Monday, November 29, 2010

I Know the Way You Can Get

I Know the Way You Can Get
by Hafiz

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp,
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent 
And into one's self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been out drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love's

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep Remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
and Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me,
For I am a Sweet Old Vagabond
With an Infinite Leaking Barrel
Of Light and Laughter and Truth
That the Beloved has tied to my back.

Dear one,
Indeed, please bring your heart near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Child is Gifted AND Talented.

I'm going to admit to you that there are still times that I get anxious about what I'm going to "do" with my children.  I mean that in the most literal sense.  We get home from school, I make lunches, coffee for the morning, and dinner, we eat, and then two hours stretch out before bathtime and then bedtime.  When the weather is nice and the sky is light, life is easy.  I just scoot them outside while I clean up, and then join them.  Or Eric gets home and kicks the soccer ball around.

But it's dark early, early now, and those two hours have to be dealt with.  Anxiety.  This anxiety is a hold-over from when they were toddlers and I was trapped in the house playing the same boring games over and over again.  I know this is a horrible thing for a mother to say, but I found their toddlerhoods among the most difficult times of my life.  I'm traumatized from the boredom, still.  Remnants of that trauma resurface in moments of unfilled space.

I'm very unenlightened and pitiful.  Be glad I'm not your mother.  Tsk tsk.

Luckily, they're older now, and I like these particular ages much, much better.  Usually those two evening hours take care of themselves.  The girls and I sit at the table for family drawing (thank you SouleMama), or we do puzzles, or Eric plays Uno with them and I sneak off to check Facebook and try to make up pithy status updates (there is an art to that, I tell you, and I haven't mastered it yet.  My high school friends the Drabinskis are masters.  It's intimidating).

Other times, though, the kids sprawl across the dinner table moaning, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do right now, Mama!"  And that familiar anxiety resurfaces.

But, saved by a field trip.  Addie's class went to the Denver puppet theater today and she came home with a handmade construction paper "puppet" taped to a straw.  And we decided that in the dreaded two hours we'd make our own puppet theater and puppets.  We hacked up and painted an old box:

And tomorrow morning, when it's dry, we'll have the puppet show.

I know better than to invest too much in these projects, and the outcome was far from amazing.  We're not making it into any craft books any time soon.  But it was fun.  The girls had a blast.  And, most importantly, it's bathtime.

Here's my favorite puppet, from my six-year-old in the gifted and talented:

Please don't notice how much wine is gone from that bottle in the background.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Doodies

I get the feeling you don't really believe that I'm going to try to say "no" more.  Those of you I see in person, you get a little smirky when we talk about this, like yeah, whatever, we'll see.  But some of the female faculty at work had a meeting, an actual meeting, to talk about how to say no (I couldn't attend because I was barfing my brains out).  So I'm not the only one, succotash, fighting this particular problem.

One of the websites circulated after the meeting, in an email, featured 20 ways to say no.  Like, actual ways.  I think some of these are pretty great, though when I read them they enter my brain a little bit like a foreign language.  So I'll practice them here, and then maybe you'll actually hear one come out of my mouth in the near future.

"I am in the middle of several projects."
"I am not comfortable with that."
"I am not taking on any new responsibilities."
"I am not the most qualified person for the job."
"I do not enjoy that kind of work."
"I do not have any more room in my calendar."
"I hate to split my attention among projects."
"I have another commitment."
"I have no experience with that."
"I know you will do a wonderful job with that."
"I need to focus more on my personal life."
"I need to focus on my career right now."
"I need to leave some free time for myself."
"I would rather decline than do a mediocre job."
"I would rather help out with another task."
"Let me hook you up with someone who can do it."
"Not right now, but I can do it later."
"Some things have come up that need my attention."
"This really is not my strong suit."

I plan to use one of these quite soon.  Can you guess which one?  It's with a colleague who will absolutely not take no for an answer.  Lord, he just will not.  So now I'm in a bind and have to get out.

Here's another one, which I used in a recent email:

"If I take on one more thing, my head will explode."

The level of professionalism in that one was tops.

The only problem this list doesn't address is when you've got some sort of fundamental ego problem and take on new things because it makes you feel needed and worthwhile.  Not that I have this particular ego problem or know it intimately.  So another one for the list might be, "I feel very flattered by your invitation, and my ego would very much like me to take this gig, but my ego gives me the shaft every five minutes and I'm trying to shut that beeyotch up."

Again, professional.

One other landmine: a lot of those in the list above might invite more work down the road, which I have to be careful about.  Do you have a favorite "no"?  I'd like to hear it.

November Nasal News

It's November, which according to my calendar, means it's time to bore you with all of our many viruses and bacterial infections and bodily functions.

But I'm not going to do that, because, like I said:  boring.

If I was going to bore you with all that, it would go something like


But I'm not.

Instead, I'll bore you with the fact that, in between coughing fits, I've been doing some felting:

This a felted bangle.  Super quit to knit up, then I felted by hand and added the seed and bugle beads.  Thank you One More Skein for inspiration.

In between dry heaves, I knitted this little number:

Chunky wool, rescued from the thrift store, a made-up pattern, shoved some buttons through stitches.  Crocheted a shell pattern around the edges Then lined with jersey so not too scratchy.  These are all over Etsy and I wanted one.  Cozy!

Other than that, not much is new.  My oldest is still petulant, my youngest wakes at 3am every night like clockwork, my dog and husband snore in an alternating symphony of joyous exhalation, and we bought an entire box of frozen snickerdoodle batter for a school fundraiser.  Life is plentiful and good, in other words.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wrapped Up in Doodie

I was talking with one of my teachers the other day about how things are going, and how I still struggle with overcommitting, and with feeling like some of my life is taken up with duties and that this keeps me from feeling free.

Before I tell you about her response, I should say that I see a huge difference between duty and service.  Service, for me, is reciprocal, being in conversation with another or in one's self, a fulfillment of love and recognition.  I raise my children out of service, because I learn and grow from it just as they do.  I do the laundry because it's pleasing to me to have clean clothes.  I stay in touch with friends not because I have to but because it feels good to connect, to listen and be heard.  All of those things are service, in my mind, because they are about relationship and mutual fulfillment.

Duty, on the other hand, is hollow.  When I sign up for duty it is usually because there is some voice in my brain that says "if you don't do this, it will look like you are this," or "if you do this, you'll be seen as this." Duty is about externally projecting the thoughts of others back on to myself.  It is about shoulds and have-tos, shame and guilt.  It's about fracturing myself into a million tiny pieces and seeing where those pieces stick, and thinking approval or appreciation or love will come back in some form or another because I did my duty.  Duty is exhausting and about anything but freedom.

Sadly for me, duty is often really alluring.  My ego loves duty because it makes me feel wanted and important.  I sign up for duty all the time, especially at work.  Then I spend quite a bit of time feeling bummed or pissed that I "have" to do all this duty that I don't really want to do.  See that?  I sign up for the duty, then resent others for giving me duties.  Hilarious.

As Nolie would say, "Duty is doodie!  Bahahahahaha!"

Ah, the wisdom of babes.

Anyway, what my teacher said was this.  "You need to understand the difference between excellence and genius.  Excellence is fine, you know?  It's about doing things well and on time and as you're supposed to.  Excellence is a good thing to reach for.  But its downside is perfectionism, and in the end, excellence can be quite limiting, constraining.  It's not really what our souls want, this excellence for excellence's sake.

Genius, on the other hand, is about freedom.  It's about yearning.  It's about spontaneity and thinking differently, about laughter and joy and listening to Spirit.  So, you might ask yourself which one it is you're wanting when you make your choices."

I say this most humbly.  I don't think of myself as excellent or genius, either, most of the time.  But I like this distinction, and think maybe we can let go of some of our preconceptions about what these words usually mean and think of them instead on a heart-level, as a guide for how we might live our lives.

On the morning walk with Milo I was listening to an old Fresh Air, where Terry Gross was interviewing Abbey Lincoln, a singer and actress who died in August.  I kept having to stop on the walk and close my eyes to listen, because Lincoln just had so many amazing things to teach me.  And her voice is gorgeous to listen to, anyway.  The final story she told was of an interaction with Thelonius Monk, where he told her, "Don't be so perfect."  And her husband Max Roach said, "Make a mistake."  She said she didn't know what they meant.

Gross asked her if she knew what they meant now, and Lincoln laughed and said she did, and that what they meant was that if you really reach for it, really shoot for the moon, and your voice cracks, oh well, at least you shot for the moon.  You can be safe and stay here on the ground--in duty, reaching for excellence--or you can shoot for it, take the risk of failure, and be guided by your spirit's instinct to genius.

She said it better than I, but you get the idea.

This is all high-falutin.  I'm not quite sure how to translate it all into the daily.  But it's on my mind anyway.  Listen to the Abbey Lincoln interview if you have time.  It's worth it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And Then I Was Bummed

First, I was happy, because my kid with the stomach problems is doing really, really well on the new program.  I mean, we don't need to get too graphic, right?  But things are really, um, flowing well.  Super well.  Super-duper...

You get the picture.

And then I was bummed, because some time in the last two weeks she developed the most rotten attitude I have ever seen.  It's like living with a reality show monster.  A teenage werewolf.  A snot-nosed brat.

I don't mean those things.

But, honestly, I maybe think them, just a little, in some far off corner of my brain, every time she snatches something out of my hand and rolls her eyes at my stupidity and then screams at me for loving every square inch of her six-year-old little know-it-all self.

Yeah, go ahead and chuckle, we get the kids we deserve, she's hoisting me on my own petard, blahdiblahdiblah.  Blah blah.  That just makes me mad at you, too.

None of my tricks are working, either.  We've tried points charts and time-outs and loving talks and extra attention and she still is just acting like funky mold in the pesto jar.

I need some help on this one.  I need some time for thought.  Some patience.  Extra love in my heart.  A new gimmick.

Maybe a mommy's night off.

Cause it just ain't working right now.  I'm about to ship this kid to I don't know where.

You know what I mean.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On the Walk

This child is still in my lap
legs forming a hard T, jutting
an unfamiliar hard line from and against mine.
But also resting her rounded cheek, no angles,
on my leg.

She looks up.
I look down.

The future lays out similarly before us.
Perhaps there is a cold front looming beyond the mountains, ready
to drop its cold winds in our midst.
Or there is the long flatness of a desert road
gondola rides in Venice
the rhythmic ecstasy of carnival
or, even, the curling up in soft grasses, hushed
by prairie winds and geese overhead.

I lay my head back on the pillow
close my eyes against what comes.
She grabs my own cheek, little hand on hard plane,
and whispers good morning, dear red bird,
good morning to you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Had to look up how to spell that.

We had a few hours today and considered going on a family hike because it's so freaking gorgeous out.  But Addie was having some trouble with her feelings today, and I thought a date might be in order.  She said we couldn't go to any stores for our date (Who, me?  Wanting to go shopping?  Shocking).  So we decided to participate in a little craftiness, using this wonderful book.  We did NO Halloween crafting this year, but rectified that with this little Thanksgiving masterpiece:

We did have to go to the grocery store to get the gourds and tissue paper (the directions called for dried corn and corn husks, but for some reason King Soopers doesn't stock that as a staple, so we just cut up some construction paper petals and cut some grasses from our dead gardens, and threw in some Werthers for shine and yumminess).  But even the trip to the store was relatively painless, and Addie wasn't too peeved about it.  Everything else we had.

Fun times, and a good reminder from the mouth of babes that it's often better to make than buy.  If we had been even more creative, we would have just collected leaves and stuff from outside and skipped the gourds.  Next time!

You get the idea, anyway.  What would you put in your cornucopia?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Upcycle Update

I haven't been sewing much, because for some reason at 9:15 every night my body has been going into a coma and I fall asleep, ne'er to be seen again until 6:30 when the evil ones come in and jump on the my head and the clink of the coffee cup on my bedside warns me of impending doom.  I've been feeling quite joyful and peaceful, lately, too, so maybe it's all that happiness that's wearing me out.  Not sure.  Also, been working a lot.

BUT I have been drooling over a few holiday catalogs (the usuals:  anthropologie, garnet hill, sundance, j.crew) whose clothing I cannot afford.  Plus, I have a genetic aversion to buying expensive clothes new.  The craving is still there, though, especially for all the bright, sparkly things in fall line-ups this year.  I want I want I want!  Me want sparkles!  I'm like a fish that way.  Bright, sparkly, hook, frying pan.  That's me.

So as the girls were taking their bath last night and E. monitored election results (yay for Hickenlooper!  Yay for Brown!), I attacked with scissors and a rotary cutter a sequined evening gown my grandmother sent me last year and sewed these big sequiny flowers onto an Old Navy tee.  Took about 12 minutes.


That seems to be my pose, the arms akimbo thing, eh?  You must be weary of it.  How about another shot?

Hard to give you a close-up without it being a total boob shot, but here we go:


Anyway, you can feel bad for the sequined gown if you like, but it was totally Falcon Crest--big shoulders, shaped like a sack.  It deserved to get hacked.  Plus, it's a ton of material and will service many reJuJu tees in the future, I'm sure.

I think this gives me awesome professorial pizzazz, don't you?

I almost wrote pizzass.  Which I also have some of.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Getting It Out

Alright, so here's the deal with Addie.  It's taken me a few days to write about it because it's something of a socially taboo topic (not that poop has ever been off bounds on this blog), Addie's getting older and maybe could be a little embarrassed by this, and it's also taking us some time to figure things out.  But I think it's good to talk about things, to shine a light on them, so that there is no shame.

Basically, Addie has this condition called chronic constipation.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is, or it could be.  It may not be a big deal for Addie, yet.  We don't know.  We're optimistic, but we don't know.

For the last month or so, Addie's been complaining of pretty bad stomachaches.  It looked like cramping from the way she was bending over.  It usually happened around mealtimes, but not always.  One of Addie's little friends also had chronic stomachaches awhile back, but that turned out to be kind of like attention-getting behavior.  So, we had a few hypotheses:  either it was hunger, she was needing attention, or she needed to poop.  Or, it was some horrible and unnamed problem, but neither one of us even spoke this possibility.  The cause, and therefore the solution, was not clear.

Then, a few days before the trip, Addie started to complain of her "vagina leaking."  She was using huge amounts of t.p. just for pee, and then had a urine accident on the plane back from the trip.  I felt really concerned, figured maybe a bladder infection.  There was also one stool with bright red blood.  Scary, very scary.

So we made a doctor appointment after our trip, just to be on the safe side.  Addie is allergic to most antibiotics, or we think she is, and we needed to have her tested to make sure, because she's building up resistance to the one they like to prescribe and that she can tolerate.  But the allergist wouldn't do the test until we figured out the stomach thing.  So we go into our pediatrician about the stomach thing, and the peeing thing, and also a bad cough Addie just developed.

The doctor does all the normal questions and exams, and honestly, I just expect her to say that Addie has a cold and maybe is something of a nervous kid, and that probably explains the stomachache.  And maybe the pee thing is that she just needs to give herself more time on the toilet.  The blood thing, I don't know.  A hard one?  That's what I expected. I expected the doctor would laugh and kid me for being a nervous parent, bringing my kid to the office yet again.

But, nope.  Instead, the doctor says, "Well, we have two very serious things going on here.  One more serious than the other.  She's got bronchitis, a really bad case of it.  We can treat that.  Of greater concern is the fact that she is chronically constipated.  Basically, she's full of poop.  And the poop is getting hard and impacted and pressing on her bladder and causing the leakage, and before long, if we don't get on top of this, you'll start having anal leakage."

Yes, friends.  Anal leakage.  These are phrases every parent can't wait to hear at the doctor:  "very serious," "impacted poop," and "anal leakage."

And after that there was some talk of "this could be the worst year of your life" and "this is one of the most common and yet incredibly serious things we see" and "you have to get on top of this immediately or it will seriously ruin your quality of life."

Like, scary words, pretty much.  And a scary story.  The worst year of our life?  Ruin our quality of life?


I guess I'm glad she imparted the seriousness of things, because I basically was forced to push through the stupor I felt into action.  We don't know exactly what caused the problem.  Diet doesn't cause chronic constipation, but it can help it, so that's one thing.  Addie also is not a big fan of certain public bathrooms, particularly those ones where there are automatic flushers that spray water on your ass or airplane bathrooms where the flusher seems like it's going to suck you in (pretty run-of-the-mill kid fears, I think).  Our best guess is that she is just a very, very focused kid.  She does not want to miss anything in school.  When she is reading a book, you almost can't rouse her.  When she's watching t.v., she falls into a t.v.-watching coma.  All "spirited child" stuff.  So we've got to retrain her brain and her muscles to properly register when she needs to go to the bathroom, and then strongly encourage her to listen to those signals, and provide her with opportunities to act on those signals.

Here's the do list:

1)  Switch to a mostly whole foods, probiotic diet.  We're most of the way there anyway, but need to cut out some of the white flours, especially, and dairy products with lactose.  Addie loves fruits and veggies, but we needed to up her intake of bran and whole grains.  Easy enough.  Prunes, baby, prunes!

2)  Get her on a potty schedule.  She has to have dedicated "potty time" after every meal.  Which means getting her teacher on board.  Teach is very cool, so also easy enough.  She loves to read, so I bought her the gigantic fifth and sixth Harry Potters at the thrift store, and she just goes in with those and hangs out until good things happen (so to speak).  I promise not to lend you these books someday, you germ-freaks.

3)  Keep a food/poop journal.  Record everything she eats, and everything that comes out, along with tummy aches.  Gathering data helps us with the second-guessing, any tendency we might have for shaming or blaming, and with tracking long-term improvements.  The thing with chronic constipation is that kids with it still poop; they just only may poop every four days.  They hold the rest of the time and those muscles get all screwed up.

4)  Give her Miralax, an easy-going laxative, everyday.  We've chosen to do this after school to try to avoid accidents during the school day.

Writing it here, this doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but when the doctor was first telling me, I felt like I went into shock.  I mean, our lives are so full, and these changes seemed big.  And what if we didn't "get on top of it"?  Would our lives be ruined?  What if we failed?

And you know what?  I kind of bought into this horrible possibility for a few minutes, because that's what I've always done.  It was tempting to believe this might derail everything, be the shoe I've always been waiting to drop.

But that story can suck it.

For a bunch of reasons.  Addie is a kid who, three weeks after being told she had a lisp, basically cured herself of it with no speech therapy--just some gentle reminders.  We are a family who comes together in difficult times and makes whatever changes we need to make.  I am an organizational mastermind, who may not be able to control this situation, but can use her powers of automation and system building to make these things happen smoothly.

Most of all, we are just bathed in love and grace and light and, you know, that helps a lot at times like this.

My money is on us kicking this thing in the pants.  Ha!  No pun intended.  Already we are seeing good things and feeling positive.  In some ways, maybe this is a blessing--a chance to improve how we eat and drink, to be there for one another, and to be compassionate and loving.  That sounds okay to me.