is having to answer the tough questions. Making the hard decisions. I had to decide to euthanize (kill) my dog when she got sick. I don't usually pray but I did then: for her to die peacefully so I didn't have to make that call. The Universe said, "too bad for you."
Today had to laugh at myself for using the guidance of a magic 8 ball. It was given to me by a friend who swore it was never wrong... and it usually isn't (weird). Come on... we all do something ridiculous in blind faith. Whether you make a wish at 11:11, throw pennies into fountains, or wish on the first star you see at night, we all do it. So out of desperation to seek answers to my toughest questions I lapsed in logical thinking to consult the all-magical 8 ball. I know I can't leave my fate up to a toy, but wouldn't it be great if we all had a personal consultant to tell us exactly what to do and where to go? Would this result in a lack of free will? Not really. Ultimately it would your decision, but if you could count on the answer as being the right one, life would be a lot easier.
I believe all things that are supposed to happen, will... eventually. But how do you make sure you're moving in the right direction? And what happens when you go in the opposite direction? Does it all work itself out or will the rest of your life be a cluster of nothing being as it should? Unanswerable questions, I know. I also know they plague the minds of about 6 billion people. We all take chances hoping that we're doing the right thing... and hoping there will be an invisible safety net to keep us from falling too far. Perhaps I just need to reach a higher state of enlightenment, or work on my progress in self-actualizing. Maybe then, I'll have the answers.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


We always referred to Chopper and Scooter as "salt and pepper". After Chopper's initial puppy stage, the two were inseparable. Salt and Pepper. As Scooter got older and wasn't as active as she once was, Sophie took over as Chopper's partner in crime. Since Scooter died June 5th, Sophie has tried to find her place with me as well, but I have misplaced resentment of her for being alive while Scooter isn't.

Scooter was one of the most amazing animals I've ever known. Though she was 8 when we had our first baby, she never snapped at him if he pulled on her ears, or put his hand in her food bowl. If he cried, she would run back and forth between him and where I was, jumping and barking at me to move my butt. When I was giving birth to Drew, a friend of mine had to physically restrain her from jumping into the birth pool. Her never let her concern for me and my family take a break.

Yesterday, I picked up her ashes from the vet. I expected the box to be bigger and I don't know why. When we got home the kids wanted to see the contents of the small dark cherry box. I had explained to them ahead of time that Scooter was "Scooter sand" now. When I opened the box I held my breath expecting a puff of ashes, but they were contained in a plastic bag. It didn't feel right picking the bag up, but I did. I've never seen cremated ashes and was slightly stunned at what they looked like: pepper. Gray and white particles mixed together. The boys lost interest very quickly but I couldn't help studying the contents of that bag. I was searching for something that would hold any proof that it was her... something recognizable. Obviously I didn't find anything. I don't know if it would have made it more real to me, but I needed "proof" that she was actually gone. I held and pet her head while she died, and I felt her take her last breath. I searched her eyes for her soul and found it wasn't there anymore. I stroked her ears for a bit after she was gone, told myself she couldn't feel it, but couldn't stop. I wondered in that moment, if the grief I felt was worth the time I had with her.

Whenever you acquire a pet, you know they are going to die before you. We know this, and we give them all our love anyway.

The Taoist in me says "if life is infinite, then this is not life" (Dyer). I believe the core of who she is, is moving on. But I know she isn't with me, and that makes it hard to be happy for her.

Regardless of my sadness now, the conclusion I have come to is the grief is worth it. The saying "it is better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all" is so true. To be alive is to make true connections to others around you, to see their differences and appreciate how amazing they are. To receive that unconditional acceptance keeps you moving through the tough times. If you never knew love, you'd have nothing to live for.

We start relationships, and get our hearts broken. We have children and live in constant fear for their safety. Wouldn't it be easier to avoid these things? Absolutely. But opting out on the good times... that would not be worth missing.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In my 'right' mind.

My blog has been pretty much a ghost blog, and I'm amazed it hasn't gotten deleted from lack of activity! That being said, I'm feeling compelled to write again, so if you're wanting to read some more of what little insight I have to life, here it is.

The human brain isn't fully developed until a person is between 24 and 26. At this time they become more aware of their own emotions, understand the consequences of their actions more clearly, and in short, "grow up". I'm not sure when this happened for me as I am now 26 and hope I am not a late bloomer on this one. I will say that it has to be much harder to go through your early 20's assuming responsibilities of a much older person, when your brain isn't physiologically there. raising kids while you're still raising yourself is a grand task and knowing this now, wouldn't recommend it.

OK, chill out. I don't regret my life, my children or the choices I've made. I know I would be a much different person without these experiences, and I really like who I am. I really like my husband and my kids, too. I feel slightly guilty bringing children into my world when my sense of self had not been established. But they're doing pretty well so regardless of how it might have effected them at times, they made it out OK.

It was very recently that I finally figured out what I wanted to do, career wise. I worked a few jobs here and there for survival, but nothing I was really in love with. Now that I am working towards completing my degree to get to that career, I feel like my life is (getting) on track. With this, I feel guilty for having to lock myself in my room or head up to Starbucks for a few hours to get a paper done, when I should be doing something with my family. believe I will be encouraging my children to go to college and start their life-long career before they have an opportunity for this guilt.

And then there are days when the weight of my "real life" responsibilities and issues take away my ability to think clearly enough to write a paper or take a test. Where I used to have a 4.0 average, I no longer seem to have the ambition to achieve that GPA, and have been settling for a 3.2. I have made decisions to skip low-weighted assignments for the sake of saving myself the stress of rushing to get it done. Is this part of my newly found "adult" brain, or a huge sign of immaturity?

I have a few things to catch up on in regard to my classes right now, but I just can't seem to do it. I got on the computer, opened my book and stared blankly at both. The weight of some recent decisions I've made recently is weighing heavily on me. While I can still function just fine as a mom and domestic goddess, when contemplating anything outside of these two areas my mind wonders over to ways I could have handled things better. How I could have used my "adult brain" instead of the brain I've been using for the past 26 years. Or maybe I did, and it is my "adult brain" that is giving me these emotions now. I know that no one can redo or re-say anything, but that doesn't stop me from wishing for it. Joe and I will joke about those things that come out of your mouth and as the words are flowing you're telling yourself to shut up, and if you could reach out and grab the sounds from the air before they reached other's ears, you would. What you can do, is learn from it. As painful as consequences can be, I don't believe there are any mistakes. If you learn from an experience, it was worth going through. Whether the damage is a stained shirt, bad haircut, or the breakdown of a great friendship. I have also always said that there is nothing that can't be fixed. Most stains can eventually be scrubbed out with the right cleaner, hair grows back, and trust can be rebuilt. All of these things take time, but are perfectly possible.

As for now, I am taking my thoughts one at a time. I understand how to separate emotion and rationalization, but it is much easier to explain than to put it to practice. For now, I just want to clear my thoughts enough to pass my current classes. Everything else will fall into place when it's supposed to.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Freedom for All

With the apporaching Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving, I've been thinking about the most important aspect of our country... freedom. This term sounds simple enough, but I believe it's more complex than it appears. The Pilgrims came to this country searching for religous freedom. At least, that's what we're told. The part of the story we often leave out to our school-aged children, is that they were searching for religous freedom for them. They were very strict in the ways that they lived, and every aspect of their lives was governed by their religion. Anyone that didn't abide by their rules, was persecuted (salem witch trials?). When Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, it was because his religous views didn't follow the mass's. He was the first American to ralley for true religous freedom for all. This is a subject that I am so passionate about because I, like a lot of others in this country, do not follow the "right" religion. Whenever I state that I am not a christian, which I am reluctant to do most of the time, it is often followed by an akward silence. Then many questions. One minute I'm a "good" person, and the next I am a heathen that needs to be taught the "true path". "No, I do not worship the devil" and "Yes, I believe that Jesus lived, but I don't believe he was the son of God" are statements I've made many, many times in my life. What bothers me the most, is in the United States of America, where we take our freedoms so seriously and hold them so dear, is that most people follow the rule that you have the freedom to believe what they believe. I have also said, "The Constitution declares freedom of religion for all, not just for Christians" more times than I can count. Last year around the holiday season, there was an uproar because the atheist community put a display up among the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa displays. People felt they didn't have the right to put their display up. While I agree it might not have been in the best taste, I absolutely believe they had the right to do it. The display was even vandalized. What does that say about people today? Hundreds of years after the days of the Puritans, the definition of "freedom of religion" is still not viewed the same across the board.
I come across this skewed view of freedom in many other areas of my life. I have chosen to have home births for all of my children, and it is my right to do so. However, my insurance doesn't agree with the practice and refuses to cover a home birth, even though it is tens of thousands of dollars cheaper to cover. Why should they be allowed to strong-arm anyone into doing something they don't agree with? (Might I add it's a government run insurance?) We refuse to immunize our children, but most people don't even know they have the right to waive it. Most parents are told that their kids won't be admitted to kindergarten without being fully 'up to date'. what gives the government the right to force such a personal decision onto millions of parents? We should have the freedom to decide what is right for our child, and what is not. And if you say that it's a public health concern, you're wrong. I'm sure many parents would still opt to vaccinate their children, and those who are immunized would be protected, and those who are not, would be able to catch the disease. I am much more confident in my child surviving chicken pox, measles, etc. than I am confident in the pharm companies being honest about their products. It seems like every day there is a new class-action lawsuit filed for the "unknown" (and often fatal) side-effects of a particular drug. It is my freedom to opt out of the unknown side-effects. And if my children grow up and decide to get themselves vaccinated against this or that, then I will accept that as their freedom to choose to do so.
As the wife of a sailor and step-daughter of a soldier, I take these things so seriously. Every time we want to be judgemental or impose our views on others, we need to remind ourselves that the definition of "freedom to..." applies to everyone. As the great philosopher Voltaire once said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Thursday, October 28, 2010


A few years ago my brother and I lost touch for no reason at all. It simply got to be that too much time had passed, and he felt it was too late to "call back". We reunited at my oldest brother's funeral and we said we'd never lose touch again. Neither of us had talked to Jonny in years, and now we'll never be able to. Well here we are again, a year's gone by, and nothing. So often we just "loose touch" with people we were once close to, and feel like it's been too long to start communication again. What I'd like to share now, is a prime example of how important it is to take that leap.
I recently decided to write a person a letter, whom I don't even remember. It's been over 20 years since I've seen this person, but he played a pretty important role in my life for a few years. I wanted to know who he was, and how I was, and maybe get some more answers on who I am now. I wrote the letter on a whim never expecting a response, but after two weeks received a letter and a card.
That was back in August. Since then we have been communicating on a fairly regular basis, though it has been slowing. With everything I have to do in a day, sending an email gets pushed to the bottom of the list, and often falls off at the end to get tacked on the next day's to-do's. I did take the 5 minutes yesterday to get it done, but this whole experience has taught me a few things.
1. Once you have a connection to someone, it is there indefinitely. Whether that connection is positive, negative, or a little bit of both, it'll always be there.
2. Take the 5 minutes it takes to keep it alive. Even if it's one phone call a month, it's worth doing. We're all busy people. But how many people can you name in the next minute, that you used to consider 'close', and haven't talked to in ages? How many friends do you have on your Facebook that have had another kid, gotten married, etc. and you didn't even know?
3. People aren't going to be mad at you because you've lost touch. It happens to everybody at some point. If years go by and you finally decided to pick up the phone to say hello, I almost guarantee that your call will be welcomed and appreciated.
I hope this encourages you to reconnect with someone today. Or this week. When you are old and looking back on your life, you're going to miss all the times you could have had.

Monday, September 27, 2010


During my never-ending search for enlightenment, I've come across a common theme. It's one we could all accept to make our lives a little easier so I've decided to write about it in hopes of reaching a few of you. As you may know, I follow Taoism and have for the past few years. Every once in a while I have a moment that confirms something I've learned and amazes me, still. In the 55th verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao-Tzu states, "He who is in harmony with the Tao is like a newborn child. Deadly insects will not sting him." Translated in my interpretation: if you believe you are connected to everything, and do not have fear or hatred in you, then there is not a creature that would wish to harm you. Newborns are so close to nature; in awe of everything, and are accepting of everyone regardless of their race, creed, nationality or gender. They have no intent on harming. At the park Saturday, a yellow jacket or wasp, I'm not sure which, landed on Alex's face. I internally panicked and before I had time to act, Alex swatted it. I thought about all of the yellow jacket attacks I had heard about this summer that were sending adults without allergies to the hospital because the venom was getting more potent. I searched his face where the insect had landed and there was not one mark. You may think I'm crazy or roll your eyes, but I believe the insect sensed his innocence. If it had been me, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have had a baseball sized welt on my face.
So now to the issue of trust. You all have experienced a moment when life just didn't seem fair. That things didn't go your way, and you wanted it so badly, it physically hurt. You felt sorry for yourself, cried, punched a wall, or even spent some time curled up and hugging your knees. The death of a loved one or the death of a dream are both things worthy of such emotions. When you say you just don't understand 'why', you are right. Believe that it is not for you to understand. When we are children and want a cookie before dinner and our parents tell us no, we don't understand the reasoning behind it. While some throw a tantrum and scream and kick, other kids trust that there is a reason their parents said no. They might ask 'why', but will accept the ever-prevailing, "because I said so". Sometimes that's the only answer we need as adults. We can't always understand the reasoning behind what goes on in life, but we can understand that there is reasoning that's bigger than we can comprehend at this stage of our existence. I have found much peace in this way of thinking. Not knowing the reasons, but trusting that there are reasons. There is a perfect plan and we are all a part of it... regardless of how we want it to be.
Take of this what you will, but if it's a new concept to you, I encourage you to give it a try.