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

KonMari Kitchen Decluttering: Lose It or Use It

I started my KonMari Method decluttering adventure 14 months ago. This method is based on the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Kondo advises doing a ruthless, massive purge only once, by category instead of area, and keeping only those things which “spark joy.” The promised result is an organized, clutter-free home containing only things you love and use, and nothing extra to weigh you down.

You can read my first post here. I started with clothes, then moved on to books, then papers and files. The changes I made in those areas have stuck (yes, even the anal retentive folding and storage methods!), but my progress stalled from there because life happens.

According to Kondo, the whole process is supposed to take six months. However, she writes as if children don’t exist in the world, except for herself as a child, when she was already enthralled by decluttering, which my children are not. Kids, of course, mean a lot more stuff and a lot less time to spend decluttering it. So I figure I get an additional six months per kid, and if I’m done by Halloween, I’m good. Continue reading

Stories About Circumcision: When one parent has religious reasons to do it, and the other has philosophical reasons not to.

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This is the third installation in a series about circumcision. Click here to read the introductory post about my perspective and experience on this topic as a midwife and mother.

Now grab a cup of tea, or whatever you like, and settle in with this interview with the mother of a 10-year-old son. It was a rich discussion that brought up a lot of interesting points about the challenges of bicultural marriage, the mind-body connection, memory and trauma, and unresolved inner conflicts.

Tracy (names changed for privacy) is an American educator from a self-described “hippie family.” She married Lamine, a Muslim man from Mali, Africa (now amicably divorced). Islam is one of the two major religions that has male circumcision as one of its tenets (the other, of course, is Judaism). They had a son together. Lamine wanted him circumcised, Tracy didn’t. Here’s what happened: Continue reading