Thursday, February 28, 2008

Who's watching you?

Well I might be. I tend to be always observing. I thought that everyone did this. People watching in my book should be an Olympic Event. I could watch people all day. I also tend to remember the things I have seen for a long time - ok maybe forever - or at the very least while they keep moving around my brain, holding my interest on any number of levels.

I like thinking about what I see happening around me - I want to understand. I think this may be why I like to write so much - and certainly fiction. it allows me to put these tidbits to good use.

I have said it before and I will remind you all again. Writers - I think are like little sponges - they soak up the details of life and file them away, until the details become important. Any time a writer says that they were not inspired from real life events, I am motivated to disagree - because unless they are in a bubble or living under a rock - everything is inspired - maybe not by one single event - but a collection of events - certainly they can be unrelated but they are linked - if only in the writers mind. That is inspiration.

My mental pen and pencil are always jotting down notes. I cannot control it - my eyes see and my mind records and sometimes just sometimes - I get the very best pictures.

Someone asked me recently how I would like it if someone watched me and then decided to write about what I was doing or was doing in a certain moment of time. I was shocked - I assume someone is watching me - I mean the observer may not even know they are doing it or they maybe very well be doing it subconsciously - but I guess I just thought that was how the public sphere operated. Now I am not so sure. But I am sure about this - I am very intrigued by the world around me!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why not?

I love to ask the question "Why?" Well not out loud - but rest assured I am always questioning. I have a thirst for knowledge that is unquenchable - not the kind you get
from a book - but the desire to understand. It is not idle - I am not curious because I am bored. I think I am not bored because I am forever curious.

Of late however - I have been pondering some big issues - issues I am not going to share - the issues are not the issue or substance of this post. But "Why?" I have decided is not the issue - not the proper question - the real question is "Why not?"

Why do we accept certain things to be the absolute truth. Why are we - so quick to think that any thinking, which is counter to the norm - makes us other - or more correctly why is that that counter thinking is so radical. What is wrong with being true to self.

In Mulan II the central theme or a central theme is about duty. Mulan asserts that her heart tells her what her duty is. She weighs her duty - soaks it in the feelings of her heart. She does not blindly follow orders - she feels.

I think that is a huge statement she makes. "My duty is to my heart." I guess some people would say it is selfish - but honestly "Why not?"

Why not live a life full of conviction - why not learn who we really are. Why not embrace every single moment that is given to us. Why not do what feels right. Why not make decisions rooted in love. Why not stop and think it over before we give into the myths of our cultures.

There is that lovely phrase - "think outside the box." Well damn it - we should - we are people and we have the choices in front of us - instead of being limited by arbitrary rules - why not ask ourselves "Why not?" and then go for it.

This is what I have on my refrigerator - to remind me that the real question may not be "Why?" but rather "Why not?"

"Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.”

-Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is winter over yet....

So that rodent - the weather teller extraordinarie so did not see his shadow - so we are supposed to be done with winter - but that is so not the case here. I have had it with snow, sleet, rain and icy pelty stuff.

On and off since the 2nd of February - we have had some kind of weirdo winter precipitation. I have shoveled a few times and walked on ice more than once. Fallen a few times and cursed it a bunch.

On Monday evening I got caught out in it and it made for a wonderful and totally nerve racking commute. I saw trucks jack knifing in the most amazing ways and expensive SUVs - nose up and nose down in various ditches. Sorry folks but even 4 wheel drive is not enough to keep you on the road in ice! Slamming on the brakes is a bad idea as is speeding.

That visual spectacle aside - I am done with winter - I am ready for spring. I would like to once again ride my bike, be able to walk or run outside, and play in the back yard. I am not a fan of cold and snowy and I more than ready to break out the sun screen and my big floppy hate.

I know we have less winter than many other places - but I for one could do with no winter! So Spring - hurry up and get here already!

Markers as face paint

I know I am spending too much time talking about mommie stuff but this is more of a public service announcement. E got into L's stash of markers - not the washable kind.

E drew a wonderful rendition of a cat face all over his face - colored his nose, his chin and his chest - wrote on his tummy and his legs. Dark blue - just wonderful!

I told him markers are only for paper. Which he agreed as a good idea. He liked his art work less and less as the afternoon wore on.

Soap did not really do the trick - but Mary Kay oil free eye make up remover did a respectable job on removing the bulk of the marker and some warm water seemed to do the trick after that.

So - as cabin fever takes over - rest assured - there is a way to remove the seemingly unremovable - thank goodness it was not a Sharpie!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Literal translation

E is a very literal fellow. L is more of a concept person. I forget this at my own risk.

Last weekend I told E to put on his winter coat. So he stripped down to his underwear and put on his winter coat. Um - well not exactly what I had in mind.

Yesterday, I told him after breakfast to go and wash his face and hands. I followed him into the bathroom a few seconds later and he was sticking his head - well mostly his face into the sink under the running water. I asked him what he was doing?

His reply - "I wash my face. I was my hands."

And he sticks his hands under the running water. I tried not to laugh - because sure that is logical - you stick you hands under running water to wash them - then it must also work on your face.

I wet a wash cloth and showed him what I had had in mind and scrubbed him free of snot and maple syrup.

Going forward I am going to have to be more clear - for my literal translator!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Business of Government is..... Part 4

to ensure that every one has enough to eat.

This in my opinion is the greatest problem facing us in this country. It is what is our great shame. Children in the US go hungry. We do not have a food shortage in this country - pounds and pounds of it are wasted and thrown away everyday.

Due to various local, state and national guidelines and restrictions it is often difficult to give away food. Health concerns and all of that. Part of me understands that and the other part of me says - if there are people who are hungry and would be truly served by it - then the government should find a way to make that happen or better yet - get out of the way and let it happen.

It is not just a lack of food that is a problem in the US. It is the lack of oversight and the lack good guidelines - where production is concerned. In the last few years we are hearing more and more about tainted meat and spinach. I was shocked to learn that there are less than 2 FDA inspectors per state. The oversight is almost none existence. This is a huge concern of mine. The safety of the food supply is largely unmonitored and if I were a terrorist - WHICH BIG SCARY FBI MAN READING THIS I AM NOT - I think I would skip the bombs and explosives and the airports and head straight for some large food production center. A field of spinach or strawberries for example.

I happen to think that industry does a decent job policing itself. Reputation is everything and one tainted food scare can shut down a business in no time flat - but the fact remains that for all the talk of homeland security I think we remain very vulnerable.

I would also take it a step further and say that the government needs to do more than issue food pyramids and make recommendations. Their projections of the amount of food needed to feed a family of four is laughable.

Nutrition and the food supply are issues that seem so simple and not the place for government regulation and while that may be true - they are also issues which impact other interrelated issues. Children who do not have a healthy breakfast do poorly in school. Children who are hungry or nutritionally starved (junk food is not brain food) are at a disadvantage. Adults who are hungry or nutritionally hungry - miss more work and will eventually in all likelihood develop some chronic and expensive diseases - such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. It is a huge game of tumbling dominoes and each piece of the food puzzle impacts the next.

I also question our liberal use of chemicals, pesticides and growth hormones in the food supply. The EU has banned most of it and I think we should also consider that seriously.

I think the Federal government - should work with the States and the local governments to revamp and recreate our nations food policy. I still think it should be quality focused and with a reasonable amount of hand-off - no need to stifle competitions and the free market - I am not looking forward to bread lines or anything like that - but the patchwork approach is leaving too many people and out and clearly many American's are lacking in the education and recourses to make better choices. We need better food safety, better industry regulation (smart regulation), better food safety net measures and better education.

Friday, February 15, 2008

It is all about the Economy - Really it is!

The Big News on Capital Hill this week? The economy is in the tank. No Way? Really? Is that why I am paying $3 for gas and nearly that much for milk. Is that why I am buying the same amount of food at the grocery and paying roughly 20% more than I did this time last year. Is that why there is a spike in home foreclosures? Is that why the stock market is in the tank.

Um yeah!

It is all about the economy. The economy has been in trouble for a long while - if you have been paying attention. The market has been choppy since I was pregnant with E. The market, in my opinion, either lags or leads. In this case the ripples have been there for a long time. Some of those ripples are media creations. The over hype and the overselling of small pieces of economic information.

The government however - always seems to be 2 steps behind. Just now the Fed is coming out to say that "Yeah - it is looking more grim by the day. We will cut rates to stimulate." Congress and Bush are cooking up some rebate.

Hind sight is 20/20 - but had Congress and Bush been focused on real policy and domestic issues - some of this perhaps could have been avoided.

The government should be focused on the economy every day and not just when it is a hot button issue.

Those of us living it - have seen the subtle changes in our paychecks and grocery bills - why has it taken the powers that be so long to put two and two together?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All you need is love

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I like Valentine's Day and not for the chocolate and the hearts and the flowers and all the Hallmark stuff.

I like Valentine's Day because I like to think that it is the one day where maybe - just maybe we might pause and take stock and truly appreciate those who are important to us. The world would truly be a better place if we strove to love one another first and foremost. To give people the benefit of the doubt, to think about how we would want to be treated. To be a little selfless from time to time.

Individually we do have power. Our actions impact those around us - sometimes in very small ways and sometimes in very big ways. If our hearts and minds are full of loving thoughts - there would be no room for judgmental and hateful thoughts. If we focused our attention on creating positive and healthy relationships - there would be no say or do hateful things.

I know the world can be a cruel and harsh place and I know I am a big girl and should not be so starry eyed and idealistic - but I have seen the power of kindness. I have seen the power of "paying it forward" of trying to lead by example.

I honestly think if we tried - we could affect change - quietly and gently and truly the world could be a better place.

Today I will be satisfied with - everyone tomorrow taking a deep Yoga breath when some cuts you off in traffic or bumps into you the subway or on the street and if when feel like saying something mean - you just smile and try to think of something positive to say.

Try to be in the moment tomorrow and be happy that you are alive and have people in your life who love and care for you. That is a huge blessing - which should warm you from inside out. It is amazing how that alone could change your entire outlook.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Out of the mouth's of babes....

Tonight as I snuggled with E in bed, he wanted to know where Daddy was. I told him Chicago.

"My daddy at work in Shin-taco?"

"Yes E, Daddy is in Chicago."

"MMMM, my Daddy in Shin-taco. I like that. It tastes good in my mouth - Tacos. We have Tacos for lunch again."

I did not have the heart to tell him that Chicago is more famous for deep dish pizza and Polish fare.

A year and counting

It has been roughly a year since my friend JS gave me the kick in the pants I SO needed. She sent me the Washington Post Magazine Writing Contest information and told me to get on with it already.

At first, I was so afraid and so overwhelmed. Could I even write 1500? Could I make a go of writing, I do not have a creative writing degree, what did I know?

We a year later I have blogs, I have 2 short stories, dozens of other pieces of work, several articles and bits of web copy under my belt and 4 works in progress - also known as novels!

It is truly a great achieve - that in a year I went from thinking maybe I could make this career change, that maybe I was good enough to try writing - to actually being a writer - to actually being in the frame of mind that I am a writer.

So to everyone who has supported me and given me a hand up and critical eye - Thank you!

This year I plan to focus on creating a website for my business side of my writing, to be legit and to have a business plan and I also plan to stay focused on the fiction and hopefully by summer have one of my works in progress at least complete in rough draft form.

So I am running full steam ahead and I am so happy that JS took the time to mail me the WP contest info - it was just what I needed - to make me willing to jump and pursue my dream job - a job that fulfills me, allows me to be home with the little ones and that is exciting and a creative outlet!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

There is beauty in every day...

It is raining here today. When I was about to walk to get L - it started to rain harder. I walked anyway. The rain feels good - it is cleansing and there is true beauty and majesty in the drops of rain.

L and I splashed and giggled the entire way home. We decided that the rain was a cause for celebration because eventually the sun will come back and the two combined - will make the flowers grow and the earth will renew itself. The rain cleanses the air and washes the earth clean.

Sometimes you have to look past what other people tell you or what you initially think and see the beauty that truly is right before your eyes. Sure you can be grouchy because it rainy or you can embrace it and make it the highlight of your day!

Monday, February 4, 2008

1, 2, 3 Yummy!

I think I have shared my love of chocolate with everyone. I will also admit that at the 15 month of no wheat, no corn, no oats, no rye and no dairy - that I miss baked goods, sometimes. Not a lot and let's face it they are treats - but man - sometimes I want something that looks and tastes like food I used to take for granted.

Last night we attended a Super Bowl party and I baked 1,2,3 Gluten Free Brownies. Oh Wow! Out of this world good and gooey and creamy and totally free of dairy and wheat. Actually they are free of Gluten, Wheat, Corn, Dairy, Peanut and Tree nuts. But they are way high on chocolate and great taste.

Easy to bake and very yummy. I am not sure if I can get them locally - I bought them at Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio. I plan to start a hunting expedition soon! Wish me luck! Link

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Glitter is Great

Well it is actually. I have some new glitter and I am so pleased. I have done something I have always wanted to do and I am making a statement. I am showing my inner creativity and inner wild child these days - on my nose! I have a little blue sparkle on my nose! I love it. It is me - it is a sign of my creativity and I have wanted to do this for years - but the former JOB - well they frowned upon such self expression.

H and I went to Pierceolgy last weekend. It did not hurt at all - not even a little bit. It is healing like a dream - I am soaking my nose in salt water - yeah that is a challenge but fun! The stone brings out my eyes. L loves my glitter. She points it out to people. E is not so sure he down with it. My mom just rolled her eyes and my bro said I had lost my mind. It matters not to me. I love it!

Now lest you all think I am crazy - I should say that I have more glitter and it is not just in my ears!

This spring, whilst in New York - I went with my friend SS and got my navel pierced. It was to celebrate being at pre-pregnancy weight minus 5 pounds. For those keeping track - I am 10 pounds lighter now verse then. (I love running!) I wanted something to remind me of the hard work I had done getting to that milestone and something to keep me focused on staying on track.

Now I should say - I am terrified of needles! Big time - to the tune of opted to have babies the old fashion way terrified - cuz that epidural needle is seriously huge.

The piercer in New York (we went to LeRoi in the East Village) actually I think nearly busted a gut trying to laugh when SS told me - well this should be nothing compared to birthing babies... It was not. It is did not hurt a bit and I never really saw the needle. I had my eyes closed. Same for with my nose. Actually - they ask you to close your eyes.

I have said I am done for now! I mean I am not trying to collect sparkles. Each of these piercings means a great deal to me. One was to celebrate where I had been - to mark a place in my journey and the other is more of a reminder of where I am going. I wanted an outward sign of what I am feeling inside - I wanted something to make people stop and think before they judge me - or a sign that I have an edge - an edge I am very proud of - an edge I am embracing more and more everyday. Something that makes me unique. I am not nor will I ever be a soccer mom. I am a creative force - I am on a path I have chosen for myself, I live everyday as if it were my last. I am happy and proud of my accomplishments and I have places yet to go!

It is about reaching for the stars and living the life you were meant to live.

Exhibit A

I think I have said before - either here on the blog or certainly in real life conversations - that I think (well it is deeper than that - I know it) that writers - those devoting their time to fiction and certainly those writing blogs like mine and other personal essays are at the heart of it exhibitionists.

I know we all think of people who run around half naked are exhibitionists but I think that writers are exhibitionists in a very deep and visceral way. They expose their minds, they take down the barriers and let you see what they are thinking.

For me this is very powerful and very scary and very cathartic and very rewarding and very scary and very fulfilling and very necessary. There is me in everything I write - sometimes a little bit and sometimes alot. For me the poetry is amazingly personal. I feel it deeply.

In my fiction there is something of me in what I have created. It is my imagination, my creativity. It is a part of me. The details I choose to highlight and the details I choose to omit. What I focus on. Maybe I have not done what I have chosen to write about - but I have written it - it has come from somewhere within me.

It is scary and dangerous fun. I think I could more easily take off my clothes in a room full of strangers than read my poetry at an open mic night. (Let's not run out and test this theory any time soon - let's just let me say this for now.) I would be very hurt if someone said something terribly mean about a poem or if they booed me! It would be hard to hear that.

I know if I am to make it as a writer I have to toughen up and be able to take it - and there are great positives to the writing process. I like that I can share a part of me with everyone. This blog is part of that. I paint pictures with words. I draw for you - the images in my mind through words and phrases. I entertain you with silly stories, with love stories, with poems, and antidotes of my life. I try to shape opinions or at the very least tell you what I really think.

At the end of the day - I am making my thoughts an exhibit. Something to be taken up and examined and rejected or accepted at your whim. It is my contribution to the ongoing discourse. It fulfills me in a way. I have taken on the risk of rejection for the reward of sharing. It feeds me - it drives me forward. With each baby step - it is easier to say what I really mean. It is easier to share it. It is easier to grant you access - if only for only a second - into the me-ness of me - of what I am thinking - of what is important to me.

It is awful....

Yesterday it was supposed to snow and be horrible. Well it did not and yesterday morning was in the low 40s and sunny and it was a winter day that makes me happy. It is bearable. Fast forward to 3:30 pm and we were off to get L from school. Big snowflakes falling and a bitter wind and at least a 10 degree temperature drop. As E and I walked from the car to the school - E is crying - we are walking into the wind. I scoop him up and cuddle him close and his little face is red and there are big tears in his eyes and he says, "Mommie, It is awful."

And it really was.

But it made me smile...his expression and his honesty.