friday #w00t

First: a piece of mine, just published.

At bluemilk, the video for “Daddy Skills”. Which? Is awesome.

Some commentary on the different ways female vs. male bodies get treated, in the context of the Olympics.

One of the best interviews on public boners (or pseudo-boners) I’ve ever read.

On the ageism front: Hollywood & relating a bit to actual people’s actual problems. Yay!

The Radical Doula guide is out! Wow! I have a dream; raising enough to bring MZP to our community. Can you imagine?

Kristin Craig Lai tweeted me on an article on “invisible infirmities”. Very flattered; it’s a lovely piece.

Rare color photos from a little ways back.

Homemade graham crackers. I actually haven’t tried making these. But I’d like someone ELSE to bring me a batch.

Sylvia Plath’s drawings. Wonderful.

Someone sent this to me: Are you an emotional empath? Scary how many of the questions I answered Yes to (all but one and a half!).

friday links: the garden of your imagination

Today: Hutch was invited to be the official newshound of Grays Harbor Down. Pretty cool stuff!

 
Someone’s cutting onions up in here.

“Letter to a Teacher from an Aboriginal Parent (1977)” – if you’re a human being, you should read this.

The trouble with kids today. OK, there’s so much to love about this post. I cringe-laugh at the Connery interview. I know I shouldn’t feel bad for him, publicly airing his ignorance and fear, but I kind of do. And it’s ironic our macho, best Bond (well, I like all the Bonds, but got a soft spot for Mr. Connery) is in reality a frightened person, who hits and then justifies hitting as making sense. But I really liked all the quotes at the bottom. “Get off my lawn”, the world is going to the dogs, “kids today”, et cetera. Good stuff.

Some comments on the MSM’s depiction of Mr. Holmes, who last week murdered people in a theater in Colorado.

A piece on Spiritual Bypass; a concept I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately. Good stuff.

Who Gets To Be A Geek? Anyone Who Wants To Be by John Scalzi – a great piece (except for the obligatory hipster-diss – what is UP with that?). ANYhoo, a wonderful takedown of Peacock’s crap.

& finally: NEVER FORGET

we’ve kept our hoofsies warm at home, time off of work to play

My cold is pretty nasty, as it turns out. Woozy, sore throat, headache, congestion – even nausea! I’m missing the jug of codeine cough syrup I once spent a few months pulling off (it really was necessary, I had this odd cough that didn’t go away for a long time, weird). I’m in a fair amount of physical discomfort, as well as the emotional and mental discomfort of not having my body at Standard Operating Functionality.

Ralph worked hard over the conference and at home, and today was no exception. I think he mowed our lawn and my mom’s, and I know he did laundry and made a wonderful dinner (deep-fried asparagus, fresh fruit salad, and gnocci with lemon, spinach and fresh peas!) while for the middle part of the day I stayed shut in and watched several episodes of “The Vampire Diaries”. Look, it’s no “Teen Wolf” but close. I owe my brother’s lady J. an apology as I believe I scoffed at the concept and here I am eating it up like the gooey handfuls of mental Fiddle Faddle  it is.

I am aching to clean house, and more than that, to sew. I did drag myself to the kids’ swim because I love watching them. After each exercise in the pool Nels would pop out of the water and stick his arm up with the thumbs-up and his smile, with his teeth a hot mess of Adorable. It was fun times.

I am feeling more strengthened than ever in some thoughts and shifts regarding parenting and unschooling. Ralph and I talked about this and we both feel the same. When I feel better, I am going to write a bit about that. It was – inspiring. I’m so used to being around non-unschoolers and it makes a big difference to talk with others who do our weird fringe normalcy.

It’s late and it’s time for bed. Patience, hot tea and hot baths, and hopefully I will feel better soon.

 

short & sweet: friday links

“Letting Go” at Rookie Mag, by Sady Doyle. A wonderful piece on smoking. Or rather, quitting smoking. P.S. I recently quit, too. Yesterday I had two months without a cigarette. Yay!

“learned helplessness” re: drug cartel violence in Mexico. Pretty intense stuff.

Slap Chop, Virgin Islands style:

 
Astronauts: Drop your cocks, label your socks!

Inspiring: my favorite tweet, this week.

An infographic: Gay Rights in the U.S., State by State

More on mainstream media assery: Time cover sells out moms to sell magazines

And finally: the best hitchhiking story I’ve heard in a while.

EXTREME

*grows extra tits to breastfeed EVERYONE, then does some sick BASE jumping*

Homeschool Swim. @stuffnelssays In The Cat-Bird Seat

Today after Homeschool Swim I spent a good part of my day taking a community elder somewhere he needed to be. He has limited funds and transportation and we treated him to dinner as well. Originally I’d planned on taking the trip without the kids, but it turned out the kids needed to come along. It was a good trip but somehow on the drive back I was on my last nerve.

Anyway. A few pics.

Olympia:

Vanilla Salted Caramel Creamcheese At Bonjour Cupcakes In Olympia

A cupcake shop. A CUPCAKE SHOP. Yes, this is a real thing. Yes, it’s just a wonderful thing. My kids were so pleased. Between that, and the “beautiful”/”amazing” Westgate mall, and a large squirrel, and a playground, they were super-happy. Everyone should be this easy to please.

Playground In Oly

Playground & sunshine & weird Gollum-like mouth-expressions.

Today: Time magazine aired a magazine cover with an incredibly annoying headline and tagline – while purporting a premise I feel entirely skeptical about (i.e. a supposed fair and balanced discussion of “attachment parenting”, perhaps not so fair and balanced considering the cover frames it as as “exteme” and in the most mommy-warmongering manner).

ATTACHMENT PARENTING – SO EXTREME!!!11!

EXTREME

Anyway, Arwyn from Raising Boychick had already been musing this “AP=anti-feminist” argument a while back before said polemic cover asploded onto the internet, and I’m honored my online comments were included in her post, since she’s got her shit together when it comes to anti-oppression work.

This mama’s a bit cranky. Time for some snuggling and B-movie time with the husband.

Forgiveness is possible; loving others in a way that works for us

All comments on this post will be moderated.

Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

Mid-summer of last year I shakily drove my new (to me) car to a friend’s house. I’d made a desperate call just a few minutes prior and she could hear that I was in need of someone kind to talk to. I knocked on the door and was welcomed into the home of this friend and her partner, both women very dear to me. I sat on their comfortable couch in the soft summer light, ready to compose myself to tell them what was wrong – and instead burst into shuddering sobs.

I’d just come from a meeting in a self-help group. Over the past few months I’d been recovering from the shame and misery of my past – including, in my own words, “the worst shit I’d ever done”. The worst shit I’d ever done, what does that mean? Well, we all know deep in our Knowing Place what these things are, and my worst and your worst aren’t going to be the same. I have a share of immoral (by my own standards) acts in my past. But for me at the time, the “worst things” weighing on me were the things I’d done, or hadn’t done, for my children. I couldn’t shake the thought that while other adults could choose to play in my playground or leave me be, my children were hostage to my bad behaviors. This thought had haunted me to this very summer day.

So in my self-help group I had named some of my mistakes aloud. I briefly related that I regretted yelling at and hitting my children (in an commitment to truthfulness and yet a simultaneous masochistic act of self-criticism, I’d refused to give myself an “out” by calling my behaviors “spanking”, “swatting”, or “paddling”, etc). I started to talk about my freedom from this guilt and shame, and the help the group had brought me in this regard.

But before I had finished speaking, another woman turned to me in disbelief. “For spanking your kids?” She asked in astonished contempt. I paused, surprised at an interruption – rare to unheard of in this group – and went on talking.

As soon as I finished speaking – on a larger point than my parenting, or so I thought – this woman immediately launched into her own narrative. In a most articulate fashion she listed every justifiable reason to hit one’s children and make sure they know who is boss, and why. The world is a hard place. They’re going to learn on the streets if they don’t learn at home. Your kids will blame you later if you don’t discipline them. Anyone who criticizes can fuck off. “CPS can show up and I’ll beat their ass.” Et cetera.

I sat on the sofa and listened. The oddest feelings crept up on me. As she went on – seemingly for ages! – I knew I was feeling – something. I knew I was unhappy, but I didn’t know what else I was going through.

At the end of the meeting we closed and said farewell. I was still confused, but I smiled with a genuine shining love for this woman, the love I feel for all members of the human race today. I knew even though she was addressing me, she was telling me about herself. I knew she had a heart and mind and love for the children she was raising. Perhaps she’d heard what I had to relate and would reflect on it later. I knew she was stressed. I knew I had nothing to give her in this moment but love and compassion.

A few minutes later, I got in the car. I drove a little ways before bursting into tears. Minutes later I’d made my phone call and sat weeping on my friends’ couch. After I had a good cry, the cry I needed to have, my friends and I talked it out. And when I tried to explain how this woman’s words had hurt, but my own words failed me, my friend said firmly and kindly, “She told you to do things that don’t work for you.”

***

I was spanked growing up, but I don’t cite those experiences as particularly painful. The physical aspect of my childhood punishments weren’t as humiliating and confusing, for me, as the emotional and spiritual dysfunction. Besides spanking, I remember only a few other humiliating episodes involving physicality, such as my father throwing a glass of water in my face when I was a teen, and my mother slapping me across the face about that same era. Neither of my parents ever apologized to me for these actions, and I have no idea how deeply, if at all, my parents felt regret, remorse, or shame for these actions on their part.

I have forgiven them, and that forgiveness has been a gift to myself.

I’ve maintained for some time that there is little difference in our “punishments” or “discipline” of our children, as long as we are trying to manipulate them out of our own fear (however deeply our own fears are hidden from us). Last year for my post for the Great Spank-Out I wrote,

“[I]n my opinion there is little to no concrete differences between the following: hitting (also called “spanking”, “swatting”, “smacking”, or “beating”, depending on your culture/family), yelling at, scolding/lecturing, grounding, removing toys/items as a lesson, “natural and logical” consequences (applied at the discretion of the parent/carer in order to groom for desired behavior or eliminate undesired behavior). On the flip side of the coin, praise and rewards are perfectly complimentary to this type of punitive/manipulative parenting schema – and those “carrot” (as opposed to “stick”) systems are relatively common too.”

Although I believe there are more similarities than differences in the above-listed strategies, I also believe every child (and adult!) has the right to relate to themselves and others which strategies hurt, and why. In other words, what was painful for you might not have been as painful for me, and vice versa. What matters, as parents or carers, is we honor our responsibility to our children, instead of deciding our will for them be made manifest. What matters is we forgive ourselves and change. What will make a great difference is if we can forgive those in our past who hurt us. It may make all the difference in the world.

Imagine my intense gratitude when five months after I wrote this post I heard a talk on this topic from Harshada Wagner, a yoga meditation instructor I respect and admire. In his guided meditation, “Living Wisdom: Releasing Shame” (August 29, 2011, at yogaglo.com), Wagner said the following:

“The good news and the bad news about shame is this:
 
“The good news is it’s not our fault. We can blame our parents for a lot of our shame.
 
“The bad news is that our parents aren’t here, and our parents aren’t going to be able to take away whatever it is that we have taken on. We’re going to have to do that ourselves.
 
“Of course, I’m kidding. It’s really Good News, and Good News.
 
“It’s good news that it’s not our fault. Everyone has a certain degree of shame that we carry around that keeps us from really shining. And it’s actually good news that the sources of the shame, if they were on the outside, aren’t the ones that can take it away. Because it puts that responsibility, but it also gives us the ability and the privilege and the freedom to work out what we need to work out.”
 
[…]  
“Almost every child is punished with emotional pain. It sounds very harsh, but let me just spell it out. When a child makes a mistake, when a child has done something that the parent doesn’t approve of and the parent wants to get the child to do what they want them to do, they will withdraw some kind of privilege until the child does what they want them to do.
 
“Why is that? What is the parent drying to create there?
 
“You parents watching this, please don’t take offense.
 
“When we do that, we’re trying to create emotional pain in the child. ‘You can’t go outside until you do your homework.’ ‘You can’t eat your dessert until you eat your vegetables.’ These are very benign sort of punishments. ‘Go to your room!’ … And then it gets harsher and harsher, all the way up to, some of us were actually slapped, or screamed at.
 
“But whatever the punishment was, was made to make us feel bad, as a way to learn a lesson. Even if our parents didn’t want to hit us physically, they wouldn’t feel like we had really gotten the message, unless we were sad. Our favorite toy was taken away. Our video games were denied to us.
 
“A really smart little kid, you know if they said, ‘Jimmy, you’re only five years old, you shouldn’t be playing with matches,’ and little Jimmy was really sharp and said ‘You know what, you’re right. I’m only five, what do I know about playing with matches. I could burn down the house down. You’re so right. I’m too young to play with matches and it’s dangerous. Thank you, mom and dad for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I’m going to take this on, and really make sure that I don’t play with matches any more. Thank you so much.’
 
“No, it wouldn’t go like that. If a child was that bright, was so smart, most parents would still not be satisfied until they grounded him or smacked the matches out of his hand, or yelled at him and frightened him in some way.”

Wagner’s entire meditation, which I have since earnestly recommended to so many, resounded with me deeply last September, and continues to today. All parents, even the best parents, attempt to apply emotional pain to their child to get their child to do what they want. We may do it reflexively or we may do it deliberately with some thought ahead of time – or, as is most likely, we do both. We may do it for noble reasons or for selfish ones – again, we likely do both. Some of us can know we are doing this to our children and desire not to – yet we still do it, to whatever degree we do. A lifetime of training, and our own fears and resentments and anxieties, have created a habit energy hard to dissolve. Progress can be made, but I’m unsure if perfection can be achieved.

I also know the child has a right to her own experience, and tuning into her experiences is as important, if not more so, than time and energy spent building and defending and tearing down and rebuliding and obsessing over our strategies, or those of other people.

The woman in my self-help group who told me I should beat my children had what seemed like the absolute noblest of intentions in advising me such. Briefly: she is the matriarch in a black family, raising her own nieces out of familial necessity while living in an urban, drug-riddled and economically-depressed environs. She is battling her own disease of alcoholism and she has an unsupportive larger family. If you can see deeply at all, you can have compassion and understand where she might be coming from.

As I heard in group the other day from an older man: “I had to come here to this group to learn things. I had to learn to stop hitting people. You hit people when you’re afraid.”

You hit people when you are afraid.

And the parents, carers, or those without children who attempt to put themselves in a false position of separateness and superiority with regards to the topic of disciplining children are also acting out of fear. Compassion, kindness, and gentleness are needed – not more recrimination and words spoken in anger.

This upsetting conversation last summer, and the discussion with friends afterwards, were very helpful. I was brave to be honest and vulnerable in a public way – about my worst shit. And after I spoke, someone directly challenged me with every possible good argument to punitively parent my children – even as she spoke and I felt sad, the amusing image of a little cartoon devil on my shoulder popped into my mind. But the truth is this: I could not parent my children this way and be okay with myself. I had never had this ability. So, I part ways in strategy with this woman. I can speak my mind and relate, from the heart, my experience as child, then parent – but I am not in a position to play God and I cannot follow her home and force her to see things any particular way.

I have not seen this woman in a while, but I hope she holds me in love and kindness the way I hold her. I know that this is possible, even in the most controversial and personal of topics. It is possible when we practice love and compassion – for all beings.

***

Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival hosted by TouchstoneZ

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

shaken, not stirred

Today I plunged myself into Sucktown as I had two sewing projects, in a row, go poorly. Actually, kinda, three. A week ago two wee infant dresses I had a vision for ended up not quite working out to my satisfaction. Then the Western-style shirt I finished today gave me fits from start to end. The end result, I admit (pictures tomorrow) is adorable – but my ass is haunted by how difficult the project was. I was even seething with, well not rage, but high-degree irritation at points. And today, Sewing Assery #3? I took a series of shortcuts on some pants for Nels figuring it wouldn’t be a big deal but, you know what, the project really suffered from me doing so. Enough I know, as I sit here, I’m going to totally tear out seams and fix the mess even though damn I so do not want to re-sew on pants.

I’m not sure how many people who read can relate to how much I can struggle when my sewing goes poorly. When it comes to this craft I am used to things going my way, and when they don’t, I have a hard time making a learning experience out of the business. I end up believing I’m wasting my time while I could be benefiting others in some way. It’s a horrid mind-suck. Oddly I am less exacting when it comes to my writing – more likely, in that case, to give my best, whatever I have, and let it lie.

This last week or two I’ve also been struggling with some Old Business that very rarely rears his head any more: the (unrecognized) work of the domestic. Today I got up, fed cats, cleaned the bathroom, washed, dried, and put away clothes, washed and dried dishes, made up home-cookin’ for the family, fed the cats, cleaned up after the cats, sent off emails. I do stuff like this every day. I am really fortunate I have my head and heart in the work and I experience gratification from performing the basics with mindfulness. But sometimes this little doubt creeps in, You Do Shit Work And You Don’t Matter. I remember what it was like to have more status’d work and the praises I used to get. Yeah, it was false pride, and yeah, it was a life built on (my concepts of) other people’s esteem, and I freely admit I like my life a lot better today. It’s just that sly voice and I don’t always have a defense against it. Ugh.e

Writing this out I realize the mind has just found another way to criticize my personhood. I relate this quite hand-in-hand with life as a so-called recovered alcoholic. The self-criticism is a hell of a thing for most people, and I have some familiarity with the various methods people use (not all of them chemical) to drown that narrative out.  Today I cope with feelings and with reality without self-medicating through the rituals and chemicals of drug and alcohol use. And the cliche is true, my worse day sober is well and away better than my best day using. Life sober might be painful here and there but the suffering is vastly reduced. Today I have the courage to publicly admit what’s going on (I will note I had this courage, here and there, before sobriety) and today I have a degree of bravery and serenity that I didn’t used to. I am glad to live my life sober even at its hardest, truly glad to live this way, despite occasional difficult circumstances originating from between my ears.

I will add I had a lovely time, before the sewing debacle, with the children. I packed up this morning (oh right, another handful of “chores” I forgot to mention) and we hit the YMCA for swimming this afternoon. Swimming with my kids is really amazing because, of course, it feels good and life without school is like a holiday, always – but also, because their energy and resiliency is just astounding. Even the days I’m not quite right, they seem to be. The children inspire me in a deep and satisfying fashion and it’s funny… I didn’t plan it that way, it just ended up happening. My children and my family life have been the most unexpected twist, and series of adventures, in my whole life. The life I’ve had is not something I thought I’d have in store for me ten years ago, that’s for sure.

In my wildest imaginings I wouldn’t think I’d have it so good. I hope my kids are a legacy for that kind of life, well-lived and worn-in, joyous and free. It really is at least part-accident I’ve done so well by them, or maybe that I didn’t do so well but they thrived anyway, considering what a mess I’ve been here and there.

“May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!”

Goodnight!

all I want for Christmas

In the morning I’m making pancakes, I make small and very fluffy ones, delicious. I even warm the 100% maple syrup, wiping the glass bottle with a hot damp rag and applying exactly as much or little syrup as the kidlets require. And I’m cutting up naval oranges and sipping coffee and drinking yet more water, and the kids finish their breakfast and then brush teeth and then get all dressed warm. It’s cold, a cutting cold, but nice and sunny and clear.

Phoenix is getting quite proficient in housework as she nears adult size; she can wash dishes and put away laundry and tidy up her room to a great standard. While I’m glad for help, there’s something devastating about watching one’s “baby” reach up easily and get something off the top of the fridge. NO SERIOUSLY THEY ARE STILL THIS TINY IN MY MIND.

So, the kids take our timeline seriously and do everything they can to help, feeding cats then throwing them outside (last night we had a mystery cat invade the gecko’s terrarium – our lizard is okay, but no unsupervised cats inside). Nels usually handles the feeding and watering of the kitties since he’s smaller and the job works for him.

“Mama, I love you,” my son says to me as I tie up his shoes. I know that a big part of why the kids love me is because I make them pancakes and remember their favorite stories to read and I sew them their favorite clothes and I take care of so many of their every needs. But there’s another part, the intimacy we have as a family, the memories snuggling up to movies and popcorn at night, then in the day driving and listening to Ke$ha super-super loud. Even when I’m not feeling well I can still sit down to knit and they’re on my lap or nearby in minutes.

I do my volunteer bit at the Treatment Center two days a week; I’ve faithfully kept the calendar on Wednesdays at one PM. So today I’m taking the kids along, and then afterwards out for a chocolate soda. Sitting through my Recovery stuff is boring and there are a few other reasons for them not to be there; fortunately there’s a large park nearby both children enjoy. A little over an hour later I pick them back up they’ve got rosy cheeks and they’re tumbling in the back of the car. Later they walk over to visit their grandmother, who isn’t feeling well.

I did not have a pain-free day today but I had a day lived in gratitude, which means it was a very good day indeed.

And now? Time for baths and cleanup and pajamas and snuggling over a movie involving really corny looking aliens and bad 70s mustaches. Perfect.

Oh and by the way. I found my dream job.

skateboarding

turning it into funky science fiction

I’ve returned with some Friday links. As you’re reading this, I am likely intubated and undergoing a surgical procedure! So you’re having more fun than I, most likely (the good news is the procedure might ALSO involve LASERS).

skateboarding

5 minute timelapse; a roadtrip across America:

 
Film: 5 Old-Timey Prejudices That Still Exist In Every Movie from Cracked.com. Cracked is pretty clever much of the time, and this article showcases its smarts. Considering a likely target audience I’m impressed the author didn’t do the obligatory fawning to a certain television and film writer/producer/director too commonly worshipped for what I consider (like the author does) repeat iterations of pseudofeminist waif-fu tendencies. One note on the article – I’m designating an honorary BOO for calling thin women “unnatural” – even if it’s a good guess many Hollywood actresses likely participate in orthorexic behaviors and/or eating disorders and/or dieting and/or heavy-duty workout regimes – and for not being more cautious in purporting an apparent concept of a so-called objective view of how pretty Michelle Rodriguez is (as opposed to a socially- and culturally-prescribed “pretty”/”beautiful”).

Food, food, glorious food! Here is a recipe for a Moist Chocolate-Beet Cake, from David Lebovitz’s blog, adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater.

Family life: Unschooling: An Introduction by Laura at Authentic Parenting. Most my readers have been around long enough to hear, learn from, and/or tolerate my thoughts on and practices regarding life learning, but this is a pretty good 101 article, and I’m glad she posted it.

In a recent blog post Wendy Priesnitz asks, and answers: why does the contemplation of unschooling, or life learning, result in a backlash from many adults, many who are self-named “progressives” (well, that’s what I paraphrase she’s writing about). She writes, ” […] I understand that rejecting long-held beliefs and admitting you’ve been lied to and taken advantage of can take time. And it can be painful. But if you are moving in that direction, please believe that the way to ensure a happy future for your kids is to ensure they have a happy present.”

And here’s one for the ladies. Oh, and the dudes. Y’all should read it. I know nothing about this project – “No One’s The Bitch”, but I’m really liking the concept! Stepmoms/divorced moms etc. are often culturally encouraged to pit themselves against one another. “The master’s tools”, and all that.

A tutorial: for a fishtail skirt (in this case, demonstrated on a small human). My daughter isn’t likely to wear dresses unless they have a lot of character (see: previous) – this might fit the bill.

Mothers & Our Families: Never Perfect, but Always Great at Birth Without Fear. Some lovely thoughts and images.

Finally: WHO SOMETIMES WISHES IT WAS STILL THE 90s?