Monday, June 16, 2014

Genius Fish


So, you know that quote that says:

"Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish simply by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."


Whoever said that was probably NOT a very good tree climber.


At any rate, I seem to have several fish trying to climb trees in my house.

ClimbingTreesIt is no surprise really.
We are always telling the kids that busywork (e.g., homework without any discernable purpose) is kind of bullshit and real learning takes place when they ask questions and challenge themselves.

As a result, they don't always do homework.

Actually, they only do homework when they, themselves feel compelled to do it.

My 12-year-old is getting a D in band even though she plays the Saxophone really well. On principle, she refuses to fill out and have me sign practice time sheets because she feels she should be judged only on her ability to play.

In theory, I am good with all of their choices. The trick is in being relaxed about the bad grades, grades that have no real reflection on the brilliant kid.

But, what if I am wrong? What if teaching my kids to think outside the box and question authority is going to leave them lonely and unhappy in life? What if grades really are the end all be all and they will be left with no real options in the world? Can they get by in life by just being clever and snarky?

Sure they can. I do.

We are on the path of recognizing our genius fish for exactly who they are and I think it is best to just keep on keeping on.

Us: "School is a tool for you to use. The teachers work for you. It’s not the other way around. You can get great grades and see what school has to offer then (Hint: a lot). Or you can learn as much as you can without being invested in grades - or you can drop out and become a rock star. Whatever you do, grab life by the balls! Or, at the very least cup the balls, tickle them a bit. Or, slap the balls. Do something with life’s balls. But whatever you do, do it on your terms."

Yes, we really say that. You do not want to go through life ignoring life’s balls.

Sometimes the wonderful things about kids don't show up on report cards or awards. Sometimes you have to pay careful attention to notice when your fish is doing something other than climbing a tree.


Spencer (now 16) is probably sneaking by with a C in his history class, but that doesn’t stop him from creating a study guide for his friends.

I include a few samples for anyone who wants to learn more about history:

Emmett Till. A 14-year-old African-American boy murdered in Mississippi for flirting with a white woman. They took the boy away to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, shot him through the head, disposing his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till's mom had an open-casket funeral which really grossed people out cause he was mad fucked-up and that got a lot of people really angry and BOOM! Civil Rights Motherfucker!


Malcolm X. Look at that sick ass name - like damn!

March On Washington. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom or "The Great March on Washington", was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history. Martin Luther King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech, calling for an end to racism. Also you know that thing where the Titanic crashed because so many time travelers were on board trying to save it? Well I think the reason so many people marched on Washington is because all the time travelers wanted to see it. Further proof: Even our teacher Mr. Walter said if he could go back in time it would be to that day - so I'm just sayin'.

So, if we spend all of our time getting this guy to climb trees and do conventional homework and put his square peg of a brain into round holes, we never get to simply enjoy what happens when our little genius fish swim like crazy, all the way upstream:-)

Friday, May 30, 2014

It is NOT OK to Rape

Hopefully, this is a message we have already heard. However, there are four recent headlines that make me feel like this is a message that bears repeating.

Alleged gang rape, hanging of two girls in India
sparks global outrage

“If I Can’t Have Them, No One Will”
Man goes on killing spree when women reject him

Teenage girl forced to leave school prom after 'ogling' dads complained her dress and dancing would give their sons 'impure thoughts'

Utah High School Photoshops Female Yearbook Photos to Show Less Skin


Huh? Am I seriously comparing horrific acts of violence with a little photo shop hack job?

Yes, yes I am.

Let me expand on the title of this blog, maybe tack on a few extra rules, just for the outrage of it.

1. It is NOT OK to rape
2. t is NOT OK to think you are entitled to another person's body
3. It is NOT OK to make another person responsible for how you think of them
4. It is NOT OK to make arbitrary rules about another person's body

If you think these stories are disconnected, that they are not indicators of a dangerous attitude we have about women, then you are simply wrong.

Administrators in a Utah high school decided it would be okay to Photoshop yearbook pictures of young women (and only women) without their permission. They no doubt felt justified in this decision, because the unaltered images might be considered provocative. The sweet, fresh-faced girls may be driving the unwilling into sinful thoughts because un-Photoshopped, we can see that these girls are clearly humans. With arms.

Now, I could talk about how benign these pictures are - or I could focus on the bigger issue which is that people in authority are giving young women the message that they are not in control of their own bodies. That ownership and power over the way you look belongs to the beholders.

So if you make unapproved choices about what message you want to send to the world through your clothing - the world will just take your decision-making power away, as the high school administrators did to the women in the yearbook.

And this seems reasonable to many.

If a woman makes the unacceptable choice of not having sex with a man, he will take her decision making power away, as the madman did when he felt rejected.

And this seems reasonable to many. Or, if not reasonable, unavoidable.

When we make women responsible for how men may or may not react, it gives the message that men are not able to control themselves.

Do we really think so little of men?

Do we really think so little of women?

And don't give me this bullshit about "modesty" and "appropriateness" - I don't see anyone Photoshopping jeans on the guys who walk around with their pants lower than their crotch and their undies showing.

I don't see anyone Photoshopping ties on young men who are "not dressed up enough" for their high school yearbook.

I don't hear people talking about how men mowing the lawn without shirts on is, of course, going to incite attacks from frenzied fans.

This is about women.

This is about a terrifying attitude that women are rightfully at risk because of their provocative female nature. '

This is all connected

And it is bullshit.

And just to clarify for anyone who still needs it:

It is NOT OK to blame other people for your behavior.

It is NOT OK to rape.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Renewing You Marriage

Well, invitations are ordered and I am in the process of marrying the love of my life (again).

My husband/editor and I have decided to live and relationship mindfully - and so getting remarried every 5 years is part of the plan.

I explain it here:




Saturday, May 24, 2014

I Wear a Bikini because… Fuck You

KarenBikini
Here are the top six reasons why I, as a 43-year-old, size 12, mother of four, woman with thunder thighs, feel totally justified in rocking a two piece.

1. I Don't Give a Shit
I actually do not exist for your viewing pleasure and your ideas about who should and should not be seen in a bikini are 0% my concern.

I have not always been married to the wonderful, supportive, man among men, husband/editor that I am now married to. I was once married to a man who said things like:

"They really should not make bikinis in any size over 8"

Now, I have not been a size 8 since I was about 8 years old - so this was kind of a dick move on his part. It also confirmed my suspicions that people who make "rules" about how other people should treat their bodies are best left alone - far away from any people who may inadvertently offend them.

I also have sisters who regularly say things like:

"She has no business being in a bikini"

Well, lucky for me I am not wearing a bikini to drum up business.

I was on the beach in Miami once when a 300lb grandma walked happily down the beach in a brightly colored two-piece. This was intensely disturbing to a group of vacationing, suburban women talking about yoga addiction, shame eating, and jeggings.There were gasps, there were sighs, and there was one Zanax-deprived woman, so distraught, crying out:

"That is just not right"

It is a bathing suit people. Perhaps we should all just relax.

2. I Have a Bikini Body
I know this because I put an actual bikini… on my body. If you are waiting to break out the bikini when your body is perfect, resign yourself to a one piece.

3. It is Closer to Being Naked
Swimming is best done naked. When laws of society make that awkward - we should at least be able to swim with the least amount of wet fabric against our bodies.

4. My Belly Has Earned It
If there is one part if my body that should be able to do whatever the fuck it wants. it is my mid-section. Four of the greatest people I know have lived there. Hard working = flauntable.

5. I Have Daughters
I want to show them a woman comfortable in her body, who is active right along side them. A woman who’s not sitting poolside under a big cover-up, because anything less might be considered inappropriate.

6. It is by Popular Request
Well, maybe not popular - but certainly frequent - requests come in for me to wear a bikini. Ok, it is only ever my husband/editor who asks - nay, pleads, for this particular ensemble. But, he is tenacious and I like to throw him a bone every once in a while. [Editor’s note: Thanks, honey, for the bone]

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beautiful

I was brushing my teeth in my bathroom as Gia Luna (5) watched me from the edge of the tub.

Gia Luna: "Mommy, when I grow up will I be as beautiful as you are?"

I choked on my toothpaste.

I saw her sweet little reflection in the mirror, her face earnest as she waited for a response she hoped would be affirmative. In all sincerity, she was hoping to be assured that she could look like...me.

My brows furrowed, my mind raced. Are you kidding me? I thought. Are you really setting the bar that low? You are gorgeous, you are radiant, you are young and unstoppable! Why would you want to look like me, when you actually look like you? Good God girl! You have flawless skin, puffy lips, big blue eyes and your father's metabolism. Haven't you noticed my nose is too big? My hair is a fire hazard? My..... and then I stopped.

Is that really who I want to be?

Fighting with passion so others will realize how unattractive I am? My five year old daughter tells me I am beautiful and I am disagreeing with her? I have this moment to show her how to handle a compliment with grace, to be comfortable in loving yourself, to show her strength is a part of beauty.

I was not going to fuck it up.

"Yes." I said, biting my tongue so I didn't say "You will be even more beautiful! Way prettier than I have ever dreamed of being!"

Gia Luna didn't need to hear that. She just needed to know she could be like her hero, and that hero is me.

And that is really beautiful.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Kid Because I Love

Yesterday was April Fool's Day.

It is kind of a big deal in my house, mostly because we are a bunch of a$$holes who like to show our love by humiliating each other. I know we are flawed, but we are happy.

Well, at least most of us are.

My Aspergian husband/editor is mostly just confused. He doesn't really get teasing as a form of love. "Teasing is illogical" says the Vulcan who understands most emotions by what he reads about them "The message conveyed opposes our previously agreed-upon strategy in which we strive to ensure every family member feels safe; trust is essential to the perception of safety."

Oh, Spock.

The interesting thing about loving someone on the Autism spectrum who is less-than-intuitive in the emotional intelligence department, is that it makes you question your own relationship towards emotion. I grew up with teasing as the main form of affection. Seriously, teasing equaled love in my formative years. I got loud and clear messages of "I love you no matter what" and "I am proud of you" - but always, ALWAYS couched in glib remarks and backhanded compliments. The idea of saying those things and not insulting each other at the same time was just way too cheesy… and vulnerable.

Yes, the irony of Spock being more emotionally healthy than I am is not lost on me.

But now I am a grown woman, a mindful adult raising my own children. I am free to break from my negative relationship feedback loop and plow forward with honesty and integrity in my heart and my words.

Buuuuuuuut…. I can't. I simply can't. I am too hardwired for sassy comebacks and the concept of "Kids, if it makes me laugh, you can get away with it."

It makes for some interesting children. I was driving one day with Spencer (15) and he was telling me about his school antics, it was pretty metal - but it included some mild harassment.

Me: "Why can't you just be nice, like your best friend Logan?" *
Spencer: "Mom, you can either have nice, or you can have funny. You chose funny. You're welcome."

So, long story short, I came home with a half-dozen “cream-filled” doughnuts (in actually I had secretly scooped out the cream and replaced it with mayonnaise). It was pretty gross, maybe a little cruel, and it was AWESOME. Spock was horrified. He is seriously evaluating the relationship at this point. The reactions of the children were priceless.

Cheyenne (13) was totally grossed out, ran around the house screaming and scouring her tongue and gobbling gum to get the nasty taste out of her mouth, dramatically inquiring "How could you do this? Why? Why?"

Spencer (15) realized it was mayo and took one more bite, declaring "Still a doughnut."

Boo (11), ever the skeptic, smelled, licked, and tossed it in the sink.

Gia (5) cried.

Campbell (3) ate two entire donuts and asked for one more.

So, in conclusion, I love my kids and would do anything for them - except give up a really good joke or story at their expense. And that is why this is not so much a parenting advice blog as a realization that we are all deeply flawed.

And mayo-filled doughnuts are deeply funny.



*I realize conventional wisdom frowns upon comparing kids to others - but I am clearly not the perfect parent - or person, for that matter. Give a girl a break. He knows I love him for exactly who he is….
Usually.
Sometimes.
At least I keep him fed.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Warriors in Stretch Pants

Mommies are mad.

First there was Maria Kang who put a picture of her chiseled body and her three young children out with the caption "What’s Your Excuse?" and everyone freaked out thinking she was fat-shaming and creating unrealistic expectations about post-baby bodies. Now there is Caroline Berg Eriksen who posted her flat-stomach selfie in her undies four days after giving birth and it has been called "obscene" and "an act of war".

Yes, mommies are mad - and kind of missing the point.

When we look at photos of these strong mommies, how are we focused on anything other that the fact that she just made a person? She is a goddess and another human being just emerged from that body. She is a creator. Her amazing body has worked exactly how its majestic nature is meant to, which is nothing less than remarkable. She is a warrior in stretch pants (or undies as the case may be).

That is what we should be focused on.

These women are clearly blessed with great genetics and they deserve a lot of credit for taking fitness so seriously, but to say they are waging war seems a little crazy. Maybe, just maybe, they are on their journey and it is not all about you. They are living their lives and not waging war.

When Caroline posted a picture of herself four days after her delivery, she did it with the caption "I feel so empty, and still not." That feels true to me – a sentiment I have felt when I know my little friend is no longer with me in the same way. It seems like a universal feeling for those who have used their bodies to create life, not an obscene comment.

Can't we just be a little more open minded and tolerant and accept these women for exactly who they are? If we aren't supporting moms who are fit after pregnancy, we aren't supporting moms. And that is a mistake.

New moms need support. All new moms.

We don’t really know these women from a two-dimensional image. We don't know about their happiness or their struggles. Let's just assume they are doing their conflicted best and fighting the good mommy fight like the rest of us.

Aren't we criticizing these women for saying moms should look a certain way after giving birth, all while telling them they should look a certain way after giving birth?

I understand the pushback against the pressure to be fit, thin, sexy - or anything other than what and who you choose to be after giving birth. The choice is a personal one and no pressure need apply.

Disingenuous women who lose baby weight through starvation and surgery and then tell people it is through exercise and "eating right" are being fairly criticized (I am looking at you Tori Spelling and Kim Kardashian). Lying about how you treat your body - that creates unfair expectations, and that is what we in the business call EVIL.

I have had four babies from my body, and I didn't look like these women after any of my pregnancies, or before any of my pregnancies, or now - but that is not the point. The point is that I wouldn't give up any part of my body or myself for the remarkable bodies these women have - I love myself too much.

Maybe if we all focused on loving ourselves a little more, we could hate these women a little less.

Maybe if all warriors in stretch pants supported each other, the world would be a better place for all moms and children.