Sunday, January 31, 2016

Legacy

Today’s prompt:

Legacy

What do you want to be known for? Maybe you want to change the world. Maybe you just want to make the best cupcakes known to man. Go all in and give us the deep life-long goal, or share a smaller mission.

I suppose I will sound absolutely shallow for saying this, but I don’t really want to be known for anything more than loving my family, making people laugh, and encouraging others to be open to new ideas, experiences, and insights.  I’m not on a crusade to save the world, just to make it laugh.

Dam store

 

This prompt got me thinking about funerals, which is maybe macabre for someone so, ahem, young, as I. But, I’ve decided that when I die, I don’t want a chapel funeral, with a life sketch and eulogy. I want folks to throw a party, remember the good times, and that I never took anything very seriously. No melancholy strains of Nearer My God to Thee or lilting Each Life That Touches Ours for Good, no dark colors and somber faces—no, no---I want a mariachi band, or a big New Orleans style brass band, playing the good, danceable stuff. 

Metalachi 2

Ooh, or maybe we could get these guys:The world’s first and only Heavy Metal Mariachi band—based out of Los Angeles, California!

I hope folks wear bright colors and comfy shoes. I hope they serve pizza and nachos and have a belching contest. I want someone to set up a karaoke machine so everyone can sing really bad renditions of Broadway showtunes and Elvis impersonations . I hope the beat is strong, the music loud, and someone decides to bust out their best samba. 

Cuban Pete

If there MUST be something said of me, I hope it’s done in Dr. Seuss type rhyme, or a clever parody of Poe’s The Raven. If there’s a viewing, I hope someone lovingly places a pirate hat on my head or a red foam clown nose on my face before the casket is closed for good. Cover my casket in striped ribbons in clashing colors, and plastic flamingos. And as they’re hauling me out to the hearse, I hope the Muppets’ song Mahna Mahna is playing as I’m carried out. Or maybe Jump In The Line by Harry Belafonte.

flaminos flaminos flaminos flaminos

crepe paper

Actually, maybe I better stick with the standard solemn affair—I’d hate to miss such a party!

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Friday, January 29, 2016

On writing

Today’s prompt:

Write On

Why do you write? What have you learned by facing the page? Did anything surprise you about your reflections this past month?

This Think Kit blog challenge has been exactly that—a challenge! I have loved doing it, even if I haven’t managed to post every single day---I wanted a kickstart to regular blogging and I definitely got that!

Why do I write? I write because I think better on paper…er, the computer. Writing helps me sort out what’s in my head.  I also write because I like to tell stories and entertain people. I like to build bridges and help others make connections between events, people, and other things that they may not have considered before.

The Think Kit prompts are decidedly personal and I’ve struggled with a few of them, not for lack of anything to say, but in how to say it.  I’ve worried a few times if I sound crazy or flippant or both.  Some of the prompts have touched on subjects I don’t really want to think about, because they are boring or uncomfortable, or I just thought they were too silly or mundane to bother with. 

That said, the Think Kit blog post challenge has been a lot of fun. I realized that with a little discipline, I can crank out some half decent posts.  With more discipline, maybe I’ll manage some truly fine ones.  The blog challenge has gotten the creative juices flowing and shown me that in order to write what and how I want, I need to make writing a priority and treat it like a job. Now I just need to set my hours and my deadlines!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Catchphrase

Today’s prompt: 

Make-a-mantra

Write a mantra for the year ahead - how you'll approach it, what you wish it to be. How'd you arrive at the mantra

Last November, I attended a talk by a motivational speaker. He was a bit too earnest and “rah-rah” for my taste, but he suggested we choose a word that would be our mantra—our guide for the coming new year.  He had us write down seven or eight words that came to mind about how we wanted to be in the new year and then had us narrow it down to one…and then we were asked to share what we’d chosen.  I found the activity kind of exciting, but also kind of hokey, and sat mutely off to one side while others volunteered their words, such as:

Presence!

Intention!

Mindfulness!

Creativity!

Determination!

And I’m in the corner thinking:

Nitwit!

Blubber!

Oddment!

Tweak!*

Dumblin

*If you are baffled by the words I was thinking, get thee to the library, check out, and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, post haste!

 I’m sure I wrote down seven or eight real motivational words, but I don’t remember what they are.

I don’t know if mantras will ever really be my thing, but there are a few “catchphrases” that I find myself using quite a lot:

When something is lost (and I don’t need it right this second): “It’ll turn up.” 

In triumph:‘”Wuh-BAYUM!”

When something unexpectedly goes my way: “Well, hot dayum and hallelujah!”

When directing the children in their chores: “Put the thing in the thing, next to that other thing! Come, on, you know what I mean!”

At bedtime: “Don’t come down here unless you’re bleeding or on fire!”

In response to the question ‘What’s for dinner?’: “I dunno. I haven’t thought that far.”

When the kids ask me what we’re going to do for the day: “The same thing we do every other day—try to take over the world.”

My oldest kids just showed up and read this post over my shoulder. I hate that. But, they are nodding and now mimicking my triumph yell.  Get your own war-cry, kids, I’m trademarking mine!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

On navigating culture clash

Today’s prompt:

It's Customary

It's a small world after all! What custom from another culture do you wish you could transplant into your own? Maybe you want siestas (Hola, Spain!) or Hygge from Denmark. Or maybe you want to create a new custom altogether?

By the time I met my husband, Julio, who was born and raised in Guatemala, he was pretty “Americanized.” He had spent a year in high school as an exchange student in Utah, and then later served a two year mission for the Mormon Church in San Bernardino, California.  He spoke English (with only the tiniest trace of an accent) and was comfortable navigating US culture and maneuvering through our various systems (school, government, etc.) In fact, when I first met him, I assumed he was from New York or something—somewhere distant from me (born and raised in the western States) but not foreign.

Still, he carried vestiges of his home culture, which took me some getting used to.  First, was the fact that he greeted EVERY female friend he met with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, calling them “mi amor” (my love.) I was scandalized by this behavior. I was raised to believe that any kind of kissing was reserved for romantic partners, and that terms of endearment were for sweethearts. (It didn’t help that “mi amor” just sounded so sexy rolling off his lips, no matter to whom he said it.  I was a jealous young thing, what can I say?)

julio and cousins

Julio and his stunningly beautiful aunt and cousins.

I didn’t know anyone else who kissed friends, female coworkers, older women, and young girls to say hello, even though I had friends from various cultural backgrounds and countries. (Turns out, lots of my friends did this, amongst their own people and folks from cultures that shared similar greeting customs, but they remained hands-and-lips-off the Americans.) It took me a long time to understand that a hug and a kiss in greeting didn’t imply romantic or sexual interest, and that calling someone “my love” in Spanish is the equivalent of the English “honey” or “hon,” (as in “What can I get you, hon?”) Now, however, greeting-hugs and kisses and endearments are among my favorite customs in Guatemalan culture. 

julio and rocio

Julio (center) leading his niece to her grandfather, at her Quinceanera.

Another thing that I struggled with was the circuitous communication style my husband displayed. Guatemalans are not a direct people. They will never plainly ask for anything, but hint and drop clues, expecting you to read between the lines and respond accordingly.  I am really, really bad at this kind of communication. My husband tells me that early in our relationship, he would “test” me on certain things by placing, what seemed to me, random things and offhand comments for me to decipher.  I didn’t know this, having no cultural context for this kind of communication---and I often found him baffling.

engagement

Our engagement photo. We were just babies!

After one particularly exasperating evening with him, he expressed his disappointment that I hadn’t responded how he was hoping and then he pointed out all the times he had left clues and dropped hints hoping I would “get” the message he was trying to send. He admitted he had been testing me and was disappointed that I wasn’t getting it. I don’t remember what the issue was, but my ineptitude was so much that he finally had to spell things out for me, one bald-faced letter at a time. It must have been excruciating for him to be so direct, but I was just upset that he was pussy-footing around the issue.  I probably yelled something about being a jerk and playing mind games, not realizing that making things plain was not part of his cultural skill set.

This experience led to an uncomfortable, if ultimately enlightening, discussion about our needs and wants and hopes, and also our communication styles.  Over the years, we’ve realized that his indirect approach to communication, and my “line drive down the center” approach are part culture, part personality, and that before we get all bent out of shape, it behooves us both to check ourselves against each other’s communication styles, and adjust accordingly!

us now

This is us now. How did we get this old?

Certainly any couple will have to deal with each others’ idosyncracies, but those are compounded when coming from different cultures. Fortunately, my husband is patient, I have learned that there is more to navigating the world than ploughing straight through, and we are both inclined to find humor in just about everything, so we’ve managed to bumble triumphantly through the inevitable culture clashes. 

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Wonder and mystery

Today’s prompt:

Media Frenzy

Nervous at Airports? Created your first protest sign? Taken on a different perspective? How has what you've seen in the news changed you this year?

I am at a bit of a loss for this prompt, but it got me thinking about my media usage.  Facebook and Pinterest get a lot of flak for being worthless time sucks, but they have both expanded my world. Through Facebook and Pinterest, I have found artists, writers, bloggers, lesson plans, social and political activists, new music, project ideas, and new perspectives. 

I have come to think of the internet as an incredible tool to daily expand my horizons, and show my children the world in ways that we wouldn’t have access to otherwise.  Sure, we do a lot of traveling and we read a lot (a LOT) of books, but the internet has given us instant access to an unbelievable amount of knowledge, ideas, and perspectives. It is amazing!

 

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” –Anais Nin

Friday, January 22, 2016

Where ya goin’?

Today’s prompt:

It's All About the Journey

Where did you travel this year? Did it move or change you?

I’ve traveled a few places in the last year, but when I saw this prompt, my first thought wasn’t of the visits to Utah for weddings, or Eastern Idaho for funerals, or even California and Oregon for vacations.  I thought more about my journey as a person.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I’m noticing that I really don’t care about a lot of the stuff that used to keep me up at nights:

  • Having the perfect house
  • Having perfect children who conform to cultural and social expectations
  • Having the perfect body
  • being the perfect wife/mother/friend/daughter/sibling

Some might say I’ve “given up” or “let myself go” or am even “irresponsible” regarding these things, but the truth is---I have come to accept my limitations and lack of interest in much of what it entails to strive for all this perfection.  I’ve become a whole lot more accepting and open to what IS and and I’m much more forgiving of myself for my failures. This acceptance has freed me to explore and do life on my own terms, with some pretty impressive (to me) results. I have figured out my talents and genunine interests, my aesthetic (anything that makes me laugh), my priorities, and my purpose. It’s not that I have EVERYTHING figured out, but I know who I am and I know where I’m headed.

I have a twenty-something friend on Facebook whose posts are rife with all the insecurities and anxieties particular to someone who is still trying to figure out who she is and what her place and role in the world is.  Part of me wants to reach out and put my arms around her and lovingly tell her to get over herself.  A lot of the the things she’s frettting over won’t matter in ten or fifteen years and she’ll have wasted a lot of time agonizing over them, rather than truly experiencing life and doing good.  At her age and a decade on, I was just like her…so I speak from experience.  Of course, I don’t reach out and tell lher to let go of the crazy, because I’m sure, that had someone done that to me, I wouldn’t have listened. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t listen, either.  Unfortunately, it seems that stewing in self loathing and insecurity over all the perceived imperfections in life is just part of growing up.

In the meantime, my favorite quote and mantra has become this saccharine-free quote from comedienne Sarah Silverman:

MoTe

Now, I would never presume to compare myself and my work to the awesomeness that was Mother Teresa, but I love the sentiment.  The woman had work to do---there was no time to worry over keeping up appearances when there were real needs to deal with and real people to love.

Now, I like to look nice, and I like my things to look nice.  I like my kids to behave and I like to think that I’m doing a good job with all of that, but I’ve long since given up trying to look nice, be nice, have nice for the sake of the approval and acceptance of others.  A lot of what I do now, in fact, DOESN’T look nice, because frankly, creation is messy. Work is messy.  Forgiveness is messy. Repentence is messy.  Life is messy.  But it’s all beautiful and worthwhile if you learn from it and do good with it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Standing in line

Today’s prompt:

Tickets,Tickets!

What (or who) did you shell out or stand-in-line for this year? Was it worth it? What made you wait in line, log-on early, or form a lifetime attachment?

Here’s the thing. We don’t stand in lines. We make it a habit to circumvent the queue system if we can. One of the few times we couldn’t was when we stood in line to see President Barack Obama at our local university. The event was free, but for crowd control, the venue issued tickets, and we stood in line for a couple of hours to get ours.  We live in a decidedly red state, so I was surprised to see that the line for tickets was as long as it was.  I was also surprised to hear people of many different political persuasions talking and joking amicably with each other in line.  So used to the political vitriol on the interwebs, I fully expected people to be as nasty in person as they were online. I was delighted to be wrong.

Although many of our friends thought we were wasting our time and wondered why on earth we would stand in line for tickets to hear that @#*$% Obama speak, we were looking forward to hearing the President and being part of what was a historic event for our town. My son, Calvin, even got interviewed by the local news just prior to the speech.

 

Here we are, killing time in line at the university, waiting for tickets to President Obama’s speech.

20150119_154306

 

Calvin being interviewed.

calvin on tv

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Magic of Moxie

Today’s prompt:

Read Up

Let's explore the power of words. Did a writer delight you, make you think, or impact you in some other way? Write a review, or share a favorite line from something you've read.

 

" 'The thing about growing up with Fred and George,' said Ginny thoughtfully, 'is that you sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.' "

—Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

My kids and I have been (re)reading together the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, and though there are many inpsiring and thought provoking quotes throughout the books, this comment from Ginny Weasley really sparked with us.

Ginny is talking about her brothers’ ability to make things happen in their favor because they are unafraid to give it a go, and with gusto! Fred and George are always thinking outside the box and willing to take risks. They are tenacious, optimistic, and never let obstacles or failure railroad their ambitions.

I used to tell my kids that they could be anything they wanted to be—but then I realized that is not true. Wanting something is not the same as getting it or becoming it. You have to do more than want to be something, you have to work for it.  And all the better if you work for it with the moxie of Fred and George!

fg2

This posit is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Beating Homeschool Burnout

Today’s prompt:

On the Fringes
Think of things that have piqued your curiosity. What leaves you with more questions than answers? Who or what do you wish you knew more about?

Every winter, post-Christmas, we hit a slump in our homeschooling. We’re cranky, unmotivated, and experiencing some cabin fever. We used to spend a month or two floundering around, trying to keep to our routine, but it was always miserable and I’d fantasize about sending the kids away on the big yellow bus.

Now, however, when I start to notice symptoms of homeschool burnout, the kids and I make a list of new things we’d like to do or learn about. I write down everything the kids tell me, no matter how strange or mundane I might find it, and then we hit the library to see what information we can find. I also take a look at the several community event calendars are available in our area, to see what activities might coincide with our new interests, and I plan field trips.

Typically, our list is so long that we can’t get to everything, or we need to put some items off because they are seasonal or already planned for later in the year, but making our list and acting on it—checking things off as we go, reignites the homeschool spark.  It’s good to change up the routine!
This year, I made two lists, one for the kids and one for me. I don’t have a lot of personal time to devote to my own interests (what adult does?) but I like to chip away at it when  I can. 
Here are just some of the things from both of this season’s lists:

Kids:
  • how chocolate is made
  • archery
  • wildlife
  • cooking (especially desserts!)
  • how to crochet a bear
  • botany
  • chemistry
  • how to run a business
  • animation
  • how to make a video game
  • drawing techniques
Me:
  • The Middle East conflict
  • Israeli/Palestinian conflict and how the Parents’ Circle is bridging the divide and working for peace
  • social work, particularly regarding children and families
  • container gardening/urban homesteading
  • traditional animation
  • filmmaking
  • koi ponds
  • Bonsai
  • learn to sight read music for the piano
  • the cultural anthropology of England (I just bought a book about this and it looks fascinating!)
The full lists are pretty ambitious, but each time I look them over, I marvel at how much there is to learn about the world and the people in it, and the universe we inhabit! It’s impossible to stay in the dumps when there is so much to see and do and learn!

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Work Culture

Today’s prompt:

Work Culture

Work culture is all the rage. What values do you bring to work? Is there any one cultural trait you want to import into your workplace? Create a punch list of small things you can do to nudge culture forward. Or, explore companies who seem to be doing it right.

I’m a homeschool teacher, so I work from home. I am also a volunteer secretary for a non-profit community choir that serves our area’s youth.  Most of my work there, I do over the phone and the computer, so---I don’t have a “work culture” per se. Instead, I offer a list of attributes that guide us in our homeschool:

  • Flexibility: This is a must have. It is impossible to schedule everything in our lives, because it’s LIFE, and we have to work school in with the running of the household.

overwhelmed

  • Humor:  Life is so much more interesting when it’s funny. And humor is a great way to blow off steam or to ease tension and frustration with the schoolwork or with each other. We are always cracking jokes. Silliness is our love language.

clowns

  • Dignity: Though we love to laugh and tease pull pranks and are not afraid to look silly, we don’t do it at each others’ expense. We do not tolerate name calling or hurtful comments. We protect each other’s mental, physical, and emotional space. We build each other up.

family pic 2

  • Tenacity: If at first we don’t succeed, we try, try again.

egg shoot

  • Fun: Life can be so hard sometimes, so we look for ways to infuse it with fun. Makes for good memories!

Neenie snow tubing

  • Wonder: The universe is SO big and there is SO much to learn and see and do. It’s like trying to drink from an open hydrant.  We are never get bored. (And if we do, I assign chores!)

starfish

Neighbors

Today’s prompt:

Be Neighborly

Maybe you fell for the girl next door or considered building a fence to keep out the nosy neighbor. Tell us a story, draw us a map, or give us a hidden gem about your neighborhood, past or present.

I love my neighbors, but we don’t do a lot socially. We are all busy with our own lives, but it is nice to wave hello over the fence and to know that someone will grab the paper and the mail and feed the pets if we go out of town.  I often think I should have the neighbors over for dinner or something, but I’ve always been better on paper than in person. I would love to get to know my neighbors better, but it’s hard. Letters are easier—so maybe I’ll just get to know my neighbors via mail.  Yeah, that sounds good.

Dear Neighbors,

I had a good time the other night yelling, together, at our dogs as they chased each other around on their respective sides of the fence. Seems they’re really getting along now, don’t you think?

I hope you enjoyed the monster zucchinis we gave you last year. We meant to give you a basket full of the colorful and nutritious bounty from our garden, but the zucchini was the only thing the voles didn’t devour or destroy. We gave you the baseball bat sized zukes, because we thought you’d appreciate having some food storage. For the rest of your natural lives.

zukes

Please excuse my kids throwing three different frisbees onto your roof in as many hours and then climbing up there without your permission to retrieve them. The fourth frisbee fell off on it’s own.  I’ve confiscated the frisbees.

Oh, and helping your little girl look for her lost tortoise this fall was actually really fun, glad Squirtacious Ralph found his way home again. We made and stamped a passport for him in honor of his trip around the backyard berm.

russian tortoise

Thanks for not killing our cats when they pooped in your flower beds and antagonized your dogs.

I’m really glad you laughed along with me as I “planted” 74 pink plastic flamingos in my yard, just to piss of the HOA. Oh, wait, you’re on the HOA board—guess the joke’s on me.  At any rate, thanks for not fining me.

flamingos

Oh, hey, and if my four year old tells you that you have “jiggly big bum cheeks” it’s because her brother taught her to say “jiggly big bum cheeks” and we all laughed so hard when she said it the first time that now she thinks she’s telling a joke. It’s not a judgment on anyone’s size or level of fitness. Thanks for understanding, and if you have any suggestions for other, more entertaining phrases for her to parrot for days on end, we’d love to hear them.

Thanks for not calling CPS when my younger kids ran outside to play in their skivvies in 30 degree weather. It seems you and I share the same child-rearing philosophy: “If the little exhibitionsists want coats, they know where to find them.”

skivvies

Also, I hope it was okay that we sugared up your kids that one time and send them home graffitied in glitter and paint and sidewalk chalk.  The kids keep talking about tagging the garage, but I told them they had to keep their artistic expressions on the up and up, in socially approved formats.

Good chatting with you, and I’ll have the husband bring you back your rake….could I borrow a couple of eggs?

Love, Marissa

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Animal Kingdom

Today’s prompt:

Animal Kingdom

Write an ode about the unending loyalty or curious antics of a furry friend. Did you learn something about yourself or th world from your pet this year? Maybe you learned a lesson from an animal in the wild, or a nature program?

As homeschoolers, we are always looking for ways to incorporate learning into regular life. One of the ways we do that is by keeping pets. I firmly believe what Clark Aldrich says about animals in his book Unschooling Rules:

“Children should have as much exposure as possible to animals. In all animals, including domestic, farm, and wild, are entire curricula. There are biology, sociology, genetics, economics, history, cultures, communication, language, hierarchies, governance, relationships, sweeping story arcs, morality, even nutrition, just to name a few. Animals are the perfect microcosms. They are life.” (pp. 27)

Our area is zoned for farm animals, but our subdivision codes prohibits them—even chickens, so instead, we have filled our “animal curricula” with pets. We have five cats (three outdoors, two indoors), a dog, a snake, and five birds.

Some of my favorite stories are the adventures chronicled by James Herriot, a country vet in England during the middle part of the 20th century. Herriot lovingly tells of the quirky places, people, and of course, animals he worked with. Here’s my “Reader’s Digest” James Herriot style stories of our own animals:

The Cats:

Gypsy and Tootsie were two ginger cats we got nine years ago, when my then three year old son tried stuffing an entire littler of four week old kittens in his backpack to take home from my aunt’s house.  We had to rescue them and return them to their mama, until they were weaned, and then my aunt happily gave them back to us.  Gypsy once went missing for three days before he turned up seven miles away at our old house, after we had moved him to our new house. Tootsie, disappeared with him, but never made it back to us.

Gypsy (left) and Tootsie (right) chillin’. They went everywhere together.

Gypsy and Tootsie

Bobbie is a bobtailed tabby that lived in the garage of a rental of a friend. Bobbie came with the rental and the owners didn’t want her anymore and our friend said she was allergic and that the cat needed more attention than she could give, so we took Bobbie home. She lives in our garage and occasionally comes inside to be loved on, but she rules the garage and doesn’t like to leave her kingdom for too long.

Ellen and Bobbie, on one of Bobbie’s rare forays inside.

Bobbie

Hagrid is a massive, long haired, grey and white tuxedo cat with huge green eyes, that I got from the local humane society.  He is large boned and muscular, and his long hair makes him appear even larger. His paws are almost as big as my palms. We like to joke that he’s part lynx. My daughter and I were volunteering and when I first saw him. His adoption fee was only 10 dollars, due to his age (eight years) and size. Hagrid’s number was up, and he was scheduled to meet his demise the next day, if not adopted. I encouraged everyone who came into the humane society to take a look at him, but no one was interested. It didn’t help that he was terribly shy and didn’t want to come out of his kennel. He was very stressed in the small cage. 

My daughter and I fulfilled our volunteer duties and left, but I couldn’t quit thinking about the large, scared cat.  After a couple of hours, I couldn’t stand it, I drove back and got him.  He lives in our garage, too, having staked out a dark corner for himself. We have encouraged him to come inside, but he yowls like we’re torturing him when we bring him inside, so we’ve tried to make him as comfortable as we can in the garage. Bobbie doesn’t like him, but they generally steer clear of each other. Hagrid has recently started venturing outside into the yard to get the lay of the land.  He is timid, but craves affection and is warming up to us. It’s taken him awhile, but he’s finally settling in.

Hagrid in the garage, before he would let me hold him.

Hagrid

Our other two cats are ginger kittens named Fred and George. They are about four months old and will live inside until spring, when it’s warmer and they are big enough not to be prey to the coyotes and birds of prey that patrol our area, looking for easy meals. Much like their Harry Potter namesakes, they are full of mischief and are always getting into laughable trouble.

Fred (left) and George (right), resident rabble-rousers. I just realized how much they look like Gypsy and Tootsie. (though they are not related, so far as we know.) Aww.

Fred and George

The Dog:

Cookie came to us from the humane society, listed as a 1.5 year old “Border Collie Mix.” He is a gorgeous dog, with a black and white double coat and feathered legs and tail. He has beautiful eyes—one blue, one brown. Cookie has the build and behaviors of a Border Collie, though he is longer in the leg than the standard. I wonder what he’s mixed with, but we’ll never know. We opted to send him away for training for a few weeks about a month after we got him, because, although he was a remarkably good dog, we could see that he was on his way to developing bad habits as we fumbled through trying to train him on our own. He was too smart for us.  He completed his training and then it was our turn for the trainer to train us. It was a wonderful experience as we learned about canine behavior, and the importance of consistency in training. Cookie is high energy and requires a lot of mental and physical stimulation, which in turn challenges us mentally and physically to keep ahead of him, but he is remarkably forgiving and always, always game for anything.

Finding a good picture of Cookie was tough. In most pictures, he’s photographs blurry as he streaks from one place to another.

Cookie

The Snake:

One of my favorite book series’ is Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. One of the characters in the second book is a herpetologist named Montgomery Montgomery. I fell in love with the character and his menagerie of weird reptilian pets. This prompted me to go looking for my own reptiles and I was lucky enough to find a young corn snake for sale on Craigslist. We named our snake Monty, a nod to both to my favorite herpetologist and to Monty Python. (hahaha!) Monty lives in a beautiful terrarium and is as mellow and good natured as can possibly be.

Monty is considering a career in jewelry design. Here he is modeling a new bracelet concept for Calvin.

Monty

The Birds:

Growing up, I kept parakeets. I have always loved their chattering and squawking. Today, our family has four zebra finches and a cockatiel.  My oldest son developed an interest in birds early on and begged us to let him get birds of his own. Unfortunately, he is allergic to parrots, so we’d had to give away our flock of budgies a few years previously.  However, he was NOT allergic to songbirds, so we alllowed him to buy some society finches. 

I am a little conflicted about letting young children care for animals, because of the sometimes hard lessons at the expense of the animals, that come with the child’s inevitable forgetfulness and naivete. He lost a few finches due to these lessons and they were sad days, indeed. Now, however, he is more experienced and compassionate and mature enough to understand the necessity of regular care for creatures that cannot meet their own needs. We currently have four zebra finches (Elsa, Houdini, Robin Williams, and John Paul Jingleheimer) and we also have a cockatiel named Peaches. Peaches was a wary, shy bird who came to us from a friend who had outgrown him. My son has spent much time working with Peaches and has gained his trust and affection. I love Peaches because he spends his mornings wolf whistling.

Left to right: Robin Williams, John Paul Jingleheimer, Beep (deceased), and Elsa. Not pictured: Houdini (His name explains it all.)

finches

Peaches. Chillin’.

Peaches

 

The Others and a conclusion:

I’m sure we’re not at the end of owning different kinds of pets. Two of my kids are actively saving for guinea pigs and a hedgehog, respectively. I am not a big fan of rodent-like animals and didn’t love having the rabbits we had for about a year, but the kids are determined to try their hand at caring for these other animals. 

One thing I’ve discovered about having pets is that I have become LESS sentimental about them—as much as I love them---I am not afraid to re-home pets that are not being taken care of well. (Our rabbits were ultimately rehomed because the kids weren’t interacting with them or cleaning the cage often enough for my liking.) I cannot abide dirty, smelly cages, or dander and fur all over everything.  So, the care and keeping of the pets in order to keep my house clean and orderly is a high priority! It is frustrating when the kids don’t keep my schedule or standard for cleaning and maintenance, but I know they are still learning (especially the younger ones) and I am trying to be patient as I teach them the importance of proper care for our pets.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

On mourning the passing of an artist

Today, I woke up to learn that Alan Rickman had just died of cancer. Just like when I heard Robin Williams had died, I checked several different news sources for confirmation before I would believe it, and when I finally did, I was breathless with the sense of loss.  To say I am terribly sad would be an understatement, but to admit that I feel a deep, gaping grief for a man I’ve never met and have only seen in movies and heard on the radio makes me feel a bit foolish, like I may have misplaced my sense of what is truly important in my life—and yet…

When we are moved by an artist’s work, that work (and therefore the artist) becomes a part of us, informing or reflecting how we personally see and experience the world.  To lose the artist is to lose a part of ourselves.

So maybe it’s not so foolish after all.

Alan Rickman Art Robust

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Playdates, friends, and schedules, oh sigh….

Today’s prompt:

Play Date

You know the story about all work and no play... How did you play with others this year? Let your hair down and share how you escaped for an hour, a day, or more.

Finding friends for my kids to play with takes work.  Since we homeschool, we aren’t on the same schedule as our public school neighbors and church friends.  And we aren’t on the same schedule as many of our homeschool friends…so we have to be very intentional to make sure the kids get time to play and hang out with other kids. This is harder some years than others. 

When the kids were all elementary school aged and younger, we lived across the street from another homeschooling family.  At first we thought this would afford insta-playmates, but alas, it didn’t.  The other family’s schedule was the complete opposite of ours.  We stayed home in the morning doing school work and turned the afternoons over to project-and-play time. The other family ran around town all morning and then came home to study in the afternoon.  By the time 4 pm hit, our families were headed out for dance, karate, or church activities.  It was frustrating, and I often found myself cutting lessons short and hurrying my kids outside to play when I could see the neighbor kids outside enjoying “recess” while their mother prepared their lunch.  My kids loved their friends across the street, but they didn’t get to see them all that much---weekends were a little better, though.

Then we moved to a smaller town and the ten minute drive to get to our old area so the kids could get together to play suddenly seemed like the most insurmountable obstacle to overcome.  Our families gradually quit seeing each other socially (much to my family’s sadness) because it was a hassle to try to coordinate schedules.

We joined a homeschool co-op with about 20 other kids of various ages and we did that twice a week for three-ish years.  One of the best things about the co-op was lunch time, when the kids could really cut loose and just play and run around.  Eventually, we left the co-op—which was sad, because there were some really good things happening there, but when we left, it was because it wasn’t fitting our academic and scheduling needs.  We spent a semester away, thinking we’d join up again the next fall, but after the planning meeting that involved a complete restructuring of the co-op, it all fell apart and didn’t happen.

A couple of the moms decided to continue getting their families together, and then a third family joined them (essentially re-forming the co-op) but we just found out about it in December, via Facebook. I don’t know that they were intentionally trying to leave us out—I think they just picked days that worked for them and went with it.  My kids were a little hurt when they found out, but when I pointed out that we have since made other friends, they decided to focus on what they have instead of what they don’t have.

This fall, we were invited to join another co-op, but it didn’t quite mesh with our schedule.  Undaunted, we asked if we could just crash their “post-co-op-playtime” and just come over after the co-op and let the kids run around and play games and just have a big playdate. We were welcomed enthiastically! This has worked really well, and so we go over to this family’s house every week and there are usually upwards of 30 kids in various age ranges that all my kids always have SOMEONE to play with.  While there are some regulars, each week usually includes new kids to play with, so the group dynamics have never gotten clique-y, and everyone has a friend.  The little kids run around pretending to be kitties or playing with toys and the big kids play board games, flirt, and otherwise goof off.  When the weather is nice, the kids run around outside.  Also, there are usually other moms to talk to---obviously, the mom hosting is there—and she’s a blast! But sometimes the other moms stay and visit.  Other times, they are off runnig errands or prepping for school or whatever.  It’s a pretty great set-up, with my kids’ only complaint being that they wish we could do it more than once a week! It has been fun to see the kids become friends and share a few activities outside the play day….again, my kids only wish they could do more!!!

My teens are the most vocal about wanting more “friend time” and we’ve gotten them involved in several community and after-school activities (choir, book club, church youth group, dance) in the hopes that they make more friends and meet different kinds of people.  They enjoy these activites, and have occasionally reached out and invited kids from those things over, but trying to schedule a playdate is hard, even among homeschoolers. You have to cast your net pretty wide to get one scheduled, and then half the time, they fall through, because something comes up or someone gets sick or whatever the reason is.  We are guilty of doing this to others, too.  It’s just life.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post, other than it’s just my thoughts on what’s happening and how the kids are doing socially.  They love their game-day buddies and I would love for them to have more opportunities to spend time with them, but we’re in such a busy season of life, as are our friends. There just isn’t a whole lot of downtime to allow for spontaneous get-togethers.  Summers are a little easier, but even then, we’re all running around doing our own things a lot.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blah.

Today’s prompt:

Role Models

Life is so much easier when you have someone to help you navigate. What makes a mentor great? Have you ever had a mentor? Been someone else's?

Casting around for a way to work this prompt, I thought of the ice-breaker game question “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be?”  There are too many people for me to pick just one, so I’m going to tweak the question a bit---and answer this: “If you threw a dinner party and could invite anyone you wanted, living or dead, real or fictional, who would you include?”

My dinner party guest list:

JK Rowling

Albus Dumbledore

Remus Lupin

Jane Eyre

Barbara Kingsolver

Eric Greitens

Maya Angelou

Oprah Winfrey

Tim Burton

Ben Carson

These are all people (or characters) I find fascinating and have held up as models for various aspects of my life. Yes, really. Certainly I could add more, but these are the first that came to mind….and once I looked over the list, I started considering how I would arrange the seating for this group, and then remembering that I hate dinner parties, and then my head started hurting because it’s late and I’m tired and need to go to bed.  This daily prompt thing is tough.  I’m just gonna call this one a win for getting it done on time, quality of content be damned.  But I would still really like to hang out with JK Rowling.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Figments in Four: Part 1

Today’s prompt:

Homies

Friends are our chosen family. They have the wonderful capacity to make us laugh till we cry, to hold us up in dark hours and to keep our secrets under lock and key. Tell a friendship story.

What do three Maasai warriors, a twenty one year old Cherokee man, a former WWE wrestler suffering from acromegaly, and a female African American artist have in common?

They were all my imaginary friends.

Like many others in middle school, I was ferociously bullied. I wore glasses, had frizzy red hair, bad teeth, and painful, disfiguring acne. I was a real stunner. I was also uncoordinated, shy, and socially awkward. So, you know, that made me an easy target.

I endured the standard name calling and taunting, but was also treated to regular butt and breast grabbing (by boys AND girls), pushing, shoving, tripping, spitting, pencil stabbing, fingernail scratching, buckling (being thwacked in the back of the head by a belt buckle), and so much gum stuck in my hair that I ended up with a quarter sized bald spot over the crown of my head from trying to pull it out on my own. The few times I tried to defend myself, weakling that I was, I was overpowered and threatened with worse treatment.

I don’t know where the teachers and hall monitors were when this was going on day after day, and riding the bus was the seventh circle of Hell. When I complained to the “trusted adults” you’re supposed to be able to confide in, I was brushed off and told to ignore it. At most, I was told “You should have responded thus: _______.”  It was like the adults didn’t hear me, couldn’t SEE the naked scalp, the long, red scratches on my arms and legs, the bruises and gouges, the mucousy gobs of spittle soaking into my shirt and running down my hair. Where in God’s name were the people who were supposed to protect me?

Things got so bad, I began to have anxiety attacks and would pray nightly that either I die or that my tormentors die before I had to go to school again. I thought the blackest thoughts and took respite in plans to take my own life.

One day, the worst day, I decided to do it.  Recently, a little boy in a neighboring town had been hit and killed by his school bus as he crossed the street.  I had to cross in front of my bus to walk home after school, so I told myself that instead of crossing the street after my  ever-vigilant bus driver waved me clear, I’d start walking on the right side of the road and dash out in front of the wheels when the bus began to move. I can still see my bus driver’s suspicious face as I refused his wave to cross the road, and walked weak kneed, up the right side of the road. I remember peering backward at the face of the bus, then at the front right tire, my heart pounding as I calculated the timing to get run over. I can still feel the whoosh of hot exhaust as the bus pulled back it’s stop sign and rumbled forward, past me.  As the bus left me in a cloud of exhaust, I felt…abandoned.

Horror and relief pooled like water in every joint and I collapsed to my knees on the sidewalk.  Acid tears poured from me. In anguish, I cried until I was parched.

And then, I heard a deep, gentle chuckle.  Fearful—frantic, I looked around, expecting to see someone standing on his front porch, laughing at me.  But I was alone on the sidewalk.  I heard the laughter again, then the low sounds of men talking together, as if sharing a funny story. I couldn’t hear the words, but their tone was kind.  I looked around again, and though I was still alone, I saw three tall, thin, Maasai warriors.  They huddled loosely together a few feet behind me, chatting casually. I stared at them, seeing them—but not REALLY seeing them.

They didn’t look at me, didn’t even acknowledge me, but I knew they were there for me.  I stood shakily, and began to wobble-walk home.  The warriors followed. I didn’t look back, but I knew they were there.  They moved from their cluster, two of them flanking me on either side, and the third walking behind me, adjusting their long-legged strides to my short legged paces. They talked and laughed softly over my head the entire time, and their voices soothed me.

When I reached my driveway, they broke rank and fell back. At my front door, I turned to look at them. They were walkng away, already across the street. The tallest man then turned, smiled kindly, and waved farewell. And then they disappeared.

I knew they weren’t real, but the comfort and peace I felt in their presence…that was real.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Finding My People

Today’s prompt:

Communal Circles

What new circles have you formed? Any unexpected ones? Did you start a book club or hang out in a tea yurt? Maybe you re-upped with existing friends. Explore your kumbaya moment from 2015.

When my husband and I bought our first house, it was in a brand new subdivision full of brand new starter homes. Most of the neighbors moving in were in the “acquisition” stage of life, like we were.  We were all fresh out of college, starting families, buying furniture, and for some weird reason, hosting Tupperware type parties. At first, it seemed a good way to meet the neighbors and make friends—invite them to your Pampered Chef party or go to their scented candle party…and buy overpriced stuff, of course. 

These parties were always touted by the hostess as a “girls’ night out” and they did have that air, at least until the sales pitch started.  I’ll admit, I hosted a few myself, but I found that attendance at my parties was pretty low, as were the sales—probably because when I attended others’ parties, I didn’t spend a lot of money, if any.  At first I did—buying up rubber stamps and food choppers and jewelry, but after awhile, I realized how ridiculous and wasteful it all was. So, I quit buying—but I still got invitations for awhile, and I was hungry for friends (hard to come by in the pre-Facebook world as a stay-at-home mom bound by nap schedules) so I would go for the party atmosphere and some socializing.  I thought the ladies that invited me to these things were my friends, but shortly after I quit throwing money toward whatever things they were peddling, The invitations dried up and I didn’t really see my “friends” anymore, except at church on Sundays.

The gals at church were nice, but I didn’t click with most of them, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t end up in one of the clearly delineated groups of close friends. I would hear them talking about the birthday parties they’d put on for their kids together or the work out groups they’d formed, and wonder why I wasn’t invited. Fortunately, over the years, I made a couple or three very close friends as they moved into the area—but we gradually lost touch when they moved back out.  I spent a lot of time feeling pretty lonely and discouraged and left out as a young mother. This bugged me, because it felt like an adult version of junior high or high school.

It wasn’t until my husband and I decided to homeschool our kids that I found my people. We didn’t know a whole lot about what resources were available, or how many other people in our area homeschooled, so I immersed myself in research.  I found a couple of homeschooling conferences and met with many, many homeschooling families---at first I went to conferences and meetings to see what kind of weirdos did this homeschooling thing, but I was happily suprised to find that most homeschoolers are perfectly normal, not the ultra-conservative, borderline religious fundamentalists I had seen on TV. I learned that our city had a large and thriving homeschooling community and information and access to so many educational resources it made my head spin. 

There were several homeschool support groups in the area and I tried to join them—only to find that in order to participate in their activities, I had to sign a statement of faith that conflicted with my own beliefs.  I was disappointed and hurt by how exclusionary these groups turned out to be, but eventually stumbled onto a support group that didn’t require a statement of faith and, in fact, made it very clear that ANY homeschooling family was welcome.  It turns out this group was founded by some Mormon homeschoolers FOR Mormon homeschoolers, since no other group would take them.  While there was definitely a Mormon flavor to the group, it was purposely set up to be inclusive, and in the years I’ve been involved with it, we’ve had homeschooling families of all stripes join the ranks.

It was in this group that I found the friends I so desperately desired.  The group hosts monthly “Mothers’ Meetings” where women can get together and discuss all things related to home education, motherhood, and life.  I found this group incredibly supportive as a new, bewildered, stressed out homeschooler. It was so reassuring to talk to “veteran” moms, who had years of experience teaching their own, and commiserate or celebrate with the other “newbie” moms. 

My family has since moved from our starter home, and found our place in our new church congregation, but the constant has been my homeschooling moms’ group. I laugh and cry and pray with these women, go on adventures and retreats with them and their families, and we teach each other’s children. Homeschooling mothers think outside the box and are so incredibly generous with their time and knowledge---it was easy to make friends, feel included, and in turn, support the other women in the group.

It was in my homeschooling group that I found real camaraderie and friendship, and confidence as a mother, teacher, and leader. I now serve on the administrative board of the group as the membership and social media coordinator, and I love being part of such an awesome group of women and families.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Taking a Lifeline

Today’s prompt from Think Kit wasn’t doing it for me, so I decided to peruse the prompts from previous years. This one is from 2013:

A Little Bit of Learning

Did you get any good advice or learn a valuable lesson this year? What was it?

The most valuable lesson I have learned in recent years has been this: Relationships have a lifespan, and the key to surviving the hurt and pain that come from an ended relationship---whether that of friends, lovers, or even mentor and student, is to focus with gratitude on what was good, what you gained, and the lessons you learned and can carry with you into the future. DSC_0548

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hear, Hear!

Today’s prompt:

Do you hear what I hear? Tell us about a sound. What do you hear in your house or at work?

Right now, I am attempting to ignore my four year old as she scolds our two kittens for antagonizing the cokatiel. One of my sons is listening to a lesson for school on his brother’s Kindle Fire. I can hear our four zebra finches beeping and chattering away in their little voices, sounding like feathered clown cars and creaky gears.

One of the other kids is practicing the piano—the same eight measures over and over again, perfecting the intricate fingering. He broke his arm eight weeks ago, making him unable to play, and he’s been stressing about his upcoming music festival—he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to participate, but the cast came off two days ago, and he’s making up for lost time, determined to master the music in time to compete.

One of the kittens just streaked past the dog, making him jump and bark his head off, pawing at his crate door. Guess I’ll go put the kittens away before I let him out. Our Border Collie has a strong prey drive, and I worry one of these days he’ll catch one of them.

E-mail notifications are pinging as I sit at the computer, tick-ticking away at this post.  I can hear the big rigs carrying fill dirt or sugar beets rumbling down the rural highway behind my house and the not-so-distant train announcing it’s crossing the road on the tracks less than a mile away.  When we moved out here, to Nowhere’sville, we didn’t know about the trains—and they kept us up at nights—their horns and whistles shrieking on the hour at 1:00, 2:00, and at 3:30.  Now, we don’t even notice them---but visiting guests always do.

Finally, the boy on the piano is getting those measures right—sounds like he’s satisfied, as he’s now stumbling through a different piece.  He’s persistent. He’ll get it.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Scratch & Sniff

Today’s prompt:

Scratch & Sniff

Scents have the power to take us all kinds of places. What smell takes you somewhere else? Where'd you go?

I thought about this prompt all day, but the only thing I could think of was the smell of my junior high—with it’s funky smell of industrial glue, aerosol hair spray, and Exhiliration! perfume.  Ugh. I so don’t want to be “taken back” to that particular place, or to those gawky, angsty years, especially via smells.  So, instead, here’s a list of smells I appreciate:

Newborn babies—one of my favorite things about having teeny babies was cuddling with them and sniffing the tops of their heads or backs of their necks, taking in that distinct new baby smell. That’s heaven, right here.

Rain—I love rain and overcast days. While most of the people around me pine for sun and warmth, I feel so alive and energized in cloudy weather.  Also, it really brings out the red in my hair.  But, back to the smell of rain—it’s the smell of promise and growth to me, whether it’s wet earth or wet pavement.

Parrots—I love the subtle, sweet, dusty-grain smell particular to psittascines. I kept budgies as pets growing up and would spend hours in my room playing with and talking to them, or watching them play on top of their cage and fly around the room.  I don’t own budgies now, but I do have a cockatiel.

Used bookstores—that mix of old paper, ink, binding glue, leather, and old building is just magical. I am lucky enough to experience that smell in my own home, since we converted a bedroom to a “library” to house a good portion of the books and homeschool curricula we own.  Every time I walk into our home library, I feel like I’ve stepped into a sacred place.

Clean laundry—I suppose, like rain and newborn babies, this smell is kind of a cliche to like—but whatever. I do a LOT of laundry with seven people in my household.  Also, I workout a lot, as does my husband---so there is plenty of dirty laundry to deal with.  I like doing laundry because it’s a chore that is easy and offers immediate satisfaction—wash, fold, put away, and DONE. Unlike the kitchen, which is so much in use all the time that the cleaning NEVER feels done.

Endust and Pine-Sol—my mom was quite a neat freak and we “white gloved” the house twice a week.  My responsibilities included dusting and vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms. Even today, my house just doesn’t FEEL clean without those products.

Ground beef and onion being fried—it just smells like the promise of a hearty meal, and it usually is---it’s the base of a lot of what I cook at home—chili, tacos, enchiladas, spaghetti sauce…great, now I’m hungry!

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

 

 

 

 

Monday, January 4, 2016

In My Eyes

Today’s prompt:

In Your Eyes

Share a photo or paint us a picture with words. Show us something from your year through your eyes. Did you see something that took your breath away? Or maybe you just couldn't look away?

20150907_200521

My husband took this picture on a two week trip to the Oregon coast this summer. The folks in the photo are our kids.  We love the ocean and even though this day was cold and windy and it was getting dark, my wistful tribe didn’t want to leave the beach. I love how the kids are silhouetted here.  They are adventurous and love to travel, to experience new things. They like being together, and are generally kind and get along well.  Looking at this picture reminds me how much I love my family and how much I love exploring the world with them.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Today’s prompt:

Get Analog

No screens, no technology – what did you do with your hands this year?

Concealed Weapons

What did I do with my hands this year? I did a whole lot of Krav Maga. For the uninitiated, Krav Maga is the official Israeli military hand-to-hand combat fighting system. It is contact combat, and is not considered a martial art---because it’s not an art at all—it is a set of techniques to neutralize an imminent physical threat at the hands of one or more attackers. The techniques are designed to follow instinctive body movements and training involves working under intense physical and mental stress, and from a position of disadvantage, such as being pinned down, choked, grabbed from behind, or having multiple attackers. Practitioners are taught how to defend themselves while simultaneously counterattacking.

fight dirty

Unlike MMA, there are no rules or time limits in Krav Maga. You do WHATEVER you need to do to get safe.  Krav Maga is not a sport, it is a self-defense system. Training through realistic scenarios, It teaches practical self defense techniques, situational awareness, and how to turn disadvantages in to advantages to protect and defend oneself and others. 

In the studio where I train, we not only learn how to punch, kick, and strike with knees and elbows, but we also learn to disarm gunmen and knife or stick wielding attackers.  We are taught to make use of weapons of opportunity—if not your own body, then a rock, a book, a handbag, even an attacker himself—to ward off and neutralize a threat.  Recently I have been training in resisting and escaping from kidnapping scenarios—they have involved one attacker throwing a pillowcase over my head, while another attacks me with a stick.

Below: A typical Krav class—my instructor and a student (center) demonstrating a defense against a headlock.
Krav class

I LOVE Krav Maga. I am absolutely addicted to it and am now training to become an instructor.  In the five-ish yeas I’ve been training, I have become a different person.  When I started, I was timid, cringing, constantly apologizing for taking up space. I was afraid to really live for fear I’d anger someone or get hurt. I was passive and reactionary. The Krav Maga training I do for dangerous and deadly scenarios has changed all that. It’s the best therapy in the world. Who knew that the confidence and skills gained from training in hand-to-hand combat would carry over into regular life? I’m comfortable and confident in who I am. I’ve learned to be aware, humble, to look at every situation as a learning experience, and I’m not afraid to get into things and go after them—be they bad guys or life goals.

This sign is not at all ironic in Krav:
The beatings will continue

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Selfie


Today's prompt: 

Your 2015, Reviewed

Give us the 30,000 foot view. Or, hone in on a few highlights. Let's bring last year to life before moving on to what's ahead.



I love this picture of myself and think it sums me up in 2015 perfectly.  Half concealed, half disclosed. At ease in both the dark and light spaces in my life.  This year, rather than battling my demons, I shook hands and accepted them. We’ve come to the understanding that they will always be with me, but I'm the boss.


“I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed/Get along with the voices inside of my head/You're trying to save me/Stop holding your breath/But you think I’m crazy/Yeah you think I’m crazy…” –The Monster by Eminem, featuring Rihanna

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year and some writing stuff

Starting anything new makes my stomach twist like wringing out a wet rag.  It’s an uncomfortable sensation, but also oddly satisfying.  I feel this way with any new endeavor, and the stronger the wringing sensation, the more I know I’m getting into something good.
I committed to posting on my blog at least once a week for the entirety of 2016, but I felt like I needed a boot camp of sorts, so I joined Think Kit—a group of bloggers that wanted to flex their blogging muscles. Each day this January, Think Kit will provide a writing prompt for the group to use to get the creative juices flowing.  I will post each day here using the prompt (or one of the “lifeline” alternative prompts.) This is exciting and a little scary—so I must be doing something right!  Geronimo!
Today’s prompt is:

First Line

Pretend you're writing your autobiography. Give us your first line, a first chapter, or even just an image. What's the story of you?
Socks.  I think about them quite a bit, because I absolutely must change my socks three or four times a day. I carry clean socks in my gym bag (naturally) but also in my purse, in the console of my car, and even in my coat pockets. I don’t consider myself an obsessive-compulsive personality. In fact, I’m pretty fast and loose with housecleaning and hairstyles and noise and just about everything else, but in order to feel right with the world, I must be wearing clean, dry, comfortable socks.



This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.