Friday, July 30, 2010

Shout out to my homies!!

Friends kick ass, that's all there is to it.  I've been in the Springs for 4.5 years and it's taken a while to make some friends.  I, of course, had acquaintances right away.  It's only been within the past 6-12 months though that I've made the type of friends that make the world go around.  You know... the ones you tell about your embarrassing problems (and we all know I'm open about poo and such), you can share with when you're vulnerable, and those that you call and say "Can we come over even if the toddler's screaming?" and they oblige.

Those friends.

Several months ago I was on the phone with one of my dear friends, who lives away and I was explaining how hard it is to have been here for YEARS and not have a real friend yet.  She made a really great point that helped me feel less inadequate, but it didn't take away my feeling of isolation or desire for a sisterfriend.  But, what she said put into perspective the fact that I'm a Mom and a wife.  I don't have the time to invest as quickly into friendship.  It made sense, but I hadn't thought of it that way before.  I guess I figured since I knew other Moms and none of us got to the point of comfort yet that we just weren't clicking or that I was lacking a friend-gene.  However, when she said that I realized the difference.  When you live in the same area you grew up, you have friends who you bonded with in your younger years.  The days when blossoming friendships were put into high gear thanks to excessive hormones, self-exploration, parties, television shows, and enjoying an empty house while parents were working and we were given some independence but wanted someone to be independent WITH us.  :-)

I was explaining to Zane, last week, that bad things have to happen in life.  I was telling him that without bad things, we wouldn't really be able to appreciate the goodness and that the different types of badness we experience and the different ways which we react to the badness ultimately build who we are and what type of lives we carry.  That every time a bad thing happens we get another choice to experience that badness with faith and sorrow or with bitterness and anger.

 A few months ago, some bad stuff happened to a friend of mine.  This particular friend is someone I like a LOT!  She's vibrant and excited and SO.FULL.OF.ENERGY.  She's brilliant and thought-provoking, she's inspiring, and she's WILD!  LOVE her!  But, again...I'd been missing that piece of whatever that leads to two people calling one another and making an individual plan.  I hadn't gotten to the point yet of being able to call her just to chat.  But, then... the bad something happened to her.  And she called me.  That was GREAT!  It's nice to know when people find comfort in you or they feel safe-for whatever reason.  She opened up a new level for me to feel comfortable with her.  Lucky me!  Oh, and all the bad stuff?  She's dealing with it quite beautifully and it will be an ongoing affair for her.  I have no doubt she will absolutely flourish from this.

Last month, bad stuff happened to my family.  It sucked and was terrible and we felt alone and vulnerable and scared and hurt and -insert tough emotion here-.  When a semi-friend offered to help us out by making us a meal I was floored.  I didn't want to add anything on to her life, but it was really nice of her to offer.  She also offered to take care of Stori if we needed while we tended to our matters.  It was hard and scary, but I accepted both offers.  I had a yummy meal in my fridge and a wonderful caregiver to help care for Stori.  I had been in the same stale-mate position with this friend prior to my bad stuff happening.  Every time I'd seen her I was so into her lifestyle, her way of being so demure, her inner-child that she let me see sometimes, and her laugh.  OMG, her laugh.  Greatness!  She's warm, loving, nurturing, and thoughtful.  But, I didn't know how to make the next step.  She helped me and after I accepted I've felt much more comfortable with our friendship growing.  She's a really great person and the one I called yesterday to invite myself, my tantrum-ing toddler, and my bored 7 year old to her house.  Spending time there yesterday was just what the doctor ordered and I let her know before I left.  "You know how I feel?  I feel like I CAN make it through the rest of this day!  Thank you."  <3 Greatness!

THEN..... last night, another semi-friend came over.  This one's a gem, too.  She's quiet and private.  She loves her kids like nothing else and she endured her husband's military deployment with grace.  She kind of keeps to herself, but she sure likes to be around others.  She's mysterious, but I know that whatever she's hiding is good stuff.  She's been going through a terrible month with her oldest daughter being very sick.  Again, she's being so graceful about it.  I don't know what her inner dialogue is, but I'm certain she's got some big feelings in there that she's not getting out.  She came over last night and there was much crocheting being done, some chocolate ice cream eating, some infant-breast-epic-battles happening, and lots of heart opening. She cried, she laughed, I cussed, she taught, I served, I watched, she smiled, we sat.  She shared some personal things with me and I shared some similar ones with her and I listened to others.  It was grand.  Last night was the most I've ever heard her talk and I look forward to more nights like that.  I keep praying for her and her family.  They're going through so much.  Jump over to the blog and see what she has to say.

My husband will always be my number one, best friend in the whole wide world.  He's inspired me to heal myself, to know myself, to accept myself.  He's loved me no matter what I've done, where I've been, where I've come from, or what I've experienced.  He holds my hand through middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks and holds my hand on ice-skating dates.  He thinks I'm pretty and he thinks I'm wonderful.  I think all the same about him.  Well...he's not pretty, but he sure is sexy-hotness!  I can share all things with him and I'm incredibly grateful to have be been blessed in such a way to have him as a partner.  Anyone who knew us through our courtship, engagement, and early marriage knows good and well we worked for this.  We both got vulnerable with each other, we both got honest with each other, we've spent time with marital counseling, and we just, plain old decided to be happily married.  We try to be considerate of one another and we've learned each other's love languages.  I think our marriage has taught me a lot about friendship in any context.

It's true that we may no longer bond over googly-eyes at our favorite television heartthrobs, and so, it will be more of a long-term investment to make solid friends as a family-woman.  I couldn't be happier about the people I've grown to love here.  They're all people who do live beyond the surface, which explains why it takes a while.  We can't just go around talking to anyone about the way we think, or the fears we have.  But, at some point...when we've decided that what we really want is to bond with someone, sure enough the energies will find themselves.  I'm feeling very blessed after the past month of struggle.  It's been one of the hardest months of child-rearing I've experienced yet and I don't know if this will get easier sooner or later, but it's so nice to know that at this point, God has provided me with the support I need to endure it all.

If you have a dear or old... call them today and tell them they rock.  Or write a big, fancy, blog-post, love-letter to them and say thanks.  For not only being my friend, but allowing me to be your friend as well.  It's a true privilege!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why I don't hate Wal-Mart


This is SO open-ended now that my entire focus isn't on unschooling.  I have so many thoughts and so many passions that it's hard to choose which one to talk about, plus the past month has been CHAOS in our family.  So, I guess I took a break.  I thought of doing this post a couple of months ago, but thought...what does this have to do with unschooling?  So, I didn't make it happen.  Now, I don't have to follow any plan, so I'm just gonna spill it! :-P

I don't hate Wal-Mart.

Obviously, a LOT of people don't hate them, that's why they are what they are.  But, in the social circles I involve myself...I'm usually the only one who goes there. Weekly.  Mmmhmmm...I admit it.  I used to be SO embarrassed...humiliated...worried that I'd see someone there and they'd know my dirty little secret.  It's where I do a fair amount of my grocery shopping and almost all of my "household goods" shopping.  It's where I manage to make my husband's salary provide everything our family-of-four needs.  We don't have debt like most people do.  Our debt is 100% medical (and we have insurance!!)  We buy what we can buy and we don't "charge" anything.  If we need help purchasing something, we put on our grown-up underwear, take a deep breath, and ask our parents.  I think it's only happened a couple of times.  Why?  Because we live within our means.  Thanks Wal-Mart! :-)

I've done some serious comparison shopping(again...I'm kinda' really good at what I do-running this house.)  I've done the Whole Foods ingredient checklist, I've shopped there for produce, I do go there for my local honey, cheese-substitutes, and seafood.  I'm not anti-Whole Foods.  But, I do think their stuff isn't worth the LOADS of extra money it usually costs.

I've shopped Safeway.  Same brands on lots of things, but at significantly higher prices.

Natural Grocers has REALLY clean foods.  I LOVE that.  But, most of it is out of my price range and with two stores-each of them clear across town-it's simply not feasible for me to go there for much at all.  If I'm in the area, I'll swing by and get whatever produce they may have on sale that I can use.

Super Target is just stupid.  LOL!  Most of what they carry is ready-made stuff, they have very little that fits our family eating style, and they're overpriced on what we would eat

EVEN THE FARMERS MARKET sucks in some ways.  Last year, I made it my mission to find the best one in town, since we have so many on different days.  Well... most of them have the same vendors, so if you're wondering like I worries.  The same ones go everywhere(smart, right?  That's their job, Shannon.)  What I did notice, though, was that more often than not, produce is not organically grown.  AAAANNNDDDDDDDD what really pissed me off was how many of them get food shipped in to them and they bring it over like it's local.  Jackasses.  Next time you're at the market...ask them for each item you want to purchase.  Ask 'em, I dare you!  "Did you grow this?  Is it organic?"  I got so many "no"s last year you can tell I'm still mad about it.  Grrr.  The local, free-range goat's milk cheese I was checking out, too.  Nope, the goats aren't really free range.  They have pens they're kept in.  So, why do they even say free range?  Cause when the goats aren't lactating they get to roam free.  But, when they're producing...they're penned.  Stupid.

What's this have to do with Wal-Mart?  This is how I see it: If I'm going to get food that's shipped in (like at the Farmer's Market), I'd like it to be clearly labeled where it's from (like at Wal-Mart.)  I know which tomatoes are from Mexico, California, and Argentina.  And, I can pick which one I want.  I also have a clear label for organic produce.  Woot!  No asking someone who may or may not be honest with me about it.  And, I do see the associates switch out the labels when new product is placed, so I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be true.  Wal-Mart knows most of their customers don't give a rat's ass where their food comes from, but they also know that some of us are watching and they're catering to us.  I think that's nice (and, well, of course... commercialism.)  I know that EVERY PACKAGE of seafood from Wal-Mart is from China.  So, I don't buy any there.  Gross!  They can't get lead paint right...I'm not eating food from there. PERIOD!  But, again...Wal-Mart tells us these things, in plain sight.  If we want to make conscious choices about food, we do have the option.  Now, I think I'm fortunate to be living in an area where people are more particular, because I can get the following at my Super Wal-Mart: locally-raised and packaged (although not free-range or loved, so I don't buy it, but point is they're catering to us little by little) sausage, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, goats milk (and organic of a few of those varieties), gluten-free pastas, cereals, baking mixes(I make my own and I'm not gluten-free, point...), various organic produce, LOTS of Kashi cereal, cracker, snack bar choices, true free-range whole chickens, organic ketchup, organic canned veggies and fruit, as well as a whole myriad of food choices that aren't organic or local, but don't have a bunch of additives.  Really!

I know food isn't the only thing available there, but I think it's a starting point for what sets people's shopping experiences apart.  I also buy lots of baking soda there (we haven't used shampoo in, I think, 2 months and counting and I'll be whipping up my first batch of homemade deodorant here shortly as well as toothpaste.)  They don't offer a lot of clean products for keeping house-dish soap, laundry soap, regular soap, etc.  But, they do have most of the products necessary to make your own.  And if you make your own, you probably already have your favorite suppliers.  I don't really know.  I'm still using up all of my fancy detergents for cloth diapers and I use Dawn dish soap so I can help support the funds and supplies given to clean up the animals who fall victim to oil spills (the oil is still a problem, by the way... It's still there...just in case you forgot!)  As for clothing and toys, I prefer to buy second-hand.  Wal-Mart is no better than most other large retailers (they all get most of their stuff cheap, from overseas.)  But, I feel like I can't advocate enough for buying things USED!!  There's lots of really good stuff out there and it's still usable.  I can't stand the idea of how much is wasted and perfectly fine.  Again, we make our choices...  Everywhere.  With every purchase.

Does Wal-Mart ship in tons of things from overseas that are made cheaply, by (I'm assuming...)children?  Mmhmm.  So does Target, Toys 'R Us, K-Mart, and every other corporate retail store you can find (yep, even all over every mall in America).

Does Wal-Mart pay their employees "retail wages"?  Mmhmm.  So do so many other retail stores (and even locally-owned ones!)

Does Wal-Mart do everything they can to turn a large profit?  Only one way to go being a CORPORATION.  Of course, they do.

Does Wal-Mart donate a lot of those profits to charities?  Yep.

Does Wal-Mart provide an opportunity for people to work even weird, odd, part time hours?  I can't say first-hand, but I ask employees a lot and they all say they're really flexible (a plus to NEVER closing, I guess.)

Does Wal-Mart allow people to sleep in their parking lots in their cars, RVs, trucks, vans, etc?  Yep.  Always have a well-lit porch if you need one. ;-)

I could keep going on and on and on, but it's late and I'm getting distracted.  My point, however, is that Wal-Mart isn't the devil himself and while the gargantuan status of the store is intimidating it's not all bad.  It suits our family very well as PART of our shopping experience.  Conscious choices can be made anywhere we go and, often, what seems "better" is really just equal with a different light.  So, there.  My secret's really out now.  

Oh.  And, sometimes you just want to eat something really crummy that's yummy.  At Wal-Mart...the choices are plentiful!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why I believe in yoga

Flexibility is what keeps objects from snapping.  Enormous buildings are designed to be able to fluidly move with high winds or shaking ground.  If they weren't we wouldn't have any skyscrapers.  Yoga keeps our bodies flexible it keeps them moving.  It keeps our minds flexible and open to new paths.

I don't yoga as often as I'd like.  The computer pulls me in at night, my bed pulls me in in the morning, and Stori's naps are almost always for Zane and Mom time.  Although, those are just excuses anyway to be real.  I could make the time; we make the time for what matters.  Like unschooling our kiddos.  ;-)  Fortunately my past experience with yoga and my continual practice of the mental techniques in yoga have kept me somewhat flexible.

We're not unschooling.

Selfishly, I pout and I sad-face.  I really REALLY want to.  I want to be that family who does.  I want to be that Mom who does.  But, Zane doesn't want to and that's clear in a way that he doesn't even understand.  I'm a pretty darned open kinda' lady.  I like to be truthful and while I do have boundaries I also embrace the idea of opening up to the genuine nature of humanity and our human experiences.  I HATE closed doors and I HATE masks and I HATE facades.  I know we ALL have them, but that doesn't mean I dislike them any less.  While my first instinct at this time is to share all the details of our family's past two weeks, it's not just my details.  It's Zane's, Stori's, Jon's, and mine.  It's not my place to give away very intimate details that belong to someone else, so there's not too much more I can say.  Sorry.

What I can say is this...  While I don't want to walk Zane to school on August 18th, I will because that's what he needs.  I'd have been spending the last two months (or so) blowing a bunch of steaming horse-shit up your noses  if I didn't take a moment to recognize what Zane needs and what he's asking for then follow through on that.  This unschooling stuff is my deal, this is my desire.  Ultimately, of course, I think it's great for kids and I'm passionate about it, but the very basis of it all is hearing, respecting, and living up to providing what our kids need at any given time in their development.  So, in that sense I'm still living the theories of it all and like I said before, Jon and I have approached his interests in this way all along.  We'll continue to do that for him, as well as Stori.

So...  I'm going to keep blogging, because I enjoy it.  So there! :-P

What new thing do I have to say?  I feel blessed.  Like I said a lot has happened the last couple of weeks in our family.  Throughout it, some friends made us some meals which was AWESOME!  I've never had anyone make me meals before when going through something "big" in life.  IT.WAS.SO.COOL.  Coming home after exhausting days (part of which included myself having an emergency appendectomy, but that wasn't even close to the toughest thing that week) and having a wonderful, nutritious homemade meal full of goodness that I just had to heat up was awesome!  I also had a friend bring me fudge(YUM!), friends and family help with childcare, and a nice visit from a friend to just keep me company.  Awesomeness.  So grateful, so blessed, so ready to pay it forward!

Blessing part two: a friend's oldest daughter is in the hospital with some sort of terrible, mystery virus.  Please pray for her, or chant, or energize, or think, or whatever you do.  Well, she also has a brand new little bug at home.  As any of you could imagine, spending the night in the hospital is hard to do with ANY child, let alone two.  But, little bug is a little, bitty bug and isn't accepting bottles, as she prefers to nurse.  This friend and I have conversed a little about my wishes to be a wet-nurse before and she reached out to me today to see if I could help her out by taking little bug for the night so she could spend the night with her sick daughter, in the hospital just focusing on her.  YES!  THAT, my friends, is community.  THAT is knowing and recognizing that people care and not being too scared to ask for help, even when that help is something that many would nay-say.  Unfortunately, I am day two of a head cold and am certain I'm still contagious.  Clearly, we're not trying to infect this family with anything more than they're already dealing with and I'm bummed-beyond what I can express to you-that I couldn't follow through for her tonight.  The blessing is still there though.  Through my talking about things that I think really matter and can make a big difference in the world, EVEN IF they make people uncomfortable, I inspired a woman to know she had somewhere to go, someone to lean on during a very difficult experience.  <3<3<3<3  Some may think it odd to picture their baby nursing at the breast of another woman, but I think it odd to picture myself and my child not being provided what we need because of social norm.

Lesson:  Share what you've got.  Period.  :-)