#metoo

metooI was reflecting last night on the #metoo movement. The number of women I know who have experienced sexual violence, unwanted advances, and nonconsensual sex outnumber the women who have not experienced it. That is NOT ok.

How is it that men feel so entitled to a woman’s body without her agreement?

How do I raise my daughter to stand in her power and my boys to never ever pressure someone for sex?

It started in Kindergarten for me I think. A little boy named Bobby flashed me his privates and tried to kiss me. I ran and told the teacher. Bobby got in trouble.

In Elementary school it was boys looking under the table at my legs, or truth or dare kisses that I didn’t want but I had no voice to say it.

I won’t go into all of the details but let’s just say that consent was not something I learned about until later in life.

Let me break it down for anyone who might not know.

No one has a right to a woman’s body. Take your advances, glares, comments, suggestions and desires and knock that shit off. No one wants to feel like an object, a piece of meat that someone else is entitled to devour. We are not your prize, a notch on your bedpost, a number in your little black book.

We are radiant women of God who will be respected, cared for, revered and IF we decide to share our bodies with you, you will treat us with respect, love, and kindness.

Oh, and we can change our mind anytime. It doesn’t matter if you bought dinner, or you are in a relationship, or it’s prom night. It is a consensual agreement. Everytime.

There is so much hurt walking around these days. So many women who have been mistreated. This stops today. It stops by speaking about it out loud, but educating our children, and just saying no to the media’s crazy portrayal of sex.

Love is supposed to be just that – loving, caring, kind, empowering, and supportive,.

I am teaching my kids this kind of love.

Because no young woman every should have to say #metoo again.

 

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Celebrating the little things

Today started with a radio interview downtown about the importance of funding education. I walked past beautiful murals in the alleyway, my coffee steaming as I strolled past the European shoe store and the local bakery. The homeless women they call blonde was having a vibrant conversation with the universe, the glass door on the station was smashed and covered with duct tape, “someone got frustrated after leaving the bar Thursday night”, the station manager said.

The interview went well (I think).

Next I headed to the grocery store where I took a little extra time for shopping. A small gift to myself. I treated myself to fresh flowers, a grapefruit, and cilantro. Then picked up an extra bouquet for the family who had my son over for a sleepover last night. It was such a nice experience, like looking through a magazine, it seems luxurious.

I picked up the sweet boy, delivered flowers to a happy friend, visited a delightful cat we are caring for this weekend, and came home with bunches of groceries.

The tall girl roasted chick peas, the little one and I made a basil, tomato, cucumber and the middle one cleaned out the fridge and did the dishes while singing the favorite song of the moment.

Next we went to a birthday party for a 10 year old child. Balloons, piñata, and my new favorite game bananagrams. We immediately went to Target and bought it.

Then off to the last elementary school carnival. With three kids in school, I have been volunteering and driving across town for about 10 years. Cheers to being almost done with that!

A ton of fun was had by all.

On our drive home I asked for a volunteer to help me make dinner. Not surprisingly, no one did, it was like crickets. Post lecture about helping when asked as a sign you love the person, I had a volunteer.

We worked together to make barbecue chicken, salad, and mango sorbet. Light, fresh and colorful, just like summer that is slowly arriving.

It’s moments like this that add up to a beautiful day. Yesterday, I wrote about creating comfort for oneself. Today, was a very good step in the right direction.

Remember to celebrate the little things, it creates joy in the moment and adds up over time to create happiness, we just have to pay attention.

Get it together, or at least a few steps in that direction

I totally thought my parents had it together when I was a kid. I ate food everyday, I slept a reasonable amount and had clothing to wear. We weren’t rich but we had enough.

These days, I look around at my friends and it seems like we are all overworked and overtired. We drive 5 hours so our kid can play in a volleyball tournament, cheer loudly, fill up water bottles, come home and start work the next day.

We budget and worry and calculate and measure to make sure there is enough for everyone.

We are getting more gray hair, texting at stoplights, and can’t find any clean socks.

I imagine there are different, better ways to do this. And I’m setting out on an adventure to figure out how. How to fall in love with your life, kids, partner, health, work and friends. How to travel, like actually save up and do it, not just set aside $25 a month and then in a pinch transfer those funds to cover groceries. How to live within our means, use what we have and slow it down enough that we don’t spend money on just being busy.

Step 1 go to sleep. Early. There is no magic show or Facebook post that is going to change your life. You are the only one who can do that. So get some flipping sleep.

Step 2 laugh, like for real. Tell your kids to tell you one of their ridiculous jokes, watch anything with Melissa McCarthy or Ellen. Just let loose for a minute. The laundry-dishes-bills-homework-dinner can wait until you have a good belly chuckle.

Step 3 acquire beauty. Pick a flower, buy yourself some new flowers, a dress, a kitchen towel, a new pair of earrings. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it is beautiful to you, go for it.

Step 4 get yourself a date. With your partner, friend, kid, yourself. The point is to set aside some time for you to be with someone special.

Step 5 repeat. Repeat, and add new steps to this recipe. It doesn’t matter which order, just go for it and repeat. And for the love, add some flare to it. Get your groove going, whatever that is for you.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to put on my India Aire Album, eat all of the orange M-n-Ms, and paint my toes.

Enjoy doing whatever it is that reminds you that you are a beautiful, radiant, imperfect but perfect in your own way, work of art. And your painting starts right here.

Mama love,
T

Finding your center

Depositphotos_32107507_l-2015Sometimes, we all get a little lost.

Sometimes it’s lost in love – with a partner or a new baby.

Sometimes it’s lost in grief – from the passing of a loved one or the letting go of a big dream.

Sometimes it’s busyness that we lose ourselves in – the bills, work, volunteering, kid schedules.

Easy to do. The question is, how do you find your center?

It’s different for everyone. Some write books, others travel, some change jobs or relationships or hobbies.

For me it’s about the little things. Making small changes that add up to big results.

This morning, for example, I woke up early and cleaned my room. The floor began to take on an obstacle course vibe with shoes and clothes, everywhere. Sure, I was out of town quite a bit, then a volleyball tournament for my daughter, but regardless it was a disaster. I didn’t realize it, but subconsciously it said I had sort of given up. There was too much to do so, why even try. As it turns out, it didn’t really take that long and now, I am able to sit in a chair with my mom’s favorite pink blanket on my lap as I write. All because of a little tidying that made the whole room open up with possibility.

Yesterday, I decided to sit down and write, for the first time in a couple of years since my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away in 4 months ago, and I just haven’t been able to write words about it or anything really. I decided to just sit down and see what happened. I wrote a post called what words do you say? . It wasn’t easy but after a while, it just sort of flowed. It was healing and rewarding to see that I could still do it. Tonight, I was inspired to write as well. Again, a little step, but in a lovely direction.

If you are looking to make a change in some area, what little thing can you do? It could be in the direction of a certain goal – take a walk if you are looking to get in shape, prepare a new recipe if you want to expand your cooking skills, call a loved one if you want more closeness in your life. Or maybe just do something fun or frivolous – but something that says to you, I am awesome, I matter, I am loved.

Blessings on your journey, it all starts with just one step. Happy travels. Oh and don’t forget to laugh. It’s contagious.

cupcake

To the season 

The morning is crisp, 

cool air and soft pinks fill the horizon,

as birds awaken us to the day. 

Light drops of rain welcomed, 

after the fiery heat of a dry summer. 

The leaves on our favorite tree 

turn from vibrant green to a warm gold. 

The season of autumn begins. 

School supplies purchased, 

backpacks packed, 

children return to their studies. 

Lazy hours at the lake replaced by 
routines, 

volleyball games 

and steaming soups in the kitchen.

Fall arrives with intentions

let go, 

slow down, 

family, 

hearth and home. 

Vacations are done for now, 

short sleeves turn into long

as we welcome the new season. 

Bittersweet yet beautiful, 

the summer heat 

simmers instead of burns.

Thoughts of knitting, 

pumpkins, Thanksgiving, 

and gratitude fill the imagination.

Always gratitude. 

As the season changes, 

we express love to the summer for its many gifts 

and move into 

the season of harvest and gratitude. 

I raise my glass of tea, 

to the season of summer, thank you. 

To the season of autumn, welcome.

Balancing act 

I don’t seem to know how to write much these days. My mom has cancer and she is living with us now. Each day is totally different. I wake up in the morning and check on her and the day starts from there. I administer pain pills or talk finances or give hugs, then wake up the kids and take them to their various places. By the time I get to work sometimes I feel like I’ve had a full day already. 

She’s off to chemo today with a friend. She doesn’t feel well already but is determined to go. God Bless her strength and determination. 

I don’t know how to do this, I’ve never done it before. I see my self care slipping by the wayside with everyone else’s needs. I haven’t seemed to figure out how to get enough quiet, sleep, good food and exercise while managing all of these factors. Instead it’s been slow strolls, grabbing salads for lunch, coffee on the way to work, and ice cream before bed. I have goals of exercise first thing in the morning and bedtime routines that foster sleep, those goals are a work in progress these days. 

I read once that if you want to change something in your life you should live by the 5% rule. Do something 5% more or less each day. Get on the treadmill for 5 minutes if that’s what you have, do a little bit of straightening the house, have sorbet instead of ice cream. But then do that 5% consistently and add on as you can. 

So that’s my goal for today, be 5% more loving to myself, with a gentle walk, and some self compassion.

Balancing all of these factors is a challenge. Another way of saying that is… balancing all of these factors is an opportunity for growth. I choose opportunity. And I choose to be loving to my wonderful family and to myself, one moment at a time. 

The Warrior’s Walk

I’ve been reflecting on the word warrior lately. It seems I know quite a few. 

One might think that a warrior looks like a big strong man with armor and a mission to save the kingdom, and that may be true, but they also appear in different forms. 

Here are a few- 

Warrior of Light- I am honored to know a women who stands for love and light.  She stands at the alter every morning praying for her loved ones and the world. She has challenges just like the rest of us, but she slices anything not of the light with her Excalibur sword. 

Recently she has been faced with the loss of her partner and the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. She has handled both of these with more grace than I have ever imagined possible. Her motto is “love’s victory” and she marches streadfastly towards healing with the strength of a thousand angels. Darkness does not have a chance around this warrior. She is my mother. 

Warrior of Truth- Another warrior appeared in our lives this week. Her knowledge and kindness unparalleled. She is the heroine stories are written about. She road into a situation when all looked dark and brought hope. She’s traversed obstacles like medications, pallatative care, and transportation to doctors appointments swiftly and with ease. She is weaving together a comfort quilt for a loved one with so much care and honor. She is unstoppable. She is my aunt. 

Warrior of Love- I know a warrior who has been fighting against injustice for decades. When he speaks, people listen. When he writes, people buy books to hear how to be more engaged in their lives and with the youth of today. He has returned home from this travels of late and walked back into my life with determination. “Whatever you need” he keeps saying, and proves it with pizza deliveries, neck rubs, light saber battles with teenagers, listening ears and open arms. He is a man of honor and deep love. He is my hero. 

Warrior of the Earth- This friend has been committed to being the earth’s protector for many years. She has studied ecology, planted roots, taught children to care for our planet and volunteered to serve at risk youth through growing good food. Most recently she set up a meal train for a family going through a tough time. She is an inspiration to me. She is my friend.

These warriors all carry missions of hope. They are strong and look obstacles directly in the face and say “I am here to fight for what is right”. They are a constant inspiration to me and I am honored to be walking with them, onward. 

I am a different person

oak-trees-18Sometimes we have to crash face first over the bicycle rails to see things clearly. Metaphorically, I did that recently. It wasn’t fun. But then, I picked myself up and said to myself, I am starting a new life. I life lived in balance and in love.

I am brave.

I am in charge of my life. The schedule or the kids needs do not control me.

I am raising three kids by myself. And that hurts and it’s hard. But I am not going to run myself into the ground any more to avoid the pain. I am going to sit with it and let it move through me, like waves on the beach. And I will rise, perhaps a little drenched but free.

I am doing my best. I have recently learned that I was going way too fast (hence the crash). Now that I know better, I can do different.

It won’t be easy, this new habit and lifestyle of slowing down enough to feel. And yet, I am ok with that. Because, this, right here, is the messy, beauty of life.

I will not hide from the wind as it rushes, past bringing stories of old and fears on its tails. I will stand, like the mighty oak tree and let it blow through my branches. Yes, the leaves with rustle, yes the rain will wash down my smooth bark and still, I will stand.

I will stand, rooted in life, love, God and the knowing that I am a different person than I was before.

 

reboot

You know how those wise computer people say to turn off your computer on the weekends so it can reboot and install updates? Well, I kinda learned that this week.

While I’ve started this post with computer references, let me just go on record and say I know nothing about computers and this, as with all of my posts, is about life, and figuring it out (or at least attempting too).

I have had a lot going on for awhile. Let me illustrate:

I’ve been a single mama of three hella bright precocious children for 10 years.

My beautiful, inspiring mom was diagnosed with cancer last year and is fighting with the strength of 1000 warriors.

I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit Educational Organization. I raised $400,000 in 4 meetings last week (woot!).

My daughter is graduating from 8th grade and plays club volleyball which has us all over the region every weekend.

All of my kids are musical, they take piano lessons, play guitar, sing in choirs, etc.

My two boys…one is building a rocket on the dining room table as I write, the other one is at grampa’s house, helping him make gluten free bread.

(When I write all of this, it looks ridiculous. Like hello, one person is not capable of doing all of this!)

So anyways, I started not feeling well a few days ago. I’m anemic and I thought it was that. Turns out after a long day in ER that my stress was so high, my heart created an irregular rhythm to try to deal with it. Oh.

The ER doctor gave me a letter that said, no work until next Tuesday. Huh.

So, I came home (by that I mean my dad drove me home) and sat on the couch, for a long time. My dad made dinner, and I worked on chilling the heck out.

I started with working on my belly breathing (thanks yoga) and figuring out what I can take off my list. I decided to send my daughter to the volleyball tournament this weekend with another family. I asked my dad to take the boys for the weekend. I wrote and I wrote and I cried and I breathed. I started to feel much better. Today, I feel pretty much back to normal.

This was a wake up call. I have been running for so long without stopping that my operating system was thinking about getting out of whack. Hence, the reboot.

Today, after I said goodbye to my daughter, I had a huge meltdown. She is getting older and I have 4 years with her before she graduates and takes on the world herself. Time is so precious. As I sat there with the tears pouring onto my hoodie, I felt like such a failure. Failing at doing all of the things I want to do. Failing at self care and being a good mom and spending enough time with my kids, my mom, my dad, my friends. Failing at holding it all together.

And then I remembered something a dear friend said to me once, she said, “Tanya, why are you being so hard on yourself? If this was happening to a friend of yours or one of your kids, you would wrap them up in your arms, tell them how much you love them and how capable they are. Do that for yourself.” Oh.

Another friend said, “it’s not you that is broken, it’s the system. The go all the time, crazy rush of American life.” Oh. 

So, it is with self compassion I say to myself, “you’ve come a long way baby. You deserve a break to slow down and reboot. Welcome it with open arms, it’s a message and you need to hear it.”

So, the rebooting starts. I will be offline, in nature, with loved ones and learning how to sustain and balance this precious life. 

Take care of yourself. Reboot if needed. Breathe and repeat. You’ve got this. And do do I. 

Time 

The hourglass,

The seasons,

Timelines and deadlines,

Graduations 

Beginnings and endings. 

Time sees all.

Occasionally I think I can control and affect time, 

But then I realize she is a force all her own. 

“It goes so fast”, people say. Others have “all the time in the world”.

I mostly say “I want more time”. With loved ones, to create poetry and art, to move my body. 

How do we create more time? Is there an answer the this mystic question?

I don’t know. 

But today, I will say how grateful I am for time.  

To be, laugh, rest, inspire, love and imagine. 

To grow, live, empower and adventure. 

I will acknowledge time as my ally in this walk.

With intention and grace I will continue to balance priorities,

and embrace time, 

as a friend.