Saturday, January 7, 2017

In My Arrogance

I wrote this on December 2, 2016 at 4:40 in the morning, unable to sleep, and revised it just now:




In my arrogance

Almighty Father please
Bury me deep
Deep beneath the dark, soft soil
Into the shadow life
Where the microbes and parasites can digest me
Bone, flesh, blood and all melting into
Primordial fecundity

For I have sinned so hard
By daring to shout my own name
Daring to take up space and hold the line.

Please,
Crush me beneath my own suffocating arrogance
I need to be broken into parts and pieces
Elemental substance.

Grind me to dust so that I can become once again
only stardust
coursing through the veins of the Earth
God herself
Filled with the choking shadow of my rage
my indignant molecules will roam freely then

Then.
Blood and bone
Flesh eaten by invertebrates
All the tiny underground creatures
Gathering in the darkness
They'll feast for days on me
Singing songs and dancing dances
Amid their finest splendor.

My arrogant refusal
My tearful shaking
Will enter the very veins of this place we call home
This place you treat as yours first and only
But though it is yours it is also ours and
me and my screams
All of our screams
And sighs and blood and flesh
All of this will melt as you bury me deep

Please, deeper.
Because we need to be compressed
Flattened so we can know
how big we truly are
Filling the veins of Earth
God herself
Black greasy veins
now exploding with the oil
coursing through your precious pipelines
More precious to you than the blood that runs
through the veins of even
your own children.

Almighty Father please
Keep spewing and sputtering
Give it all, all the hatred and fear
We need it, we crave it.
Because now I am Remedios
And it's the time when I smear my own shit
All over your palace walls
And all the walls
of every palace ever built or imagined.
That shit has all the shadow life in it
Everything for the primordial stew we need

You have rejected the natural world
All the eating and sexing and bleeding and shitting
lives beneath your notice
But it is
We are
Here.

Underneath. Crushed so small
Contents under pressure, 
keep away from flame.

But you dance with your mocking matches of
righteousness now, and the ground beneath your feet
is shifting.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Omran Daqneesh: My lesson in embracing samsara

From The Guardian August 19, 2016
Yesterday when I saw this photo I burst into tears. Then I collected myself, made breakfast for my two little girls, and went about my day, only periodically thinking about young Omran. One of the things I did think, when Omran's image would float into my consciousness, was that he could be my child. I have a girl only a year older than he, yet he has seen more horror in his five years than she is likely to see in five decades. As I thought about Omran I thought about how every move I make, the security and safety I and our children feel day to day, the ability we have to go to the store and buy things we want, to turn on the tap and have water to come out, to sleep at night without fear that bombs will rip our lives to shreds in a moment, all of these things are part of the same system that is currently making Omran Daqneesh's life, and the lives of millions of others, a living hell. This is not new. War is as old as humanity itself, and life does continue to improve for most people most of the time. I tell myself these things, and I believe they are true: That humanity is on a trajectory toward justice, that more people have better lives and more opportunities than in the past, that technology and spirit can come together to build better and more opportunities for everyone.

However, that doesn't undo the damage that we do every day by simply existing, those of us who live in countries not ravaged by war. Recently I finished reading the beautiful "Between the World and Me", by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In it he talks about slavery, and how for us looking back from the 21st century it is a piece of history, but for the slaves at the time, whose parents and grandparents had been slaves, and whose children and grandchildren were destined to be slaves, it is nothing but damnation. Just hell, unending. This is the truth of the misery we create; this is the responsibility we have to untangle and redirect our current systems of colonialism, resource extraction for profit, and white supremacy.

Am I suggesting then that we eschew these comforts and conveniences, drop our iPhones and laptops and cars and running water and go to Syria, or Palestine, or Appalachia, and start a new life of heroic humanitarianism? No, not at all. I firmly believe that the ocean needs every drop: That within the web of existence, each one of us holds a unique and important place, and that when we fulfill our dreams and desires within the context of what is, within the opportunities and places and contexts where we live day to day, that is when we are serving our highest purpose. We can help Omran and anyone who suffers from war by living in peace. Not only with our neighbors and co-workers, but with our spouses, significant others, and children. With the strangers who bump into us by accident, or almost run us over without looking. We can serve humanity by listening kindly, by letting that argument go, by keeping our unkind thoughts in our heads and turning toward discomfort. When we live in these ways, and at the same time work to fulfill our heart's desire within our specific context, we are helping undo the system that hurts so many people around the globe.

Omran Daqneesh may not be my actual child, but as far as being responsible for him and so many others, I feel that responsibility. I cannot travel to Syria to help him or anyone else. But I can remember him, and treat everyone I meet with the tenderness his photo incites in me. I can remember him, and do what I can from my place to lift his story, and the stories of so many others who are hurting. I can remember him, and go donate to an anti-war cause. I can remember him, and move toward discomfort in whatever way that fits, whether that means reaching out to people who repel me, letting go of a few creature comforts like that slightly bigger home or slightly nicer car, or making a family day of volunteering together in community instead of that trip to Wild Waves: Whatever way fits for us, when we move through the world with love and empathy, we help heal Omran's suffering.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Donald Trump, triggers, and creating the space for nonviolent conflict

Recently I've been thinking a lot about how to increase peace and compassion on a day to day level. So many raw controversies hang around under the surface, threatening to derail whatever sense of tranquility we may be privileged enough to enjoy. Racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, all these things bring out the worst in us: Hateful vitriol on both sides and little understanding or progress toward solving the problems underlying all the angry talk. With all this on my mind, I saw an article in Waging Nonviolence called "8 ways to defend against terror nonviolently", and saw this:

4. Pro-conflict education and training
Ironically, terror often happens when a population tries to suppress conflicts instead of supporting their expression. A technique for reducing terror, therefore, is to spread a pro-conflict attitude and the nonviolent skills that support people waging conflict to give full voice to their grievances.
The idea of spreading a "pro-conflict attitude", alongside sharing the skills of nonviolent conflict resolution, excites me and gives me hope that we can give voice to intractable social problems. Though this article was about terrorism particularly, I think the idea of a pro-conflict attitude, and finding places where it's acceptable for citizens to discuss difficult issues with sincerity and depth, is one that could go a long way toward building a more resilient and less violent community. At the same time, I've been watching with disgust as Donald Trump continues to ramp up his racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic rhetoric. His assertions that we need to ban Muslims from entering the United States, and that we need to close up the Internet "in some ways" are both hateful and absurd. They reveal not only a deep seated irrational fear, but also a complete ignorance of how things actually work. That said, my question,  in the context of nonviolent conflict resolution, is how can we have these conversations in a compassionate and constructive way? Certainly many, many people are triggered and recoil with fear and horror at Trump's comments, and deservedly so. But how do we get beyond the vitriol and delve into the legitimate fears and complaints of the people who support him? According to RealClearPolitics, Trump supporters tend to be less educated, older, and earn less money than other voters who identify as Republican. They are also slightly more than half female. Certainly these folks probably have some bones to pick with how things are currently going for them. With less education and smaller earnings, they are likely feeling left out of opportunities and progress. Unfortunately, when we open up these discussions what tends to come to the surface first is angry, frothing, and hateful. Thus, we tend to want to squash the discussion altogether. The challenge is to create a space where disagreement is seen as desirable, and compassionate discourse is possible.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Introducing: The Eulogy Project

Over the past several years I've watched (and participated in) our country's debate over gun violence and how to reduce it. Personally, I would like to see fewer guns overall, and I think we have a lot of work to do in terms of keeping guns away from people who shouldn't have them. That said, I don't want to live in a place where personal gun ownership is outlawed, and I have utmost respect for people who use guns for subsistence hunting or other utilitarian needs.

As the debate has continued I've grown more and more concerned with how to have this discussion in a way that engages everyone and moves toward real understanding and an attitude of problem solving. I see people continuing to talk over and past one another, without much expansion of understanding of the "other side". Numbers, data, and statistics are quoted over and over again on both sides, and yet the more we focus on the numbers the less it seems we understand one another.

In the interest of growing understanding and finding a place to begin a deeper conversation, I've decided to share the stories of people who have lost their lives to gun violence, as told to me by loved ones they have left behind. Anyone who has lost a loved one to gun violence is welcome to contact me to share their story, from anywhere in the world. I will interview you by phone for 10-15 minutes, write the story about your loved one and how the loss has affected you, and submit it to you for approval before publishing it here on my blog. In this way I hope to open a new level of discussion regarding guns and violence in the United States, and around the world.

If you're interested in contributing to this project, please contact me at katie@katiekadwell.com. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Called to Compassion


“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
 - Pema Chodron


Six days ago, on the 274th day of this year, we in the United States watched as the 294th mass shooting of 2015 unfolded. As President Obama said in his speech following the massacre, this has become routine for us. The shooting, the hand wringing, the horror, the discussion of what to do about it. Or what not to do about it. 294 mass shootings in 274 days. Mark Manson asserts in a blog post from May of last year that mass shootings are a form of non-political terrorism. As he puts it: "Terrorists use violence and mass media coverage to promote political or religious beliefs; school shooters use violence and mass media coverage to promote their personal grievances and glorification." When seen this way, our ritualistic responses (grief, rage, finger pointing, endless policy discussion about the details of gun rights or mental health systems) seem lacking in the extreme, almost narcissistic.

Last night I went to our younger daughter's curriculum night, where I heard her teacher talk to a room full of kindergarten parents, many of who are sending a child to school for the first time, about what he'll be teaching this year. He himself is in his fourth year of teaching, and brand new to our school. As fresh faced and eager as they come, he is wonderfully kind, attentive, and firm as a teacher. He talked about seeing one of his primary responsibilities to be keeping our kids safe during the day. As the conversation wound down and it came time for questions, a parent raised her hand. Acknowledging she felt a bit uncomfortable bringing it up, she asked, "About safety - how do you see your role in keeping our kids safe with everything going on out there?" As every parent in the room started looking around the room, looking down, or tearing up, she swept her hands a bit helplessly, indicating the dangers we all try to keep locked in our hearts and minds of "out there." She went on, "I mean, with the dangers we face every day, and we had a lock down during Jump Start, even before school started... how do you see yourself keeping our kids safe at those times? How do you talk to them about it and keep them calm as it's happening?"

Our teacher nodded in understanding, tears welling in his eyes. "Yes, well... I... don't know," he began. My heart broke for him in that moment, broke for all of us in that room... for all of us in this country, where there are more mass shootings than days in the year. Where there are more guns than people, and where by many it's considered untoward, even offensive, to discuss gun control in the wake of a shooting tragedy. He went on to say that, with regard to guns and violence, he deferred to parents about how they talk to their kids and would love to hear ideas on how and what to talk about in a way that would be emotionally and developmentally appropriate. The woman who had asked the question, and her husband next to her, talked about how they talk about violence in their family, that we are all learning how to express our feelings in safe ways, and that sometimes grown ups don't learn to do that, and when they express their feelings in dangerous ways it's up to everyone else to do what they need to keep themselves safe, and that the caring adults will do everything they can to keep kids safe. She talked about how she wanted to be sure her children understood the need to stay safe, but also to invite compassion into the mix. This got lots of nods, including from our teacher, and it was generally agreed that the language she and her husband used would be appreciated by the rest of the families in the class.

Compassion. A room filled with parents of kindergartners talking about how to teach compassion for the people who might one day massacre them or their school mates, compassion for these terrorists, these people so alienated and alone that the only way they see to get attention is to kill people. They kill people like others climb mountains - because it's there. Or because they're Christians, or African-Americans, or women, or some other "other". But the one thread that is the same throughout, throughout all the killers, throughout all of our now familiar rituals of shock, grief, rage, and accusatory discussions, throughout the press coverage of the killings, and the desire for retribution, and the seeking of the death penalty - in the midst of it all is the common thread of lack of compassion, lack of empathy for someone different from ourselves. There we were, parents contemplating the deaths of our own children, grieving at the unspeakable loss of so many unknown parents, talking about how to teach our children compassion toward these killers. After all, they were once children too. They once had tiny hands, fumbling to tie their shoes, needing help with their sight words, trying to learn how to be a friend, how to have a friend. A few years ago, one of our preschool teachers told the parents one night at a monthly meeting, "There are no serial killers in this class." She was discussing how we as parents and as citizens can teach our kids how to be friends, how to have friends. We all know the child who doesn't know how to join a game, who knocks over her friend's castle instead of saying "can I play?" This teacher was telling all of us how important those small moments are when our kids are young. She was determined that we see how important it is to look for every opportunity for compassion, to let the other in, to teach our children that all of us are "others", and that none of us are "others". After all the words, all the discussion of religious persecution, misogyny, racism, and so many other ways we humans create to push one another away, we are left with a choice. Will we allow our hearts to crack open, and model compassion to our children? Or will we abdicate, throw up our hands, or even take up arms in the quest to protect ourselves and our families? The rights of gun owners aside, violence will never stop violence. Certainly sometimes "good guys" with guns do in fact stop "bad guys" with guns, and in that light I can understand the desire to own a gun for protection. But at the end of the day, that gun is an abdication of our evolutionary task, our task to find ourselves as one, to open our hearts to the most reviled among us.

When we insist that arming ourselves will keep us safe, we teach our children that, at the very least, violence is always a good back up plan for solving our problems. I refuse. I refuse to abdicate what Diane Musho Hamilton calls one of our "evolutionary assignments": To "reliably transform our conflicts into opportunity and creativity, and to develop methods for helping people around the world get along." I refuse to turn my back on those tiny hands, those little voices trying to be heard, trying to have a friend, trying to be a friend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Garden Beds Need Blankets Too: Cover Crop Class Offering

Join me this Sunday the 21st for a class on the basics of cover cropping. Located at West Seattle Nursery near Morgan Junction in West Seattle.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Crowdsourcing Democracy? Musings on the Number of Representatives inthe U.S. House


Looking at the Federalist Papers for an unrelated reason, I saw #58, "Objections that the Number of Members (of the House of Representatives) Will Not Be Augmented as the Progress of Population Demands". It states that as we augment the number of representatives based on the 10 year census, that number "shall not exceed one for every 30,000 inhabitants." Given a U.S. population of about 318M people, at that rate we would have over 10,000 representatives in the House. Currently we can't seem to get along at the much smaller number of 435. I'm not sure how it would look, but maybe it's time to harness online technology and figure out a (constitutionally compatible) way to formally crowdsource our legislative process.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Not to mention, it's an untested idea, and why do we need to change the way we do things anyway? Well, in the 2012 elections House Republicans won the majority of the seats, at 234 seats versus the Democrats' 201. However, those 234 seats represent 58,228,253 votes, while the Democrats' 201 seats represent 59,645,531 votes. So even though the Democrats won many fewer seats, they actually received 1,417,278 more votes than Republicans. Of course we all know that one of the founding principles of our government was to avoid as much as possible the "tyranny of the majority", so who cares that the majority of seats represent a minority of votes? Because, when we created the two houses of Congress, it was the Senate which was intended to temper the tyranny of the majority, having only two members elected by each state, regardless of population. The House members, being loosely tied to population and elected by district, are intended to be the individual's door to influence at the federal level. Nearly 1.5M more votes being represented by the minority party would seem to demand some sort of revision to the process.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Getting Unstuck: A Year of Expanding Possibility

I created this picture with the Sketch Club app for iPhone.
The day before yesterday, Memorial Day 2014, I had one of my regular tantrums about the house. More specifically, a tantrum about my own housekeeping (or dire lack thereof).

I've always been challenged in this area, and consider it one of my greatest failings. It isn't that I don't know how to clean; I used to have a housecleaning business and am a very meticulous person. But this meticulousness for me has been magnified into a paralyzing perfectionism. A perfectionism which keeps me stuck deep in a mire of spiritual self immolation on an almost daily basis.

The image that came to mind earlier today was one of a car stuck in the mud, tires spinning but not gaining traction. Every so often, the tires of my life gain a bit of traction - just enough to skid haphazardly out of the deep hole they've made and land on solid ground. But then that pesky perfectionism spurs me to put my foot on the accelerator, shoving the car into a higher and higher gear until once again I've dug myself into a hole. A hole inches, perhaps feet, ahead of the last.

Somewhere in there is the place where I have my regularly occurring tantrums. Sometimes I yell at Brent, sometimes at the girls, sometimes at everybody. It always ends in tears (hopefully but not always just my own). I think now that those tantrums come right as I've landed on solid ground. One might think they come right before the tires gain traction, but what I think happens is that I get situated, begin to see the horizon, and panic. It's just all too big and too overwhelming to contain, and I get more and more frustrated that I can't move faster and make it all happen now, perfectly, exactly the way I'm imagining it.

As I type this I see how childish this is. It isn't that I didn't know it before, but I'm seeing it now, in this very moment, in a different way. Not in a chiding way, but in a matter of fact way. A sort of detached "wow.".

So, Memorial Day night, after the girls had gone to bed, Brent and I resolved to get a bunch of chores done and make some progress digging ourselves out of the giant mess that had been festering for days. Piles of laundry (both dirty and clean), dirty dishes, toys, the works. As I was putting some laundry in the washer he made some innocuous joke about my lack of attention to my surroundings. My feelings were very hurt, and I proceeded to tear into him. I didn't practice mindfulness, I didn't take a breath, I didn't do all the things I know to do in those moments. Fast foward to an hour or so later, after the yelling and the tears (all mine, by the way). We were talking about the idea of creating a goal for me to have the house "perfect" 90% of the time. He asked me how long I thought that could take. My answer? "I don't know. When I'm 80?" I was only being partially facetious. I figured, hey, I've been struggling with this all my 44 years, so it could easily take that long for me to get out of it, right?

He chuckled slightly as he said "I don't think it could be tomorrow. Maybe a year from now? What do you think is realistic?"

I balked. My eyes welled up. I sat in pained silence, realizing that tomorrow is exactly what I wanted, and I knew damn well that wasn't even close to realistic. Even a year... well, maybe. But so long??? "I don't know," I said. "I definitely want tomorrow, but I know that's not happening. Maybe fall? By the time school starts up again."

"Not realistic", he said flatly. Of course deep down I knew this. So after a bit more balking, I agreed to a goal of a year, with a slight revision. Memorial Day 2015, my goal is to have the house "perfect" at some time during any given day 80% of the time. "Perfect" doesn't need to be defined, we both know what it is. And maybe I'll get there, and maybe I won't, but two days later I can already feel the ground shifting. And, I'm getting out of my car. I added a task today to my Atracker app, called "reassess". It's categorized under "self care", and I chose an icon of a person hiking. Hiking is a much steadier way of climbing a difficult, muddy hill than driving.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Folly of Continued "Growth"




"Economic forecasters exist to make astrologers look good. Still, the latest forecast from the Congressional Budget Office is sobering. Its economists anticipate a “new normal” average annual growth of only 2.1% (down from the average of 3 to 4% over the last half century), with job growth averaging only 70,000 a month (down from an average of 150,000 to 200,000 over the last half century). Some of this is be due to an aging American population, but some is surely the result of widening inequality. Since the start of the recovery, 95% of all economic gains have gone to the richest 1%, who spend only a fraction of what they’re accumulating. As a result, the rest of the nation doesn’t have the purchasing power to get the economy out of first gear. If this continues much longer, the “new normal” may be far worse than the CBO anticipates."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My First Petition

I have been fuming and festering about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. The relative secrecy surrounding the exact terms of the proposed agreements, and the lack of ability for even elected officials to speak clearly about it, have been disturbing to me. So I created a petition to the White House to publish the details of the agreement online for citizen review and comment: http://wh.gov/lPVjg

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Self Satisfaction, Human Rights, and the Sochi Olympics

"Like the legend of the phoenix
All ends with beginnings
What keeps the planet spinning
The force of love beginning..."
 - Daft Punk, Get Lucky
This morning I opened a link that my husband had shared on his Facebook page and texted me to tell me it was "so funny". It was a link to the Russian police choir singing Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Now, I've been following the unfolding of the spectacle that is the Sochi Olympics the way I follow most things: Tangentially, through short video clips, pithy updates on Facebook and Twitter, and a long form article here and there, usually guided by my husband, who is a much more avid reader of news than I. In addition, the Olympics has never held much interest for me, being that it involves "sport", the ignorance of which has comprised a closely held piece of my self image. 
However, the Seattle Seahawks going to, and then winning, the Superbowl this year has tempered some of that cultivated ignorance the past few weeks. I avidly watched the live stream of the Seahawks parade, surrounding myself with the intensity of a community joyously celebrating, together, the culmination of a huge amount of work done by the coach and players of the team. Of course there was the running social commentary in the back of my mind: The near complete omission of our city's female champions, the Seattle Storm; the concussions, violence, and brutality of football itself; the social justice implications of black and working class men performing for a rich audience; the feminist implications of the primary female presence being the Sea Gals cheerleaders. But this year all that was blown away for me by the sense of people coming together in joy, people from all perspectives and walks of life gathering peacefully in a world overflowing with daily displays of suffering and violence.

So it was in this afterglow of shared excitement that I watched the Russian police choir perform one of my favorite songs at a hotly debated Olympics opening ceremony. Russia's oppressive regime has been in the spotlight ever since Russia was chosen to host the Olympic games. Many people, including myself at times, seriously question the wisdom of holding the games in a place that is so hostile to the LGBT community, whose government imprisoned members of a protest band for what in the U.S. would probably be considered a harmless, if offensive, prank, and which now famously was not ready for the influx of reporters and other visitors ahead of the 2014 games. When I opened the link to watch the video of the police choir performance, I fully expected to have a laugh about the cute buffoonery I've come to expect from this year's Olympic spectacle. Instead, though I did laugh at first, within about a minute I burst into tears. Tears of joy, watching these men, some of whom were clearly extremely uncomfortable, sing a song symbolic of love, dreams, rebirth, and tenacious clinging to one's personal identity in a world that offers so many ways to leave it behind. I know, I probably sound overly earnest here. It is, after all, a simple pop song about "getting lucky", right? "I'm up all night to get some/ She's up all night for good fun", end of story, right? But as I watched Russia's police choir performing, in the context of both #sochiproblems and @SochiProblems, the recently released former Pussy Riot members' press tour, the pomp of the ceremony and the rubble it didn't quite succeed in distracting us from, the entire modern history of Russia washed over me and I just cried. Some of the men in the choir were into it, singing and grooving like veteran pop stars. A few looked like they wanted to bop a little but couldn't quite let go. And then there were the ones who looked slightly terrified, definitely ill at ease, and like they were just there to carry out orders. They seemed to me in those moments to be watching their country shift and change into something unknowable, a Russian version of Archie Bunker being ordered to sing "Staying Alive".

Many of us who care deeply about human rights wish the International Olympic Committee would only choose countries with "good" human rights records. Countries that allow free speech, that don't discriminate so boldly against a variety of marginalized groups, countries where mayors don't proudly declare about LGBT people "... we don't have them in our city". Setting aside the truth that human rights is an issue in every country, including the United States, let's think about that for a moment. Do we really want the IOC to exclude countries deemed unworthy by some set of self satisfied moral standards? For an event that, in ancient times included the calling of a truce between warring states so that athletes could travel and compete in peace? Or, can we instead allow the events to open us up, crack open all that grief and rage, all the old wounds we all carry and inflict on one another, opened to be healed if even for a moment? After all, as the song goes, "We've come too far to give up who we are/ So let's raise the bar and our cups to the stars".

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Design

I saw this bench outside Trader Joe's in West Seattle today. I love the simplicity of the design. A comfortable bench, made to let the rain fall through. It also looks like it would be pretty easy to make.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesdays at the Park

Yesterday Grace and I went to the "nearby park". We walked home through the P-Patch. It was a bit of a tough walk, since she is giving up her nap and so was wanting me to carry her.



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reading

Grace took this picture while playing with my phone yesterday. I often let her look at my camera roll while I'm reading to Willow. The book shown is Moonsilver, Book One in The Unicorn's Secret series, by Kathleen Duey.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winter in the Garden

Last year I vowed I would do more winter gardening. Winter work in the garden, especially weeding and clearing, has huge benefits. Of course unwanted plants take longer to grow back, but also they are drastically weakened because the plant has stored most of its energy in the root system, so when the roots are dug in winter any left over will have a harder time re-establishing in spring.

Though I haven't been out there as much as I would like, (no surprise there) I have been out there more than I was this time last year. Which was not at all. So here is a picture from today, a good image for what it's like in a Pacific Northwest garden in January.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Embarassing

The other day we went out as a family for poboys. When I ordered the waitress suggested I might want a half sandwich instead of a whole. For some reason I felt the need to say I had skipped lunch, which was true, but I felt a bit embarrassed because I do tend to eat a lot in any case.

Anyway, while we were waiting for our food Brent went with the girls to look at the fish tank and I sent him the text pictured below. But his phone was laying face up on the table, which I didn't notice until the after the waitress had brought our sodas... the whole rest of the evening I kept wondering if she had seen it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesdays with Grace

Now that Willow is in Kindergarten and we're settling into a new routine as a family, I"ll be spending a lot more time with Grace just the two of us. I love this, because I'm noticing how much I don't know about Grace and I feel like I'm just getting to know her in so many ways.

Mondays and Fridays will be my days to work hard in the garden with her, and Wednesdays and Thursdays are her mornings at preschool, so Tuesday mornings will be her time at the park. Brent will be taking Willow to school that morning and volunteering in her classroom, and Grace and I will go to the park. My goal is to have gone at least once to every park in the city that has a play ground with her by the time she is in Kindergarten. I don't know why I'm fixated on this, but I am, so I'm going with it.

This past Tuesday we walked to the place we call "The Nearby Park", since it is mere blocks away and it's a really perfect walk for a two year old. In the picture below Grace is on the "wiggly seat", which is a seat that hangs from cables, with a rope ladder going up to it. Grace loves it, and loves to be wiggled on it, but is not yet ready to climb up the rope ladder all by herself. (Though she is now very adept at climbing up the ladder at home into her sister's top bunk!)


Monday, August 13, 2012

Slip Slidin' Away: From the First Day of Summer to (Almost) the Last

For almost the entire summer, I've been thinking of the Simon and Garfunkel song, Slip Slidin' Away. Grace is really fully a child now, no longer a baby. It's Willow's last summer as a "little" kid... in less than a month, she'll become a Kindergartener, entering into her journey as a school age kid. Years ago I had the idea that we might go to every single park in Seattle with a playground before Willow started Kindergarten. But when I found out there are 140 of them, the idea kind of faded away for want of a plan. As kindergarten looms, and Grace loves playgrounds too, the idea has come up for me again. Let's see... a little math.... 140 divided by 3... 47 visits per year... one visit to a new park each week with five weeks off. And then there is the garden, and yoga, and taking the kids to various classes, and just hanging out and playing, and time with my sweetie, and and...

Children mark time, as they grow and change, learn to talk and walk and ride bikes and get taller. We're in Atlanta visiting my in-laws right now, for the first time in two years. They've come to visit us several times in the interim, so the girls know them well and are developing strong relationships with their grandparents, but realizing the other night as we rode from the airport to their home that we hadn't visited in over two years was one more reminder of how quickly time passes.

And now it's our last night here and we've had so much fun. Time at the water park, walks around the community, a short bike ride for just me and Brent, a canopy zip line tour... but tomorrow we go home, say goodbye to nephews and cousins and grandparents for another year, or two, or...

There is just no hanging on to time. Each moment passes, and the next one follows, and on and on as we slip and slide our way through life. A week or so ago Willow said "Sometimes I don't need a camera because I can take pictures in my mind!" Yes. That's what I want. To relish, to remember, every single drop of life that comes my way.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Vacation

We are in Georgia visiting Brent's parents. Having a really wonderful time and enjoying time with the Auntie, Uncle, and cousins as well.

Just finished a 2 hour marathon bedtime with two very tired girls, and Grandpa said "Good job". I said "Yeah, it sucked", and he said "Yeah, reminds me of the tough ones". His youngest is 42. I said "You don't forget, do you?" "Nope," he said.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Curiousity and Inspiration

Just think of all the years of work, the culmination of which we can see here.

Source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/watch-nasas-1st-npowered-rover-lands-on-mars/279064-2.html

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sharing: Tina Zucchero's Thoughts Regarding Chick-Fil-A

One of my favorite people in the world is my close friend, Tina Zucchero. Her last name derives from "sweet" in Italian, as I understand it, and this well describes her. She is wonderfully kind, and sweet, and heartfelt. She posted a very sad but also inspiring and heartwarming note yesterday on Facebook, again about the Chick-Fil-A kerfuffle. Is kerfuffle too whimsical a word? I don't know... read on and decide for yourself.

"A Note from my Soapbox" by Tina Zucchero

I was called the “N” word again yesterday.  I was boarding a bus when a man suddenly decided he wanted off the bus, pushed past me and said, “Out of my way you fu*king N- b*tch!”  The really cool parts of this experience were the few people who rushed to my defense.  Strangers I never met yelled at the guy and encouraged me to ignore that “ignorant ass”!  One older man looked at me and said I was his “sister under God”.  That made me smile!  It was a really cool experience, especially because in the past I have witnessed passivity or the bystander effect from people on the bus when things are not comfortable.  I have seen a lot of looks from fellow passengers that said, “If I ignore it, it will go away” or “This is none of my concern”.  So to have not one but several people boo at the guy and offer encouragement truly felt good.

This is not the first time this has happened of course and it more than likely and unfortunately will not be the last.  Most of the time I let it roll right on by because I know right then and there that it is a ridiculous statement and hate will not prevail.  Like last year when the guy came into my store and wanted to return something he purchased four years prior.  He was not happy with my ‘no’ and so, rather cowardly in my opinion, left the store and called back to leave me a message calling me some pretty derogatory names.  I laughed out loud and to this day still poke fun at the whole situation.  My friends and coworkers jumped to my defense there too which again, felt good and proved my point that hate will not prevail.

I am a woman of mixed race. Of what races, I am not exactly sure because I was given up for adoption at birth and I have no personal information other than the date and place of my birth.  I was adopted into a very white family with an Italian dad and a white southern mom in Philadelphia, PA.  This was 1969 and it was still a time when pregnant girls were sent away to have their babies and friends were told they had gone to visit ‘family’.  This is also just two years after Loving vs. Virginia, when Mildred and Richard Loving, a mixed race couple won their right to be married.  While anti-miscegenation laws were beginning to be over turned, a person’s race could and would still play a key role in the judgment of individuals.  The family I grew up with refused to acknowledge that I was anything but white.  I had aunts and uncles and grandparents that were very comfortable using the N-word (not at me, but around me).  Until I got brave and started asking them not to. There were many family rumors about my adoption.  One in particular said that I was given up for adoption because my mom was white and my dad was- not.  I often wonder if racism is the main reason I have never known my birth parents.

Today I keep thinking about having just been called the n-word again. Now, I am not thinking about it in terms of having been victimized. I am stronger than that.  Nor do I hate the individual that called me that.  Rather, I am thinking of it in terms of this country and how as a people we always seem to find someone to hate and fortunately we can twist words in a bible and suddenly have God on our side of the hate line.  At least that is what it looks like from where I stand.  When anti-miscegenation was coming to an end in the 60’s, there were people carrying signs of hate and quotes from the bible that spoke about the sin of mixing races.  People of all types shouted their opinions on the radio and television and in newspapers.  Jerry Falwell preached that allowing mixed marriages could destroy the white race forever.  When the judge sentenced Mildred and Richard Loving to a one year prison sentence for entering into a mixed race marriage (which was suspended for 25 years on the condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia), he used God in his reasoning: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”  In this man’s interpretation of God, I should not exist.

So by now we have all seen “Gods reasoning” in being for or against gay marriage.  We have heard and read the passages in the bible twisted just so to fit either side nicely.  That’s our prerogative.  That is up to our own individual definitions and interpretations- our own opinions.  But what happens when opinion becomes a tool in which to hurt another individual?  What happens when it hurts a whole race or group of people?  Where is the line that defends what is right vs. what is opinion?  No one on that bus last night looked at me and said, “Well, sorry lady, but the guy is entitled to his opinion.” which is an absolute truth that I will not deny.  Instead, they did what I hope I would have done in the same situation.  They saw that someone’s outspoken opinion could have brought me down and they worked to counteract that and build me up.

When the Westboro Baptist Church pickets funerals and high schools and other public events, they have free speech on their side and they are most certainly entitled to their own opinions.  But it doesn’t stop other individuals from putting up barriers between the picketers messages of hate and the families.  Those individuals that use themselves as shields against such hatred are building up.  But hatred is not always as clear as a WBC picket sign.  When it is subtle, we can pretend not to see it.  When it is opinion we can forgive it. We can avert our eyes and hope that someone else will do something.  But can we really allow ourselves be taken over by the bystander effect?

How many bodies from those that have been pushed down do we have to step over before we look down and realize that we are the ones to do something?

I will not support or vote for a person, group or company that uses God as a tool to spread hate and keep others down.  I hope you choose the same.

Tina
Feel free to share note where you think it may spark good conversation.






Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sharing: Wayne Self's Thoughts Regarding Chick-Fil-A

Because this post sums up so much of what my blog and my life is about (connection, community, friendship, caring, empathy, compassion, living my best life, living my values), I'm choosing to link to Wayne Self's wonderfully articulate and deeply touching thoughts on the recent Chick Fil-A debate in lieu of a post.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My World/Your World


Willow is a super sweet, very smart, very helpful little girl. She loves babies and younger kids, and talks about wanting to be a mother. She likes to help Grace choose and put on clothes, to get snacks for her, and lead her in all kinds of games.

I love how kind and helpful she is, and feel grateful when she helps me with Grace. But some days it drives me crazy, too. Because five year olds think it's ok to jump off the sofa half way across the room, and teach the (much less coordinated) two year old to do the same. Because five year olds make new snacks for little sister by stacking peanut butter sandwich crackers between layers of yogurt, which makes a mess and no one likes and, guess who cleans it up. Big mama, not little mama.

But as I'm exiting from my parents visit, existing so immediately between the generations, I'm reminded of why I wanted to have children in the first place. A big reason I decided to have children is to deepen and enrich my spiritual journey, to allow myself to learn from a child and be taught by the future. One of my favorite songs is Sweet Honey in the Rock's rendition of Kahlil Gibran's poem "On Children". It's been a favorite since I was barely out of childhood myself, long before I had decided that I definitely wanted to be a mother.

The bit that I come back to over and over is the following:
"...You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams."

Not even in your dreams. I've had dreams of visiting other planets, creating whole worlds, flying and building and living in places I can't fathom well enough to even remember when I wake - but even there, in my dreams, the most fantastical places of my mind, I cannot hope to visit the home of my children's souls.

Lately I've been feeling a little old, in part I think because my hormones and body are shifting after weaning Grace. I'm noticing little wrinkles and sags where they weren't before, and starting to feel on the waning side of life. As I was thinking of this one night, and talking about it with Brent, I suddenly realized exactly how I can begin to feel young again. Dive in, let go, really do the thing I've wanted to do, the thing I had children for in the first place: Let them teach me. Really open up, listen, and allow them to show me their world.





Willow and Grace Looking at an Injured Crow


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Goodnight

My last post was three days ago, so I thought I'd better post something. My parents were in town for ten days and left this afternoon. We had a great time with them and I was sad to see them go. At the same time, it's going to be good for all of us to get back to our own daily routines. I'm tired and want to veg out a bit before sleep, so, goodnight. Sweet dreams.

Below is a photo I took at the Tutankhamen exhibit at Pacific Science Center, to which my parents treated me while they were visiting:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Happiness and Tragedy, Ignorance and Innocence

The other day I was tracking a Facebook conversation on a friend's page where, apparently, some folks had commented and had their comments deleted by said friend because they weren't safe for kids as far as she was concerned, and she has several youngish kids as friends.

One person was taking the position that he preferred to keep it "real", saying among other things that "innocence is ignorance" and a person isn't doing kids any favors by keeping the truth of how the world works from them. This got me thinking about how, growing up, I somehow got the idea that happy people are stupid, and the happier, the stupider. Over the years though, and after years of life and therapy, I've come to change my views somewhat. My current thinking comes down to two central ideas: One, that innocence is (as the above commenter astutely pointed out) a fairly recent phenomenon in human childhood, and corresponds with the level of priveldge one has. Two, what is "real"? I think when we talk about keeping it real, being real, etc., we're usually talking about the horrors of life, the negative stories of the world. But isn't the love and joy just as real as the horror?

Today, I woke up to the news that 12 people had been killed at a screening of Dark Knight Batman in Aurora, Colorado. Horrible, sad news. I felt just sick to think about the grief their loved ones must be feeling. I played a song, I posted some words on my Facebook page. And then, I went about my day. Packing a lunch for myself, our two daughters, and my parents, who are visiting from the Midwest and had plans to take us to Vashon Island to visit some friends. Seeing my husband off to work, getting dressed, getting breakfast, cleaning up. Getting on the ferry, buying criminally over priced treats for the kids, getting off the ferry. Breathing the amazing air, fresh with the scent of recent rain. Watching an egret dive for fish in the Puget Sound. Watching my two year old climb a ladder, and my five year old push her little sister on the "big kid swing" higher than I would ever consider doing. Watching the little one hanging on tight, wind in her hair and glee in her face. Watching Grandma and Grandpa play with the girls, and visiting an old family friend on their farm. Visiting chickens and horses, cats and dogs.

And still, the victims of today's massacre are no less dead, their loved ones no less aggrieved. But at the same time that the joy doesn't cancel out the horror, neither does the horror cancel out the joy. Innocence is a privilege, and one I feel lucky to be able to give my children for as long as they'll allow. The joys and miracles of life are no less real in the face of senseless tragedy. Indeed, it is in times of senseless rage, senseless grief, that we must lean into those little miracles. The glow of a cat's soft fur, the clumsy answer to a child's question "How did everyone get born?"

So yes, let's get real. Let's talk about real things, heartful things. Things that are horrific, things from which we must never turn away. And then, let's remember the egret, the trees, and the smell of the air. Because those things, after all, are why we're here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Butterfly

I have a lot on my mind, including a blog post in progress, but I'm just too tired right now. So below you'll see a picture of a butterfly. It's camouflaged. See if you can find it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Big

Life is so big, so full of itself. Last night I couldn't sleep for thinking about all the many things I want to do over the next few weeks and months, and feeling like too many things are happening too fast. I just want to stop time, linger in this place right here where Grace is a nutbrained toddler and Willow is a sweet, protective big sister about to embark on the huge adventure that is kindergarten. Where by 3 pm I'm too exhausted to see straight and I fall in love every night anew with Brent. At least I know that last part won't change. That much I do know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Habits

I haven't blogged in almost two weeks. I wasn't sure how long it had been and I was surprised to see it had been so long. I've been thinking about blogging and knowing I haven't posted in a while, and as I thought about that I realized that I was out of the habit, or, more precisely, in the habit of not blogging rather than in the habit of blogging.

So tonight I'm getting back into the habit of blogging.

Below is a picture of a grape in Grace's hand. The other day she said "Can you take a picture of this grape then I eat it?" So I did.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Soccer

Both girls have their first soccer classes ever tomorrow. We have to leave the house at 8 am, so I'm off to bed.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Before and After

I've started taking before and after pictures in the garden as I work, so I can see and get a sense that I'm making progress. It's so hard to see the small improvements and easy to focus on what has yet to be done. The pictures below are of our front path. It took about 10 minutes for me to clear that section.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Not Feelin' It

I've missed the past two days posting. I just haven't been in the mood exactly. I have a long post I've been working on for the past couple weeks that I really just need like 45 minutes of solid time to finish, and I haven't found the time. But I have a feeling that my reasoning isn't very clear. It's not a writer's block exactly, it's almost the inverse. I have so many thoughts and ideas that I can't keep up, and I get overwhelmed and feel paralyzed. Also I start to feel mad and resent the fact that I haven't taken the time I need to finish the work, or that I don't "have enough" time. Then I sort of rebel by not posting. A sort of "perfect or nothing" scenario. So here is my beginning for breaking this pattern of freezing when things start feeling difficult.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Have Had

This song in my head for the past 3 days.


And how about the old-school 80s style narrative video, starring Aubrey Plaza. I love her.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting There

I've been getting some time in the mornings just by myself, about 40-45 minutes while Brent takes Willow to her day camp. It's opened up a whole new way of being for me to have that time. Combined with the 90 day plan, I'm feeling more accomplished but also more relaxed at the same time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Aggravation

The talking talking
Little cold raindrops prick prick
All over my mind

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Today I

Got up, made lunch for Willow, got the girls on the trail-a-bike/bo-bike contraption and took Willow to school, rode home, made and ate lunch, rode to pick up Willow, came home, cleaned humidifier, organized the tea shelf, did a load of laundry, picked strawberries, made dinner, put the girls to bed, and vegged out with my sweetie.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Process

I'm on day two of a 90 day plan Brent and I are doing: each night making a schedule for the day, and each evening noticing how we did. We're using email to keep track of our lists, and I think I'm going to make a schedule in the evening of what I actually did. So many things come up during the day, for example last night when I made my list I didn't include making Willow's lunch for day camp tomorrow. I used the word "notice", which is my intention. However, more often than not the noticing is laced with a lot of judgement, shoulds, and frustration. I want so much to have everything done, now. I know this process will help me let go of that, and even help me get more done... but the habit of focusing on the future, focusing on the result, is so ingrained. I keep taking another breath, and coming back, and another, and coming back, over and over again, this is the process.

Pumpkin with Blossom 2010

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Renovation

As I've been going over my blog I've decided to add pictures in the body of each post, and remove the images and links in the sidebar over time, moving most of it into the bodies of posts. There may be some things I can't add that way, in which case might add them to a new page or delete it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ambition

"The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves."
- Pema Chodron

I have big ideas by which I am often overwhelmed. My reaction to feeling overwhelmed is generally to go into a tailspin of furious yet inefficient activity. For example, I'm very likely to be found emptying cabinets and wiping shelves in the middle of a kitchen full of dirty dishes. This weekend I'm going to make a daily schedule. It will be a sort of ideal day for each day of the week. I don't expect that I'll actually stick to this schedule accurately, but I'm hoping it will help me stay focused and free my mind by giving me an outline for the day. A morning song with the family, an affirmation for the day, and time for meditation and yoga will be part of this new structure. I'll be posting updates as things develop.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ahhhh, Life.

The thrumming, drumming, heaving, furious, fiery, magnificent heart of life. Thank you, thank you, eternally yes, thank you.