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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Teaching Myself To Make Mistakes

It’s all coming together folks. I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.

Wait for it…wait for it….

A high school English teacher! Ba baaaaaa! I’m so excited. Drum roll please.

Fanfare and shrieks of excitement?
A pat on the head?

My interview is next Monday and if all goes well, I’ll be training to stand in front of a white board (do they still use blackboards?) and have paper airplanes thrown at my head. Yessssss.

It is true my first impulse was to become a school counselor. That may still be my path but it turns out you should teach a bit before you do that? And I agree. I had no idea I was going to be this excited to be a teacher. If all continues to go well I will be interning next fall at a school near YOU. Or, me, hopefully.

Also, Ellie wants everyone to know she wants to be a teacher-scientist-dog when she grows up. We do like our science. And our dogs, apparently.
I digress again.

I am nervous about, well, everything. Am I making a big mistake? Should I stay home with them a few more years? Should I apply for a part time position somewhere nearby doing administration or clerical work? Should I try to go back to work for ‘Big Oil?’

But each obstacle (child-care {guilt}, late nights, exams, extra stress on me and the kids {guilt}, paper airplanes…) will come and I will manage it. I’ll manage my mischief as well my little Harry Potter fans.

One of my favorite lines from one of my other favorite books (A Wrinkle in Time) is:
Meg: “Charles Wallace whatever she is, whatever that is, whatever all this is…I don’t like it!”
Charles Wallace: “You’ll manage.”

No matter what happens, I will manage. You will too, you know. Whatever you are facing, whether it’s going back to work like me or retiring from it. Twin babies or no babies, you’re going to manage too. I think if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not really living. Because who never makes mistakes? People that never try anything new. I don’t want to be that person. Frozen in perfection, immobile with the weight of what-ifs?

I’m thankful for all the twists and turns my life has taken, all of the surprises, some good, some not so good, and the way I’m being taught that no matter what happens, it’s all going to be okay.

That isn’t just my inner Pollyanna speaking, that’s my inner Wonder Woman too. Life is tough. Sometimes you need to lasso people with a golden rope to make them tell the truth. Sometimes you need to fend off paper airplane attacks with your bangles, or your determined sunny attitude.

“Don’t sell yourself short by being so afraid of failure that you don’t dare to make any mistakes. Make your mistakes and learn from them.” Maria Shriver.

Life, eh? It’s a mystery. All we can do is give it everything we’ve got.

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” Vincent van Gogh.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day, Perfection, and a book about Snowblowers and Secret Fans

Toby is curled up beside me. A warm fire is burning merrily in the fireplace. A Curious George Special Christmas is on the TV. 

Ellie is eating oranges and goldfish and Benji is settling down for a long afternoon nap. These are some of the things I am grateful for this Veterans Day. 

Beto lost Texas, Democrats took the house, but everyone wins because we have a system where we the people get to vote our conscience. And if it isn’t too serious for a blog mostly about my trials with diaper blow-outs and narcissistic self-help fads, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to all the veterans both in my new country, America, and in my home country, Canada. 

Thank you so much for your service. I wouldn’t be here, drinking Soy Latte’s and talking smack about politicians and questionable policies if it weren't for your sacrifice. Just, thank you and I hope we can honor you by showing up, by voting, by risking wet shoes and cold fingers to make sure you know you are appreciated and respected. Thank you all.

Speaking of being grateful to be able to ramble on about the latest self-help fads, I just read ‘The Gifts of Imperfection” By Brene Brown and ‘Girl, Wash Your Face’ by Rachel Hollis.

I’ll sum them both up for you with a quote and four words:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Theologian Howard Thurman

‘GO GET ‘EM GIRL!’ Blogger, mom, and ridiculous dreamer, Angela Yeh.

These two ladies are teaching me that perfection is perception, not reality. And it never makes anyone else feel good. It smooshes our interesting 3-D selves into a flat paper drawing. I don’t know about you but I like a little texture to my friends.

So that’s those two books.

I promised my book club ladies I would actually read this next book soooo, ‘The Snowflower and the Secret Fan’ is the next one I read. It sounds amazing. Also I don’t know if it’s because I’m Canadian but spell check keeps changing Snowflower to Snowblower. I would definitely read the Snowblower and the Secret Fan.

I digress.

Thank a Veteran for me, read a book and tell me about it, and if anyone is writing a book about snowblowers and secret fans, please let me read the first draft!

"The solider above all others prays for peace, for it is the solider who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Douglas MacArthur

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Fierce Fairytales that will Stir Your Soul

I'm awake before the sun today. Before the baby. Even the dog shook his head at me and went back to sleep. I’m not sure what woke me. There’s the final rumblings of a storm, the low growl of thunder, the occasional flash of lightening.

It isn’t often I’m awake before the babies. It’s usually Benji’s ‘Mommmmeeee! Mumu-mum-mum-MOMMMEEEE’ that rings me into wakefulness around 5:30am every morning. Or Ellie’s sweet singing, a lullaby or just a random song that includes what’s she doing right now. “It’s mooorrrnning and I’m sitting in my roooom. Toby is jumping on my beeed. What should I doooo todaaayyy….”

I love my children. They make me laugh and cry, and raise up in me a fierce protectiveness that surprises even me. I thought I was all sweetness and light but it turns out when it comes to my kids I am also claw and fang. Mama Bear Lives Here.

In any case, it is nice to have a moment alone. A hot cup of tea to myself. The utter darkness outside pressing heavy at the windows. My own thoughts clattering into order as I write this.

If I sound a little more poetic today than I usually do it’s because my attention isn’t divided between hauling Benji’s head out of Toby’s mouth (or butt), and explaining (again) to Ellie why being on electronics too much is bad for her brain. And then explaining why she’s going to have a banana or an apple right now instead of another bag of gold fish. 

Why did I take them out for Halloween again? Not to be a downer but the thrice daily negotiations over eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner BEFORE she gets into her stash as well as one, two or THREE treats this time is slowly wearing down my will to live.

I digress.

I’ve also been reading poetry again. I found a delightful book of poems that speaks to my whole soul - Nikita Gill’s ‘Fierce Fairytales - Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul.’

Consider this soul stirred. 

Ah, the deliciousness of reading poetry that skips rational and logical explanations and just sings into your heart! Zing! I love it. It’s all about women - about how strong and amazing we are.

As a woman I am just now becoming aware of all the ways our society doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate women in countless ways. From lack of prenatal care for lower income women to the meager amount of time we’re allotted for maternity-care leave. Twelve weeks? Really? Unpaid? REALLY? But I thought you said being a mom was the most important job on the planet?

These first few years of my children’s life are the most important cognitively, and emotionally. I have been so blessed to have been able to be here with them full time. To teach them myself about the wonder of the everyday world. About how numbers are fascinating and never end, about how books are the very best thing to curl up with on a rainy day. 

To communicate to Ellie how very beautiful she is, but that outer beauty is just a pretty shell on the beach. There are millions of those. Real beauty is kindness, and bravery. 

This time with them is priceless and once it’s gone you can never get it back. And I am one of about 23% of women who have been able to afford to do this. 

Even still, the gap in my working history will penalize me an average of eleven thousand dollars a year for the rest of my working life.

Being a mom is the most important job on the planet. It’s more important than making money. It’s more important than being in a position to be able to wield change that could benefit all women everywhere.

The job of nurturing and raising children is literally what our future hinges upon. I’m a little worried the power to be able to do and be that isn’t in our own very capable hands.

Her mother told her
she could grow up to be
anything she wanted to be,
so she grew up to become
the strongest of the strong,
the strangest of the strange,
the wildest of the wild,
the wolf leading the wolves.'

Nikita Gill.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Into The Woods With My Prince Charming At the Crighton Theater

Bill took me Into the Woods today. 

He took me to a community play based on the movie, based on multiple fairytales, enacted in good ‘ole Conroe at the Crighton theater. The theater itself was interesting - built in 1934 if you must know - very retro. It was in an old part of Conroe, a place I had no idea even existed. It felt like stepping back in time. Two competing theaters on opposite corners. A barbershop. Three lawyers offices sandwiched between a gift shop and a hair salon. A PI office. I peered inside the dirty windows searching for a man in a trench coat and hat, leaning against a pock-marked desk, chatting to a fancy lady smoking a cigarette. Something moved in there but I’m pretty sure it was a cat. Or the restless ghost of an unsatisfied client; it is almost Halloween after all.

I digress.

It reminded me again how dark and violent the original fairy tales were. Grimm tales indeed. With loads of subversive messages for women and children.

Gasp! Hidden messages! Say it isn’t so!

It is so.

Hidden messages like; wait for your prince - stay pretty and quiet (preferably totally comatose) until he arrives and rescues you with a kiss. Then go stay perfect and happily ever after.

Messages like; don’t go out after dark. Don’t go into the woods. Don’t stray from the path. The world isn’t safe for young women to venture out alone. All our favorite fairytales have them - subtle messages underneath the obvious. I know it sounds a little intellectual and weird but next time you watch a movie or read a book (especially old horror movies) ask yourself two questions. Who is punished? Who is not? These two questions will tell you what the underlying themes are, the ones you don’t notice unless you’re watching for them.

Beauty and the Beast used to be one of my favorite movies. Until I had Ellie and I watched it again and I realized I don’t want her to think it’s okay to be kidnapped and imprisoned by a beast of a man. I don’t want her thinking she can change his ‘misunderstood’ heart. Girl, you better run from that dude. Forget the beast, marry the baker. Or better yet, go get a degree and be a librarian. Books are the only true love you need Belle.

I really liked what this play and the movie did as well - and that was to keep telling the story AFTER the happily ever after. After they fed the narrator to the angry giant it got REALLY interesting. The princes were hilarious. One line was delivered particularly well - one of the Princes' was trying to win over his wife after he’d cheated on her with a maiden in the woods. 

“They taught me to be charming, Princess, not sincere.”

Let’s teach our boys to be sincere, and our girls to be brave. It’s a new world out there folks, and my daughter will have choices and possibilities our grandmothers would only have dreamed of.

And maybe it’s time for some new fairy tales, yeah? Is someone on that? Someone besides the Shrek and Moana people?

Lastly, a longish-but-worth-it quote from my girl Tay-Tay. 

“When I was a little girl I used to read fairy tales. In fairy tales you meet Prince Charming and he's everything you ever wanted. In fairy tales the bad guy is very easy to spot. The bad guy is always wearing a black cape so you always know who he is. Then you grow up and you realize that Prince Charming is not as easy to find as you thought. You realize the bad guy is not wearing a black cape and he's not easy to spot; he's really funny, and he makes you laugh, and he has perfect hair.” 
― Taylor Swift