Happiness Is…Bald and Wrinkled Aliens….#SoundtrackSunday

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This week is easy, for me because it’s all about happiness. When I scan my life for the happiest of happy memories, there are three that stick out a million times beyond the rest. Oddly enough, they are some of the most bloody, painful, and confusing times of my life and resulted in the introduction to a bald, wrinkled alien life form into my life. Yes, I’m talking about becoming a mother and for me (someone who NEVER wanted children), it was a wild and crazy ride indeed.

Note: Shortly after each one of my children were born, I selected a song for them. These songs, to me, represent their individual spirits in the rawest forms. One thing about being a mother that no-one ever tells you is the ways in which you KNOW your child. You know their soul on a deeper level than anything you’ve ever experienced before and (for me, at least) this “knowing” occurs before they ever walked or talked…before the world molds them into individual beings. I think that knowing their offspring’s raw spirit helps a mother realize their child’s potential. It’s the reason that mothers will fight against a world that tells them their children “cannot” do something and motivates them to hold their children up, even in their weakest moments…Anyway, these songs are the songs that solidify the moment of birth and of “knowing” for me. They are my children’s spirit songs. Whatever they become, I will always remember who they really are…I will always see their beautiful spirits.

October 6, 2009 3:27 AM

My son was born 6 weeks early. My water had broken  on Friday afternoon but the ER told me it wasn’t broken and sent me home. It wasn’t until I followed up with the doctor that Monday that they confirmed my water had actually been broken and they sent me in to be induced. I was terrified, being a first time mother, and exclaimed that I still have 6 weeks left, I hadn’t attended my parenting class yet, and nothing was ready. It didn’t matter, Rymi was on his way to meet me and in the wee hours of the next morning, he came into my world, and changed everything about me.

From the moment he was born, he was a very sensitive and overactive child. He was colicy, particular (due, in part, to the rampat spoiling), and he didn’t sleep for the first 6 months of his life. Still, everyone was drawn to him (they still are) and EVERYONE loves him. I have watched him grow into a talented comedian and he is the happiest when he’s the center of attention. He’s still high strung and hyperactive. I guess he always will be but he will be popular and loved.

He’s 4 now and what he wants to do when he grows up is “make monster makeup”. I can see him in Hollywood one day, whether it’s behind the scenes or on the stage. He’s just that kind of person. Sometimes I worry that he’ll have problems staying grounded. I’m worried that he’ll forget about the simple things in life…I’m worried that he’ll lose himself in his own character and find himself unable to be aware and thankful for the simplest, most fulfilling aspects of life. So, this is his song. Because, at the end of the day, I know my mission as a mother is to “ground” him…keep him centered. I know my mission is to help him become a Simple Man (well, maybe just a simpler man)

September 11, 2010 12:29 PM

My pregnancy with the girls had been a long, hard road. I was in the hospital for a week before their arrival and although I was glad to know exactly WHEN they were coming, my body was tired from Preeclampsia and months of bedrest. With them, it was a C-Section and the doctors had warned me that they may not cry immediately. It felt unnatural to be bringing my daughters into the world this way and the dual teams of nurses in the room only made the experience more terrifying.

I was lying on the table, half alive, when I heard the screams of my little “baby a”. I was delighted that she came out, screaming and I knew that everything was going to be alright. This was a good indication for what Kaya’s personality was going to be. She is the most calm of all my children. She is as steady as the stream but as strong as stone. She is nurturing and protective…she’s my mother earth baby.

Of course, this song relates to her because it is her namesake but it’s the peaceful, rhythmic reggae music that reminds me of her spirit. There are times when things are chaotic and Kaya finds a way to soothe me. Kaya literally means “enlightenment” and, of all my children, I know that she’ll be the wisest and strongest. She’ll probably be the one who needs me the least but this makes being her mother even more challenging. I know I’ll have to recognize her needs, because she’ll never bring them to me willingly. I know that I’ll have to break through her stone barrier and make her allow me to support her for once. I will have to help her soften to the world and realize that it’s okay NOT to be the one who takes care of everyone else. I will have to help her understand that it’s okay for her to take care of herself from time to time.

September 11, 2010 12:30 PM

Kaylin came into the world, a minute later and 3x louder than her sister had a minute previous. She had a rough go of it, at first. Although there has never been more than 1/2 difference in hers and her sister’s weight, she seems so much smaller than her older sister. She’s certainly much more soft than her.

But she’s a DIVA! Since the moment she was born, she has put herself in direct competition with her sister and is always trying to “out-do” every other child she meets. She’s also very finicky. Even as a newborn, she had very strong preferences and a equally strong voice which she used to voice her opinions. There is no such thing as convincing this child that she cannot wear her princess dress to the store or sleep in a tu-tu.

She’s so girly, in juxtaposition to both her sister and myself, and from the time she could walk she would put her purse on her arm and priss around the room. She cannot sit in the buggy in the clothing ilse and she’s more inclined to shoes than baby dolls. She is my little queen.

My challenge with her is going to be helping her understand that she is not her sister’s subset…she is an individual and she’s amazing for it. I want her to know that she’s “beautiful in her way because god makes no mistakes”.

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My son has never been a man of words. He’s four now and after a notable delay with his speech, a few speech therapists and many notable arguments about the matter, he’s finally coming into his own. Now, he’s a non-stop talker…his speech patterns are much more grown up, and we have gotten past the point where I’m constantly translating his language for others.

See, I’ve always understood my son. The first thing that you need to understand is that he’s highly intelligent. I know all mothers probably say this about their kids but when it comes to Rymi, it’s true. I watch him, everyday, and this is what he does. He sits back and watches the world, allowing his brain to focus on what it is that he wants to learn and he picks things up incredibly fast.

He has picked up numbers and letters with minimal exposure. He has superior reasoning skills and puts ideas together at a level which I have never seen in a child his age. He does have a fantastical imagination but he understands the bounds of reality, too and when I suggest an idea which is outlandish, he’s quick to let me know that it just wont work!

Once he makes up his mind on something, he’s dedicated to it and he will see it through. While most 4  year olds want to be a prince or dragon slayer…policeman or fireman, my son wants to be a makeup artist (for special effects). He calls it monster makeup and for nearly a year, he has been unwavering in his answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Yes, he’s an amazing child and since his speech has flourished, he’s settled into a pattern of picking up a certain phrase and carrying it around for a while. For about a month, it was “I don’t think so”. That was his answer for everything…

ME: “Rymi, are you ready to go to the store.”

RYMI: “I don’t think so”

Me: “Rymi, do you want ketchup”

RYMI: “I don’t think so.” (He HATES ketchup)

ME: “Rymi, do you want to fly to the moon”

RYMI: *giggles* “I don’t think so”.

It’s adoring to hear him speak in this manner.  Right now, his favorite phrase is, “That’s strange”. He just came up to me and upon discovering my cartilage piercing (which I almost never wear these days), he says “That’s strange…Mommy, do you have a hole in your ear?”  I could see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to reconcile this in his brain. That’s my boy, always looking for reason.

Just for the record, he has been tested for autism and no, he’s not. Even if he was, I would never put that limitation on him. I love the way he see’s the world…the way he connects with it. He has a beautifully rational yet creative brain and one day, it will serve him well. Right now, he’ll have to settle for being misunderstood by the majority and loved by his momma.

I’m not sure what this has to do with anything but I’m still battling with the beast (writer’s block) and so I’m trying to bat away at the cobwebs a bit…you know, get the juices flowing.

What is this blog about, anyway? #zerotohero

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In Darkness Within, one my main character’s first inner conflicts revolves around the words “Define Yourself”. For her, it isn’t the definition that’s a problem, it’s the admission of that definition that scares her (and for good reason). I thought it was a fitting conflict for her, not only because of the context of the story, but also because it’s something we all struggle with.

But, this post is not about Awen Murdock and her struggle between the physical world and the otherworld, it’s about me. It’s about this blog and the kind of things I write. For anyone who knows me or is already following my blog, you will appreciate how difficult this task is for me. I tend to be kind of “all over the place” and don’t do well with pinning myself to one subject or task.

So, you might be looking at my blog and asking yourself the question: What is this blog about? It’s about me, the blogger, of course and because I am a complex being with complex desires and motivations, there will be a great deal of variety to the content on this blog. I will try to pin it to the core subjects (while giving you some background information about myself).

Authorship

Obviously, I’m a writer. I never went to school for it; never formally studied journalism but I’m pretty good at it. It’s the biggest piece of “who I am”. It’s what I’ve always done. However, I am just making the leap from  notebook/journal writing and the occasional story contest to author.

I put this one closest to the top because it’s what I write about (most of the time). From time to time, I might talk about the projects I’m working on or a project I’ve already published. I might give a shout out to a fellow indie author whose work I really liked and I might even do reviews of other indie works from time to time.

Mostly, I will be blogging about writing in general: my frustrations and triumphs; my processes (or lack of real process); what I think about writing strategies (what has and hasn’t worked for me). I will probably write a lot about book marketing and promotion because it is has been the bain of my existence…If I find something that does work or something that fails miserably, I will let my readers know. If I feel like yelling and screaming (maybe cussing a little) at the gods of book promotion, I will write about it.

I guess you can say that I’m a “baby author” or an “author in training”. I wouldn’t call my blogging on this subject expert advice but it does hold weight because it’s a chronicle of the experiences I am having with writing and self-publishing (who knows, maybe traditional publishing in the future). I hope that other authors (both established and aspiring) gain something from reading my musings on the subject.

Furthermore, the very definition of why I have started blogging recently is because I love the indie author community. I want, above all else, to create an environment where authors (indie and traditional), bloggers, poets, journalists, ect. (let’s just sum it up as writers, in all shapes and sizes) can come together in open discourse and two way dialogue.

 

However: Be Warned…I will also digress: a lot. The two most common sources of my digression will be:

Spirituality

I was born in the foothills of West Virginia and I love my home, even though I’m far from it. I’m not a “country girl” in the social context that one would think but I do love the  natural world. I grew up climbing trees and rolling in grass all day long and I find myself at home when I’m connecting with nature. Because of this, and my metaphysical views, I have found a home in the study of Druidry.

From time to time, I will blog about it, too. Not because I want to come across preachy or spread the word about “my religion” but because it’s a part of who I am. I actually don’t believe that one religion (or philosophy, or any train of thought) is “better” than another. I’m saying this to make sure it is known that, although I will be writing about it a lot, it’s not the focus of my blog and I wouldn’t want to build a readership of ONLY Druid or Pagan readers.

Parenting

My children are my world. I try not to blog about them too much, because there are a lot of parenting blogs out there and I am (by far) an expert on the subject matter. Also, I want to give them a bit of privacy. They are too young (ages 4, 3 and 3) to have a say about what content I post about them so I try to keep embarrassing stories about them to a minimum. This blog would probably be a lot more interesting if I included every anecdote that they give me on a daily basis (they’re the funniest kids in the world) but I don’t think it would be fair.

However, being a mother of twins (actually, “Irish triplets”—my son is only 11 months older than my twins) does allow me some insight into the psychological or social aspects of twins, or raising children in general. I will write about that. Because it’s valuable and because it interests me (for instance, it’s exciting to look at the nature vs. nurture debate based on the raising of twins).

Maybe psychology, sociology, and philosophy should be a subset of my blog but I’m not going to do that because I will only write about these subjects on a whim and I do it quite subtly. I don’t see the need for spouting jargon because I’m an observer rather than an expert. I might write about my observations of society or a certain philosophical debate but I’m not going to bog my writing down with technical jargon and such. So, you don’t have worry about being bored to death by these rants. 😀

I think I’ve done a pretty good job at defining myself with this post but I must post a disclaimer. I have proven, in the past, to be pretty undefinable. One day, you might visit my blog and see a random post about the plausibility of lollipop rain (my husband and I actually have had this conversation). In the name of being a good blogger, I will try to write mostly about authorship but I know that I tend to write a lot about spirituality and parenting as well. I just want you to be warned that left field topics may occur on my blog most of the time.

Why I’m Glad That I’m Poor…

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For those of you who know me, this will come as no surprise but I just realized I am extremely poor. I’m not talking middle class America poor, either. I feed a family of 6 on $28 a day. That’s $4 per person. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought an item of clothing and it’s a miracle every month just to get the bills paid. I’m not sure, yet, why this is noteworthy enough for my blog but its what is weighing on my mind right now so I’ve decided to write about it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a feel sorry for me, sob and give me pity post. I know how I got into this situation and I blame nobody else for it by my own self. I also want you to know that it’s not because I’m too lazy to work, either. My husband works…he’s gone most of the time, leaving me here at the house with 4 children (ages: 11, 4, 3 & 3). We are not a dual income family because daycare for my youngest three (who will all start school next year) is somewhere around $450 dollars a week. So, I stay home with them and we make it solely off his income.

It’s one of those things that doesn’t usually plague me, either. I suppose the reason is because I have spent most of my life being poor. I grew up poor and my dad busted his tail working for promotion after promotion until he raised us out of poverty. Maybe this is the reason why my financial standing isn’t even a present thought in my mind, most of the time.

It isn’t until I’m reminded how poor I am that it occurs to me. Usually, its when a friend asks me to meet her for lunch or go out to dinner. Then, my brain begins to calculate and I decide that I would have to go without toilet paper for a few weeks before I could actually afford to attend. Those are the moments that I actually feel poor.

Still, I decline by saying I don’t have a baby sitter or some other socially acceptable excuse. It’s not that I don’t want to admit to her that I don’t have the money, it’s just that people don’t like to hear how poor somebody else is. I mean, seriously, are you going to enjoy your $20 steak if you know a friend of yours is scraping change to buy toothpaste?

I’m telling you now that I genuinely don’t care that I’m poor. Money just isn’t that important to me. Not having teaches you not to want and so I don’t yearn for new things or worship shiny objects. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why I’m thankful for my poverty.

  • I can’t buy people’s respect, I actually have to earn it. For this, I have to be a genuinely good person.
  • I can’t buy my children’s love and I can’t spoil them. So, I know we will have a strong bond and they will learn to appreciate the things they have.
  • I can’t spoil myself, which helps keep me grounded and I find myself more satisfied with the things that I have
  • I will never forget where I came from because every time I can’t sign my kids up for a sport or activity, I imagine the look in my mother’s eyes when she couldn’t do the same.
  • Because of this, I appreciate the sacrifices my parents made for me.

Out of all the reasons why I’m glad to be poor, the most profound is the way it makes me view the world. I recognize need in others. Not just in a financial sense but in a soul-aching manner as well. In fact, I see more need in those with money than those without.

I truly feel that poverty is a soul building exercise. Poor people have to connect with people, not things. So when I see somebody decked out in designer clothes and diamonds, I peer beyond the outer layer and most of the time, (but not always), I see something missing within that person.

Like I said in the beginning, I didn’t really know where I was going with this. I hope you’ve gotten something out of reading it. Hell, I just hope you actually read it all. I will leave you with one final note. When somebody asks why I write, I hope I never tell them it’s for the money. That is why I am releasing the ebook version of my novel for under $5 in January. I write for my soul; because I feel the need to share stories. I write to be heard and I write because it’s the only thing that I’ve ever wanted to do.

 

Seeing Race Through a Child’s Eyes

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As a parent, I have always tried to teach my children to be colorblind. I have seen difference in race, ethnicity and culture being distorted in such a negative way that I want my children to look past outward appearances. So, I have made an effort to expose them to different cultural practices and to people from different ethnic backgrounds. It seemed to be working, as my children never gave an indication of shyness to different cultural or ethnic boundaries. In fact, I have always been proud of the fact that my kids approach most strangers with politeness and respect. As it usually happens, just when I think I’m doing a great job at parenting, one of my kids have to go and prove me wrong.

I had taken all the little kids to the doctor’s office for my youngest daughter’s pre-op check up by myself. The entire time, they were their usual friendly selves, making conversation and interacting with everybody in the doctor’s office. As we were walking out of the office after the checkup, there was a sweet elderly couple setting by the exit door. My 4 year old son runs over to them, excited to tell them Merry Christmas. I smile and watch as he talks to them and the old man’s face lights up with the joy of it. As they interact, my son leans in really close to the guy and asks him a question which mortifies me.

The question was, “Why are your hands black?” I was taken back by the question because he had never seemed to notice any difference in race before and I thought the question to be extremely inappropriate. The guy just laughed it off and I apologized. After a few more seconds of conversation, we were all tucked safely in the car and heading toward our house. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the meaning behind the comment or what I should do to address it.

Because of my own interactions with the world, I found myself feeling like I had failed at teaching my kids tolerance. I couldn’t help to feel that this was a negative sign. Somehow, my son’s sudden realization of difference of race filled me with a sense of shame. I planned out how I would talk to him about it. I decided I would tell him, again, how people are like flowers. We have different color hair, eyes and skin but we are all the same inside. I decided that I would have to try, again, to make him colorblind.

When I set down to have the conversation with him, however, his reactions brought about my own prejudice and showed me flaws in my logic that I hadn’t seen before. I set down and before I began the lecture part of our conversation, I asked him why he asked that question. I wanted to know, first, what made him suddenly take notice of something he seemed to always ignore before: race. His answer floored me.

With a smile on his face, he simply said, “Because his hands were beautiful”. Tears welled in my eyes as I hugged him and told him that he was right, the man’s hands were beautiful. That was basically the end of our conversation because I realized that I didn’t need to explain difference in race to him. In fact, in that moment, he became my teacher.

I made the decision, a long time ago, to cast away stereotypes and look inside people rather than outside of them. People don’t understand, and I suppose its cliche to say that I don’t really notice race anymore. I mean, of course, I notice differences in physical attributes but I don’t categorize people based solely on these physical attributes. This is what I have done to shield myself from succumbing to the prejudice culture that I have encountered throughout my life and, for me, it works.

The mistake I made was assuming that my children needed to take the exact same approach to it that I had. It never occurred to me that my children would, naturally, question difference in race because I don’t ever remember doing it, myself. Of course, growing up in a small town, the question of difference in race wasn’t an issue until I was old enough to understand the implications of racial differences on a larger scale.

“Because his hands were beautiful” is not the response of a little boy who is noticing race as a means to set himself apart, somehow, from people of a different race. It is not the response of a little boy who will go through life without putting emphasis on the differences in race and culture. It is the response of a little boy who sees differences in people and, very naturally, celebrates it. It is a more beautiful and complete view of the world than I have.

I realize now that the explanation that my son has of difference of race is beautiful and pure. Trying to change it would be a mistake. I want nothing more for him than to go through his entire life celebrating differences, rather than using them in a negative or prejudice way. I know to do this, I don’t have anything to teach him. All I have to do is help him keep it.

School Uniforms and the Rebel with a Cause!

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My stepdaughter has issues with authority. I’m not referring to the normal, disrespectful quality that most American preteens possess. This is a deep seeded and intense disrespect for authority that has grown out of a pure lack of consistent and valuable authority in her early life. I appreciate a healthy level of rebellion, I really do. In the case of my stepdaughter, I could tell her to take her hand OUT of the Alligator’s mouth and despite common sense, she would shove it down further into the alligator’s mouth just to spite me.

It has been a struggle. She’s a really good kid: super smart, funny, talented and very likable. She just doesn’t trust authority. I can’t say I blame her because with the decline in the economy and public opinion of the president down, it seems that everybody’s confidence in authority has been shaken.

I have worked very hard to build some trust in authority with her. I have done the one thing that parents hate to do…I explain myself to her. I tell her why I am saying no and explain why I have instituted the rules I have. I don’t want to crush her rebellious spirit because I think it’s healthy to question authority from time to time. I simply want her to have enough respect and trust in authority that she can succeed in a capitalistic society.

Then, we moved and she started a Middle School that requires school uniforms. School uniforms aren’t that bad. I can easily explain to her that the purpose of school uniforms is to promote a sense of “sameness” among students. I can explain how school uniforms help focus the student on learning, as opposed to the clothes they are going to wear each day. I can explain how school uniforms are supposed to even the class structure within the school. I can  even explain to her why our religious symbols are banned but other religions are tolerated.

What I cannot explain is why her belt has to be free of stitching; why her socks must be below her ankle (even with pants); why she is not allowed to wear sandals. I can’t explain to her why it is okay to wear shorts and pants but not capris. Most of all (the rule that bothers her the most), I cannot explain to her why there is a strict hair length rule for guys.

For a lot of parents in this area, the school uniform code is an annoyance. For me, it’s a real problem. I know my stepdaughter will not have faith in the authority at her school if she feels they are instituting unfair rules. She is a good student and is great at following school rules (usually). However, I’ve seen what happens when her rebellious spirit takes over. I have seen the method that she uses to question authority that she thinks is not strong, and it is not pretty!

I have this mental image of my stepdaughter in school doing something crazy like shaving her head in protest of the hair rule or drawing fake tattoos all over herself to annoy the teachers. I want her to respect the authority of the school but I also see her point here. When an institution creates a rule structure that does not make sense in the mind of the individual, it should spark a sense of rebellion. If it wasn’t for this spirit, the American Revolution would have never occurred, we would not have labor unions, African Americans and women would not be able to vote and the list goes on and on.

I suppose what I am saying is that I admire her spirit. I don’t blame her for feeling the way that she feels about the dress code. In fact, a large part of me blames the school for not considering the rights of the student when planning the dress code. I suppose that I, too, am tired of power hungry institutions imposing ridiculous rules upon the whole of society, simply because “they can”.