Tag: family life

Don’t be an Arrogant Parent

One of the most startling and unpleasant discoveries I made on becoming a parent is how many parents indulge in flattering themselves that everything good about their children is because of their parenting prowess.  If their kid is well behaved it’s because they don’t “let” their kids misbehave.  If their child is smart it’s because they’ve been reading to their kid since birth and played intelligent music for them and didn’t let them watch any poisonous television.  If their kids eat well it’s because they wouldn’t “let” their kids be picky.

It became immediately apparent to me as a new mom that what was troublesome about my child was troublesome because I wasn’t parenting him well and that all his amazing qualities were due to my good parenting.  Or, at least, that’s what other parents constantly implied.  It struck me that many parents I met had what I almost think of as a god-complex; that it is by the grace of their own hands that their children are good or bad, smart or dumb, sweet or mean, sinners or saints, well adjusted or a psychological mess.  All the recriminations of other people’s parenting styles and the self congratulatory comments on their own methods made me feel like I was sucked down a worm hole of unreality.

There are so many things that influence a human being’s development that I think it ridiculous for parents to believe that they raise their children in a bubble in which the only influence is themselves and that their methods, if they work on their own children, will work on all children universally.  It ignores the fact that children are as much individuals as adults.

Other influences on a child’s development:

Their own personality.

Their individual temperament.

The environment they are raised in.

How that environment works with the child’s personality and temperament.

Their physiognomy (brain function, neurological wiring, body function)

Other people.

Sibling dynamics or the effect of being an only child.

Culture.  The world outside.

Just because you made a baby doesn’t mean you are automatically a great parent and equipped to handle the challenge of parenting.  I know that I am ill-equipped for this challenge and I do the best that I can but  being a mother doesn’t make me some kind of god of wisdom.  Some women start off with temperaments better suited to dealing with the constant needs of children and others have to adapt to it more.  Just because you are doing well with your own child/children in no way means that you are capable of parenting all children well.  Just because you’ve found methods that work well for your own kids doesn’t mean you know anything about parenting other people’s kids.

Just because your kids seem well adjusted and happy now (and well behaved and good eaters and not overweight and completely mentally healthy…) doesn’t guarantee that they will continue to be so.  The totally well behaved 7 year old may turn into a pregnant substance abusing 15 year old.  There is no guarantee that you are raising a prodigy just because your kid is smart at 11 years old.

Arrogant parents do a great disservice to other parents, especially ones seeking advice or help.  The arrogant parent will give absolute advice and let it be known to you that if you try their advice and fail it’s because you failed at carrying it out.  This is an awful way to set up new parents.  I know, because I was there so many times and it turns out my kid is, as I knew he was from the beginning, not the least bit usual and doesn’t respond in any of the expected ways other parents implied he should and I spent so much time thinking that my kid was struggling because I was a shitty parent.  I know better now.  I realize that anyone reading this blog on a regular basis knows that periodically I write an “I suck at parenting” post.  These posts are inevitable because I am NOT arrogant.  I question myself constantly.  I ask myself “what am I not doing for Max?” and “Why is this method not working?” and “What shortcoming of my own is resulting in all of us banging our heads against the wall?” and asking these questions of myself is an important part of my parenting process.  Raising an unusual kid means that I never get to rest on my laurels (mostly because I don’t have any) or be smug about my parenting prowess.  My kid has special needs and they don’t allow me to rest for a second as a parent.  I have come to understand that part of parenting a special needs kid is to let off steam from time to time.  So I do.  Sometimes I need to thrash myself to get it out of my system.  Any regular readers also know that I come to the same conclusion over and over again: I am the best person I know to be parenting Max.  There are many “better” parents out there but I don’t know any in my acquaintance who could handle my son’s challenges better than I am doing.

What makes a good parent?  Obviously opinions on this vary wildly.  I don’t think any parenting method is inherently better or worse than any other (barring abusive parenting, obviously).  I don’t believe that my parenting methods are better than yours.  In fact, I’m sure they’re not.  In the beginning I might have looked at your kids and judged your parenting based on their behavior but that was a long time ago when I followed everyone else’s cues.  I know better now.  I know that how your child behaves is not necessarily a direct result of your parenting ineptitude or greatness.  It might be, but that’s not something I can know unless I know you very very well.  Even then, it’s not something I can be sure I know because I don’t parent your child.

What makes a good parent, in my opinion, is a parent who chooses their parenting methods based on who their child is as an individual.  A good parent will recognize when the boundaries and ideals they’ve set aren’t working well for their child and will try different methods and set different boundaries.  A good parent will not flog their child with ideals they think they SHOULD be following and blame the kid when it doesn’t work.  A good parent will recognize that if their own methods are working well it’s because they’re using methods appropriate for their child but if a sibling comes along and doesn’t fit the same mold, a good parent will adjust.  A good parent, like a good spouse, is flexible and evolves and seeks to make a life appropriate for the individuals in their family and not try to fit their family into some general ideal of family life.   A good parent doesn’t view parenting as a power struggle or as an autonomy in which your child must be made to be the person you want them to be.  A good parent sees their child’s strengths and builds on them.  A good parent sees their child’s challenges and stretches to meet them, to find the best way to help their child through them.

Arrogant parents give dangerous advice because they fail to acknowledge that what worked for them with their own kids might be disastrous with a different kid.  I keep this very much in mind when I find myself advising anyone on parenting, which, I don’t often do in the first place.  If asked my opinion I will tell another parent what has worked so far for Max and I try to emphasize that my methods may be worth trying in their own family but their kids aren’t Max and so it may not be as effective for their kids.  Parents need each other’s support and I think it’s truly valuable to discuss parenting methods with each other to get new ideas and to help us get through parenting challenges.  However, it is important that all parents acknowledge that kids are individuals and there is no one method that will work for all kids and for most of us there is no one method that will work for one child and that our best bet is to put together a unique set of boundaries, rules, routines, consequences, and rewards that suit our wonderfully different children.

As a parent of an almost-eleven year old, my best advice to new parents is:

Trust your gut over everyone else’s advice.

Have some humility.

 

Under Water

 

What’s on my mind right now:

  • I worry that I’ve ruined my son by making him so comfortable and confident about being a person with mental illness that he has no motivation to work on his challenges and thinks that if people don’t like him exactly like he is then they can put a stick up their noses for all he cares.
  • My left hip has been hurting me for months now.  I rarely mention it to anyone unless I’m in a group of women discussing their hip replacements and pains.  Back of my head is the knowledge that it doesn’t matter if the joint degenerates and cripples me, I can’t get a hip replacement.
  • We still don’t know if we get to keep our house.  Silence from the bank is unsettling.  Philip keeps meaning to call for an update but I don’t think he wants to make the call in case it just means finding out we didn’t get approved for HAMP.  15 months of this uncertainty and counting.
  • My teeth need a major dentistry overhaul.  I apparently chose to take a vacation instead of taking care of my teeth and the gravity of that decision is only now sinking in.
  • When I don’t drink beer for four days it’s amazing how I’m just fine.  Except for the sleep thing.  It wasn’t really horribly bad until last night.  Last night was so bad I want to punch things today.  Insomnia alternating with nightmares.  Took me two hours to get to sleep, then when I did I kept waking up from the nightmares.  Nathan Fillion and I are no longer dream BFFs.  I will soon make an appointment with my doctor about the sleep thing because I’m committed to not drinking beer or any alcohol at least 4 days a week again.  It feels good.
  • Max’s eating.  Always there.  This anxiety.  I get so tired and give up.  Then I make a push for a while and sometimes get some fleeting results.  Then I’m exhausted and depressed from it so I give up.  The cycle is never ending.
  • Max’s sleep issues.  In our case the apple actually never fell from the tree at all, we’re apparently so much alike.  It makes me so sad.  So fucking sad that he should be at all like me.
  • Been feeling really depressed all summer.  It’s always like this in summer.  Worse than usual this year.  I’m really depressed all the time if I’m being totally honest.  Will talk to my doctor about this too.  I hate to have to up my medication.  Especially after what I experienced when upping my paxil.  I’m still wearing that consequence on my bones.
  • I’m being continually haunted by the first chapter in Jane Doe and know that the whole book has to be consistent with it.  I want to dive in.  I am feeling itchy to bury myself.  It’s calling out to me that it’s time.  It’s ready to be written.  Can’t scratch that itch.  Canning season is here, my family needs me, I can barely find the time to even cook anymore, work needs me, and my head is too cluttered.
  • I’m also scared of where that book is going to emotionally take me.  I know in my gut that it’s the one that’s going to scream the loudest if I don’t bring it out into the light.  It’s a dark dark place.  You can’t ignore what you were born to do because if you do the rest of your life will corrode around you.
  • Scared of how Max’s mind is practically an adult’s mind and yet his emotional state is younger than his years.  Scared of the stark divide between his toughness and his vulnerability.  I don’t know how to raise him.  I think I may already have ruined him.
  • Skin issues bother me and nag at my head.  My skin hates me.  Max’s skin is sensitive too.  Every time a mysterious rash appears or my athlete foot returns (I think that’s what it is) or rough patches show up I feel sharp anxiety as though it is the signal of the end.  Maybe a sign of the apocalypse I don’t even believe in or maybe a sign of physical decay or oncoming cancer.  I know it’s irrational.  That does not make me feel better.

Being a mentally ill mother is not a good gig.  I’m heartbroken when I realize the things I’m not doing for Max because I’m too tired to do it or too stressed to cope.  I should be enforcing more chores on him and creating more independence in him but his challenges mean that chores require 100% supervision from me and I don’t have the energy to do that when it’s so much easier and faster and less frustrating to just do things myself.  I know it’s a disservice to him but I just don’t have it in me.  So when people criticize him for being “lazy” and for not doing anything himself as though this is some terrible shortcoming in him I want to scream at them to leave him and his character the fuck alone because it’s MY FAULT AND MY SHORTCOMINGS they’re criticizing.

Then I just want to tell everyone to fuck off.

For god’s sake, this is not a cry for help.  This is just sharing.  Share back if you like but please don’t try to “fix” my problems.  I am not helplessly experiencing my life.  I have doctor’s appointments to make, I have sleep to try catching, I have my child’s therapist appointment to make.  I have medications to take and possibly more that are needed.  I don’t want a list of things I should do to help myself or my kid.  I’m a pro at being mentally ill.  I know that this is just part of the cycle.  I know how much in my head is irrational.  I know how much my brain blows up my worries, my fears, and my depression and projects them on the dirty back wall of my brain.

What I want is support.  What I want is to hear that others sink too.  I want to know that other parents drown under their responsibility.

I want to not be alone with all this in my head.

 

My Deliverance Approaches

Even the garbage is more colorful in California.

My head is a messy messy place today.  My internet connection is crawling like a swimmer with no limbs through sludge.  This makes doing my work very difficult.  I have repressed 5 screams and the urge to smash all the electronics in the house.  Nothing’s really wrong but I have feelings of panic and dread.  Which come in waves and then go.  This chipmonk is getting itchy to hoard food for the winter but books don’t publish themselves and so I have to compile a list of agents to query and get on that elevator going up cause this vestibule I’m standing in right now is getting very dull and dusty.

I was just chatting to a friend and my brain spat out “nipple clamps” into our chat.  I’d really like to know why that was hanging out in my head.  I was not aware of it until it was enjoying itself in my chat window.  I think it was a reaction to seeing too many cupcakes and listening to too much talk about fluffy babies and the Lord God today.  My head likes to keep things in balance.  If you think about it, nipple clamps are a perfect balance to cupcakes, babies, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Southerners and nipple clamps.

See?  That was the next evolution of that offering.  Care to speculate on how many southerners are into nipple clamps or if southerners are in any way metaphorically similar to nipple clamps?  What the hell is my brain trying to say?

School will start in a couple of weeks which I’m so happy about.  The season of ZERO structure and my kid falling apart because of it (I cannot provide structure and work at the same time).  Although Max loves being out of school because school is work and he doesn’t like to have to work, he responds very poorly to loose or no structure to his days.  Whatever works for your own kids I totally trust you to know.  My friends aren’t usually the ones who question me on this but I do know that there are parents out there who are sure that if their kids thrive on a three month break from early bedtimes, early wake-up times, well defined periods for specific activities every day, as well as times set out to eat and get exercise then all kids must thrive on a three month break from all that rigid structure.

My kid needs rigid structure.  In an ideal world I wouldn’t have to work for a living and could actually provide this structure when he’s home for the summer like I did for him from the time he was born until he was five years old (which is when we moved and then had the store and basically was the end of my stay at home days though technically I “stay at home” to work you’d be amazed how hard it is to take care of a kid who’s home while trying to examine written content and be a meticulous employee.)

Unless you do as I do.  In which case you know EXACTLY how hard it is.

Add to that a kid whose eating habits are a constant strain, who has to have a parent running interference between him and his friends and the world, all the little details that have to be just so, the difficult mood swings, and the narrow field of interests and you have a parenting situation that is uneasy for 16 hours a day.

When he’s in school (well, not for most of last year, I admit) his mind is engaged, his activities are focused, his mood swings are less focused on ME, he gets more naturally tired, he grows more, he is a lot easier to be around.  Last year was the most difficult school year he’s had.  Until he transferred to the charter school.

I CAN NOT WAIT FOR SCHOOL TO START AGAIN.

We are all so much better off with structure and cooler weather and BREAKS FROM EACH OTHER.

While I was away Max agreed to go rafting on Yamhill river.  This turned into THE WORST DAY OF HIS LIFE AND A PROMISE TO NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE AGAIN.

For a kid who is already at high risk of becoming agoraphobic, this is serious.

To soothe all that ails me I am reading “Venetia” by Georgette Heyer.  As soon as I’m done working I plan to plop right down and read some more.  Maybe when the air has cooled off I’ll go do some forms.  I must take it slowly because of that muscle I kind of pulled on my trip.  I think it’s mostly healed now.  Soon life will return to order and a slightly more peaceful version of itself.

 

Le Pot

Le Pot.  It is practically the anthem of my forebears.  They pretended to meditate at the foot of the cosmic universe and also Buddha but they were all secretly thanking the good earth for le pot.  My home state kicked me the hell out of its borders five and a half years ago and you’d think I’d be bitter.  I’m not.  Well, I was.  But I’m not anymore.  You can’t stay mad at a stoned out state so full of delicious diversity of ethnicity, taste, fortune, color, notes, and spirituality.  It’s the state of every flavor.  New York City thinks it’s running the biggest diversity gig in the states but I say it’s not.  I know it’s not.  It wears too much black and relies heavily on arthritic traditions.  California is reinventing itself every decade.

I love my birth state.  Aside from the climate, I am at home there.  Both in the north and the south though I’ll always be most truly a northern girl.  When I was eight and a half I adopted Oregon as my new state.  I loved it.  I’ve loved it ever since then.  My innocent view of it was, of course, shattered by my return to it five years ago.  I have grown.  I have learned to see it with new eyes and dream my old dreams in the quiet of pre-dawn.  I have never thrashed so much against the grain nor has my tolerance ever been tested so severely for things I assumed I had an endless and benevolent patience.

I am a dual citizen if such can be said about having feet in two states of this country of mine.  I kept trying to choose but choice, it turns out, is not necessary and somewhat futile.  We suck up all the oxygen and take on the flavor of the soils we’re raised in and so, just like our mutt heritage, we become a melange of flavors and terroir.  I can ridicule California as easily as I can ridicule Oregon.  One thing they have in common is their great love for le pot.

I tried to be a good flower child and smoke lots of pot with a lazy lurch towards some kind of cosmic convergence of laid back easy-access back door welcome mat relaxed jean wearing suntanned slot on the spiritual ladder of love but ended up retching violently every time I tried to smoke that shit and eventually accepted my less airy state of being as an anxious denim-hating keyed up pasty-skinned stop on the elevator to hell.  We all have our place.

Visiting California is just as much a home-coming as visiting Oregon has always been when I’ve been in California.  There is no choosing.  I belong in both worlds and neither.  I got too much sun on my trip.  I hate sunscreen and prefer to live in a climate where you don’t need it because you’ll be lucky to get an extra freckle in a whole summer of gardening.*  My skin is much too red now.  I like people to embrace the skin they were born with-all colors.  My skin in its natural form is white like cala lilies.  If I had been born with skin the color of mahogany I would not wish to make it lighter or darker but would want it to shine with its inner light.

It was such a pleasure to walk the beach from the Santa Monica pier to Venice beach at Market Street.  I walked the waves the whole way and wore a ridiculous grin I would have been embarrassed of if I could have given a shit.

I couldn’t give a shit.

The people in bathing suits were funny little humans and the whole way it was me and the birds ever watchful between the humans and the waves.  The seagulls and pelicans and me.  We understood each other and the game of the waves.  The true hunger of the ocean fingering her way up the beach to drag the weak to her bosom.  The birds and I kept perpetual eye on her hands.  I get vertigo when the waves retreat but if I stand still, so does the rest of the world.  I’m the only one who knows it.  I saw every kind of people and it filled me with happiness.  There was fat and thin and in-between.  There was black and white and pink and brown skin.  There were tattoos, hearts, jewels, rags, bikinis and shorts, young and old, every country represented.

The water was disconcertingly warm and reminded me of being a kid boogy-boarding in the Southern California waves.  Back when I wasn’t aware that the water wanted to suck me down and spit me out without my spirit.  I like a bracingly cold beach.  The hem of my skirt dragged as it got wet and wetter.  It’s mostly wood after all.**  Every time the water sucked at my hem I laughed out loud.  I didn’t care who heard me and noticed I was laughing alone.  I am comfortable in my skin and in the world.  I said to the ocean “Try again!  When you get me I will bow to you.  When you shrink wrap my soul in the intestine of an urchin I will give you my heart for free.  But you have to catch me first and I’m a wily substantive lady!”

I watched the birds tease the ocean too.  We played the same game.

I cut all the strings loose.  I untethered myself from obligation and time.  I simply walked and my sad mangled feet were cleansed with salt and sand and the light, though obnoxious, didn’t have the power to anger me.  I was in my other home.  Truth be told, California accepts me with so much generosity as its child that I can’t curse too loudly or too earnestly.  The light hurts my eyes but it embraces me in a way Oregon may never do.

California pushed me out of its border and I was deeply hurt and broken but I see now that it was to force me to evolve into who I’m meant to become.  I could never have grown as much in California as I have in the north of Oregon.  My wild tough surrogate mother state.  It has not been kind or easy or smooth here but it has given me the isolation and loneliness and desperation to find fiction.  The climate is kinder to me.  The snow, when it comes, gives my spirit buoyancy.  Being le poisson out of stream has forced my scales to become more vibrant and resistant to rot.

The blackberries growing in the Oregon summer are a prayer I’m never tired of reading and speaking out loud to my spirit.

Still, I’m proud of my hippie parents.  All three of them.  I’m proud to have mushroomed up out of a pot haze.  I’m proud to be the offspring of a couple of crazy young drug-happy adults willing to question everything and seek love and harmony even though hindsight makes a strong case for how ridiculous a mission they gave themselves.  I’m happy to have been taken on by a Jewish step-dad who traveled to Tibet with an idea of becoming a Tibetan monk.  I’m proud of all three of my parents who are, all of them, completely mad and messed up and brilliant and creative and strong-willed and-

thank god I have a will as strong as any of theirs or I might have been subsumed by them all like proteins absorbed in skin.  All of them are scattered now.  Disparate and individual and yet I see how connected they will always be through me.  I am the convergence of all this pot, philosophy, culture, and sand.

It’s possible that I might never have been born if it wasn’t for Le Pot.  While there was a long period of time during which I most sincerely wished I hadn’t been born, in the end I came round to this whole concept of hope and love and Frank Sinatra.  When I saw this wee spent doobie on the sand I saluted it for the anthem of my life it is.  I may be allergic to it but there is no questioning that my life has been paved with pot smoke.

Amen to the ganja.

Amen to the hippies.

 

*This is actually untrue.  In spite of so much less sun in northern Oregon than California there are a lot of UV rays crashing through the clouds and the sun sneaks in on you unexpectedly ALL THE TIME.  I gain just as many freckles every year in Oregon as I did in California.

**Rayon is made from tree fiber.

Sunday Chatter

In four days I’m going to get on an airplane and have a solo adventure.  If we get to keep our house, this may be the last time I go on a vacation until two or three years into my novel writing career when some royalty checks make their way to me.  (Like how I am visualizing the life I want rather than cowering under the weight of a parade of “if”s?)  So, no pressure to self, but I sure as hell better enjoy myself.  I have a plan: I’m going to eat only Mexican, Middle-eastern, and Chinese food while I’m down there.  Maybe some Greek thrown in.  I don’t eat Chinese food in Oregon.  There is no Greek food here in McMinnville nor is there a Middle-eastern restaurant in sight.  I know Portland is said to have some great Chinese and Mexican restaurants but the Mexican ones have been (at best) just decent.  I had a good burrito there with a friend but not what I’m used to.  NOT what I crave.  To offset the horrible commitment to caloric hell I will eat yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast every day and WALK WALK WALK.

I did not lose weight.  I mean, I lost 7 lbs and then I’m pretty sure I gained it back.  I’m not even willing to check.  My stress management has been crap this summer.  I was exercising a lot but then my back went out and I ate a lot of fattening food.  Dammit.  When I come back we will be in a two and a half week count down to the beginning of the school year and my plan is to kick off with a brand fresh effort at cleaning up my health all over again.  Max has decided to quit taking Kung Fu and so for now we have a little extra available money and I’m going to rejoin the regular Kung Fu classes while still taking forms.  If push comes to shove (and when doesn’t it in my life?) I will drop the classes again and stick with forms for the long term.  But for as long as I can I’m going to do both.  That’s three and a half hour’s worth of Kung Fu classes a week and I get PUSHED in those classes more than I can ever push myself at home so that will be an incredible boost of exercise.  Then I’ll have to practice.  I am NOT going to worry about practicing the material from the regular classes as much as the forms.

I just hope I won’t hurt myself much.  That constantly sends me backwards.  I know I will get where I want and need to get but I also know it isn’t going to happen even remotely as fast as I’d like it too.  I think it’s important for me to remember that I’ve kept off the top 15 pounds of my heaviest ever weight for over a year.  That’s definitely something.

Meanwhile… my ten year old has been letting loose with the teenage attitude lately and it’s been beyond annoying and tiring what with having to constantly reaffirm his boundaries.  Nine was such a sweeter year for him.  He’s so contrary and combative I really want to duct tape his mouth shut most of the day.  The only problem with that is that then I’d miss the really funny things he says in between making me want to head butt him.  It’s also a little weird that just when he’s becoming so horrid with the button pushing he also starts being more routinely helpful.  We don’t ask much of him.  This isn’t because I don’t believe children should be lazy asses.  It’s because trying to get a kid like him to help out is nearly always twice as much work for me as when I just do it myself.  He has to be closely supervised.  Usually.  Suddenly though he’s volunteering to feed the dog.  I mean he’s randomly piping up with “Has Chick been fed yet?” I say no and he goes and does it.  I say yes and he expresses disappointment.  I don’t get it.  I asked him if he’d get me more coffee yesterday morning and he did.  I ask him to go get something from the freezer outside and he does it.  So I’m wondering if this is a self defense mechanism in him- an instinctual counterpoint to the attitude so that just when I want to lock him in his room he does something completely helpful without the least bit of argument making me happy.  I don’t know.  I do know that this year has been one of the most challenging of them all as a parent.

I also can’t wait for the school year to begin again.  I have only one month to wait.  Once again I will have to say that it isn’t my goal to get rid of my child but he is so much healthier with all the structure of the school year.  Something I can’t give him in the summer.  I WORK quite a few hours of the day and don’t have time to go adventuring or managing his activities.  He loathes summer camp so we didn’t make him go this year.  His attitude is usually much better when his activities are directed all day long.

Time to go get another cup of coffee and find something to watch while sewing.  I don’t listen to music while sewing, as most people who know me know.  I like to watch familiar movies and programs.  I need the visual relief, something to rest my eyes on that isn’t my project.  Not sure what I’ll watch but I must figure it out before the heat paralyzes all of my grey cells.

 

Chasing Snow

(It said “no tobogganing”, but everyone figured that since the sign was down it didn’t count)

The last several days have been quite full.  So full that I feel a little dizzy with it all.  I’m going to share the highlights in bullet points:

  • What do the Williamsons do when the weather gets warm and sunny and everyone in town is kissing the ground with tears of joy?  We head for the snow!  We drove up to Mt. Hood so the kid and Philip could do some tobogganing, which is prohibited, supposedly, but tons of other poor jerks in need of a cool down were there tobogganing too.  We unabashedly LOVE snow.
  • At the bottom of the mountain it was 75° and up at Timberline Lodge it was 46°, which was perfect t-shirt weather for us.  The snow was dirty and a bit wet-ish but provided entertainment for my strange child.  I filmed the tobogganing and realized the dismal truth that I have zero talent as a sports commentator.  It was a blow to my ego for certain, but I recovered in about 6 minutes.
  • We enjoyed a very expensive sub-par lunch at the Timberline Lodge.  Maybe that’s a little harsh.  It wasn’t sub-par but the menu for day visitors is not extensive (there is a different dining experience reserved for actual hotel guests) and it’s mostly $16 sandwiches not intended for vegetarians and $20 plates of meat not meant for vegetarians.  However, I did score a bowl of vegetarian chili that was okay.  Someone in the kitchen has an obscene love for chipotle.  Max had the best cup of hot chocolate of his life.  I believe his glowing report because he drank the entire cup of it.  Generally he only drinks 2/3 of a cup.  He gets tired of hot chocolate pretty fast.  Mostly we just enjoyed each other’s company and the lodge-y atmosphere.
  • Epic bloody nose.  The bloody noses had abated quite a bit.  Max hasn’t been having very many in general, compared to how he used to have them sometimes up to three times in a day.  The one he got when we got to the bottom of the mountain started out mildly enough but I should have known that my oversight in not bringing an entire box of tissues in the car doomed us.  It quickly became a matter of enormous stress for everyone requiring that we stop at a small “grocery” store to get tissues and dispose of the pile of revolting saturated ones that made it look like we butchered a pig for apres-ski amusement.  The kid was covered in blood.  I do mean COVERED.  This was a double sided one.  If you’ve never experienced a gusher so enthusiastic that it comes out of both nostrils while also pouring down your throat then you’ve really missed out.
  • Our neighbors got a puppy a couple of weeks ago.  How can that possibly be bullet point worthy?  Our neighbors are clueless eejits who leave their new puppy outside by himself for hours and while they can’t hear the poor baby yelping, howling, moaning in despair, and barking without cease the entire time he’s out there- we can.  It has been a torturous experience.  I get to be heart broken right along with the poor puppy who clearly thinks he’s been abandoned every time it happens.  We didn’t complain even though I couldn’t work without headphones on.  We didn’t complain until the night of the awesome thunder and lightening show for which the puppy was tied to a tree in the middle of the neighbors yard with no way to get to shelter.  My grown dog is terrified of thunder.  Imagine how a puppy feels out in the open under the drumming sky all alone?  When it started pouring buckets on the baby we were livid that the neighbors didn’t bring him in.  I marched over to their house and pounded on their door.  They arrived while I was deciding what torture I would visit on them for their pet crimes.  They claimed they didn’t know it was going to rain.  What lame asses tie a puppy up without access to a roof of some kind in the Pacific Northwest?  The situation has progressed to the point of calling ordinance control on them (for the incessant puppy distress noise that goes on for hours).  I’m sorry we had to do it.  We would take the puppy away from them and find him a more responsible home if we could.  We can’t.
  • In a breathtaking example of idiocy I managed to think Max’s school year ended on Memorial weekend so he got a whole week of summer vacation before having to go back to school because his mother’s powers of inquiry took a really big break.  He was (understandably) really pissed off at me.  School doesn’t really end until this Friday.  What’s completely unbelievable is that no one at the school seemed to have noticed he was missing.  No one called to find out why he wasn’t there for a whole week.  At the old school we’d get a call if he was an hour late getting to school.  Apparently the attendance rate of pupils at a school made up predominantly of special needs kids is pretty poor on average and so they don’t fuss about absences.  Duly noted.
  • We now have a pet snake named Pete.  Max caught him on the school grounds on Monday, making his return to drudgery pretty cheerful.  Pete is a baby garter snake.  Philip is not a fan of snakes.  When I say he’s not a fan of snakes I mean he really doesn’t like them.  When I say he really doesn’t like them I mean they occupy the space in his head reserved for nightmares.  So it’s pretty noteworthy how awesome he’s been about the fact that his son is now a snake owner.  We don’t know anything about keeping snakes as pets but we’re learning fast.  While I purposely planned on never owning a snake in my life, I have to say that Pete is adorable.  Never in my life did I imagine I would use that word for a snake, but it’s true.  And the excitement Max feels about him is also adorable.

And now it’s time for more coffee and a little work on the 3rd draft before starting my other work.

The Passion of Soundlessness

Do you ever get in a peevish mood for no apparent reason?  Where it feels like an ill wind blowing hard but the air is as stagnant as a hot airless summer day?  I feel like that right now.  I can number my complaints, I’m sure.  They are many and all ridiculous.  Let’s take a look:

The inconsequential nothings making Angelina as bitchy as a crow with bent feathers:

  • Philip saying I obviously don’t have a very strong sense of taste because he can very distinctly taste the nettles in the pasta I made to very carefully mask the taste of nettles which I don’t like.  Shot me down like a German jet.  What’s stupid about me being annoyed is that the bottom line is that dinner was so fucking good it’s taken every ounce of will power not to have seconds.
  • The noise level in the house which only just diminished as Max and friend were sent to bed.  I could not think a single thought without some intrusive SHOUTING crashing through them.  Makes me want to punch walls.
  • I’m annoyed that I can’t decide what the hell I want to do so that the whole evening is trickling away with this uncharacteristic indecision.  So I’m writing this post about how annoyed I am with myself.
  • Finding out that Max’s psychologist is twenty years older than me but looks my age was a major irritant.  It is demoralizing and comes, I’m sure, from him having a balanced mind and a Quaalude-calm personality.  Max was as astonished as I was and said “But you are completely wrinkle-free!”  I crawl in my ditch of limp-hipped drag-bagged self and cry.
  • My mom telling me I have every reason to freak out about something just when I’ve calmed myself down to a place of rational and philosophical evaluation of the thing that freaked me out.  Thanks mom.
  • People existing in huge numbers all around me.
  • Philip coming home announcing that he made blue belt tonight in Kung Fu.  I am proud of him but also jealous.   I am disappointed in myself that I don’t feel I can be in public classes right now and have that sinking feeling of having failed.  Max is pissed too.  It’s at moments like this when I hate my mental illness and the side effects of it in my life.  Obviously has nothing at all to do with Philip.
  • I want to cry which always makes me want to hurt myself because I hate crying more than most things.  I probably don’t hate crying as much as I hate Hitler, who would most certainly have made me cry, but I’d rather not, all the same.  Ever again.
  • There was no Daily Show this week.  This has made a huge impact on my peace of mind and my sanity, as well as my ability to look any Republicans in the eye.
  • There was no episode of Castle this week.  I live for such small crumbs of enjoyment.
  • It is a mild irritation that Beckett has long dowdy hair.  I am remembering this all the way from last week.  Long hair is great if it’s great on you.  She looks much better with shorter hair.
  • Max and Philip have lost my mp3 player.  I will never let them borrow it again.  If I ever find it.  They both deny being the last to have it but Max has been taking it with him for the car ride to school (there’s now a twenty minute commute to Max’s school) and I, being the benevolent mother I am, let him take it.  Now they both deny ever seeing it ever at all and meantime I haven’t had any nice energizing walks with the dog and my music.
  • I’m irritated that I’m peevish.
  • Philip keeps encroaching on my pillow.  I don’t share my pillow.  Because I’m crazy and other people’s heads have other people smells and if I smell other people on my pillow I can’t sleep.  There’s a lot of pillow encroaching around here.  Philip has a different perspective on this, naturally.
  • Forget cryogenics, save me a padded cell for chrissakes!

That’s a whole lotta irritation.

Incidentally, you may have noticed that things keep changing on this template.  That’s because I like to play with templates and headers.  I just learned to play with vectors in Photoshop so I want to see what I can do.  I can’t stand the spacing issues in my last template and the opposite spacing issue in this one- it’s a style-sheet thing and I don’t mess with style sheets.  However, I like the layout of this template.  I’ll probably try all kinds of stupid things.  I really want to make the colors of the template monochromatic.  They’re too cheerful and bright for my daily journal of grouchy outpourings.

Before I sign off for the night I’d like to counter the irritation with a couple of things I’m very pleased with.  There are only a couple, but I think it’s worth doing this exercise.

Where the satisfaction lies:

  • I realized today that at this moment in time I have a truly solid and tight relationship with my son.  This could dissipate at any time as we both evolve, I don’t take this moment for granted, but right now my son trusts me absolutely, he believes that I can always come up with solutions (however small) to what ails him.  He loves me, he feels safe with me, and he brings his heart to me every day for proper care and feeding.  That’s no small accomplishment and no matter how much of a mess I am, I am (at this moment) succeeding in giving him everything he needs.
  • Today I addressed the big bag of nettles Philip foraged for me this last weekend (while I was busy writing my head into a tiny crevice til 4am) and we had a non-verbal communication that was satisfying and pretty, me and the stinging nettles.  As always, when I prepare food, or plants, I find myself in complete harmony with, well, with whatever it is we must attune ourselves to in order to feel grounded and satisfied.  Obviously it didn’t last, what with this great peevish tirade I’ve treated us all to this evening, but while I snipped the large stems off and placed the prickly leaves into the dehydrator and set aside a few cups of them for dinner, I felt really honest.  Truly in my own skin.  I am happy in such busy meditative states.
  • I was remembering the psychologist who diagnosed me, Jay Judine, who is now dead.  I was remembering how solid and pragmatic his advice and thoughts on managing mental health were.  He had a profound influence on how I look at my own mental illness and how I manage it.  This week I was able to share some of his advice and my own experiences with another mother who has a kid a lot like Max.  She found my advice helpful and I have to attribute it to Jay.  How I am raising my kid to view his own mental health is very much influenced by my one and only experience of getting therapy.  I am so sad he died so young, but I’m truly happy that I got to benefit from his life’s calling before he bid adieu to us all.  In having placed my mental health in his hands I did myself a great favor as he did me a great service and I never felt like a broken creepy person in his presence.  I felt like I was merely different and that those differences have their own value.

What if I just kept writing down this page, and never stopped?  how long could it become?  No one could follow that long, but what if this single page could grow long enough to reach the center of the earth?  How many words would that be?  Could all this technology holding up my words support such a journey of endless type?  As is so often the case, the act of writing, putting words down, spilling the old idea-box of all its tricks is soothing.  Like smoothing clay across poison oak.  It quenches the existential itch.  It fills all the leaks and relieves pressure.  There have been many times in my life when the simple act of writing characters on paper with specific pens for hours non-stop was the difference between life and death.

It isn’t always what needs saying.  Sometimes it isn’t about saying anything at all.  It’s about the shape of letters, the feel of paper underneath fingers, the feel of letters scratching onto paper with pleasing pen-tips.  I remember one afternoon when I had escaped all my roommates and noise to lose myself in my favorite place in the world, Chinatown in San Francisco, I found myself in this small park behind a bunch of buildings.  Not the kind of place tourists go.  The kind of place working people go to eat a quick lunch.  There was an ignominious statue, possibly of Mao, that I was fascinated with for the great quantities of pigeon droppings caked on his shoulders.  I sat myself down for hours in this anonymous little park and I wrote.  Not to say anything.  I wrote for the pure pleasure of making letters across paper.  I sat designing new ways to write my alphabet, what I know now as “fonts”.  I also practiced writing with a strong slant to the left.  It was the formation of the letters of the alphabet with my pen, whichever was my trusty favorite at that moment, it was a sensual art; it was a sacred and meditative activity to form letters, groups of letters, saying inane thoughtless things but looking so gorgeous on the page.

This was, and remains, my element.  To sit in anonymous places with pen and paper and no known voices speaking into my ear; breathing the colorful scent of otherness and transcribing the minutes as they come without regard for time, for propriety, for grand purpose, or for posterity.  There is a sound that even the smoothest pen on the silkiest paper makes: it’s like a rush of wings, sweating feathers, rushing air; it’s like a piteousness of doves startled from rest to sweep with wild whispering into an overcast sky that absorbs the cries and hushes inquiry.

I’ll bet if I strung all the words I’ve ever written together on a string they’d reach earth’s core where they’d burn and disperse as ash.

Thinking about the passion of soundlessness.

The Power of Solitude

My dad doesn’t like to spend a lot of time alone.  He doesn’t enjoy solitude.  He loves companionship, sports, parties, and having fun with people he enjoys.  I think he’s not unusual in this way.  I have a friend right now who admits to not being good at self entertaining and who prefers to be in the company of others as much as possible.

I need the company of others as most humans do, but it costs as much as it pays.

I need solitude.  In an ideal world I would spend at least fifty percent of my time completely alone.  I have lived extremes.  The year I lived alone in an apartment in the upper tenderloin of San Francisco was so lonely I actually cried a lot over it and ended up talking to the cockroaches.  My main friends were three really dysfunctional men, two of whom slept with the same woman periodically and one of whom was a pot dealer and so spaced out he had to be tied to earth with a string.  We bowled a lot and drank plum wine and Anchor Steam beer which I now despise.

Now I am married, have a ten year old, and live with my mother.  I am almost never alone.  Since my kid has been mostly sick for a month and a half and has been home a lot, I have had so little time to myself I am shredding.  This summer I had to pull back from things, social media, friends, family, everything.  It helped me recenter myself.  I am now in need of recentering again but I don’t need to disconnect from social media to do it.

I need more alone time in real life.  Real life.  What a strange thing to say.  As though any part of life isn’t real.  We exist everywhere we exist and so all our actions and interactions are real, whether or not they are conducted online.

I have come to this place, again, where I’m not hearing myself first every day.  There is so much noise around me from other people it’s difficult to pick out my own voice.  There are so many people who have serious expectations of me: my son, my son’s teacher and everyone he tangles with at school, his psychologist, his Kung Fu teacher who is also mine and who expects things of me both on Max’s behalf and on my own, work, my mom, my pets who are riled up by all the change, my husband, and my works of fiction.

And then there’s me.  There’s what I expect of myself.  It’s become so tangled up with what other people expect of me that I hardly know what I’m actually asking of myself anymore.  The only thing I was asking of myself that no one else was asking of me was to get cracking on the third draft of my novel.  I am stymied.  Paralyzed.  People keep telling me I need space.  “Take a break” they say.  “Walk away for a while and let it breath” they suggest.  I fought it because I feel the fire of ambition and I’ve never been so close to achieving the thing I’ve been driving at for most of my life.

This week slammed into me with an explosion of noise, emotional torture, and crisis.

It was important for what it revealed.  A meeting with Max’s teacher, principal, special ed instructor, and a random other teacher who had a complaint about him culminated in the very clear message that everyone in an official capacity now agrees with my assessment that my son is not only different but is facing enormous challenges in his future.  It has been suggested that Max needs an IEP, a tool that can be very helpful for kids with disabilities but which officially marks them as people with legal disabilities.  I know it’s silly to know my son has serious challenges and then freak out when everyone agrees with me that this is something that needs to be addressed legally and more seriously.

I did freak out.  I cried in that meeting and I don’t care how natural it was of me to do so, I couldn’t let go of my shame for that for three days.

There is so much, so much crowding my head for explanation that it’s too much.

What it comes down to in the end, the real message for me this week is that if I don’t minimize the chaos around me and the expectations being made of me I will go down that rabbit hole of doom otherwise known as a nervous breakdown.

It all comes down to this:  I will do anything to have more time alone.  I will do anything to listen to silence.  I will do anything for the comfort and peace of solitude.

I walked the dog yesterday.  It wasn’t as peaceful as hoped because there was too much stimulus everywhere: people walking their dogs that Chick is forcefully interested in, cats that Chick is forcefully interested in, and no white noise of music to blot the world out for reasons too dull to explain.  Even so, getting away from human voices and the surroundings that feel trapping set a little part of me free.

Today I took the dog out again.  This time I had my white noise.  The air was soft and comfortable.  Chick didn’t pull on the leash, attempt to chase other dogs or cats, she fell into immediate rhythm with my pace and I stopped to stretch my calf muscles four times (still experiencing strained calf muscles) and the distance from other people, the needs of others, and the expectations that dog me was blissful.

I am taking a hiatus from Kung Fu.  It isn’t important to explain why now, but I felt lighter and coming up from the deep was my own connection with my body.  Everything needs to slow down.  I am still the same size but since taking Kung Fu my body has changed and so much progress has been made- but too fast.

I need everything to slow down to my natural pace.  I’ve made too much progress too fast, asked too much too soon, both in writing and of my muscle and bone.

Today I took the fresh air deep into my lungs as I walked and paused to stretch and I let myself feel the freedom of only answering to myself.  I may be a task master but I am always compassionate when I let myself out of my cage, when I let go of what others expect of me.  I felt my stride lengthen and my muscles warm with movement.  I took in the color of the crocuses and daffodils unfolding shyly in the gardens I passed, not on mass display yet, just white, yellow, and purple peeking out of borders and underneath trees.  I saw how the sun fell on cars and lawns and old men trimming hedges.  It felt benevolent, calm, quiet.

I crave solitude.  I crave an empty house.  Empty rooms.  Places where no voices rush through skin.  Places where the color is louder than thought.  I crave silence of mind and absence of humans.  It’s how I recharge.  Sitting in complete solitude for hours on end.  This is why I have spent so many hours fantasizing about becoming a nun or a monk.  Or taking vows of silence.   Impossible for a person so verbal, I know.  It’s my constant fantasy, to have no actual voice that isn’t paper and ink.

To be alone and hear the air moving is delicious.

To be alone and lost in the details outside of oneself is meditation.

I am taking a break from the book to recharge.  It’s ironic that the first book is now haunting me and pulling me forward.  I will not press, I will not push.  I am taking a break from my ambition and my passion, to listen.

I think this is all part of my necessary pattern.  To listen to it, to acknowledge it, to accept it is absolute.

I am aware that sometimes my distance, my choices, my absence, and my silence can be hurtful to others.  I don’t rejoice in anything I do causing pain to others but I know that if I don’t give myself what I need then it causes even greater pain to others.

Walking is powerful to me.  Solitary walking is prayer.

I will walk my dog more often to give her what she’s been missing and desperately needs.

But I will walk myself without her too.

I will walk myself until I can run because it’s the only way I can find solitude.

All the answers may be known if you are willing to be completely alone with yourself.

Is a woman’s life pointless without children?

I just read a very interesting post written by a woman who objects to everyone thinking her decision to not have kids is their business and their assumption that the only reason she doesn’t have any is because she can’t have any.   Her objection, more specifically, is that anyone thinks it’s their business to ask what she’s planning to do with her womb in the first place.  The post itself didn’t spark my thoughts today as much as the many comments she received about it.

One commenter tells the author that she can’t know what she’s missing by not having kids.  Others talk about leading a “more fulfilling” life by having kids.  This all echoes a million different comments I’ve heard over the past decade on the subject of having babies: women claiming that their life can’t be complete without kids, that if they don’t have more than one child they can’t feel happy, that having children makes a life more meaningful, that having children makes them a better person.

I’ve got news for everyone:  what having children really does for you is wear you out, make you fatter (not universally, but very common), steals all your time for personal development, divides (by however many children you have) the time you have to spend with your spouse as a couple, each additional child you have robs attention from the previous children you already had (your love may be infinite but your time and attention are not), it robs you of sleep, robs you of relaxation, makes hanging out with grownups difficult, and drains you of money.

I want to take a moment to remember how angry I used to get when women I talked to who were working outside the home used to imply that my life must be mind-numbing and less worthy because I was a stay at home mom.  It’s always been my belief that if a woman decides to have children the best thing she can do for them is to stay home with them as long as finances allow.  I still believe this and career women without children assuming that staying home is an unfulfilling life choice are asses.

Since then I have encountered so many smug women with children who think their purpose in life (having babies) is the most noble and fulfilling one that a woman can have.   Women who think a childless life is less meaningful and fulfilling are also asses.

Smug career women are asses.

Smug working moms are asses.

Smug stay at home moms are asses.

What I want to say to the woman who suggested that you can’t know what you’re missing by choosing to not have kids is this: if I have two eyes in my head (or one really sharp one) with which to observe the parents I see around me I can know EXACTLY what I would have missed by not having one.  Now that I have one I can say authoritatively that I was NOT missing anything  necessary to make my life more fulfilling or meaningful.

I was on the fence about having kids for seven years (right after having spent a decade knowing absolutely that I didn’t want any) before I finally decided to give in to my hormones and have one.  The idea of having a kid had nothing to do with being fulfilled.  I was already fulfilled by my life, by the things I chose to spend my time doing, by the people I chose to know, by the goals and ambitions I already had for myself, and the new things I was always learning.  I wasn’t missing anything in my life, I just wanted to take a detour, to go in a new direction.

If I had turned out to be infertile I would not have been devastated, I would merely have been disappointed.  I wanted to experience family life but long before I even met my husband I had a serious sit-down with myself after dating one too many stupid men where I basically slapped myself upside the head and told myself that having fun, having a good life, and finding meaning was all my personal responsibility to myself and that I would end up so much less powerful if I looked to other people to fulfill my needs and dreams.

The plus of having my child is not about my own fulfillment, the plus is that having him gave me him.  I love him.  I am proud of him.  I won’t give him back.  He’s awesome.  He’s smart.  He’s handsome.  He’s talented.  I love him more than anyone else.

However, I didn’t need him to truly understand the circle of life, the fact that we’re mortal, or that parenting is hard.  I do understand some of the choices my parents made better now that I am one, but that knowledge wasn’t necessary to develop a strong relationship with my mother.  I didn’t need to have my kid to get closer to my spirituality or to improve my empathy or compassion.  Having a kid has not made me a better person than I would have become without one.

Being a cognizant, evolving, self-aware person is what makes me a better person.  My son is a big part of my life but I would never burden him with being responsible for giving my life meaning and fulfillment.  He will have to be responsible for his own and that’s enough.

So screw you all who think a woman needs children to be fulfilled just because you couldn’t figure out how to make your life meaningful on your own!

Fulfillment in your life should NOT depend on: anyone else.

How about this scenario: how about women stop being smug asses to each other and realize that all of us have different ways of reaching our potential and that the greatest thing we have is: CHOICE.

You will never hear me say that a woman can’t meet her greatest potential and meaning by being a stay at home mother.

Being a woman who chooses both a career and a family is the hardest choice of all, in my opinion, and regardless of the choices I personally would make, I respect any woman who can make having both work.

Lastly (and maybe most importantly of all), you will never hear me suggest that the life of a woman requires either a man or a child to make it meaningful, productive, beautiful, fulfilling, or complete.

Burkas for Burly Assassins

I wouldn’t love burkas if I was forced to wear one all the time, however, I have to admit to having a bit of a fetish for hats and scarves that conceal and shadow.

Max wanted to be a ninja for Halloween and I figured it would be a cinch to buy a cheap ninja costume somewhere here in town.  I was wholly mistaken.  The only crappy ninja costume was at Walmart and was in XL men’s sizing.  I didn’t want to sew because I have finally gotten back into the flow of the novel.  Besides that, I have 9 years of experience that inform me that Max will wear a costume for exactly 7 minutes before the pieces all start coming off.  He loves the idea of dressing up but ultimately doesn’t enjoy the strangeness of garments he’s not used to wearing and that feel weird.

The pokemon costume lasted a record low of 67 seconds after which he refused to wear it for trick or treating.  It “hurt” his head he told me.

So then I figured I would go ahead and make one from a pattern.  Every boy wants to be a ninja, right?  Patterns must abound!  I confidently browsed the catalogs of all four major U.S. pattern companies to discover exactly two ninja costumes.  One was for some cartoon ninja character and was, therefore, stupid as hell and ugly, and the other was in adult sizes only.

So I did what I always do which is buy an unrelated pattern for a template and make it into what I need it to be.  I used a thing of Philip’s (forget what they’re called because I have thread instead of brains now) to make a pattern from which I might then alter the face covering head warming thingy into a ninja mask.  I did some impressive online research to help me stylize the whole costume.

Now that I’m done I have to say I’m impressed with how it all turned out.  Max is wearing sweatpants (the only pants he’ll wear) and a long sleeved black cotton top as an undershirt.  Over that is the tunic, the obi, and the gaitors.

If I ever have a waist again I’m going to make this outfit for myself to wear all the time.

I tried hard to get good action shots.  Max gave me two and one of them super-sucked.  He’s a purple belt in Kung Fu now and can execute some truly great jump kicks.

The great thing about doing anything all the time is that you get better at it all the time.  This is why old jerks have so much more mastery over their craft than fresh jerks do.  Whatever you’re doing all the time is what you will master.  That bears some serious thinking about.

I’m also thinking a lot about intentionality.  I started a post on this thought earlier today and realized that if I posted it as I was thinking it I would lose all my friends.  I kind of need them.  Becoming a master at the things we spend the most time doing is directly related to the idea of intentionally doing the things we actually want to be doing and not doing things that fall into our laps or crash into our lives randomly.  Letting life happen to you is not really living it.  Letting your life unfold apathetically may work for some people, but I say that with complete insincerity because I have never seen the apathetic approach to life yield good results.

I’ve spent the best part of my life making intentional decisions about how I live my life, going after things I truly want only after having spent time evaluating how much I want it, how good for me it will actually be, and then saying what it is and drawing up a plan.  Plans go awry all the time, paths twist, intentions evolve and so I may not always end up where I thought I would nor achieve the things I intended to but my life is not littered with accidental detours or regrets.

I lost my way completely not long ago but that’s because I lost complete faith in myself.  It’s difficult to move forward if you can’t feel your own feet.

Kung Fu has helped me find what I already had in myself and then lost for a few years: the ability to focus on what I want, to see it, to name it, and to move forward even when I can barely walk because I refuse to stand down or give up.  There is so much in life we can’t control or change but our own actions, our own decisions make a huge difference in how our lives weather the chaos and navigate the dark swells.

Personal responsibility, choice, action, and intention.

Ninja isn’t just a Halloween costume.

Kung Fu isn’t just about throwing wheel kicks.

But if you can look this good doing any of it?

Comets will bow to you.