Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Child is Normal, But My Motherhood is Not

I enjoy reading mommy blogs. Quite often I end up reading blogs of mommies to kids with special needs, and I’m always struck by how much I can relate.
My daughter is totally normal: neuro typical, even highly intelligent. Physically normal: squarely in normal weight-height distribution and abilities for an almost 5 year old. Yes, she’s strong willed, but no one, not her teachers, not the family therapist she met with for several months, not her pediatrician, has ever suggested that her strong will and knack for defiance was anything other than normal behavior.

So what do I have in common with a mom to an autistic child, or a physical disabled child, or learning disabled child?

I think it’s motherhood itself. Whether our child was planned or not, we all cherished hopes and dreams about her. We all envisioned the future with this little tiny being – a person formed out of our physical flesh and blood. We all thought about breast feeding, about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy and playgrounds and pools. We all thought about dressing our little angel up in adorable outfits, and watching his first steps, recording her first words, reading his first book. Some of us went further: dreaming about teaching our child how to sing or dance or play sports; dreaming about driving lessons or meditation techniques. We vowed to pass on our wisdom so our kid wouldn’t suffer through 7th grade the way we did. We looked at our driveways and considered how we could fit a 3rd car there for our teen driver.

And then, inevitably, our child is born and has the nerve to be unique.

There’s no mistaking my daughter for someone else’s child: except for her hair color and big blue eyes, she IS me. Her body, her face, her mouth, her hands, her imagination: it’s all me. Her perfectionism, her desire to behave perfectly in public, her frustration with having to practice any skill: it’s all me.

So why is it so challenging for me to raise her?

Because she is NOT me. She is her own person. Half her DNA comes from her dad. Half her personality comes from him. And all of her environment is different from mine: different parents, different city, different culture.

At a certain point, every mom’s dream about motherhood collapses into the reality of the child we have borne. 

This is why I can relate so strongly to blogs about special needs children. Because although my daughter is thoroughly normal, she is NOT what I expected. My fantasy of motherhood was shattered just as much as any other mom’s fantasy. Granted, a lot of my dreams are still intact: my daughter walks and talks; she’ll read and graduate high school; she forms relationships and will most likely have a family one day. Yet she defies me; she confronts me; she has her own taste in food, in clothing, in entertainment. The way I thought I would be a mother is impossible: it wouldn’t work for her OR me.

As mothers, we can either resist the shattering of our dreams, or we can fall into acceptance. We can fight and be angry or sad that our child doesn’t check off the boxes we expected him to. Or we can relax and rejoice in the boxes our child does check off. 

We have a choice: to parent the child we created in our head or to parent the child we created in reality.

I’m choosing to accept my reality. It’s not easy. In fact, most days it is just plain exhausting. But it’s what is best for me and what is best for her. And the less time I spend resisting reality, the more energy I have to be there for my little one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top 8 Shows to Binge Watch NOW

I enjoy binge watching TV on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. But like all good bingers, I don’t always know what to watch next. So here’s a list of various shows. I can’t guarantee they’re all available on Netflix, because Netflix eliminated Battlestar Galactica while we were mid-binge, but hey, nothing’s sure in life but death and taxes.

8. Battlestar Galactica. I am a Star Trek fan. Back in the days before everyone and their mother was watching space movies, that meant that I was a nerd. Everyone liked Star Wars, but only nerds went ahead and fell in love with Star Trek. I’ve watched every franchise, most to completion, and I own all the movies. Even Star Trek 5. But, when I first watched an episode of Battlestar, I was blown away. It’s like Star Trek, but without the utopia and gentle wisdom of Captain Picard. I’m not going to say it’s BETTER than Star Trek, but I will say that it’s better for binging. Star Trek episodes are much more intellectual and are generally stand alone. Battlestar episodes have lots of cliffhangers and way more action.
Availability: Unknown.
Genre: Sci-Fi
PG elements: Oh, this is a hard PG-13. Some graphic sex scenes, though no nudity. Language PG: they use the substitute “frak” for “fuck,” and they use it a LOT. Violence possibly R: Violence in every episode, fist fights, gun fights, fighter pilots. I mean, the premise is that killer robots are trying to annihilate all humans. It’s gonna be violent. Lots of pretty actors getting ugly wounds. 
Feminist bonus? Oh, the female characters on this show are so strong it's mind blowing.  

7. Last Man on Earth. There’s only 2 seasons of this, so it may not have enough material for a binge, but for busy parents, at least you’re not committing to months of viewing. This show is quirky, hilarious, well written and well acted. It’s also incredibly quotable. Bonus: If you enjoyed Kristen Schaal in Flight of the Conchords, you’ll love her in Last Man on Earth. I’ll be happy once it’s back on the air this fall, but sad to only watch 1 episode at a time.
Availability: Both seasons are on Hulu, but I’m not sure if it’s free Hulu or just Hulu Plus.
Genre: Comedy
PG elements: Lots of sexual references but no graphic sex. Language totally PG. No violence.
Feminist bonus? It passes the Bechdel test and the women characters are well developed. 

6. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I fell in love with this show on about the second episode. Ellie Kemper brings a great energy to the role of a woman who just spent the last 15 years locked in a bunker and is now fulfilling all her 7th grade dreams in New York City. We aren’t currently subscribed to Netflix, but as soon as we are, I’m binging the second season.
Availability: I believe both seasons are on Netflix now
Genre: Comedy
PG elements: I’d probably watch this show with my daughter, if she were about 10 years old or older. Kimmy Schmidt’s social development stopped in 7th grade, so she doesn’t swear. No graphic sex. No violence
Feminist bonus? Kimmy Schmidt isn't exactly a feminist, but she is independent and "unbreakable"

5. Catastrophe. Oh man, this show is wickedly funny! The story of how a one week fling turned into a successful (?) marriage, Catastrophe is funny, quirky, and occasionally touching. Episodes often end on a cliffhanger, and both seasons end with a killer cliffhanger. The acting is great. The writing is hilarious.
Availability: Amazon Prime, both seasons
Genre: Comedy
PG elements: Oh, this show should be rated R. There’s bad language. There’s a LOT of graphic sex, although no nudity (except maybe butts). There’s no violence. There’s a LOT of very sexual humor. 
Feminist bonus? Not really

4. Dexter: Now, really only the first 3 seasons of Dexter are bingeworthy. I agree with most critics and fans that the show really gets bad after that. We watched to the bitter end, but it was pretty bitter. This is the story of a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. He’s a psychopath who lives in Miami and struggles to maintain his cover while sustaining his hobby. It’s surprisingly funny.
Availability: I believe we watched this on Netflix
Genre: Drama
PG elements: Definitely R. There is a lot of female nudity and a lot of extremely graphic sex. Language is also very bad. Huge amounts of violence: Dexter kills and dismembers someone in almost every episode. 
Feminist bonus? Nope

3. Fringe: I was an enormous Fringe fan from the third episode, so I didn’t binge watch this originally. However, last year Husband and I started re-watching and it soon turned into our favorite binge. Fringe has lots of little details for attentive viewers. In every episode there is a man called the Observer, but he isn’t officially introduced until well into the first season. It’s very challenging to find him. Also, in the first season each episode has an hint or reference for the next episode. In addition, Fringe is just a really great show. The characters are phenomenal, the writing is great, and the themes are fascinating. The premise is that there is a shadowy group of terrorists using fringe science (from HG Wells writings to modern day cutting edge experiments) to destroy our world. Olivia Dunham is the FBI agent tasked with investigating these events, and she quickly assembles a bizarre and brilliant team. But they aren’t bizarre because they dress weird: they are bizarre because one of them is actually insane and the other, well, I can’t give too much away!
Availability: I can’t remember if we watched this on Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus.
Genre: Sci-fi, drama
PG elements: There is a lot of violence but it’s not worse than anything you can see on CBS at 8 pm. The language is PG. There’s very little sex. There are, however, a lot of gross images: people dissolving, people exploding, people’s orifices closing up.
Feminist bonus? Agent Dunham can kick your ass and rescue herself, but also has emotions and tenderness. Strong well rounded woman character? Yes please!

2. Doctor Who: Begin with the 9th Doctor, which is Season, what, like 111? This show has been on forever. But for a binge, you’ll want to start with the 9th Doctor, the latest “reboot” of the show. We started watching this soon after my daughter was born and we burned through it like crazy. If you don’t know the premise of Doctor Who, then get out from under your rock and watch it! He’s a Time Lord who travels through space time in his T.A.R.D.I.S. with various human companions.
Availability: Netflix and Amazon Prime
Genre: Sci-fi
PG elements: This is almost G. There’s some violence, but no bad language or sex. If my daughter were old enough to follow the conversations (she’s only 4), I’d watch it with her. She’d probably find it boring now, but in a couple of years I think she’d like it. 
Feminist bonus? The Doctor treats all life with great respect. That's a great message to put out there!

1. The Grinder: This show is only 1 season (though I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll get picked up by Hulu or Amazon or Netflix). It’s a short binge but well worth it. You can burn through this in a weekend and it’ll be a VERY happy weekend! Rob Lowe and Fred Savage play brothers and have just the best chemistry. Rob Lowe is an actor who has just left his insanely successful lawyer TV show, and comes to live with his brother, Fred Savage, who is an actual lawyer in a father-son law firm. The writing is very meta: each episode opens with a scene from Lowe’s TV show, and then goes on to mirror and mock that scene. Rob Lowe is a very convincing fish out of water, and Fred Savage’s frustration never gets old.
Availability: Hulu
Genre: Comedy
PG elements: There are some sexual references, but no graphic sex. The language is fine. There’s no violence. I’d almost call this G, but the themes are probably a little too mature for kids. 
Feminist bonus? Not really

Monday, June 27, 2016

My DIY Labyrinth

So, I’m thinking through the steps to build my back yard labyrinth. Because I think best by talking or writing, y’all get the glorious insight into my brain today!

Step 1: Till the ground. I need to create a nice flat weed free surface. My father in law has a rototiller, or so says Husband. But I’ll need to prep to use the rototiller, which means I need to start by finishing up tearing out the weeds and bushes.
Sub Step A: Use mattock to tear out the stumps
Sub Step B: Tear out remaining vines and weeds
Sub Step C: bag up all the yard waste and carry to curb.
Final Step: Rototill the entire corner of the yard.
Tools Needed: waste bags, mattock, rototiller, muscles
Time: Probably about 4 more sessions of work

Step 2: Create the pattern. I’ve already decided I want to do a variation on the Chartres pattern rather than the simpler Cretan pattern. I found a great YouTube video on how to draw a 5 circuit Chartres labyrinth. If I do 16” paths (a recommendation found on another website), 5 circuits will be a total diameter of 32” x 5, plus the center. That’s 140” plus about 3’. So 13’ and 10”. I definitely have that much room.
INSERTED: Sub Step 1: Calculate how wide the rock borders will be and add onto dimension measurements here. I’ll draw it on paper (or the computer) and do the math
Tools needed: none, I just did this step!
Time: done!
Cretan Pattern

Chartres Pattern

Step 3: Create the pattern on the ground!
Sub Step A: Starting at the back corner, measure out a 14’ square and mark with stakes
Sub Step B: Use twine or measuring tape to draw diagonals within square to find the center. Put a stake at the center.
Sub Step C: Draw a 3’ circle at the center. Attach an 18” rope to the stake and use spray paint to draw the circle by winding the rope around the stake.
Sub Step D: Use the rope method to draw 5 more circles, each at 16” intervals.
Sub Step E: Follow the steps in the video to draw the turns in each circuit.
Tools needed: 5 stakes, twine, spray paint, measuring tape
Done: I can do all of this in about 2 hours, I think
INSERTED: Sub Step D revised: use the rope method to draw 5 more circles at wider than 16” intervals. Probably will be 20”, but need to refer to Sub Step 1 on Step 2 to confirm

Step 4: Dig trenches for rock borders.
Hmm, just realized that I need to recalculate size. I’m planning to create this labyrinth by digging a narrow trench along the lines and filling the trench with small rocks. I had thought to do pavers, but that will be more work than I want to do. Instead, I’m going to just use the mattock to create a trench I can easily fill with rocks. Then I’ll plant creeping plants that resist foot traffic in the dirt pathways. However, I didn’t plan for the width of those rock trenches in Step 3. Going to add another sub step there…
Tools Needed: Mattock. I’m thrilled to think that I won’t need to dig out a lot of roots or rocks because of the rototilling!
Time: This will take longer than I expect. Maybe 8 hours of work?

Step 5: Fill borders with rocks
Sub Step A: buy 3 buckets of River Rock from landscaping company
Sub Step B: Line borders with landscape fabric to prevent plants
Sub Step C: Fill with rocks
Tools Needed: gloves, rocks, landscape fabric
Time: I bet this will go quickly. I’ll say 4 hours!

Step 6: Plant ground covers
Sub Step A: Buy ground cover plants. Depending on what time of the year I’m doing this, I may not be able to find what I need. If I can’t buy plants, I’ll mulch the entire thing to prevent runoff as best as I can.
Sub Step B: Plant the plants, using anti-mole gravel in each hole.
Sub Step C: Water daily for 3 weeks
Tools Needed: gloves, plants, shovel, mole gravel, watering can
Time: An afternoon to buy all the plants, another 3 hours to plant them, then 3 weeks to get them established.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Back Yard Labyrinth

For several months now I’ve been clearing out a giant hedge across the back border of my yard. It’s not a nice plant – more like a bizarre cross between a vine and a bush. We’ve left it alone for 11 years, but this year, when I was talking to my pest control guy about our mosquito problem, he suggested that we clear it out. He explained that removing brush like hedges (where tiny puddles of water provide breeding ground) and creating air flow through the yard would reduce our mosquitoes.
Two points of interest.
1.     We cannot spray our yard with pesticide because we have an open water drain on our property: spraying it with pesticide is illegal, according to our pest control guy. It’s a City easement on our property, and sadly, a serious source of mosquitoes.
2.     Our neighbor’s yard has drastically fewer mosquitoes. You notice the drop off in quantity the minute you cross the ditch into their yard. So the whole “air flow” thing makes perfect sense to me.
So back in March I started attacking the hedge, and now my work is almost complete. And wow, do we have less mosquitoes! I don’t even have to apply bug spray when I go outside!

One day, while chatting with my neighbor about the project, she asked me what I planned to do with the yard once the hedge was gone. See, the hedge was easily 5 – 6 feet deep, and now that I’ve cleared it out I have a huge open space. I was taken aback by the question. I hadn’t gotten that far in my planning.

Our yard is basically a wonderful tent in the summer time, due to majestic maples and tulip poplars. This is wonderful, but it means that grass really isn’t an option. Right now we have a great crop of invasive weeds. I considered lots of different shade grasses and group covers. I thought about creating a large shade garden filled with hostas and elephant ears and ferns.

And then I remembered what I’ve always wanted in my back yard: a labyrinth.

Now that I’ve cleared it out, I have a huge area where I can create a beautiful walking labyrinth. It’s an unused corner, deeply shaded in the summer and sun lit in the winter. It’s large enough that I can have a sizable labyrinth, and there aren’t any drainage issues, so I won’t need to worry about dirt washing away and undermining stepping stones!

So that is my latest project. I plan to use paving stepping stones to create the walking path and plant low creeping ground cover in between. My research has shown that there is a serious lack of DIY labyrinth information on Pinterest, so I’ll be documenting the project here on my blog to create some Pinterest info for other labyrinth lovers out there!

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Vote for Trump is a Vote Against, Not a Vote For

Let's just look at the verifiable facts about the 2 candidates running for President.
On one hand we have:
A person with a known political track record.
A feminist.
A person who has only been married once, and has remained married despite infidelity on both sides.
A person who is corrupt.

On the other hand we have:
A person with no political experience.
A misogynist.
A person who has committed infidelity and been married 3 times.
A person who is corrupt.

What about the rhetoric and campaign promises?
A person in favor of reproductive rights.
A person in favor of federal aid to the poor and needy.
A person in favor of universal health care.

A person in favor of gun rights.
A person in favor of federal aid to the rich.
A person in favor of religious and racial discrimination.

I understand that neither candidate is particularly likeable. I understand that the Republican is highly entertaining to watch. I understand that people have very strong feelings about each candidate.

But what I see, at the bottom of this, is that a vote for Trump is a vote AGAINST. Against gun control, against immigration, against Muslims, against women, against terrorism, against universal health care, against politicians.
A vote for Clinton is a vote FOR. For universal health care, for women, for gun control, for international involvement.

We can curse the darkness, or we can light a candle. But we can't do both.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top 8 Ways I am the Best Wife

I thought of this topic the other day, but then shrank from writing it. Who am I to say I’m the Best Wife? I feared being called out for bragging. And then I remembered that, what, like 10 people read this blog?

I’m still wondering why I’m posting this blog. Because we are conditioned to avoid praising ourselves, so it feels all kinds of wrong to do this. And yet I’m going to do it.

So here are the top 8 ways I am the Best Wife in the World.
8. I say no to sex when I don’t want it. Wait, what?
Yep, I think that because I occasionally say no to sex, I’m a good wife. My husband knows that when I do say yes, I’m really being honest. And while there’s plenty of room for discretion in honesty and sexuality, at times we all need to know when to say no. Plus, because I’m free to say no, I never resent sex, which is a big win for the long term.

7. I stick to my boundaries. Again, what? If I set a boundary, I stick to it. In a marriage, a lot of boundary setting is defining areas of responsibility. If I were to take over an area of responsibility, lots of negative things could happen. I might resent my husband for not doing his “share.” He might feel disrespected or belittled that I don’t trust him to do what he says he’ll do. So if he takes responsibility for something, I let him do it, no questions asked.

6. I pitch in whenever needed. Because we are partners, not bean counting roommates, if my husband needs help fulfilling a responsibility, I help. He’s in charge of the checkbook, but if there are checks to be deposited and he asks me to do it, of course I will! I’ve got his back.

5. I tell him what I want. I know it’s supposedly more romantic to watch our husbands read our minds and get us some big thoughtful gift. But frankly, I’d rather just tell him exactly what I want. Because some Valentine’s Days I want candy and a card, and sometimes I want flowers and sometimes I just want a date night. For Christmas, we don’t even give each other gifts: we buy something for the 2 of us to share. I’d rather he and I both be happy with a gift than he be stressed and me not really get what I want!

4. I ask for what I need when we are talking. If I want advice, I tell him. If I want problem solving, I tell him. If I just want him to unquestioningly agree with me, I tell him. Seriously, this makes life so much easier!

3. I pray for him. I’ve always prayed for him, but a few years ago we changed our daily grace prayer to be more personal. Instead of blessing our food before eating, we wait until we are done. Then we share prayer requests with each other, and then we pray for each other. This is a great way to share our faith and build intimacy.

2. I don’t try to change him. He’s not perfect. Neither am I. Yes, there are things I’d like to change, but they aren’t significant. None of them are things that drive a wedge between us or hurt me. Especially as a life coach, this is a real challenge for me. I LOVE to help people. I LOVE to make suggestions. Keeping my mouth shut when I see a solution he doesn’t see, or a life change that would benefit him, is really difficult. But I’ve learned that not only is that not helpful, but he wouldn’t listen anyway. I don’t think marriage is a good environment for accountability or behavioral change. Marriage is designed to be a supportive place of unconditional love: a place where you can just be yourself and know that you are accepted.

1. I admit when I’m wrong. Look, I’m not wrong very often. But when I am wrong, I do the full admission of guilt. I say “I was wrong. You were right.” Are there any sweeter words to hear? I never want to be that woman who can’t admit that she’s wrong.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Let's Throw Out Sexual Purity Language

As a Christian mom and LGBTQ ally in the 21st century, how I think and talk about sexuality has to shift.

I read a fascinating blog post criticizing the widespread Christian use of purity language linked to sexuality, and I thought it made some great points. Certainly better points than this morning’s rambling thoughts of mine will make.

Purity is good, but is it what God desires? In any area of life, does God demand purity? I mean, I have only had sex with 1 man in my life, and that was within the vows of marriage, so am I still “pure”? 

I’m not a virgin any more. Does that mean I’m “impure” even though I followed the rules?

God doesn't demand purity: God desires us to be wise. Gentle. Kind. Heck, it’s all in that fruits of the Spirit passage in Galatians: loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. I don’t see purity there. Then there’s the famous Love passage of 1 Corinthians about what love is, love being, of course, Jesus’ final commandment before He died: long suffering, kind, not envious, not proud, not arrogant, not rude, not selfish, not easily angered, always giving the benefit of the doubt, not happy about evil, rejoicing in the truth. No purity there either.

Let’s dump the whole purity thing. I don’t want my daughter to be pure. I want her to be strong.

I want her to be, to quote Jesus again, as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. I want her to be kind, generous, loving, wise, competent, and capable of critical thinking. Or as my husband puts it: “a net gain to society.”

What heroes of my faith are pure anyway, besides Jesus? 

Moses and David were cold blooded murderers. Paul was a religious fanatic who killed Christians. Rahab was most likely a prostitute. Abraham was a coward who prostituted his wife to save his own life. Miriam was a leader who tried to usurp her brother’s power. Esther was a harem woman who hid her true ethnicity. Jeremiah was a bullfrog. Wait, maybe not that last one.

Every day my daughter asks me for a “Jesus Bible story.” We learned, eventually, that it doesn’t have to be about Jesus. Sometimes I read straight from the Bible to her. But more often I retell the day’s lectionary reading to her. And because she’s almost 5 and smarter than pretty much everyone I know, I editorialize a little too. Today the story was about the young man who wanted to be good enough for Heaven. Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it away, and the man wouldn’t do it. I explained to Tori why that was not good. She doesn’t have to be financially pure. But I do hope that she is financially generous; that she understands that money is just one of many tools we can use to increase the amount of love in the world.

The Bible teaches about a lot more than sex. I want her to learn about a lot more than sex. And as she gets older, she will learn about sex too. Not just “avoid sex until you’re married.” What is sex? Why did God create it? What is the point of sex? Why does sex feel so good? When are you ready to have sex?

I’ve got another blog post in my head about sexuality and crime. But that’s for another day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


My anxiety has escalated and I'm not sure why. I just know that it's there, lurking behind every conversation, every choice. I don't know what to do about it yet.

This is part of the problem I face with long term personal goals. I know it's a cop out, but honestly, the part of me that is participating in the 365K club on 10 Minutes Novelists is discouraged by how far I still have to go - I've fallen way behind my annual word count goal. So my inner critic is telling me to just give it all up.

I'm beginning to think I may not actually get this massive cross stitch project done in time for the Fair, and that makes me want to chuck the whole thing too. It's all a big nasty lie, and for some reason, I'm listening to it.

I want to fail.

Picking myself back up and moving forward is all there is to do, however. So I'm writing this blog post. And when I'm done, I'm going to pick up the cross stitch. And tomorrow I'll do the things I've committed to do. Because that is life.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Should Women Be Drafted? A Mom's Perspective

I saw on my FB feed today a story about the potential expansion of the draft to include women. As a pacifist, a feminist, and the mother to just 1 child, a daughter, you might expect me to have very mixed feelings on this.

My feelings, however, are not complicated at all.

As a pacifist, I believe war is always evil and there is always a nonviolent alternative offered by God.

As a feminist, I believe that women should be full equals in the military, and therefore they should be drafted.

As the mother to just 1 child, a girl, I see this as one more entry in the category of risks I assumed when becoming a mother.

I support the draft of women, as well as the full inclusion and equality of women in the military.

Being a pacifist doesn't mean I don't support or appreciate the US military. I deeply appreciate them. I am deeply honored by their sacrifice. The people I don't support are the government leaders who take us to war instead of finding peaceful alternatives. They murder service men and service women. They create severe and lasting problems for these heroes, and then fail to take care of them once the war is over. They are the problem, not the military.

Being a feminist means that I have, for some time, believed that women should be drafted. Because feminism isn't about degrading men. It is about treating all humans equally regardless of their genitalia. Men need feminism as much as women do.

Being a mother is a newer position for me. Do I want my daughter to go to war, especially if she is drafted into it? Of course not! Do I want her to join the military at all? No, especially given the corresponding increase in the risk that she will be sexually assaulted once she is in the military. Do I want her to kill other humans in the service of some evil war? No!

But I didn't become a mom to feel safe, or to create a younger version of myself. I became a mom to increase the amount of love in the world.

When I became a mom, I assented to a contract with the universe: a contract that I was voluntarily putting a piece of my soul, my heart, my self, into the world where I would no longer be in control of it. I voluntarily took on the risk of having my core being walking around outside of me, vulnerable. I voluntarily agreed to increase the risk of being seriously injured and wounded. Because that is the flipside of love. The more we love, the more we risk injury.

I can't control my daughter. I couldn't control her when she was 6 months old! I can only raise her to be a force of love in the world. If that means she volunteers for military service, fine. She doesn't have to be a pacifist, or a feminist, or anything else. She only has to be herself. I have faith: faith that God will guide her, faith that Dale and I are fit parents, faith that our church community will teach her, faith that our act of love in giving birth to her will result in more love for the world.

I'm not afraid of her getting drafted, any more than I'm afraid of her being killed in her classroom by a gun wielding man, or being raped by a friend when she's a teenager, or being bullied in 7th grade, or getting fired at 25, or anything else. I want nothing but good things for her, but I refuse to live in fear of the bad things that must come. Fear only blocks love, which prevents me from being the mother I was called to be.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June 15 Lectionary

Today's readings come from Numbers, Romans, and Matthew.
In Numbers, we have the continuation of the Israelites in the wilderness wanting meat. They get their meat, and then God's anger breaks out against them and kills a bunch of them. In addition, we have the story of Moses and the 70 elders receiving the Spirit of God and prophesying. Two guys don't join Moses and the gang, but end up prophesying in the camp. Some people attempt to stop them, but Moses says it's OK.
In Romans we have the continuation of the theme of judgement. Those who judge are condemned strongly by Paul.
And in Matthew Jesus teaches us that unless we become like little children, we can't enter the Kingdom of God.

Setting aside the troublesome meat story for now, what I see is people judging others. An appropriate message for me today, given how judgmental I'm feeling about HB 1148 and the NC legislature generally.
The Israelites judge two men for prophesying in the "wrong" place.
In Romans, unnamed people judge others for sins.
In Matthew, Jesus' disciples are jockeying for position in the new Kingdom, which would necessitate judgement.

I am not to judge others. I am allowed to use judgment and critical thinking to make decisions and choices. But I cannot condemn others. We are all in this together. My goal as a Christian is to love others. If that means protesting a decision, or enforcing boundaries to keep others safe, that's OK. But I must do it with humility. I must do it remembering that the other person is connected to me: is a part of me. I must do it with true love for the "other." If God's kindness leads to repentance, then so can mine. But only if I am receiving God's Spirit.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

10 Things I Do Every Day

It's Top 10 Tuesday!
I'm a life coach, writer, and mompreneur. I'm also a fan of the Oxford comma. So what do I do every day to stay sane, happy, and centered?

10. I write. This is my second year in the 365K club of the awesome 10 Minute Novelists, and this year I am totally committed to DAILY writing.

9. I cross stitch. When 2016 rolled in, I was discouraged about my business and emotionally exhausted. I decided to commit to just 2 things: daily writing and a cross stitch project. I'm planning to enter this into the State Fair this year, which means I have to finish by mid September. So cross stitching every day is a big creative investment for me.
My State Fair project

8. I pray. I like to pray in the morning, after reading the Daily Lectionary, but if all else fails, I pray at night as I'm going to sleep.

7. I Facebook. Yep, I'm as addicted as everyone else!

6. I watch TV. I love the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which is a great thing to listen to while cross stitching. And even if I don't watch something for me, I will probably watch a little TV if my daughter is watching. So it may not be intentional, but it happens every day.

5. I cuddle my daughter. I mean, really, who could resist such a great easy high?

4. I medicate my 18 year old cat. Without his medicine he vomits everywhere.

3. I sleep. We don't often count sleep as an activity, but it's vital to our health! So yes, I sleep every single day and I'm proud of it!

2. I do Reiki. I'm a Reiki Master in training and I do a self treatment of Reiki daily.

1. I pay attention to my soul. Life is busy. I've learned to tune into my spirit and do what I need instead of what I "should."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

You Are OK

I remember my dreams. And last night, God talked to me through my dream.
I don’t think that’s crazy or woo woo or extreme, by the way. I think God is talking to lots of us, maybe all of us, in our dreams.

So in the dream, which involved me being a lesbian and visiting my parents and forgetting to bring along my current cross stitch project, I was sitting on the porch with my girlfriend and my mom. And we were talking about God.

I said, “Look, I know you’re worried about me, because as a teacher and spiritual leader, you’re concerned that I will be judged more harshly than other Christians. You’re worried that because I am blunt and honest and feminist and outspoken, I will make mistakes and get worse punishments. But I won’t. I’m not worried.
I’m not worried because I know that I am completely 100% safe with God. There is absolutely NOTHING God will do to me that will harm me. I know full well that I am a sack of shit. That I am a failure, that I make mistakes, that I sin. But that’s OK. Because I am loved by God no matter what.”

At this point, my audience interrupted me to remind me that I am only made new in Christ daily.

“No, no, I’m not. I’m made new in God with every breath I take! I’m made new in God with every beat of my heart! Every single time my heart beats, I am redeemed and forgiven and made new. Even though I’m down here (I gestured near the floor), God sees me way up here (I gestured towards the ceiling). NOTHING I do can stop God’s love for me and forgiveness of me.”

I’m not sure what the rest of the dream meant, if anything, but I know that God was talking to me (through me, haha) in that dream. For whatever reason, God wanted me to know that I am Her beloved. God wants me to remember that even though I screw up, it’s OK. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t even have to TRY to be perfect. In every heart beat, in every breath, I am wholly redeemed, pure, and beloved in God’s eyes.

So are you.

I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done: God sees you as beautiful, whole, and perfect. God loves you. You are OK.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Criticism that Really Hurts

As moms, we are used to constant criticism, both implied and spoken. Every magazine and online advertisement criticizes our appearance: hair, skin, makeup, body, clothing, and body odor. Every article offers potential criticism of our mothering choices: our kids’ diet, our discipline methods, our entertainment choices, the clothes our kids wear, the medicines we use, the pets we own, the degree of freedom we give our kids, the kinds of chores we require, etc. It seems like these days everyone is selling something, and to sell something, you have to point out a need. Even something as innocuous as jewelry can be sold as a guilt trip: “Buy something nice for yourself! If you don’t value yourself no one else will!”

As a life coach, I struggle with this approach, frankly. Because my primary work as a coach is giving women permission to just be. My clients find peace of mind, joy, and fulfillment, but they do so primarily because I equip them to ignore marketing messages and explicit criticisms!

But this article isn’t about me or about selling stuff. It’s about criticism. 

Earlier today I tweeted this: “It’s not the lack of appreciation that makes motherhood hard: it’s the ingratitude combined with the constant complaints.”

Our kids complain. And here in the first world, our kids complain about petty, stupid things. Why else is there a whole website dedicated to “Reasons My Son Is Crying”?

I don’t do things for my daughter because I expect appreciation or gratitude. I breast fed her, but frankly, I don’t expect her to appreciate me for doing that. Why should she? I’m her mother. I breast fed her because I loved her, because I believed it was best for her, and because it happened to be really easy for me, at least, once I got past the infections, cracked nipples, yada yada yada. I don’t care if she ever even THINKS about whether I breast fed her or formula fed her. I don’t give 2 hoots about Mother’s Day. She doesn’t owe me any gratitude. Not one bit.

However, the complaining and criticizing is a whole different ballgame. Because when I hear a criticism like “This butter is too cold!” I instantly think, “Why did I bother making you bread and butter for breakfast?”


I think there’s something even deeper going on here though.

It’s not just the complaining. It’s the fact that the ONE person whose opinion matters most is criticizing me. I don’t care if other people think my daughter should have something besides butter and bread (non organic, non homemade) for breakfast. You want her to eat organic eggs and cruelty free bacon? Come on over and make it for her then. But when SHE complains, when SHE criticizes, I think that every one else is right. Maybe if I were making those special eggs and bacon, she wouldn’t complain.


Our children’s complaints and criticism seem to validate the external criticism we are battling against constantly.

Our kid says: “I don’t like my toast cut in triangles”
We hear: “Mommy, why aren’t you crafting me a healthy balanced breakfast incorporating all the recent nutritional studies?”

Our kid says (usually while surrounded by toys): “I’m bored.”
We hear: “Mommy, why am I not enrolled in the best preschool/why aren’t you at home with me all day teaching me how to grow an organic garden/why aren’t you taking me to at least 1 enrichment activity daily?”

Our kid says: “I missed you today.”
We hear: “Mommy, why can’t you stay at home with me all day instead of going to work?”

Our kid says: “I wish I could do ___ like So and So.”
We hear: “Mommy, why aren’t you working a job so you can pay for activities for me?”

Our kid says: “I HATE YOU!”
We hear: “Mommy, I am experiencing high levels of stress due to elevated cortisol from being in preschool all day and am therefore asking for negative attention in order to get love and reinforcement that I am worthwhile human being. After all, all the experts agree that kids who need love the most ask for it in the worst ways.”
You have my permission to ignore this meme at least 25% of the time

Moms. We don’t do this job for gratitude or appreciation. 

Don't let criticism from your kids destroy you. 

Sometimes, when your kid criticizes you, it’s an expression of something important – a food allergy, or a bully at school, or just a boundary that needs setting. But sometimes your kid criticizes you because kids are tactless, bluntly honest, and manipulative.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t know how to handle this. Just like all of you, I’m doing the best I can, moment by moment, each day. What I realized today is that I can apply my best judgment to my daughter’s complaints. Some of her criticisms of me are areas where she simply needs to learn social norms and etiquette. Some of her criticisms of me are her way of telling me that there’s a deeper need that is unmet. And some of her criticisms of me are just plain old funny, and it’s OK for me to laugh.

Keep fighting! Seek out friends and communities that offer you support, not criticism. And remember that kids criticize and complain, but at the end of the day, we are the adults, and its our job to teach them how to be adults too. 

Listen to your kids' criticisms. Evaluate them. Act accordingly. Never give up.


Friday, June 3, 2016

What I Think about Thinx...

As I mentioned before, I became interested in Thinx when I saw a Facebook friend had "liked" them. I ordered a pair and used them for my May period. Here's my review! 

Thinx Review, Day 1

My period arrived to visit on Monday, much to my surprise. It seems that now that I’m on a regular 28 day cycle, I am constantly surprised by my period! I realized that I could finally test out my Thinx underwear, so I put on my “heaviest flow” pair Monday night when I put on my jammies. Feeling a little nervous, I added a towel under me.

When I got up Tuesday, there was a small leak. However, the first night of my period I often overflow my nighttime pad anyway. (Side note, what do all y’all do? Get up and change the pad? Deal with leaks?) I changed into my medium flow pair of Thinx and quickly rinsed out the Heaviest flow and threw it in the wash.

Sadly, after just under 2 hours, my medium flow Thinx had leaked. Some had gotten above the lined portion of the panty and some had flowed out the side into my jeans. I didn’t have time to change underwear, so I threw a pad on the Thinx and went on about my day. Later on I took the time to change panties and rinse out my medium flow Thinx. I did another load of laundry in prep for Day 2.

So far the Thinx has not outperformed pads. We’ll see how Day 2 goes.

Thinx Review, Day 2
I slept in my heaviest pair and they performed perfectly, no leaks. I also felt cleaner when I woke up. I think all of us can relate to the feeling we get from pads, whether they dry up and cling to our skin, or whether they fill up and blood dries on our skin, it’s uncomfortable. With the Thinx, I felt almost completely “normal.” It was a little unnerving – I actually wondered if my period had disappeared!

Because I had a busy morning ahead, I put on regular panties and a pad, but at 11:00 am I changed into my medium flow Thinx. I wore it for several hours with no leaks and was thoroughly pleased with how it performed. I felt cleaner and more comfortable than I do wearing pads.

Thinx Review, Final Thoughts
After my first two days, I was out of Thinx and had to go back to pads. I was not happy with the transition back. In fact, after 3 days, I did yet another load of laundry just so I could wrap up my period with my Thinx. For me, the last 2 days of my period are just barely enough to fill 1 pad a day, so Thinx was ideal for me on those days. They were far superior in comfort to a pad. In addition, they contained the odor much better than a pad did.

I plan to buy a few more pairs of Thinx. After the first day, Thinx underwear will fulfill my needs perfectly. The fit was great - enough coverage for my butt, comfortable, but not unattractive or "granny" like. I measured myself and ordered the size recommended by the Thinx website size chart. It's nice to have another option for my period!