30 December 2014

On Leelah Alcorn

Image source
There's a very sad story circulating this week about the death of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn.

Leelah, who was born male, was struck by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 in Ohio. Days later, a suicide note appeared on Leelah's Tumblr, which explained her desire to transition, the lack of support, and her desperation because of the situation, which led to her decision to commit suicide.

There has been a lot of discussion about this story already. It may be easy to place blame on Leelah's parents for their lack of support, particularly when it led to such a tragic end. And while I most certainly don't condone that kind of lack of support, neither can I judge them for doing what they thought was best at the time. That's what I do as a parent.

Besides, there is a bigger issue at work here (well, two issues that I want to discuss) than whether or not Leelah's parents should have behaved differently.

The first and most important thing is that we have to do better. There are teens and adults all over this country that die because of who they are. Some take their own lives, like Leelah, because of how others react to them. Others, like Matthew Shephard, are killed because of other people's perceptions of who they are.

There are people dying every day because of small-minded, judgmental people who won't see past their own opinions to offer the support that's needed in these situations.

And we have to do better. We can't let society continue to kill people for being who they are. For wanting to live authentically.

The other issue I want to discuss is the media coverage of Leelah's death.

I am so glad that Leelah's story is being told, and that it's starting and continuing important conversations about what it means to be queer* in today's society. But how many other teenagers and adults have similar stories that haven't been told? How many families bury their trans children using their birth gender and name instead of how they identified? How many families turn their backs when people come out, leaving family members homeless and alone? How many people just like Leelah have no voice in our society?

We have to do better.

With Puck and Tink, I frequently remind them that I just want them to be happy, and to be the people they are on the inside as well as on the outside. I want them to be comfortable in how they identify, and will always do whatever I can to help them live authentically every day.

Because, as a society, we have to do better. As individuals, we have to do better. As parents and siblings and children and friends, we have to do better.

And it has to start right this minute before we lose another precious life.






-----
*I have chosen to use the word queer in this post as an inclusive term in regards to the LGBTQ community.

Doing what works for me

Some time ago, I committed to living a vegan lifestyle. It was a much easier transition than I thought it would be. Some time after that, I re-introduced some animal products into my diet. It was a hard decision, but one that was made with my health at the forefront.*

However, I have recommitted to a plant-based (vegan) diet, which I'm transitioning back to now.

The decisions I have made about my nutrition and exercise, and even spirituality, have been made carefully, with much research, and focusing on what I truly believe to be best for me. That is why I moved away from a vegan diet, and that's why I'm now moving back to it.

I have to do what I feel is best for me. And moving away from a vegan diet (which I thought was best for me at the time) has shown me that plant-based living really is one of the keys to a healthy life for me.

I know there are those who will see that and say, "Well, of course. Why did you ever give it up in the first place?"

I know now that I shouldn't have, but again, I was doing what I thought was best for me at the time, and that's all I can do.

Here's the thing. For lots of people, the choice to go vegan is an ethical or environmental one. They see the travesties that occur in the industry, even among "ethical" and "organic" and "free range" companies, and they can't support that. I am on board with that.

For others, the choice to eliminate animal products and by-products from their diets comes from a place of improving health, and knowing that cutting meat and dairy and other processed foods is better for health. And I am on board with that, too.

For me, it's a combination of ethical/environmental and health reasons, but the health reasons are slightly different. I have found that my body does not handle animal products well. I would equate it to a similar reaction that people get when they are lactose intolerant.** It's not an allergy, but my body doesn't react well, and lets me know that it prefers it when I don't eat those kinds of things.

So I'm transitioning away from them and back to a vegan lifestyle.

Since I've done this before, the transition is easier this time around. I don't find myself craving non-vegan foods the way I did previously. And because I'm trying to focus on how those foods make me feel when I do eat them, it's been easier to avoid them.

One of my goals for 2015 is to make sure that the decisions I make are best for my family and for myself. And that's why I will be proudly vegan beginning January 1st.

All I can do is what works for me, and vegan works best for me.






-----
*I know there are people who say there is no health reason to eat animal products. I am aware of the arguments. Keep reading.

**I was lactose intolerant as a kid. It got better when I was an adult, then came back after my pregnancies.

29 December 2014

The year in review

2014 has been a good year for me and my family. And while I'm excited about looking ahead to what's coming in 2015, I think it's also valuable to look at how this year has gone because it has been instrumental in making me who I am and putting me where I am.

This was the year I met Bo, and that has made all the difference in my life. I could say nothing else about my year, and that would be enough.

Bo and I have been (officially) dating for about nine months. And as cheesy as it sounds, the longer we're together, the happier I am. She makes me happy, the munchkins adore her, and she makes me feel like I'm finally living my happily ever after. I can't wait to see what 2015 brings for our relationship.

But that's not all I've had to celebrate this year.

I've expanded my client base, and made some decisions about how my work is going to change in the near future that will help me achieve significant short- and long-term career goals. (I can't really discuss those changes yet because I'm still in the earliest planning stages, but I will give more information at each phase of the plan.)

The munchkins are doing great this year!

Puck is enjoying kindergarten. It's been amazing to see him progress throughout the fall semester. When I had a conference with his teacher, she showed me his journal, and I could see the improvement week by week. He's smart and engaged and is learning something new every day. If we can keep this mentality through the next several years, at least, Puck will do great all the way through.

Tink is pretty ready for pre-K next year. She knows a lot of sight words, can write all her letters and her first and last name, and is doing well at sounding out words when she reads on her own. I know some of it is her desire to keep up with Brother, but not all of it. Tink is smart, and she's going to do well when she starts school next year. She has a solid foundation to be successful, just like Puck.

The munchkins are both happy and healthy and full of spunk, just the way we like them.

And we got a puppy this year! Clara has been a wonderful addition to our family. She's cute and fun and sweet. She loves us and we love her. There have been moments that have been a challenge, to be sure, but the good memories far outweigh the challenges.

We're still working on her jealousy issues a bit. She doesn't like it when someone else is getting attention from me that she thinks she needs. But that's getting better, too.

She and the munchkins are besties, which is just the way I hoped it would be. I wanted a dog in our family not only as a companion for me when the munchkins are with Monty, but she truly is a family dog.

It's been a good year. Busy, somewhat chaotic (especially as we got to the end of the year), but it's been good. And I'm looking forward to whatever comes next.

How has 2014 been for you? What are you most looking forward to in 2015?

28 December 2014

Renew your spirit with a fresh start

We're getting to the end of the year now, and that means lots of people--myself included--are thinking about how to do things differently to make 2015 better than 2014.

I've been thinking about things I want to add to my life to make improvements, and things I want to remove from my life to eliminate distractions and unhealthy habits. I's also been thinking about my relationships with other people, and how they might need to be changed to make my life more peaceful and happy. And I've come up with some goals* for 2015 that I'm going to be working toward.

One of big things I plan to add to my life is healthier habits. This includes getting back into healthier eating habits (mindful, plant-based diet), exercising more regularly, and focusing on maintaining a mind-body-spirit balance in my life. I'm not as healthy as I would like to be, and I have specific health goals I need to achieve, so I'm trying to make a more concentrated effort at working toward those specific goals.

I'm also working on eliminating distractions and time-wasters this year. For example, I spent way too much time on Facebook in 2014. That's going to stop. I'm not going to say that I'm going to stop using Facebook completely since it is my primary communication with some family members, but the less I use it, the happier I'll be. My initial goal is to check it once a day for personal use. (I have been trying to use it for work, but I think I'm going to step away from that in the midst of the upcoming career changes, then jump back into it after the shift.)

I have big ambitions for 2015, but I'm excited about what's coming in both my personal and professional lives.

I think it's going to be a good year.






-----
*I set goals instead of resolutions each year. It's less intimidating to me, and I feel like it gives me flexibility to adapt my goals in case things come up throughout the year, as they tend to do.

23 December 2014

Character sketches

Image source
Real image source
One of the things I like to do sometimes is go somewhere and watch people. In fact, that's how I developed the characters in the coffee house book.

One of my favorite things to do is to people-watch and then write a scene or story or character sketch based on someone I saw. That's how I wrote a character sketch about the father playing the flute as he walked his son home from school.

Because of the chaos of work lately, I haven't been able to spend nearly as much time people-watching as I would like.

Since work is going to be a bit slower now that we're reaching the end of the calendar year (things will likely pick up again around the second or third week of January), I'm going to take some time to people-watch and get back into writing character sketches.

Do you people-watch when you're writing? Has anything come of it?

19 December 2014

Taking a little time off....

As an independent contractor, I don't get paid vacation days. If I don't work, I don't get paid. So as the holidays approach, it's important for me to balance work time with family time, especially around holidays and birthdays.

It's been difficult this month to take time off. I've had a lot of deadlines this month, so it's meant late nights and long hours. Fortunately, the big deadlines are coming to an end (at least until after the new year), so I'm looking forward to having some time off next week for the holiday.

This year is a little bit different because Puck and Tink are spending actual factual Christmas with Monty. But Bo and I will still be celebrating the holiday in our own way, and since she has two whole days off of work for the holiday, I'm planning to take the 25th and 26th off, as well.

It's going to be nice to have some time off, especially since it's been such a busy, chaotic month (or two) lately. I'll sleep in, drink my coffee out on the patio, and watch too much TV all weekend.

It will be a much-needed break before I jump back into work.

17 December 2014

"I'm not a boy:" Tink's gender expression

Tink is what many people would describe as "all girl." She likes pink and dresses and lacy and frilly and princesses, princesses, princesses. And that is perfectly fine with me.

However, the week of Thanksgiving, I gave Tink a green and silver striped shirt (with sparkly silver threads) to wear. She took it from me, made a face and said, "I'm not a boy, Mama."

Yes, because the shirt I gave her was not pink or frilly (though it did have a little sparkle to it), she assumed it was a shirt meant for boys.

I explained to her, briefly, that clothes have no gender, and that I got the shirt for her because it's sparkly. She wore it, and when someone complimented her on how cute she looked in it, she was much happier for the rest of the day.

The next day, she picked a pink shirt.

This is something that came up with Puck, as well. He went through a "but that's for girls" phase, which has been revisited during this school year. So whenever the opportunity arises, we emphasize that there's "no such thing as boy/girl..." whatever, and remind the munchkins that those who identify as boys and those who identify as girls can do or wear or be whatever they want. There is no gender requisite.

Right now it's not a big deal. And when the kids get a bit older and are involved in picking what clothes we buy for them, they'll have a more significant role in expressing themselves through clothing.

For now, I think Bo and I will be incorporating some more non-pink and non-purple clothing in her wardrobe. Just to mix things up a little bit.

14 December 2014

Renew your spirit with a magical afternoon

Magic Kingdom
December 2014
Yesterday Bo and I took Puck, Tink, Mimi, and Papa G to the Magic Kingdom for an afternoon and evening of Christmas-decorated fun.

We managed to keep the trip a surprise until shortly before we left, but even then, they had no idea that we were going to get to see Queen Elsa light up Cinderella's castle with snow and ice. (Puck got a little teary-eyed during the show because he was so excitedly overwhelmed by it.)

We rode rides and saw shows and stood in lines in between. We got to take the kids on a few things they'd never done before and, of course, there was Elsa.

We walked too much, paid too much for food, and stayed too long.

It was wonderful.

It was exactly the memories I hoped to create for this Christmas, and a wonderful way to end this week with the munchkins before they go back to Monty this evening. Especially since they'll be with him through Christmas.

It was a happy, happy day.

08 December 2014

Ending the year with mindful eating

Life has gotten busy lately, and I've fallen back into bad habits. So as this year wraps up and the new year begins, I'm focusing on getting back into my good habits of holistic living.

It was a little bit of a challenge through the Thanksgiving holiday, not only because we were traveling, but because I'm the only non-omni* in the family.

As I'm making the transition back into the healthy lifestyle that works for me, I have to focus on remembering why I'm doing it.

Yes, a big part of the reason I'm going back to a vegan lifestyle with regular exercise is for my health. (I feel better when I take better care of myself.) But it's also because I know how my body reacts to animal product.

My body doesn't like meat and dairy. I can eat it, but quite often, I feel ill afterward. When I was a kid, I couldn't handle dairy (which came up again in both my pregnancies). So it's not a shocker to me that I can't handle animal products now. Since a plant-based diet is not only healthier for me (as an individual) but healthier for me in general, it just makes sense for me to be on a plant-based diet. It's the best way for me to keep my body in balance.

The good news is that the next two holiday meals (Christmas and New Year's) will be at home, so I can make sure there are vegan options (especially since our New Year's meal will be all finger foods). It will be a good way to end this year and start 2015.






-----
*I know that veg*n living is not a requisite for holistic living, but my body is much happier with a plant-based diet, so it is a requisite for me.

07 December 2014

Renew your spirit with winter decorations

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Bo and I put up our holiday tree and some winter* decorations.

I usually like to wait until after Thanksgiving (truthfully, I prefer to wait until December), but we wanted the munchkins to be able to help and enjoy the decorations, and since they went back to Monty right after Thanksgiving, it just worked out better this way.

I like having winter decorations out. I love this time of year. People are happier, kinder, and much more compassionate. People are taking action to make a positive impact on the world around them. People are more optimistic about life and society.

It's a good time of year.

I wish more people would carry the spirit of these holidays with them through the rest of the year. Think how wonderful our world would be if people made an effort to be compassionate and generous every day instead of just once a year?** What if people focused on bringing light to other people's lives instead of bringing "stuff" into their own lives?

Sometime in January our decorations will come down. Our winter tree will be put away until next Thanksgiving, the ornaments packed away in a bin. But this January, I will be making a conscious effort to keep the joy and excitement that comes with those decorations in my heart through the rest of the year.

You don't need lights up around your home to be a light to the people around you!






-----
*Since our holiday celebrations are secular, I prefer to think of our decorations as for the season rather than for the holidays. Not only does that keep traditional religious decorations out of the equation, but it means I can keep them out a bit longer, which makes me happy.

**I know there are people who are kind and compassionate and generous all year round. That's one thing that I'm working on in myself in an effort to live a more holistic lifestyle. But I'm speaking in generalities for the purposes of this post.

03 December 2014

MTTSM's meme

Mom to the Screaming Masses posted a meme yesterday.

I do memes now. Memes are cool.

Signature Dish: Right now, spaghetti. It's quick, easy, and everyone eats it. So spaghetti.
Worst Thing I Ate This Week: Way too much of a pumpkin roll.
Favorite Junk Food: Kettle chips. I love them. I eat them too often.
Favorite Board Game: Scrabble. I'm much better at Scrabble than I am at Words with Friends. For some reason.
Household Chore I Enjoy: Sweeping/mopping. I find it very satisfying.
My Secret Cleaning Weapon: Multipurpose spray. I should start keeping one in every room, really.
Etiquette Pet Peeve: I hate it when people ignore common courtesies. I find it very disrespectful.
I Will Never Care About: Twerking.
The Last Thing I Bought Online Was: I can't say. Bo reads my blog and it's for Christmas.
I Drive: Bo's sister's car.
Good Habit: Listening to my body's needs.
Bad Habit: Picking at my fingernails.
Before Company Arrives I: Frantically straighten the house.
Cat/Dog/Other: I was always a cat person. Now we have a Clara dog.
Stuff I Can't Live Without: My family, coffee (especially now that I have a Keurig!), my book, pen and paper....
If I Had An Extra Hour Today, I Would: probably waste it.
My Handbag Is: in need of replacement.
On My Bucket List: Run a marathon.

Feel free to participate. It's fun!

01 December 2014

Holiday memories

Bo and I took Puck and Tink to visit Mimi and Papa G for a long Thanksgiving weekend. It was a wonderful trip full of good food, new memories, and great family conversation.

In addition to Thanksgiving, we did our family Christmas since the munchkins will be with Monty for actual factual Christmas. So we decorated Mimi and Papa G's house and did our gift exchange.* We ate lots of delicious food and were loud and laughed a lot and took all the pictures.

I loved getting to spend time with everyone and eat delicious food. I loved getting to see the munchkins get excited about decorating--including making ornaments--and opening gifts. Puck even fired Papa G from handing out everyone's gifts so he could do it.

It was our first holiday as a family--as this family--and it was a wonderful way to start making memories. This was the first holiday meal in what is sure to be many, many more, and I think we set the bar pretty high.

I was worried about being so far away from my family for this year's holidays. Last year, the munchkins and I went up north for Christmas, so I still got valuable time with my family. This year, because of how timesharing with the munchkins has worked out, along with my work schedule, it wasn't an option.

But Bo's family has claimed us as their own, just as we have claimed them. There's nothing for me to worry about because I am surrounded by family.

It's going to be an amazing holiday season!






-----
*I got a Keurig! *happy dance*

27 November 2014

26 November 2014

Remembering why I left Christianity

Every once in a while I am reminded that not all Christians are closed-minded, small, angry, judgmental people. I meet people who happen to be Christians and are perfectly wonderful examples of what was likely intended by following the teachings of Jesus.

But then I read news articles about people's rationale for blocking same-sex marriage and safe, legal abortions and reliable birth control and I am reminded once again of why I am an atheist and unashamed of it.

I see people bury their heads in their Bibles, praying for their god to do something for them, allowing themselves--or worse, their children--to stay in difficult or dangerous situations because they think it's where they have to be for their god to teach them some kind of life lesson.

And I'm reminded of why I left Christianity.

I watch a documentary like Kidnapped for Christ* and see the basic rights of human beings violated and ignored and laughed at by people who claim to defend the human rights of the unborn above all else.

And I am glad I have enough sense to step away from the hypocrisy and violence and judgment and oppression that comes from Christianity (and religion--let's not exclude anyone).

I know there are people out there who are good people and happen to follow religious traditions. That's fine. The problem is that those good people aren't the spokespeople for their religions. Instead, they let the loudmouth bigots take the bullhorn and spread lies and hate and make people think that that is what it means to be a Christian, now and forever amen.

When you've got people like this who are getting the attention, what do you expect?

There are so many people who stand by their beliefs in religion at all costs, ignoring the fact that there is a big, wide world outside of their pastor's pulpit that answers the questions they're not allowed to ask.

Sorry, I'd rather know about the world around me based on the expertise of proven scientists and authorities in their fields than become convinced that the people who contradict me must be conspiring against my children (see link above).

Thanks, though.






-----
*Available on Netflix.

23 November 2014

Renew your spirit with cooler weather

It's finally cooled off here in central Florida.* I'm wearing jeans and even bought a couple of cardigans.

I love this weather. Autumn is my favorite, and that's what Florida winters feel like to me. I love the crispness in the air, the sudden warmth of stepping into the sun, the cool breezes.... It's wonderful.

This is, really, all the munchkins (and Bo) know. Puck and Tink did spend a couple of years living with me in Illinois, but they were so young that I don't know how much of the cold weather they really remember. Bo has lived in southern states her entire life, so this is all she knows, too.

But I remember cooler weather form living in Illinois and other places. I remember the excitement of the first snow of the year. And there's magic there, too.

I miss Midwest autumns and (some aspects of) winters. But getting to enjoy what feels like a Midwest autumn until spring is okay by me.

Florida rules.






-----
*This is relative. I just checked the weather and it's about 81°, but it has been quite a bit cooler lately than it was, and has even been in the forties and fifties.

20 November 2014

Family Holiday Plans

This time next week we'll be happily celebrating Thanksgiving with family. Puck and Tink are greatly looking forward to seeing Mimi and Papa G, and I'm very excited about this kick-off celebration for our holiday season.

I love spending time with family at the holidays. As much as I am an introvert, I still love having family around sometimes.

When I was a kid, we'd go up to my paternal grandparents' house for holiday meals. When everyone showed up, there were about 20 of us crawling all over the house. (I have seven cousins on that side, and now more since a couple of them are married with kids of their own.) It was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with family, make memories, and play 500.

Now that I live states away from my extended family, and so many of my family members are going off in their own directions, family holiday meals aren't as...rambunctious (though Puck and Tink are pretty rowdy). I miss the chaos of those events.

That's why I'm so excited about our holiday plans this year. We have a lot planned, and it's going to be a good chance to make memories to carry us through until Easter, when we can make more.

It's going to be a great holiday season.

19 November 2014

Happy happy to Bo!

Tink and Bo
Labor Day 2014
Yesterday was Bo's birthday. We had lunch together, but she and I will be celebrating today. And then we'll have cake when the kids come back from Monty's next week.

Last night before bed, Bo told me she had a good birthday. Her last few birthdays were a little rough, so I'm glad that this year was different.

Bo deserves to be happy. Every day.

Happy Birthday, Bo. May this year be your best yet.

17 November 2014

Reading for work

Over the next year and a half or so, the work I do is going to shift.* I can't give too many details right now, but I will say that it has to do with moving my target market to the holistic health and wellness sector.

To that end, I have a lot of books on my reading list right now that deal with health and wellness topics, including herbal remedies and reiki. Not only are these interesting to me on a personal level, but I find them helpful in moving forward with work.

Of course, as is often the case, the more I'm learning about these topics, the more I want to know. One area of study leads to another, which opens the door to something else, and it's all interrelated, of course.

I'm trying not to get too carried away, especially in these early stages of in-depth research. I don't want to overwhelm myself with information, especially since it's for work.

So I'm reading little by little, learning more about this broad topic so I can better provide for the needs of my clients, to better equip me to narrow my target market in the near future, and, most importantly, to help me take better care of myself by finding a balance between mind, body, and spirit.

And in the meantime, I have plenty of reading to keep me occupied.






-----
*Originally the plan was to make the shift at the beginning of this year or by next summer, but there are some aspects that have come up that are causing the shift to be pushed back a bit. So it's going to be another year before the shift really starts to happen.

16 November 2014

Renew your spirit with trucks!

Yesterday Bo and I took the munchkins downtown for a family event called "Touch-a-Truck." There were trucks from a wide range of local organizations available for kids to see, touch, climb into, and even honk horns of!

One of the trucks from where Bo works was there, and her boss gave her four wristbands (free admission!), so we took Puck and Tink. There was a street cleaner, a garbage truck, an ambulance, a SWAT vehicle, a crane, the weiner-mobile, and even mini-monster trucks (and the teens/pre-teens who compete in them).

We saw everything, and Puck and Tink climbed in every vehicle they could. Tink was a bit more adventurous than Puck. Sister has no fear, and Puck is a bit more cautious. Still, both were brave and enjoyed getting to see and do so much. Their favorite was the "fun bus," which was a bus that had play mats and different climbing/playing structures for kids, and a slide to get out of the back of the bus. We saw the fun bus twice.

As if that weren't enough, the organizations were also handing out swag, so the munchkins came home with pens, stickers, and random branded items that are all special treasures to them.

It was a wonderful morning, and now we have amazing memories of munchkins climbing in and out of trucks for a couple of hours. I can't wait to do it again next year!

12 November 2014

Living a secular life

There is someone in my life* who recently asked if we'll be taking the munchkins to church on Easter.

No.

This person was surprised, and didn't understand why we wouldn't take the kids to church at least for Easter and Christmas. This person suggested that the kids need at least some religion** as a foundation for their lives.

No.

When the munchkins get older, if they start asking questions about religion and spirituality, I am happy to answer questions from the perspective of "this is what some people believe." But just as a Christian family would not likely take their children to a Mosque to teach them about Islam, I don't feel the need to take my kids to a church to teach them about Christianity.

We'll be spending Thanksgiving with the person who asked if we're taking the kids to church for Easter, and this person asked if Puck would be willing to say a blessing at the start of our Thanksgiving meal. So we're teaching the munchkins a short, non-religious blessing/rhyme that they can say, and I told the person that it will be a non-religious blessing, not a prayer.

I live a secular life, and so do the munchkins. I teach them how to be good people and make good choices without relying on fear tactics and threats of eternal damnation to get results. I teach them to be open-minded and non-judgmental toward all people and creatures rather than assuming that different is bad/"misguided"/"backslidden."

I am striving to raise Puck and Tink to be Good People, and I'm doing it without religion. Because religion doesn't have a corner on the morality market. You shouldn't need a Bible or threats of punishment to be a good person. We teach them it's important to be kind and compassionate out of respect for other people, not because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't. And that works for us.

There is nothing wrong with living a secular life and teaching the munchkins the same. When they're older and can make informed decisions for themselves about what they believe, they are welcome to find a church community or faith practice and follow it. But for now, we are a secular family.






-----
*Please note that this person is a wonderful person and someone in my life that I respect and love. I don't think this person knows I'm an atheist, just that I'm not really religious. There are no ill feelings about the conversation at all.

**Read: Christianity

31 October 2014

I clicked "unfriend"

I unfriended someone on Facebook this week.

It is the spouse of a friend. I know this person, but not very well, and since I live in another state, our interactions are limited to Facebook.

This person has very different religious, political, and social views than I do. In and of itself, that's not a problem. I don't read the links and status updates that stand against what I believe in. I'm capable of doing that on Facebook.

But then, this person saw a link that I posted about a prominent businessman who came out as gay recently. The person shared the link from my Facebook wall, adding a status that something to the effect that this businessman's coming out is purely a publicity stunt for the company.

I can't control how this person feels about this businessman. Or about homosexuality. I don't care what this person says on Facebook. But I do care that this person took something from my wall, which, knowing me, was meant as a positive thing, then used it to spread a message of paranoid intolerance. And because it was shared from my wall, my name is now linked to that post.

That's what made me angry about this incident. Say what you want on your wall. That's fine. But don't get me involved by linking my name to yours when it comes to those opinions.

So I unfriended this person. We never speak, and I don't read this person's Facebook wall as it is, so for me, it's not that big of a leap. But it's the meaning behind the action that led me to do it.

Some time ago, I made the decision that I would not attend my father's church anymore in the event that I visited the family. My logic is that by attending services--and participating--I am accepting what it taught, and condoning the behavior that goes on within that denomination. And I won't do that.

I feel the same way about this incident. By ignoring the fact that this person co-opted a post I intended to be celebratory in this way, I feel complicit in what was said about the businessperson. That it's okay that this person said that. And it's not okay to me.

I have learned that in order for me to live authentically, it's important for me to not surround myself with people who are toxic to me. That's not to say that I don't have people in my life who disagree with me or what I believe and stand for. I don't mean it like that at all. But there are people I know, and my relationship with them goes beyond disagreement and into toxicity. It could be that these people are angry about their beliefs, or that what they believe is damaging to me in some way, or that my relationship with them is filled with too much drama to be productive. Regardless of why, these people are not good for me, and just as I strive to make healthy food choices to take care of myself and exercise to take care of myself, it's important for me to take care of my mental and emotional (and spiritual) health by allowing myself to let go of toxic people instead of clinging to them out of some misguided sense of obligation.

So I unfriended this person.

I don't know whether or not there will be fallout from this with my friend (unfriended person's spouse). But I also know that this spouse believes the same things and has the same mentality as the person I unfriended, so maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing.

I don't know yet what will happen. But just as I know this person will stand by what was said, I stand by what I did.

30 October 2014

With a son in public school....

Image source
I read articles like this and feel a catch in my throat every time, imagining my own kindergarten son sitting cross-legged in a closet, trying to be brave on just this side of fearful.

Though we live in a big city, the school Puck attends (and Tink will attend next year) is new, in a small subdivision in a good neighborhood. I feel that my children will be safe at that school.

And still, there is part of me that can't help thinking about what protocols the school has in place for these situations, and what if Puck's class is doing P.E. outside or in the hall on the way back from the library.

It's a parent thing, I'm sure. We love our children and worry about them, so when faced with the gratuitous and hyperbolic coverage traditionally referred to as "news," the mind tends to imagine what would happen if....

I would be out the door and to the school, knowing full well that I would not be allowed on school ground until everything was resolved.

I would stand with other mothers and fathers and siblings watching windows and doorways and children running along the sidewalk for the merest glimpse of a familiar dinosaur shirt and light-up Spider-Man shoes.

And I would rage--as I do now--that we live in a country that claims to value education and sees the problems that exist but governmental checkbooks prove over and over again that there are more important things than providing safe, healthy environments that foster learning. That we say we want the best for our children but refuse to do right by them.

That we live in a society in which four-year-old children have drills in order to prepare them for a gunman wandering the school in the same way I once crouched in hallways in my own elementary school, my hands laced over the back of my neck, pretending I wasn't really afraid of tornadoes.

When I was a kid, the threats that existed were of strangers trying to kidnap us, so we were taught not to talk to strangers, don't accept candy from strangers, yell and run if someone tries to kidnap you. When I was a kid, my parents taught me a password. If they sent someone I didn't know to pick me up, that person would know the password. (I will have a password for my children, as well.)

But times have changed. We've moved from warnings of "stranger danger" to lockdown drills.

This is not a rant about the decline of our society in the way so many conservatives try to blame liberals or gays or atheists or whoever else for increased crime and poverty and whatever else. Instead, this is a rant about the fact that in the midst of this decline of our society, which is seen and felt by 99 percent of Americans, too many people are doing nothing to fix it.

Many aspects of our system are broken, education included. And while I know there are many people working hard to make changes in any way they can, there are just as many people who stand by and complain about the situation, wailing, "Why doesn't anyone do anything? Think of the children!," shaking their heads sadly from their sofas.

They aren't active in the school districts, even when their children are in school. They don't attend PTA meetings or school board meetings. They don't contribute when events or fundraisers are schedule to benefit the schools.

And they complain about the way the schools are run and the way budgets are handled. They blast teachers and principals for not doing the right things without trying to understand all that's involved in the decisions they make every day.

They complain about protocols and policies in place that make it "hard" to drop off and pick up their kids, or take them out of school, then rage when a child is kidnapped from the school.

We can't have it both ways. If you want to not be involved, fine. But then you have no grounds to complain about the way things are. If you want changes, fine. Then get up off your ass and be a part of finding the solutions for your kids.

Puck is in kindergarten this year. I have not been as involved as I would like because of my work schedule and where we live in relation to the school, but next year will be different.

I want my kids to get a good education. And I'm willing to do what it takes to help make it happen.

27 October 2014

The 2015 business plan

I've been working on my 2015 business plan lately.

I'm going to be making significant changes beginning next year* (probably late spring or early summer), and the plan I'm developing is a major part of it.

In fact, I'm (sort of) developing two business plans for the year since the first portion of the year will be continuing what I'm doing now, and the second portion of the year will be a major shift.

I've never had a "real" business plan, though I've always had objectives and plans to achieve them. But with the shift in my work in 2015 (and what that change will mean from behind the scenes), it's important to have something significantly more formalized.

So I'm working on tweaking my mission statement and value proposition, doing market research, and thinking about all I'm going to need to make this change happen successfully.

I was hopeful that I'd be able to launch the change at the beginning of 2015, but because of all that's involved, later in the year works much better. I'll be able to unveil everything by the end of July.

In the meantime, there's a lot of administrative work going on in between projects for clients, and I'll have my business plan in my files by the end of next month.

Is it time for Thanksgiving break yet?






-----
*I'm not ready to talk about the change that's coming. Yet. But I will give you a hint: it's going back to doing some of what I loved about the office job I had before I moved back to Florida.

26 October 2014

Renew your spirit with the last beach day

Yesterday morning, Bo and I got up early and drove out to Daytona Beach. I'd never been and she went to school out there, so it was a great opportunity for me to explore a new beach and get a little glimpse into Bo's life before we became her herd.

It was chilly--I wore long pants and a long-sleeved shirt--but it was a wonderful walk on a beautiful beach. There are lots of shops on the boardwalk (though they were all closed since we were there so early), and we plan to go back to visit those shops and the local flea market/farmer's market nearby.

It was probably our last visit to the beach until spring, which made it all the more special. It was a reminder that fall is here (or rather, what fall means in Florida, which is late summer in much of the nation), and that winter is not far behind.

Walking along the beach and getting excited about visiting again in the spring was exactly what I needed this weekend.

Now I feel ready for the busyness this week is bringing.

23 October 2014

Why I blog

Every once in a while I have to convince myself to keep blogging. It may be that I feel I don't have anything "worth" blogging about or I'm struggling with a particular post, or life is getting busy. I may skip a few posts and not blog for a week (or a few weeks), and then I get back to it.

I always come back to it.

I probably always will.

I like feeling like I have a voice in this world through my blog. I have the chance to share things I'm passionate about, stories that are important to me, and even if no one reads them, I know that I'm doing what I can to live my story authentically.

And maybe along the way I'll find someone else to add to my tribe.

But sometimes my blogging is inconsistent, which I don't like. I go for a while and I'm able to blog daily (at least weekdays), and then life happens, and before I know it, weeks have passed without a new post. I don't like that.

As I'm preparing for a new direction in my career (which will include work-related blogging), I've been thinking about how I can more effectively incorporate this blog into the new plan.

Beginning this week, I'll only be blogging a few times a week, but it will be much more regular. I've developed an editorial calendar (which always helps me immensely). I won't be blogging every day, so I'll have more flexibility in my schedule, and not having a post scheduled every day in the editorial calendar will give me space to write about other things when/if they arise.

The end of this year and beginning of next year are bringing lots of wonderful changes to my life and career, so I have to be careful not to overwhelm myself along the way. The editorial calendar will help with that, and ensure that I can keep blogging regularly.

Because I do love blogging.

19 October 2014

Renew Your Spirit with Invitation-Only Trips

Yesterday morning I took some time off work so I could take Puck out for some much-needed one-on-one time. No one else was invited.

After breakfast, he and I went to the bookstore for story time and to pick two books to bring home, then we had lunch at Toojay's. I had a black bean burger and Puck had chicken tenders he described as "delicious."*

We laughed and talked and played and had a wonderful time.

And, since the trip, Puck has been reading one of his books nearly constantly. Out loud. By himself.

It was a happy, happy day.






-----
*Puck made me promise we'll go back. He enjoyed his lunch.