I’m Not The Mom Who Makes Halloween Costumes: A Story of Self-Acceptance (new on Parent.co)

Very scary spooks on Halloween

In preparation for Halloween, I didn’t wonder if this would be the year I finally learn how to use a sewing machine. I didn’t visit the craft store, hoping to be hit with creative inspiration as I stood in the aisles staring at rows of feathers and beads, felt and pipe cleaners. When I asked my kids what they wanted to be for Halloween, I had no secret agenda for them to pick something that seemed easy to throw together from brilliantly repurposed items.

Instead, giddy with freedom and happiness, I put the kids in the car and we headed straight for the second-hand shop to buy costumes.

Store-bought costumes are the eventual outcome in my house every year. So what made this year different? Click here to read the rest of the story on Parent.co. 

Hope for Humanity in the Face of Trumpocalypse

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Nasty Woman

To say the presidential campaign is a horror show is the understatement of the year. We have a truly frightening number of people actively endorsing white supremacy and casual sexual assault against women, and not caring that our children are receiving the message, loud and clear (even if he loses), that this is not only excusable behavior, but becoming of the potential leader of our country.

Wednesday night’s final debate was predictably horrifying but brought no real surprises, because as Samantha Bee’s team points out, absolutely anything could happen in this campaign now. There are no standards of basic human decency or adult behavior, never mind presidential behavior or even entry-level professionalism. There is no bottom. Continue reading

On Writing vs. Blogging and Fear (and a short playlist)

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Let’s talk about writing and fear.

Earlier this year, I had several essays published on sites other than this here blog. I’ve submitted a few more to different publications since then and received some form rejection letters, a few warm and encouraging personal rejection letters, and a whole lotta crickets. I’m learning a lot from the submission process, primarily that writing essays and submitting them to publications is an awesome thing to do if your ego needs a serious beating.

But I’ll keep at it. There are some essays for which I want to find a larger platform. And I want to work with editors, both to improve my writing and for the collaborative experience.

I am, however, feeling the difference between writing for that purpose and blogging. Continue reading

Thank You, Rickie Lee Jones

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Photo Credit: Toni Verd via Compfight cc

If you need me anytime in the foreseeable future, chances are I’ll be home listening to Rickie Lee Jones. I went to see her show a couple weeks ago, an experience that reverberates. I hadn’t listened to her music in a long time. Now I’m in happy obsession mode and her new album, The Other Side of Desire, is on its way to me. (A lyric from that old Journey song springs to mind out of nowhere, “I get the joy of rediscovering you.” Yes, I’m a huge sap at heart.)

I first discovered her 2+ decades ago, in my 20’s. I listened to her first two albums constantly, then for whatever crazy reason, I stopped there. I must have gotten pulled in some other direction. (Who else was it back then? PJ Harvey. Hole. Ani DiFranco.) Since Jones’s show, I’ve been listening to those same two CD’s again, on repeat. Now I’m ready for some new (and new to me) stuff, so I looked up her discography, and holy shit, between studio and live recordings, there are 18 more albums to explore! It’s like Christmas.

She played in a small, intimate setting (for Southern New England people—the Narrows in Fall River—awesome venue, check it out). Continue reading

Do Unfinished Projects Keep Us Comfortably Stuck?

This, my 46th year on the planet, is the year of finishing what I’ve started.

During a trip to Kripalu this past winter, I was introduced to oracle card decks, which are like Tarot cards, only they’re used in a more free-form way. I fell in love with this practice and brought it home with me. “Pulling a card” has become part of my morning prayer/meditation/journaling practice. (I even got my husband on board—we often will each pull a card together in the morning.) Usually, I use it as a general message for the day, and sometimes in response to a specific question I’m asking.

Yes, it’s kinda woo-woo, even for me.

I love my card decks because they give me a little nudge toward the intuitive, creative right brain every morning. By default, I tend toward the left side, so I can always use a little less logic and a little more magic in my life.

Speaking of magic, though, I don’t believe the cards supernaturally arrange themselves to hand me the perfect message. (Although I have a friend who believes this, and some spooky shit has happened, like my husband and I both pulling the same card for days in a row, which has made me wonder for a second.)

What I do believe is that there are beautiful gifts of insight when you find meaning in whatever card(s) you happen to pull. You can also use them as journaling prompts if you want to reap the benefits of journaling but are often at a loss for what to write about or where to begin.

So what does all this have to do with finishing projects? On my 45th birthday last week, I pulled three cards from my Earth Magic deck. The question was simply, “What do I need to know now?” Here’s what I got:

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It was pretty easy to find meaning in the the Childhood (innocence) and Mountain (strength) cards. Full Moon (completion), not so much. Continue reading

If You Think You Don’t Have a Racist Bone in Your Body, Think Again. (And, some resources and action steps you can take.)

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Original photo by Bayeté Ross Smith.

The other day, I was driving down to the beach with the kids to meet my sister and brother-in-law. Just as I was about to get onto the on-ramp, I remembered I needed gas first and did a quick, last minute U-turn. I’m not even sure whether or not it was legal.

If this had happened two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Or, maybe a vague, “Oh, I hope I don’t get a ticket” at the most.

But it happened two days ago, not two weeks ago, so I did a mental double take. I recognized it would never occur to me that a minor, stupid move like that could end up costing me my basic human rights or even my life if I got pulled over. Knowing nothing about such fears is white privilege. It’s just one of the countless ways it manifests, I’m learning. Continue reading

How Homeschooling Changed Me As a Parent and a Person

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With excitement for the summer and some bittersweet feelings, we wrapped up our second year of homeschooling our two boys—the last (for now) for our 9-year-old son. We’ll straddle the two lifestyles in the coming year—our 6-year-old will homeschool for another year before joining his brother in brick-and-mortar school. As we prepare to reenter the world of alarm clocks and lunch boxes, I’m reflecting on how this experience has grown us as individuals and as a family, and how it has changed my worldview.

An increasing number of families are taking advantage of the myriad tangible benefits homeschooling offers. Some of these include more time together as a family, education tailored to children’s learning styles, time for kids to develop individual interests without overscheduling, freedom from the school calendar, unhurried mornings, and limitless opportunities for field trips and hands-on, experiential learning.

We started homeschooling because of the benefits for our kids. What I didn’t expect at the outset was how much it would enrich my life as well. If you’re a would-be homeschooler sitting on the fence due to fear, I hope my family’s experience can help encourage you to take the leap of faith.

Here are some of the more intangible gifts we will take away from our homeschooling experience: Continue reading