Posted in #BOAW2018, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Commentary, Life Writing, slices of life

The Beauty of Community: #BOAW2018

Something I love about women is the way we come naturally together to tend to one another. Throughout history, we’ve done: in the PTA, for suffrage, in quilting bees, to tend children, hearth, and home – whether in the suburbs, the frontier, or in prehistoric caves, while the men were off hunting mastodon and doing the things prehistoric men did.

As the nature of technology has redefined how we form communities, women have adapted, as well. I have dear friends I met first online, and I have communities that span the globe and touch upon many of my interests.

We women truly shine in the community arena when there is an upheaval in a member’s life – such as this fall and winter, when my husband died of late-diagnosed metastatic pancreatic cancer that chewed up his liver and his life in a matter of weeks.

One friend provided CBD oil, which, in those last days, provided a level of comfort, lucidity, and appetite none of his prescribed medications could. We had a precious few final conversations as husband and wife, and I will treasure them forever. Having an appetite was a relative thing, and meant a few sips of a smoothie, or morsels of pineapple, but Jim was a chef and food was his passion. Anything that could give him a few more tastes was priceless, to my mind.

Another local friend seems to always be there to meet practical needs. When we ran out of kerosene, which powers our furnace, and a delivery was about 10 days off, she brought us a loaded can, and smaller wood for our stove. I’d ordered an abundant supply of firewood, but Jim had always been the one to split it, and we were nearly out of kindling. She also provided clothing her older-than-mine kids had outgrown, a gift card to a favorite restaurant, and offers of whatever else we might need.

What is maybe most amazing about this is that this woman was my nemesis in the forced containment of high school. Had I been asked back then if she would ever do anything nice for me, I would have said something rude and walked away (I was a lot more judgmental as a teen).

Twice, I found gifts left by our front door – something sweet, a little cash, gift cards. No identifiers, except the feminine handwriting on the labels and cards.

The women in my local writing group took very good care of me, so I could tend to our kids. Two weeks running, I went to pay my check after our weekly gathering at a local Denny’s, only to find that one of my colleagues had picked up my tab without mentioning it – an unexpected and lovely gesture. I was given gift cards for the restaurant, and a meal train was arranged, so that I wouldn’t need to think so hard about how to feed us (I’m a chef’s widow; he did the cooking for the vast majority of the 20+ years we spent together, and my cooking muscles are stiff and atrophied).

A far-flung group of women, mostly writers, gathered together and asked what we might like in the way of a gift. Since the kids and I had decided to try some of the meal kit services, I suggested that as an option, and I’m now gradually building my culinary chops with meals from Plated. The premeasured portions and relatively simple, adaptable recipes have eased my trepidations and reduce waste (I have a habit of shopping bigger than anyone’s appetite, then getting distracted). And each time I prepare something tasty, I feel embtaced by these women, some of whom I only know by name, and only one of whom I’ve physically met. These women heard of our situation, and wanted to contribute something, and, in doing so, they made a new community of cooperation.

There have been offers of administrative tools, too.  As I move through the mountain range of tasks required to shift our financial life from two adults to one, I’m hugely grateful to know women who knoos something of these areas, since I’m a bit shaky on paperwork things.

I’ve had coffee dates, and invitations for myself and the kids to visit, and inclusion in online groups that offer support for things like older unschooling moms and Instant Pot cooking.

But the most potent example of community came from Jim’s two sisters, Jennifer and Joanne, who set aside their own lives, and flew from their homes in Oregon to ours in a cold and snowy upstate New York, so they could be here for their younger brother’s last days.  The three of us have always been friendly, but often lived in very different places. During those days, where they helped me to tend Jim and also tended the children and I (they never came from their hotel without bringing something that allowed me to stay home with Jim and still have food in the house.  Since, we’ve touched base with one another, and I feel a community was forged that will endure – and that would have made Jim, who was close to his sisters, very happy.

There’s a beauty in all these expressions of community – a calling many women seem to possess to try to bring some order to times of chaos, to do something practical in the face of a situation that can’t be truly healed. It’s tenderness and comfort in a time of grievous wounding, and it’s helped me to be a sweeter, kinder, more positive mother for our daughter and our son, and to find moments of ease and joy in a very difficult time.

And that is not only beautiful, but precious, too.

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2017, Challenges and Contests, Commentary, Current Events, Life Writing, Parenting, Round 4 2017, Sexuality and Erotica, slices of life, Social Consciousness, Writers' Resources, writing, Writing in Freedom

Shaky Foundations: #12WeekYear/#ROW80 Week 3 Midweek Update

  

This week, I’m pondering my foundations – in writing goals, and in life.

#MeToo  has been extremely active this week. Women around the world are speaking out about their of sexual subjugation by men –unwanted advances, harassment, inequality, presumption, drugging, abuse, assault, rape…it’s different in each case, but it comes down to this:

Our society, our culture, and all too often the men in our lives, treat women as existing more for men’s pleasure and purposes than anything else. Most women are groomed from childhood to do the pleasing and serve the purposes men set forth for us.

We’ve learned the lesson well. Most women are adept at tending to the needs of others. As for our own needs, hopes, and dreams – often, they’re subverted in the process. Think of the Invisible But Indispensible Mother – “women’s work’ tends to be the thankless and endless tasks that add grace notes to life that are often taken for granted.

I’ve got #metoo stories. The more I step into my own strength and my own life, the more little flashes I have of times men have used me for their own purposes without regard for the fact that I have purposes of my own, beyond them. I’m not bitter about this – I really like men, and guys are often built on a shaky foundation that allowed them to see this behavior as natural, not domineering.

I need to tend to those cracks and bows, so I can build a life that will stand strong.

 And I’m not sure how to do that.

 Do you feel a shakiness in your foundation?

 How will you address it?

I want better for this girl – and for women everywhere. Lise Burton, self-portrait at almost 13, early July, 2017. Photo by Annalise S. Burton

Week 3 Action Plan Progress:

  • Blue with Overstrike: COMPLETED!

  • Green: In Progress.

  • Black: Not Yet Begun

  • Note: I’m not posting my final September update. It was a decent month, but life has moved on, and so will I. =)

 

Relationships, Family, and Home:

Beta Reading: Complete three chapters Spellfire; one Stained. Weeks: 3-4

  • Spellfire: Highlighted Chapter Six for comments – it’s 30 pages, so will likely take a while; page 16/30 in progress.
  • Stained: No progress.
  • Week 3 progress: About 25%.

Complete five hometending rounds on porch; three in study; and one in bedroom: Week 3.

  • 4/5 porch rounds; 1/1 bedroom.
  • Week 3 progress: About 75%

Facilitate Jeremiah’s driving practice twice weekly: Weeks 1-3.

  • Week 3 progress: 0%

Professional/Financial:

DIY-MFA Pixels to Platform:

Complete Modules One and Two; watch first video for Module Three: Week 3.

  • Week 3 progress: 0%

Slaying SEO Class:

Begin course: Week 3.

  • Course begins on Saturday.
  • Week 3 progress: 0%

How To Revise Your Novel:

Complete three hours of lessons, using “On Any Tuesday Night.” Weeks 3-12.

  • 1 hour; 45 min/3 hours,and Lesson 5/22 completed!
  • Week 3 progress: about 60%

New Writing:

Solemates:

Complete Planning elements through Supporting Characters (Step 7/22): Week 3.

  • Section 2/22 (Worldbuilding) in progress – finishing up Where, with lots of ideas simmering. Who and What left to address.
  • Week 3 progress: about 15%

OctPoWriMo 2017:

Complete poems 15-21. Week 3.

  • 17/31 completed.
  • Week 3 progress: about 45%

Chef Bluebeard:

Maintain/adapt media schedule: Week 3-12.

  • Sunday: all but one task completed; evaluating that one. May need to adapt.
  • Monday: addressed all; expanded one; a bit short on posting.
  • Tuesday: Day Off (need to add to the schedule that every week will have one; I am quite a slave driver of myself!).
  • Week 3 progress: about 33%

Contact three venues and three stores for sales. Week 3.

  • Emailed 1/3 stores for the week.
  • Drafted email for 1/3 venues.
  • Week 3 progress: About 25%

 

Health, Fitness, and Spirituality:

Samsung Health:

Complete 5K Week 10: Week 37

  • Makeup for Wednesday, October 11: Did much better with jogging portions (4 min; 6 min; 6 min, with 2 minute walking intervals between) than last session.
  • Makeup for Friday, October 13: Did all jogging intervals except one incline, and a point where a propane truck needed to back into the driveway I was abreast of . Can’t say it was exactly easy – but it clearly wasn’t impossible, either!
  • Still 2 workouts behind schedule (will be caught up after Sunday‘s run; doing 2 days on, 1 off till caught up.
  • Week 3 progress: 50%

Tai chi, yoga, reiki:

Tai chi: Attend class twice weekly; either Monday evening, or Tuesday and/or Thursday afternoons: Weeks 1-12.

  • With the extra workouts, and only 3.5 hours sleep due to looking for some fan fiction stories I knew I wrote but couldn’t find (until I did a little after 7am), I wasn’t up to a trip away from home. I’m learning to listen to my body a little better, so I stayed home except for my 5k training run
  • Week 3 progress: 0%

Cook and eat vegetable based meals.

Cook two vegetable based meals; Wednesday/Friday: Weeks 3-5.

  • Not scheduled for this session.
  • Week 3 progress: 0%

 

Personal Expression:

Purchase three new bras.

Send back Torrid bra; research through HerRoom/Cacique; order 1: Week 3.

  • Went to HerRoom.com, and found they made it EASY to know what I’m getting! No more underwire booby traps (pun absolutely intended)! I ordered a daily use and a sports bra (YES! I didn’t think they even made those in my side, and now I’ll have one for running and workouts!). 3/3 purchased, a bit early!
  • I’ll close out this goal as soon as I’ve sent the Torrid bra back from whence it came.
  • Week 3 progress: 75%

Assess jewelry; purchase new pieces as they speak to me.

Go through rest of the jewelry I already have; save and/or discard as I choose: Week 1- 3.

  • Week 3 progress: 0%

Evaluate wardrobe as the season changes.

Research snow and driving gloves online: Weeks 3-4.

  • No need to research driving gloves; I found my existing pair in the dryer. Bought them last winter, and forgot about them. But they worked very well, and are still in excellent condition.
  • Week 3 progress: 50%

Kait Nolan’s  ROW80

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re on Facebook, too!

Even in this ad acknowledging Invisible Moms – the focus is on selling us something to make our hair look good – not some way to help us find our own strength and purpose!

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Commentary, Parenting, poetry, Social Consciousness, Unschooling

Television and Trust: #atozchallenge for April 24, 2017

Slices of An Unschooling Life Theme Reveal Post

Today’s Poetry Type:

Trolaan

 

TV is Dangerous

Television gets such a bad rap

“They” tell parents to keep kids away

That brain-sucker, that addictive trap –

“Turn it off; make them go out and play.”

 

Everyone knows TV is dangerous

Extinguishing the desire to learn

Except that it’s not like that for us

Excitement sparks; plentiful fuel to burn.

 

“Violence is glorified on television shows.”

Vilification is heaped on higher and higher.

Viewing too much is harmful, everyone knows –

But for us, it fuels learning’s bright fire.

 

It’s not what we’ve been led to believe

It’s not turning our brains to dead dust

Intelligent conversations dance and weave

It’s true: television’s a tool, in my kids I trust.

Lise makes a Musical.ly video at the mall, after her twelfth birthday shopping spree and lunch, and before going to a movie, July 2016. Screens are simply one component in a life lived on her own terms - another one of many ways she explores and interacts with her world.
Lise makes a Musical.ly video at the mall, after her twelfth birthday shopping spree and lunch, and before going to a movie, July 2016. Screens are simply one component in a life lived on her own terms – another one of many ways she explores and interacts with her world.

It’s been fashionable, as long as my kids have been alive, and longer, to bash television. If the media (ironically, often televised) are to be believed, most if not all of the world’s ills can be placed on kids watching too much TV – or, in this modern era, in allowing them too much “screen time.”

But is that really true? Are kids helpless against the evils of television or things seen on screens?

It’s not that way here, and it hasn’t been for all the years we’ve allowed the kids to watch television or use screens when and as they wish.

What's that teenager doing with his iPhone? Plotting terrorist activity? Cyber-bullying...? Nope, he's playing Pokemon GO! Three weeks after this photo was taken, he'd had enough, and moved on to other things.
What’s that teenager doing with his iPhone? Plotting terrorist activity? Cyber-bullying…? Nope, he’s playing Pokemon GO! Three weeks after this photo was taken, he’d had enough, and moved on to other things.

In our reality, television is a tool. Honestly, the kids don’t watch as much television as their parents. They tend to watch specific things they plan for, rather than “vegging out” in front of the TV.

They do use assorted screens frequently – to read, write, play games on their own and collaboratively, to research, to chat with friends and make new ones…very much the way many adults use screens, as a matter of fact.

But what about “inappropriate content?”

                          Here's one way to keep it clean!  Yes, this was her idea!
                          Here’s one way to keep it clean!  Yes, this was her idea!

Well, there’s a very interesting thing that happens when kids (or anyone) has freedom. It’s not usually the free-for-all those imagining the chaos think it is. Yes, there was a period of intense watching for a while after we removed the restrictions we’d placed on “screen time,” but it gradually tapered off into more natural patterns.

And they don’t just watch whatever’s on, whether it’s right for them or not. They have the freedom to walk away or turn a show off if it’s disturbing to them. They also know they can share what they watch with their parents, talk about it, and ask questions without being punished, reprimanded, or ridiculed. 

With the freedom to choose when and what to watch, they want to watch things they actually enjoy watching. My son has always enjoyed animation; he went from Popeye to Kenny the Shark, Tutenstein, and Time Warp Trio; on to Family Guy. South Park, and The Simpsons when he got a bit older. Then it was on to anime like Soul Eater and Spice and Wolf, with a consistent mix of comedies (recent favorites are Scrubs and Parks and Recreation, though he’s also been watching “bad movies” like A Talking Cat?!?! and The Brave Little Toaster, and he also attended a film showing of George Takei’s Japanese internment camp musical, Allegiance as well as documentary previews of PBSHamilton’s America and our local PBS station’s accompanying piece, Hamilton’s Albany.

As he’s nearing adulthood, his tastes are maturing, as well.

My daughter was chewing through nature documentaries before she had a label for what they were; she never cared if they were oriented toward children, like Wild Kratts or Dinosaur Train, or adults, like National Geographic or Nature. She also has a fondness for horror with an edge of fashion; when she was smaller, that translated to shows like Monster High and Ruby Gloom; today, she’s very fond of the anime Death Note.

What’s the point?

People who have the freedom to choose to watch television or peruse screens will do so in ways that fulfill them, serve their passions, entertain or challenge or enlighten them. They will be a part of life – like books, or music, or friends, or any other thing. No magic power, no pixels of poison….just a television, or a screen, there to be used, or not.

If you are a  parent, do/did you limit “screen time” and/or television for your children?

Did your parents limit your TV and/or “screen time?”

If so, how did you feel about that?

Tell me the truth – you’re looking for more terrific T posts. So don’t tarry – click here, or the icon below, to take a spin on the Blogging From A-Z April Challenge turnpike.

Trot by tomorrow, where we seek to understand uniqueness.

Election Night, 2016. Lise and I at a local coffee shop for a National Novel Writing Month write-in. Screens, conversation, and creativity blending naturally and easily - no need for limits, for me or for her.
Election Night, 2016. Lise and I at a local coffee shop for a National Novel Writing Month write-in. Screens, conversation, and creativity blending naturally and easily – no need for limits, for me or for her.
Posted in Commentary, Mindful Monday, Occasional Features

A Mindful Monday ReRun: “I Am, and Ever Shall Be, Your Friend”

Greetings. On alternate weeks, I usually post a new Mindful Monday essay in this space. But I have a special post in the works for next week, to celebrate International Women’s Day. Still, I didn’t want to just post nothing this week, and today is a day with deep personal meaning, so I’m instead going to share a post I wrote on February 28, 2015.

Today, you see, is Leonard Nimoy’s second yahrziet.  Since he was Jewish, it seems fitting to share this, as my symbolic lighting of a candle in honor of a man who changed the course of my life without even knowing it.

I was ready to get on a plane in Portland, Oregon yesterday morning when I read this. I didn’t have time to absorb before I was embroiled in a cross-country marathon journey with my family.

Today, there’s only one topic for me to write about…

This is likely to be a scattered bit of writing. I’m full of thoughts and emotions that don’t translate so well into language. Oceans and tides are moving within me, swelling and ebbing. I’m simply allowing them to flow, and I’ll do the same with these words.

I feel I’ve lost a friend today. No. It’s more than a feeling. I have lost a friend.

Maybe we all have, even if we don’t know it.

Let me go back a bit…
 

To read more Mondful Monday posts, click the icon below!

Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Commentary, Just Jot It January, writing prompts

Going Somewhere for #JusJoJan Day Twenty-Three

Welcome to Day Twenty-Three of Just Jot It January, where the prompt is: compromise,” used any way we wish.

From my journal:

January 23, 2017 –

Yesterday, I wrote about contempt. Today’s prompt is “compromise,” and it’s been rolling around in my mind for hours now, with tattered pieces of thoughts attached to it.

I think in many ways, contempt makes compromise impossible.

Can true compromise exist in concert with contempt? (And could I find a way to use more ‘c’ words in a cohesively coherent sentence?)

I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.

I’m also thinking about what I don’t want to compromise:

  • My family

  • My children’s autonomy

  • Joy

  • Peace

  • My voice

  • My principles

  • My convictions

I feel like all this is going somewhere, and it would be a mistake to try to force or rush the process.

So I’ll compromise with myself, and stop here.

Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Commentary, Current Events, Just Jot It January

Equality-Killer: #JusJoJan Day Twenty-Two

Welcome to Day Twenty-Two of Just Jot It January, where the prompt is: contempt,” used any way we wish.

I thought I was going to write something different today, but then, instead, I jotted this in my journal, soon after waking:

January 22, 2017 –

Perhaps, on my father’s 77th birthday, it’s apt that I’m in the midst of an unfurling of revelation on how I’ll deal with interpersonal conflicts in my life, from this point forward.

I will begin with myself. Moving beyond myself before I’ve processed my own emotional content is irresponsible except in cases of imminent danger – and can actually prove explosive. First: I need to deal with what’s within me, or I risk treating the other with contempt.

And contempt does very little to resolve anything. As a matter of fact, contempt actually signals an unreadiness to resolve any situation from a position of seeking mutual respect – it says plain that I’m placing myself above the other.

It says that I’ve already decided that my own position has higher (or the only) value in all proceedings.

Contempt is an equality-killer.

**

Do you struggle with interpersonal conflict, too?

Have you held others in contempt?

Have you known you were contemptible in someone else’s point-of-view?

Is there a better way?

I would love to hear your voice:

Thoughts, feelings, memories, respectful dissension?

The box below is for you – make it your own!

Posted in #weekendcoffeeshare, Blog Hops and Fests, Commentary, Current Events, Just Jot It January, Weekly Features

Raise a Glass to Freedom: #SoCS, #weekendcoffeeshare, and #JusJoJan Day Twenty-One

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m not exactly sure why I chose that title up there. It could be as simple as the fact that Hamilton lyrics have been my constant if variable earworms since last spring, and this is the one that’s been running through my head since I first read the Just Jot It January  and Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt for today, “glass.” Linda assured us we could use the word as we see fit, or even use an object made of glass as our theme.

But I keep hearing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s plaintive, dubious little “Raise a glass to freedom,” right before he famously throws away his shot, and the mood feels – right.

So does this little post I wrote a year or so back, and titled “Schrodinger’s Glass” – you know, the one that’s always either half-full, or half-empty, depending on how you look at it, or your nature, or your current mood…because, really, it’s both.

I’m thinking I may not be making much sense, but that’s also kind of how I feel, right now, so maybe it fits. I’m a bit like shards of broken glass, and a bit like fine glasswork that steals breath away even as it inspires. I’m aware of the dangers of sharp-edged, jagged fragments, and yet I’m filled nearly to overflowing with the beauty and potential I see, the grace that moves through everything.

Once, I wrote a story where one character destroys a handmade water service gifted to another character. It was a thing of irreplaceable beauty – the maker had learned, practiced, and developed her skill in the art to honor the recipient and his family. The owner of the service carefully gathers up every shard, although they slice his fingers, and carries them a great distance, as treasured items. Later, he fashions them into a symbolic piece of art that gives them a new and deeper meaning.

I feel like that – like that’s maybe where we are, as a nation.

It’s possible that some don’t know it yet. It’s possible that the crashing and shattering happening now is music to some people’s ears, the dream they’ve held dearest to their hearts.

But for many, it’s the kind of shattering that sets you back, makes you re-evaluate…

I’ve been doing that, quietly, for over a year, now. Threads of different things braiding or weaving together, fraying, coming together again in a new form – and yes, I know I’m mixing metaphors here, but, somehow, that, too, seems appropriate.

I’m becoming something different- evolving. In Sequoia National Park,  so long ago that I wasn’t yet anybody’s mother who wasn’t feline, my Accomplice and I learned that the seeds of the giant trees need fire to germinate properly. There’s a scientific name for this, but that’s not as important, to me, right now, as that truth – the magnificent sequoia, which holds such majesty and tenacity as it stretches to the sky on a widely-flung, shallow collection of roots, springs from the destruction of its landscape. Only in the charred aftermath is it set free to fulfill its magnificent destiny, in the company of its scarred and surviving parents, who have the ability to withstand the flames.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this is how I feel, today…like there’s been a shattering, a scorching, a fraying – but that it hasn’t destroyed me, or the light of grace and mercy and simple, loving kindness in the world. I’m scarred, but still, I stretch, and soar, and grow…and I know that I’m not alone.

We are a strong forest, together. Will you grow with me, and find the beauty that comes after the flames?

Before you go, I will ask you if you have a story you want to share, or words of wisdom? Gouts of flame, torrents of sorrow, jolts of fear? Hope and a way forward that will embrace us all?

I’d love to hear from you. We’re all strongest when we have a voice, and use it to speak our truth. Please come back anytime you need to use yours, and, in the meantime, visit Diana at Part Time Monster Blog, and find some other places you can enjoy the #weekendcoffeeshare