Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Dona Nobis Pacem - "Peace in the Time of Quarantine"

 

click here to learn more about this project, and its founder, Mimi Lenox


"Peace in the Time of Quarantine" is the theme of this year's Blog Blast for Peace.  I've participated on and off for several years, and this year...well, this year I hardly know what to say about the subject.  As usual, I'm (fashionably?) late to the party, and as I sit in the gathering dark of my apartment on November 4th, waiting for the United States to oust our moronic, racist, rapist, tax-evading, mentally unbalanced, trustafarian crook of a side-show 'president' from our midst in what should be a landslide victory for another questionable and creepy politician with a running mate who gets the side-eye for her past involvement in destroying innocent people's lives with undeserved prison sentences, I find myself exhausted, disillusioned, and angry.  How did we get here?  How did we come to find ourselves with so many struggling, unemployed, hanging by a financial thread about to fall into ruin, with hundreds of thousands of us dead and dying from a virus that we had every tool necessary to avoid?  Families separated at the border, children in cages, women in ICE 'detention centers' being sterilized against their will, Black women and men murdered in cold blood, missing and murdered Indigenous women, Indigenous water protectors shot over pipelines crossing their sovereign lands, Flint Michigan still without clean water, trans people regularly beaten to death, sex workers forced out of their trade by vengeful politicians regularly caught with their pants down in the company of their rent-boys...the list goes on, and the rich continue to turn a massive profit at our expense.


So how did we get here?  Incompetence.  Corruption.  Patriarchal capitalistic values.  Individual/institutional/structural racism.  Cronyism & nepotism.  A lack of decent education giving us the tools to do the work of learning truth ourselves.  For way too long, the white establishment has lived in comfort and complacency within a system built for them and them alone, and I had hoped that their time of reckoning was at hand.  I'm all for tearing it down to the ground and rebuilding a better world under the guidance and supervision of traditionally marginalized communities.  While I had really hoped to be voting for Bernie Sanders in this election, I'm also well aware that a country that failed to elect a woman for president will never elect a Jewish man either, however innocuous his Jewishness actually is to the Christian majority.  So we've got Uncle Joe McFeely-Hands, and Cop-ella DeVille instead.  Great.  Wonderful.  I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of peace...not.  It's enough to make me want to follow through on my constant threats to exercise my privilege to live in another country (which comes with a host of it's own issues, of course).


As for the quarantine, I'm another one of those middle-aged Gen Xers who's more than happy to stay home avoiding people for the most part, though I do miss seeing live music performed in a space where I can dance with others who also love to get their groove on to good tunes.  Oh, and I'm completely broke for lack of work - that part sucks balls.  Other than that, quarantine has been, in a sense, good for me.  Knowing I would go off-the-wall bonkers if I didn't get outside for fresh air and exercise regularly when my state went into lockdown over the coronavirus, I started walking outside three times a week.  Nothing major, just up the hill of my street and back down, maybe a half mile all told.  It was more effort than I thought it would be at first, but as the weeks progressed, it got easier, and I added jumping jacks at the top of the hill, which I increased over time.  At some point, I started jogging to the bottom of the hill, which eventually led to my downloading the 'couch to 5k' app to my phone, and working my way up to jogging for 30 minutes straight, eventually to a distance of 5k (3.1 miles, which takes me about an hour...yeah, I'm slow, mostly because I was more than 100 pounds overweight when I started this journey).  


So what does me getting my jog on have to do with peace and quarantine?  well, like many Americans who have long been concerned at the way our country's politics have been moving closer towards fascism, I stayed up late last night watching the results of our election come in, and when I finally called it a night out of exhaustion, I didn't sleep well.  Still, I was up near dawn, as is my habit, got into my running gear, and...sat down at my computer to check what had transpired with the vote-counting overnight.  The results were not as encouraging as I had hoped, and with a growing sense of doom I couldn't quite explain - given my firm belief that Uncle Joe was still going to win - I went to the trail to get my run on.  If it was due to the previously mentioned lack of quality sleep, the fact that my leggings are getting too big (I'm down 32 pounds) and kept falling down, my app not tracking my mileage properly, doing yesterday's workout too late in the day and not leaving myself enough time to recover, not nourishing myself well enough, 'monkey-mind', or not being able to get out of my head, I had a crap run today.  I only ran for about a half mile, then walked another mile to a bench where I sat in the sun and took some time to enjoy the peace and quiet.  When it felt like time to stroll back down the trail to my car, I stopped to watch the birds and squirrels, and thought about how I no longer take the time to go camping, or even just be in the woods with no agenda other than to commune with nature.  I also found myself composing social media updates in my head, and how thinking about what I was going to post when I got home ran counter to why I started this journey in the first place, and had me considering that I might be losing sight of my WHY.  



My WHY was originally to learn to celebrate myself in healthier ways than by overindulging in food & drink.  My WHY was to get fresh air and exercise on a regular basis.  My WHY slowly became a way to clear my head, have some 'me time', listen to music, and have fun while working to boost my metabolism, lower my blood sugar, and regain some of the strength and stamina I lost from spending too much time sitting on the couch.  Sadly, it seems I've become overly dependent on the positive reactions and supportive comments of my running community on social media.  And though they are inherently uplifting and helpful, the fact that I'm thinking about them on my run rather than focusing on where and how to place my feet, or paying attention to my breathing, my pace, or simply enjoying the fact that my body is strong and healthy enough to carry me down the trail for a certain amount of time and distance  - or the privilege of having the time and safe spaces to enjoy running - speaks loudly to the kind of chaotic disconnect I feel in our collective unconscious...as if we've been encouraged to lose our way.  On the other hand, there has also been a collective uprising against that disconnect, and while that movement gives me hope, it still hasn't brought the level of change I think we need in order to move forward with purpose again.  


The fact that 24 hours after many of the polls have closed we still don't have that landslide victory I had hoped for tells us that at least half of this country is still willing to throw the other half of this country under the bus to ensure their continued complacent comfort at the expense of others, and that's a huge problem.  Our work is nowhere near done.  And that's exhausting.  So incredibly bone-tiring, it affected my ability to jog happily up the pretty wooded trail in my quaint little community where I don't have to worry about being out alone for a run.  Can you imagine how it must feel to those on the front lines?  To the folks who do the work because their lives depend on it in a way I can only partially feel, and most others don't even deign to feel, or dare to push back against?  How tired do you think those folks are?  How much jogging on maintained wooded trails for health and wellness do you think they get to enjoy?  No matter how much it makes us want to lie down and give up, we simply can't fail in continuing to support those who really do need us to hold them up and offer our protection so they can rest, and continue to take the lead.  We need everyone to be all in for everyone else, no excuses.  It's the only way we build a world worth living in for future generations, and really...if we're not here for that, what the hell are we here for?


peace ~


m


previous Blog Blasts for Peace:

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2019

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Terrapin Portal

about a month ago, I was driving down one of our main local routes into the nearest small city when I noticed something on the side of the road that looked like a turtle on its back. even though I was traveling at 45mph, and on my way to an appointment, I had an overwhelming desire to stop and turn around, to help the poor thing.  ever since I was little I've had this deep sense of sadness come over me whenever I pass a dead or dying critter on the road, and as I live in what's considered to be a rural area of NY, I see a lot of critters on or near the streets I drive on, and I take pains to avoid hitting them with my car. over the past few weeks alone I've seen/avoided porcupines, baby and adult foxes, baby and adult raccoons, frogs & toads, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and the ubiquitous deer.  so seeing what appeared to be a turtle on it's back on the side of a four lane highway broke my heart, but I needed to get where I was going, vowing to myself (and the turtle) that if it was still there on my way back, I'd go and see what I could do to help, hoping some other kind soul might stop and rescue it before then.  

 

not 'my' turtle - an image from the internet

 

on my way back, I slowed down and searched the opposite side of the road for the turtle, and saw it - still on its back in the same spot.  I pulled into the parking lot of a shop and got out to inspect it, and it was most definitely dead.  I felt bad for not getting to it sooner.  so, for whatever reason or feeling compelled me to do it, I took a large wad of napkins out of my glove compartment, picked up the dead turtle, placed it gently in my trunk, and brought it home with me.  while I found an appropriate spot to bury it, I told it how sorry I was that it had been hit in the road, and died alone on its back in the hot sun.  I wondered where it was from, where it had been going, and assured it that I was digging it a nice, cool hole in the damp earth for it rest in, and be devoured.  I asked if it wouldn't mind having its shell preserved as a scared item while wishing it a peaceful journey, then covered it over with dirt, and marked the spot so I could find it again in about a month.  during that time, I chose to learn a bit about turtles, how and where they live, breed, and die, and how best to clean and preserve one's shell.

 

tiny turtle vertebrae

 

this morning, with prayers for its safe return to Void, I dug up the grave, and didn't find the shell I had hoped would be there.  I wondered what could have happened to it...fox?  coyote?  cat?  I sat in the shade of the pines for a minute contemplating, when I spotted a turtle shell - on its back - a few feet away, through some close-grown trees whose branches formed a barrier I couldn't penetrate.  how did it get there?  did some other critter really dig it up to eat?  in any case, the shell was empty, so I tried to get around the trees one way, and failed.  I knew I couldn't get around the other side of them, so I tried going through - no luck, too dense.  I got out my tree lopper and cut a hole through the dead branches just large enough to force myself through, pushed my way around the live branches to reach the shell, and brought it back with me.  the dead branches caught at my dress, scratched me on my arms and face, got tangled in my hair, and I had to yank myself free, knowing that leaving some skin and hair behind was a fair trade in this exchange.  for a reptile that is considered in several cultures to be representative of portals and doorways, this was as it should be.

 


as shore creatures, turtles are seen as a bridge between heaven and earth - land and water.  they are prevalent in the myths of many cultures around the world, and symbolic of good health, long life,  perseverance, protection, self reliance, tenacity, slow progress, luck, strength, hope, steadfast tranquility, and are considered a good omen in many world religions.  in several indigenous American traditions turtles represent Mother Earth as "Turtle Island", the turtle that carries the world on its back.  most turtles have 13 'scutes' (scales) on their 'carapace' (top shell), which has been likened to the 13 full moons in a year, and relates to menses and motherhood.  turtle shells have traditionally been used by some indigenous cultures to dispense medicines, and to make rattles.

 

can you see the 13 scutes on this carapace?
 

I found this piece of information which I just loved so much I had to share it in its entirety (the relevant website can be found at the end of this post):  "Dr. Tami Jollie-Trottier, PhD, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and a North Dakota-based clinical psychologist specializing in indigenous behavioral health and healing has developed “Turtle Medicine” (Mickinock Mishkiikii), an innovative approach to post-traumatic healing in which spiritual and cultural symbolism and Anishinaabe animal teachings are used to explore healing through art, writing and storytelling".  she believes that "westernized medical intervention alone cannot produce the level of wellness required, after a personal trauma, to return to the healthy state of mind needed to function in today’s world", and that "healing powers can be found within an individual’s own spiritual, cultural and creative energies".

 

Akupara
 

in Hinduism, the god Kurma (Sanskrit for tortoise) is one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu, and in that belief system, the world is said to stand on the backs of four elephants, who in turn stand on the back of the tortoise Akupara.  here, they represent truth because they carry the world on their back, and speak of both the journey and the destination.  turtles remind us to be aware of our perceptions about time and our relationship to it while awakening both our physical and spiritual senses.  there is a certain safety in knowing they can survive hard times, and the lessons they are said to teach are that we should stay faithful to our paths, and be at peace with our choices and decisions.  they encourage us to release the negative things that hold us back, and remind us to use our heads to right ourselves.  "pay attention," they say, "abundance is available to us in the right time - the Earth provides us with everything we need."

 

so beautiful...
 

to be practical, and knowing that many reptiles carry salmonella, I researched ways to clean the dear turtle's shell, which I did by soaking it in a solution of salt, baking powder and water for an hour, then rinsing it off and soaking it in a solution of vinegar and water for another hour.  then I scrubbed it with soap and water, inside and out with a toothbrush, and set it to dry in the sun.  I'll probably put a coat of varnish on it to protect it, so I can keep it on my altar as a sacred item, and a reminder of all the good lessons listed above.  in my searching, I also found some vague references to supposedly ancient tales coming to us from China and South America of "three legged flying iron turtles" and a sky-god-bringer-of-corn, killed in the underworld, whose resurrection is depicted by his emerging from a turtle shell.  what do you think? 

 

Hun Huhnapu, resurrected as a Mayan maize deity?


further reading and references:

 https://www.drtamiredwindwellness.com/bio

 http://www.native-languages.org/legends-turtle.htm

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_turtles

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Turtle

 


 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

"Gawtcha"





Feeling a need to visit with Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth's The Faeries' Oracle, but not having a deep connection to the deck or knowledge of how to work with it, I went with my gut and playfully swirled the whole deck out in front of me in a pile and picked a random card from the center with no more of a question in my mind than a general read, and to meet the fae who chose to greet me.  I drew Gawtcha -  who appealed to me right off because they're blue, with sticks poking out of their spiky hair.  I like their slender fingers and pointy ears, and the way their large, curious eye is peering out from behind an elegant hand.  so I was surprised to read "Sudden shock.  Unexpected events.  Rude Awakenings" in the card description, suggesting any number of possible disasters - car trouble, money trouble, other kinds of trouble - while also acknowledging the possibility of a small windfall (not all luck is bad luck - good things smack us in the back of the head out of the blue, too).

on one level, this card is telling us we need/are due for a cosmic smack, because we still haven't learned to trust our instincts, and that we have to regain our balance more quickly when those destabilizing experiences come along - we also need to be cautious not to lose ourselves in them, good or bad.  the card scared me in the sense that it speaks of upheaval, of shaking up staid structures we build in our consciousness and realities, and even though I complain about a lot of the mundane aspects of my life (just like everyone else),  I've lived such a transient existence that I hardly manage to get any kind of routine going before circumstance comes along to tear it down, so my first reaction was, "nooooo, I've barely recovered from the last 'growth' I went through," and all Gawtcha sees is the ungrateful recipient of their kind and generous gifts (it's hinted that the poor faerie numbs the pain of our human indifference with strong drink, as evidenced by their bloodshot eye).  on the other hand, there are a great many 'staid structures' in our modern world that could do with some 'upheaval'.

while "the sudden, often violent, breakdowns of existing structures, habits, patterns, and/or attitudes" (from the Oracle guidebook) in the summer of 2020 is a long overdue conversation that America has been needing to have with itself for Far too long, the card (or the fae energy associated with it) also speaks to my personal journey of being "confined by our own self-imposed limitations that may include the desire for comfort and security", and how we can grow into our liberation once we manage to break through those barriers.  we are encouraged not to fall back on our old ways, but to build something new with the pieces, and to leave room for future additions.

being who I am (human - it's a function of our minds that we imagine catastrophe so we have a chance to survive it when it strikes), I went to the dark side immediately and thought "oh no, I hope I don't get hurt while running!"  then just as quickly chided myself for even thinking such a thing, and wondered what kind of positive surprise might be lurking around the corner...a second stimulus check?  universal basic income?  but the specter of dark tiding had been there, lurking in the back of my mind, and it was a certain kind of week.  I had setbacks, unexplained (or unnecessary) cancellations, financial inconveniences and pressures, I had two 'bad runs' in a row and a slew of aches and pains...but I also received a surprise gift from a kind friend that brought me much joy.  so what is this card telling me really?

"let your baggage go.  find your balance, and keep moving forward.  you have all the information you need to proceed, and ample experience in this world to know how to 'roll with it'.  you will rise to every challenge, even though the suddenness with which they descend may be alarming.  it's a necessary evil that must be navigated to learn and grow, and increase your ability to hold space for further understanding.  welcome the opportunity with grace, and it might leave you a little less worse for wear."  that's my personal interpretation.  in my life right now, I've been making great strides towards moving into that new consciousness, challenging myself to leave the baggage where it lies, and take up my own best interest as a guidepost to finding my way through the discomfort and insecurity of setting my former self alight (again) to create new work from the ashes.  the same goes for our larger world - each of us is responsible for finding our new place within that discomforting insecurity that helps our friends and neighbors rise up, and to roll with any upheaval as a growing process that needs to break a few things to break through a few things.  if you're low on supply, remember how beautiful a Phoenix can be, give it what it needs to thrive, and it will bring you along for the ride!  good luck, seekers, and be safe out there!

💙  💜  💙

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Memory Jar 2019



it's that magical time again - the beginning of a new year!  sort of...being Jewish, I also celebrate the 'new year' in September, but Rosh Hashana, with it's round challah, apples, and honey is a completely different animal than the balloons, music, silly hats, noise makers, champagne, fireworks, and ball drops that grace the stage of many a December 31st celebration in the USA.  as has become our tradition - 6th year in a row! - my young man and I read out the memories we saved up during the year and relive our best times as a way to keep the positivity flowing, and our hearts grateful for all our many blessings.  this year, our Memory Jar (pictured above) got packed up sometime in March, and just yesterday, we dug it out of the box we still hadn't unpacked it from and laughed, because there were maybe two little slips of paper in there.  then we set to writing down what we could remember in retrospect to keep the practice going.  here are our respective good memories ~

him:
playing in the Ramones show
the beginning of wrestling season
new Logitech headset
getting Minecraft
new gaming keyboard & mouse
getting an 'A' in English
defeating Borderlands 2
defeating 99% of the side quests in Borderlands 2
Nintendo Switch

me:
first Friday Shabbat
'day of pampering' by local adult group - facial & pedicure done by willing male servants
my birthday full blood wolf supermoon eclipse planetary alignment snowstorm!
perimenopause
while the forced move sucked hard, the new place is good...ESPECIALLY THE HEAT!
Drum Gods (Teen's show)
Passover!
pics of the old place
lunch with C
Garage Rock (Teen's show)
buying legal weed
roast chicken & veggies
lots of great cooking - soups, naan, marinated chicken burrito things...
P7:  Planetarium - planetary/tarot workshop
Ramones! (Teen's show)
MILKSHAKE!!! (private joke between the Teen & I)
Hannukah!
new snowboots
new-to-me laptop
TALON (local band)
Firing Squad (local band)
The Adam Hendricks Experience NYE party (local band)
moving into a new 'me'
sharing traditions with my son

so, as is fitting for someone his age, the Teen's list is mostly about gaming, with a nod in the direction of his musical endeavors, and to his team sport.  I have no recollection of him getting an 'A' in English (neither does his report card), but I'll let it pass, because maybe he did at the time he put the slip in the jar.  it's too bad he didn't spend as much time making memories with friends this year as he did in the past, but we've been through some transitions in terms of our friendships this year, and the kids he hangs out with these days mostly interact through their computers, in the gaming world.  it bothers me that they don't spend as much time outside with each other as my friends and I did 'back in the day', but it's a different world, and I'm doing my best to roll with it.  though my need for him to interact with people 'in real life' was the impetus for me making him come out to the show we attended last night, and he not only had a good time listening to great music, he had fun hanging out with one friend in particular, and got lots of positive reinforcement from the other kids he knows who were also at the gig that they not only enjoy his company, but they also appreciate his musical ability, and like playing music with him.  one of the kids in the band said that if he knew my son was coming to the show, he'd have asked him to do a song with them.  so sweet! 

for myself, I enjoyed making the effort to mark the Jewish Sabbath each week by having what we called 'Friday Night Dinner' in my parents' house growing up, which I managed to continue throughout the year, with a few exceptions for the Teen's gigs and sporting events.  the 'pampering event' was held just before my 50th birthday, so it was nice to have taken that opportunity to get a bit of attention paid to myself, as I'm not in a financial position to be able to visit a spa, so this was the best I could do, and it was indulgent enough to satisfy that desire.  and while ultimately, I spent my milestone birthday at home during a snowstorm, I had the foresight to pack in the supplies I needed to make it fun, and I enjoyed the crazy energy of it a great deal.  you may have noticed that I added perimenopause to my good memories - that's because I'm Really Enjoying not getting my period every month anymore, and while that makes it all the more annoying when it does show up, it's been a Great transition for me, and a reminder to pay more attention to certain aspects of who I am as I age, and live in tune with who I'm still becoming.  more women should feel encouraged to embrace this time in their lives with joy, in my opinion - it's truly magical!

moving out of our home of 5 years because the State took over the property we lived on through eminent domain was a rough blow, and a hard patch to navigate that nearly drove me over the edge, but we survived it, and have settled into our new place as well as 'transients' like ourselves can manage.  the Teen is still in the same school, which is really all I hoped for out of the whole situation, and the apartment is nice, if out of our price range (the State was required to help me out with rent and bills, as there were no apartments that I could afford available to rent at the time they needed us to move, so...I don't feel like this story is over, but we're enjoying it while we can).  even still, we did manage our first Passover Seder, such as it was, and it was good enough for us.  also, since we were going to be moving, I made sure to take hundreds of pictures of the gorgeous flowers, trees, and shrubs that we had lived with during our time on that property, as well as the river, and as many of the animals as I could before they're all destroyed and/or displaced.

my son once again played in a variety of Rock Academy shows, which I enjoy to no end - they are so much fun to attend, especially when our friends manage to come out and join me on the dance floor!  it seems so weird to me that I only managed to have lunch with one friend this entire year, and I'd like to make sure to spend more quality time with people I care about in the future.  buying legal cannabis might not seem all that special to many, but given the history of prohibition in this country, and the war that has been waged against people of color as a result of it, being able to walk into a store and purchase recreational marijuana was Huge for me - I'll have to find the time and money to do it again!  I cooked up a lot of good food this year, moving slowly and steadily towards my becoming more competent in the kitchen, and developing my skills in not only the cooking of foods, but of planning healthy and delicious meals for us more frequently, and with increasing ease.  another highlight of my year was being gifted a one-week workshop in studying planetary energies, and working with them through dreams and tarot - a kind of work I used to do more regularly, but fell out of practice with as the pressures of earning a living while single-parenting took over most of my life, and squeezed out most of my hobbies and interests for those of my child.  it was wonderfully renewing, and a large step towards remembering who I was before I was 'Mom', and helping to center me into my new 'becoming' as a woman past her childbearing years - what I like to call 'croning'.

'MILKSHAKE!!!" is a joke that happened between the Teen and I after one of his performances that made us both laugh hysterically for longer than was necessary, so while it's a bit inappropriate, it's funny to us, and definitely deserves a place on our list, because that kind of sheer silliness is an absolute necessity in our lives, and I fully support inappropriate raucous laughter as long as it isn't hurting anyone.  for Hannukah this year, we both got gifts that we wanted and needed, and those gifts brought us both joy, which is also something I support experiencing as often as possible, and I appreciate that my friends were willing to step in and help us out with the funds we needed to attain some of those gifts for ourselves (charity and kindness are also endeavors I readily support).  I was also able to attend several shows recently of local bands that I really enjoy listening to and seeing perform, and I feel thankful for being able to share that with my son, too.  more of that in the new year, hopefully, as well!  finally, I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to have built up some traditions for my son to look back on, and hopefully appreciate both now, and when he (someday) has a family of his own.  we have such a strong bond, and even though his teenagey-ness sometimes works my last nerve, I'm really proud of who he is, and the person he continues to become, and it's sometimes hard to believe that he's so awesome because of the ways I've chosen to make him a priority in my life, even though I constantly wish I could do more for him, or that we had more money, or that he had an active father in his life.  all I can do is press on, and keep doing what I can, and do my best to do even better. 

I know a lot of people who had a really awful year, and are happy to see 2019 dead and buried, but all in all, it could have been a lot worse - even given the stress of our move - and I feel like I experienced a lot of growth in positive directions, which is always welcome.  so, the best of everything to everyone reading, and I hope you have a great 2020 - I'm already looking forward to a visit from a long-term friend whom I haven't seen in decades in a few weeks, my next birthday, and the Teen's 16th (oh boy...).  Happy New Year, all!  Baxtalo Nevo Bersh! 


Memory Jar posts past:
2014
2015
2016
2017 
2018

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

National Indigenous People's Day of Mourning vs. American Thanksgiving vs. Something Else Entirely

what an eye-opening visit I had with an old 'friend' recently - probably someone I'll be crossing off my list of people to visit when I have free time to play with in town!  as we've had more than enough Universal signs pointing to this being an important year for all of us to sever ties that don't serve us as we journey ever more fully into ourselves, it also comes as a staunch reminder of how the community I live near is decidedly toxic for me, and how I need to really and truly let go of any remaining connections I had to a small circle of people I used to know who also migrated to this area from other locales.  here's the set-up:  I tend to stop in uninvited to this particular person's house every few months, and just this week, I ended up having about 2.5 hours unaccounted for in my schedule as my commitments took less time than I thought, so I took the opportunity to do a little visiting.  was that my first mistake?  leaving unaccounted time in my schedule?  or stopping by someone's house uninvited?  here's what I puzzled out about it when considering how I would feel if that person (or any person I considered a friend or closer acquaintance) showed up at my door uninvited at 5:30pm; it might be a bit weird, initially, as it's dark this time of year, and everyone is so up into their electronic devices (and who even goes visiting anymore other than me), but I would invite them in, and into whatever activity I was involved in at the time.  the people I had dropped in on appeared to be watching a program or video that they shut off when I showed up, and when I asked what they were watching, they said it was something about whether or not the national November holiday - which many people still refer to as "Thanksgiving", and I call "National Indigenous People's Day of Mourning" - is racist.  "Ah!"  I said, "that's a hot issue, now, isn't it?"  and asked them what they do during the 'holiday', and why.

"you guys mind if I chill here for a few hours?"

for them, like for many people, it's a day of the year when families have traditionally gotten together for generations, to eat particular foods, and enjoy each other's company - an innocuous harvest festival, for the most part, celebrated by many people for both secular and religious reasons, across a range of dates.  so how and when did it become so politicized?  turns out, the American holiday is rooted in English Christian tradition, dating back to religious rifts in the church during the 16th century, mostly as a way to replace the ever-increasing number of 'holy days' on their calendar (and probably limit the amount of time servants had to be allowed to attend services).  these early 'feasts of thanksgiving' were usually celebratory responses to a victory in battle, or some other event where folks just felt like being thankful to whatever god/s they worshiped, and the colonizers of the United States brought this tradition along with them in their bag of tricks when they violently took over the Native Americans' land.  there is still much debate over where and when the first thanksgiving feast was held in America, with claims of a Spanish religious service being held in what is now Florida as early as 1565, and the ones in Virginia (1619) and Massachusetts (1621) being the famous misrepresentations for our current narrative, which had their respective histories whitewashed for generations, leaving out the parts that showed the settlers to be brutal murderers, and promoting the nonsense that has been taught in American schools ever since (that the Pilgrims and Natives shared a lovely meal, and everyone lived happily ever after - except not).  there was a feast of thanksgiving held after the Continental Congress enacted the Constitution in 1787, and the 'first national thanksgiving' was proclaimed by George Washington in November of 1789.  it makes me wonder about that supposed separation between church & state that was written into our Constitution just two years earlier, and even though it was considered a secular event, the name of 'god' was invoked in order to further push the agenda that all success was due to 'outside forces', which must surely indicate the spiritual superiority of the 'victors', and so must be acknowledged by showing gratitude to said 'higher power'.  apparently, some politicians from back in the day agreed with me about that particular hypocrisy, and some even saw it as an unwelcome declaration from 'the North', indicative of the long history of regional tensions between those above and below the Mason-Dixon line (the demarcation line between Maryland and Pennsylvania, showing the boundary between states that allowed slavery, and states that didn't, in 1767) .

depiction of the Pequot Massacre, 1637

all that said, "Thanksgiving" in its current iteration was midwifed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 (in the midst of the Civil War), after decades of Ms. Sarah Josepha Buell Hale hounding everyone in government to do so via letters, and publishing poems, stories, and recipes that supported her vision for a national holiday in the popular 'ladies magazine' she edited.  it was only in 1941 when FDR - in a bid to extend the holiday shopping season - signed the resolution to establish the current date (the fourth Thursday in November) as a federal holiday across the entire US that we eventually arrived at the modern 'celebration' we know and love/loathe today, depending on your perspective.  for the above-mentioned 'friend' I dropped in on, it has been a day for them, as a parent to several children with different partners, to have all their kids (and sometimes one or more of the partners) together in one place, for a hearty meal.  and there's nothing wrong with that, is there?  for me, being 'cut off' from my family of origin the way I am, there are NO holidays that I celebrate with any blood relatives other than my own child, so I don't really care about That particular aspect of the traditional feast...also, being Jewish, I have no connection to any English or Christian feast or fast days, and the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot happened back in mid-October, and is celebrated with foods and rituals indigenous to the Middle-East (though living in America, we do include indigenous American foods in our practices).  my people emigrated to the US from Europe in order to escape religious persecution in the same way the early settlers and colonists claimed to, the difference being that we didn't rape and murder millions of indigenous people, or force our religion onto them, in order to do it.  we were running from our own genocide, to be sure, yet I am well aware of how assimilated Jews have contributed to the racist and oppressive systems that continue to pervade our institutions, systems, and relationships - it's hard to be well-educated, and not accept that reality, however hard it may be to recognize our complicity.  in any case, this "American Thanksgiving" wasn't something my Romanian/Romani/Israeli father was overly familiar with, and I think that's why it hardly registers to me as anything other than a break in the school year, or a day off of work (if you're lucky enough to work at a job that doesn't require your presence for the gross display of mass consumption everything in America has become).

maybe give a little bit of yourself - take time to play a game with your family at home during the 'gift-giving' season.  bake cookies, make art together, sing songs, make memories by engaging in enriching activities together...

as a young adult living on my own, I never bothered with the national Thanksgiving holiday - I hardly had an oven to cook a meal in, let alone all that 'traditional' nonsense.  I usually had to work, or was happy to have a day off to catch up on some sleep!  during the years that I had a 'home' to go to, it became the horrible emotional roller-coaster for me that it is for many who are less than welcome at family gatherings for myriad reasons.  in my case, one of those reasons was my growing moral imperative to address the feast as the impetus for the genocide it became for the people whose stolen land I feel duty-bound to acknowledge we live on, even though my mother's people came here to avoid similar fates in their own lands (my dad's people went to Israel, and later to Canada - another nation with much the same issues as the US in regards to the indigenous people who live there).  social media can also make it harder, serving up a stream of pictures of people gathering together with loved ones, while I'm home alone with my kid, trying not to internalize the feeling of there being something inherently 'wrong' with us because no one wants us at their table - not that I'd feel good about going anywhere other than a memorial service for the murdered...  once I became aware of the true story of the colonial-settler-genocide this day commemorates, I couldn't in good conscience 'celebrate' anything about it, and in lieu of any local non-colonial-settler-genocide commemorations to attend (that I am aware of), my tradition with my son has become to light a yahrtzeit candle (Jewish memorial candle) in honor of National Indigenous People's Day of Mourning, wherein we eat whatever we feel like eating, and watch Native American centered movies.  when the rest of the national consciousness catches up with my understanding of how horribly the marginalized original people of this land feel about the 'celebrations' of their attempted murder, maybe I'll celebrate that.  I know change takes time, and I look forward to when it comes for this holiday (and many others like it).  it has nothing to do with me, and I don't need it.

this is where I got the name 'National Indigenous People's Day of Mourning'.  they've been trying to get us to notice these issues since the beginning of my life - I think it's time more of us listened to them.

so what does any of that have to do with my dropping in on someone who has to ask whether or not the day of feasting is racist?  well, I have a little bit of a problem with people who can't see past their own desires to continue to whitewash history, especially when they're the kind of people I expect to know better, because of their self-proclaimed 'advanced spiritual mindset' (remember that point from earlier in this essay?  how the colonizers saw themselves as being favored by their 'god' because they mostly succeeded in their murderous endeavors?).  I mean, how can you claim to be more 'spiritually-advanced' than the next guy, when the next guy is a Native American telling you how they feel on the third Thursday of every year while watching white people continue to eat the traditional foods they themselves have been disconnected from, while inventing narratives about what good friends we all were back in the day, before the colonizers tried to kill them all?  sure thing, man - take some more ayahuasca, and appropriate some more cultural ceremonies that aren't yours to claim (hint:  if the cops and paramedics get called out to your 'ceremony', perhaps you're doing it wrong).  for sure - I get having a day when you get to have all your kids together at once, but think about why you get that, why you need that, and what information you're passing on, given the opportunity to have a family discussion around sensitive, yet ultimately important, issues.  look into where your own family traditions come from, and decide whether or not they're worth carrying on.  look into your own ancestral history, and see if there isn't a celebration that makes more sense for you to connect with.  make up your own holiday, and share that with your family!  or take a moment to honor the people who died so you could have a place to spread your whiteness around.  yeah, I know...I'm white too, but I do my part to call out my fellow Jews and Roma on these points as well.  and there's plenty of stuff I get wrong and need to correct for - this just doesn't happen to be one of them.  aside:  also, I'm pretty sure people who are ever so spiritually enlightened ought, in my opinion, be more actively involved in promoting inclusivity through building community, rather than practicing exclusivity based on jealousy and petty rivalries, or socioeconomic status.

quote from a great article I read in Bitch media's Travel issue last summer - read the full piece here.

as to me turning up unannounced, etiquette begs several questions, and the mixed signals I got from the person in question wouldn't help me answer them, though I'm smart enough to figure it out on my own.  first off, I have known this person for 30 odd years, through two of their relationships (one with another former friend), and all through most of their children's lives.  I am often received with a hug, and a "come on in", though this last time I got the feeling I wasn't welcome.  if that was the case, I would have expected this person to know me well enough and/or feel comfortable enough to tell me it wasn't a good time, that they simply weren't in the mood to receive guests, or that they would prefer if I called before dropping in (or even that they would prefer I didn't drop in at all).  none of those responses would have hurt my feelings, and I would have found some other way to amuse myself for the 2 hours I had left to wait to pick up my son from his rehearsal.  the bottom line is that the mood in the room began to feel awkward at the first conversational lull, and their body language made it obvious that they wanted to be doing other things.  I asked if it was ok for me to just stay while they 'did their thing', as it was cold out, and I didn't have anywhere else to go, to which they responded in the affirmative, but again, I felt weirdly unwelcome, so I chose to leave after a bit anyway.  there are plenty of reasons for me to recognize that this is a relationship better left in the past, and virtually none to support continuing it, hence it is ended.  again, moving forward, I'm only going where I'm celebrated, not where I'm barely tolerated.  of my labeling the town as toxic to me, I'm referencing the few people I know who live there, and make overtures of friendship, yet act in ways that are the opposite of what I consider friendly behavior, regularly.  not only that, one of them recently got angry when I mentioned that I had stopped trying with them, because they always find a last-minute excuse not to meet up, then don't make an attempt to reschedule...if that doesn't say "I don't want to hang out with you", I don't know what does!  so the onus is on me to do a better job of scheduling my time there fully, or making sure I have somewhere to be if I happen to have an hour here or there between scheduled plans because something didn't take as long as I thought it might.  I'd take it personally, but since the advent of cell phones and laptops, people just don't seem as interested in spending time with each other as they used to, which I think is a shame, because I like to visit with my friends, and take inspiration from the conversations we have, and appreciate the ways in which live interaction deepens our connections.  guess I'm just weird like that ~




sources:

https://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving

https://time.com/4577082/thanksgiving-holiday-history-origins/

https://www.businessinsider.com/history-of-thanksgiving-2017-11

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Thanksgiving-Day

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving

Friday, November 29, 2019

Dreams: 11.26ish.19

did I run into 'ex-boyfriend #3' at some fancy hotel place?  or did my friends orchestrate it?  but there he was, and it was freaking me out.  it made me so insecure, but also curious.  he tailed us for awhile, made sure I saw him, but didn't approach.  I went back to my room or wherever, and got a call to come down, or went to meet my friends...I don't know, but he was interested.  too interested.  why?  what did he want?  he was cool and calm about my apprehension, pursued me across what felt like days.  it was his place...I couldn't get away, because he kept offering more and more for free.  some jewels, a hair stick, whatever I wanted.  I agreed to meet him.  we talked, I asked after his mom (he/they were obviously on my mind because of that last post).  was there a reason he was called away?  did I get a chance to see him acting in some fashion that made me see him for who he was?  it wasn't Me he was after, just some unfinished creeper business (last night's conversation with a friend about past relationships).  I ran up a staircase hung with metal items that caught at me, up to a big window that showed the dark night outside, and the gentle rain.  I ran.  I ran to edge of wherever I was, to a grassy field, with some fancy green writer's retreat type cabins (stopping in at our 'old place' yesterday) next to it, and I realized he owned it all - that something about that field made me realize his plan, and my place in it.  that I was going to go into one of them, and write a book.
---
someone or something in my current life is bringing up feelings similar to the ones I felt in that relationship - a freer and less encumbered time where the responsibilities of adulthood did not interfere with the spontaneity of romance - but I've moved on, and it's time to have new relationships.  there are neglected aspects of my personality that need attention in order to resolve myself towards moving on.  instead of putting up a facade/hiding my true self/trying to divert attention to unimportant things, there is a new state of mind or shift in personal identity - a transition, a moving away from old habits, and old ways of thinking.  aspects of my personality that I have rejected are ready to incorporate and acknowledge some positive news.  also shows unhappiness with the amount of friends that I have right now, as I want to feel accepted by others, though I'm not necessarily comfortable with that situation because I need to get to know people before I trust them.  in refusing to acknowledge a certain viewpoint or idea, or someone trying to make me conform to their ideals (a particular aspect of me, or a relationship), I'm feeling somewhere between satisfied and repressed.  bringing myself closer to the feminine, or opportunities I may have.  messages from my subconscious, or telepathy about confronting issues I've been avoiding, indicates the difficulty I'm having with communication, and relationships with others.  I'm also rewarding and recognizing my giving and generous nature, which I hold in high esteem.  I know my value, and I'm proud of myself, and in knowing my self-worth and good traits (in terms of status, personal value, knowledge, identity, and qualities I hold precious), I need to acknowledge the importance of spiritual and psychological riches, and incorporate those corresponding qualities.  in bringing awareness to hierarchy, authority, and charm in my life, as well as clues to relationships and status, I also bring a refusal to be tied by the neck, or have a self-inflated ego.  I am open to new ideas, and always ready to show a new me - I am loyal, vital, devoted, and manage to overcome negative feelings.  I treasure my attributes and values, as I have high expectations.  the way I find resolution to a conflict or problem shows my subconscious working in accordance with my consciousness, which is suggesting that I should redirect myself towards more productive endeavors, and that I need to further accept and incorporate various aspects of Self.  my fear of abandonment, added to the feeling of not measuring up to expectations, are factors in my long-term trust and/or self-esteem issues.

I'm leaving behind what is hindering my growth - unresolved childhood issues, feelings of neglect/being overlooked, and a need for more support and security.  there is more inner-child work to be done.  there are issues I'm trying to avoid, or actions I'm not taking or accepting responsibility for - such as facing or confronting my fears.  I could also be showing determination in going after what I want.  there is evidence to suggest I am emerging from a negative or depressed situation (a higher level of understanding, rational thinking and objectivity, holding myself in high regard).  there is change and transformation.  I am achieving the higher levels; making spiritual, emotional, and material progress.  my strength and character lead me through the inhumane sides of society, which also suggest a healthy libido and sexual desire.  I feel let out of a stuck situation, and though I am still somewhat blocked or trapped in my perception or vitality, I remain open to new experiences.  my point of view/outlook on life/consciousness (my intuition and awareness) find me reflecting on a decision about something that frightens me (the unknown), or that I'm not ready to face, as I appear unclear on how to move forward.  while I may suffer major setbacks and obstacles, death begets rebirth, reflection, and new beginnings.  the mysterious and dark unconscious...a yearly crisis that requires deep and painful sacrifice before enlightenment.  more calling out for integration.  renewal, devotion, love, and rebirth balanced by depression, sadness, built up emotion.  forgiveness and grace is what's needed - tears crying sadness/vs./fertility and renewal.  spiritual ideas and insights are being brought to my awareness (fortune and love).  there is a need to 'hurry up and act', even though I'm anxious about the situation at hand - time is running out.  it's possible an achievement or goal has been reached; that bad times are ending, and something new is beginning (great abundance, freedom and happiness, a period of personal growth).  though there's a part of myself I can always rely on for natural protection, I tend to look at what others have (grass in greener) through the lens of envy and lust.  on the one hand, I'm reading symbols of positive change, such as good health, growth, vitality, healing, hope, fertility, vigor, peace, serenity, a big "go" sign, environmental consciousness, money, wealth, and a striving to gain recognition and establish my independence.  on the other hand, I am also inexperienced  and can similarly read less positive symbols such as jealousy, materialism, deceit, difficulty sharing, and a need to balance my male/female energies. there is a desire for a simple home/life/situation.  in terms of my own soul/self, I seem concerned with outward appearances, though in entering a new phase with more emotional maturity, I'm also dealing with feelings of rejection/insecurity/being left behind.  I am driven by a need to express thoughts, free association, bringing the unconscious to the surface (communicating with others or my own conscious mind), or refers to an error in judgement or mistake that that I've made.  I may need to learn something new (what I need to examine), which may represent my calling to a specific field of work, or an area that I need to devote more study to.

---

and more of the same last night - not an ex-boyfriend, but some nebulous man-character.  perhaps a hook-up, perhaps the boy, even?  dismissing me, after having a night or so of fun.  college environment, so it was in front of others where I was being dismissed and embarrassed, belittled and hurt.  packing a backpack for a camping trip, while dude made it abundantly clear we were done (recent loss of people I had thought of as friends).

---

these dreams are about moving on, and about meeting the kinds of people who are already aligned with the consciousness I have developed over the years through a deep knowing of Who I Am, and What I Am Worth - which comes from my connection to a deep spirituality, and commitment to doing the serious and important (and sometimes painful) work of growing into higher and higher consciousness.  I have always been inspired by those around me, and at the moment, I don't have enough (or the right) people in my life to inspire me towards my goals.  I'm picky about who I allow near, because of deep childhood wounds, but I keep moving forward all the same, learning and growing.  some aspects of being a parent have brought up old wounds, and in being able to look at them, and speak (or write) about them, helps me heal from them, and move more gracefully into the life I want.  there is more work to be done (always), as I'm out here doing it on my own, unsupported...especially during this time of the year.  this constant renewal, and a recognition that my son will be looking to move away from me soon, makes me anxious for the decisions we will both need to be making in the near future, but I can and should be confident in my ability to make them for myself, and help him with his, even though I feel I've failed myself in the same situations in the past.  I often feel as if I had just played by society's rules and found a partner to hitch my wagon to, I'd have the security of the homes and relationships that I constantly witness from the outside, that look as if they would have given me a solid platform from which to succeed.  I'm also smart enough to know that I can reach a modest level of success without compromising my values and ideals, and that I can, and will, always continue to learn what it is I need in order to achieve what I desire.

Monday, November 25, 2019

I'm not as good a parent as people think I am, but I'm probably better at it than I think. (content warning for frank discussion of abortion, and swear words)

since many of my friends seem to think I'm 'god's gift to parenting' (joking, but lots of people tell me what a good mom I am pretty often), let me tell you how I came to it.

the first time I got pregnant, I was 22, living in Florida, with a bunch of us irresponsible young adults sharing a house together that was a filthy mess, and I had 50 pot plants growing in my closet.  my boyfriend was a self-possessed asshole who wanted to have sex with just about every woman he laid eyes on, so I thought long and hard about whether having a baby at that time, in that place, with him, was the right thing - while my idiot boyfriend spent a lot of time screaming at me that I COULDN'T have it, that he wasn't ready to 'ruin his life', and I had no right to ruin it for him.  he tore my favorite tapestry into shreds and kicked the door off the house to illustrate his sincerity, at which point, one of our roommates came into our room, yelled at the boyfriend to leave me alone, and took me off to Key West for the weekend, where we slept on a beach, and woke to discover that we had laid our blankets out on a massive field of goose shit.  after spending the morning in the laundromat washing our blankets and clothes before wandering around town not able to go in anywhere because we were barefoot, we headed back to the house where I devised a ritual involving two apples - one with an 'x' carved into it, and another with an 'o' - that I placed in a paper bag, and took with me to the ocean beach on a full moon. after communing with the waves and the night, and calling on the Goddess to help me choose, I reached into the bag, drew out an apple at random, and saw that it was the one with the 'x'.  I would have an abortion.  I ate that apple, tossed the other one into the ocean waves, and informed my crappy boyfriend that he needed to come up with half the money for the procedure.  he called his mommy, and she sent us the whole amount because, as she explained to me when I questioned her choice, "your instinct as a mother to save your children is very strong".  I told her he'd have been better 'saved' by having to get a job and come up with the money to take care of his responsibilities himself.  the roommate who took me to Key West drove me to the clinic where I was given a shot of demerol and valium, then had my uterus scraped out with an iced-tea spoon, and vacuumed.  after the drugs wore off enough, I was sent home to recover in my own bed.  I have a vague memory of the shmuck boyfriend sending his underage girl-crushes to keep me company, because I'm sure I didn't want to see him, but I sent them away, because eww.

the second time I got pregnant was not long after that (less than a year), after we three roommates had moved to New York, and I was so stupid, I was still 'dating' that asshole, even though he treated me like garbage, and cheated on me constantly.  he refused to believe it was even his (because if he was sleeping around, it meant I was, too, right?  wrong.).  I made an appointment with the abortion clinic straight away, and loser boyfriend made a big stink about having to take the day off of work from from his shitty, minimum wage job at the deli making sandwiches, to ride his bike to where I was living, to drive me - in my car - and pay his half for this second procedure (no calling mommy this time).  we had fun terrorizing the Jesus-freak protesters that were terrorizing the women trying to get into the clinic, but after having the same injection, and the same scraping and vacuuming, and he had driven me home (in my car), when he left to get to his all-important job, he did do a decent thing and called my best friend to tell him I had just had an abortion, and could probably use some company. my bestie did come over with his girlfriend, and they spent the afternoon with me, which was nice of them, and almost made forgive the boyfriend for being such an asshole.  I hope I broke up with him, then, but I probably didn't...I mean, I did eventually (obviously), but not that day.

I managed to not get pregnant for awhile after that - not until I started dating my most serious boyfriend to date, when I was 28 or so, who I got pregnant with in the first few months of our relationship. I was furious at him, and remember showing up at his house in the middle of the night to yell at him about it, and throw one of my wooden clogs at his head.  but he paid his half, and took me to Planned Parenthood to have my third abortion - I had just met this guy and started going out with him - I wasn't going to have his baby!  he sat anxiously in the waiting room because I told him I was going to make him come in and watch the process, but the clinicians who performed the procedure talked me out of it quickly by telling me that most men passed out during the process, and then they would have to deal with him and his nonsense, rather than tending to me and my needs, so why bother.  this procedure took place in Vermont, where they Don't knock you out, and I was a bit apprehensive, but the pain wasn't bad, and I made it through ok.  when I came back out afterwards and told this boyfriend that I was ready to go home, he had the deer in the headlights look to him, saying he'd been sitting there sweating it out, waiting for them to call him in, and I thought 'good, that's fine with me'. we broke up for awhile after that, but then moved back in together, and I got pregnant Again - I may have tried to convince my guy that we should have the baby and get married, but he was Not into that idea, so there was a fourth abortion, and another eventual break-up.

several years later, when I was 34, there was a murder-suicide involving two friends of ours in the small town we lived in, and I went to visit my now ex to tell him about it (he had moved a few towns away for work), and we coped with the stress by having sex.  guess what?  yeah...the orgasm went through me like a lightening bolt (like the lightening path through the Kabbalist Tree of Life) and I knew instantly that I was pregnant again.  I said as much to ex-boyfriend, but he didn't believe I could know that.  I continued to 'know that' for the next two weeks as I drove past Planned Parenthood every day, twice a day, on my ways to and from work, and I didn't want to go and get the pregnancy test until I knew for sure what I wanted to do about it (because I knew I was pregnant, you see).

I thought that on the one hand, I was pregnant with an ex-boyfriend who I cared about deeply, even though we had moved on from each other, and not some loser I picked up in bar for a one night stand.  I thought about what a good and decent person this guy is - his work ethic, his heath, his heart and soul, his music. I thought about how I used to tell myself that I would never have kids period, because I loved my freedom to move through life as I chose, and how a baby would ruin that for me - that I was selfish person and didn't much like kids on the whole.  I used to think that if I ever did choose to have a baby, I would only do so if I were married to the love of my life, and lived in a nice house with a picket fence, and the whole 1950's bullshit American dream story, and I also knew that my life was never going to look like that.  I didn't want another abortion, for fear of turning my womb into Swiss cheese, and I had had enough of death, and wanted to embrace life, so I chose to have my son.  he knows this story.  he knows that I was in no way prepared to have him, but that I CHOSE to. he was wanted.  I finally went to Planned Parenthood, got the pregnancy test, told them I was going for it on my own, and had them set me on the right path with a prescription for pre-natal vitamins, and lots of literature to read up on what was about to go down in my new life, as a 35 year old impoverished single mom.

my ex didn't ask to become a father.  my son didn't ask to be born.  it was chance, or circumstance, or coincidence, or synchronicity, or whatever you call it, but ultimately it was a choice I made that involved the lives of three people, two of which weren't me.  so I made another choice - I chose to let my son live his life the way he chooses.  I thought, 'if I'm going to bring a perfect, innocent being into this world for no reason other than not wanting to have another abortion because I was irresponsible about having sex without using proven birth control methods, than I was going to do my best to let that being lead me in knowing how to parent him'.  I saw/see my role as a sort of body guard - prevent the child from doing himself severe harm (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually), but past furnishing the basic necessities of life (food clothing shelter), mostly just asking open-ended questions to help him chose how to raise himself.  even on my best days, I manage to screw it up somehow, but the child is growing, learning, achieving, and making me so proud in general because he's such a great person.  not the smartest, the fastest, or the strongest, but smart enough to know what it means to be a decent person, fast enough to know slow and steady wins the race, and strong enough to shoulder his own burdens (of which, I hope there are very few). I've been lucky, in the sense that I was prone to saying that since 'the Universe is said to only give you what you can handle, than it gave me the world's easiest child to raise because it knew I wasn't up to the challenge of anything else'!

so, to all those folks who tell me what a great mom I am - I'm not.  I'm just a person who has a fair amount of resentment about some of the ways in which I was parented, and made some adjustment to what I think my parents did that worked, and what didn't.  like I said, I mostly let the growth process happen on it's own, and steered my kid away from things that might cause him bodily harm.  when he was a baby, I'd say "ah ah ah!" instead of "no", saving 'no' for truly life-ending dangers.  if he did something I liked, I would praise him in a high pitched voice - for something I didn't like, I'd use low tones.  I would pay attention to behaviors I wanted to see repeated, and ignore those I didn't.  it's kind of like training a dog, really...I am naturally creative, and would rather play inside my imagination that do most other things, so I was great at stimulating a growing baby's natural curiosity and wonder, but completely useless at teaching anything about how to shave, or, say, 7th grade math and science (I chose to leave that to professionals, with more or less success, given the individual educators).  in any case, if you're one of the folks who thinks my kid is great, then feel free to use these techniques yourself.  the BEST possible advice I can give to potential parents is this - DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN UNTIL YOU FEEL READY TO DO SO.  by that, I mean think about how ready you are to come so close to the edge of wanting to kill yourself and everyone else, including your children, and then somehow mange to Keep Your Cool and Not Do It, then maybe you can handle it.  now, I only had one kid, without a partner, so take that into account, too.  I didn't have another relationship I was trying to navigate while raising my child, and I can't imagine that's easy, let alone doing that with Multiple kids!  parenting is no joke (though it IS supremely important to laugh, a lot), if you plan to do it right, and never at any point do I think I'm doing it right.

and when I screw up, I APOLOGIZE.  that's really big too, because my mom, to this day, has Never apologized for any of the many things I could (and in some cases, have) legitimately ask her to apologize for.  just do your best to love them for all your worth.  treat kids like people because they are.  I have been asked, "why do you ask for your son's input on things?"  and I respond, "because he's a person, and has opinions, and I like to take that into account when making decisions that affect him".  I did this as soon as he was old enough to talk, and know his own mind...4?  maybe 5?  I mean, I didn't consult him about major life decisions, but I'd ask him what he wanted to eat, or wear, or how he wanted to wear his hair...or who he wanted to play with, or let touch him.  and by most accounts, he's a pretty great kid - a little goofy, always ready with a joke, but if that's the worst anyone can say of him, than that's not too shabby in my book, all credit to him.  also, Don't Have Unprotected Sex Unless You Are Ready And Willing To Live With The Possible Consequences.  that is all.  just keep it in your pants, and don't rush into anything you can't handle.  and just assume you can't handle parenting.  it's crazy out here ~