Friday, May 20, 2016

I have a belly that wiggles when I giggle

Ouch. YAY!!


In case you hadn't heard: I had a hysterectomy and more than a pound of scar tissue removed two weeks ago. My human body is a miracle of processes that are healing my insides like a sci fi movie! But wow it's a long recovery full of sleeping and eating and hydrating followed by more sleep. 

You know what's harder than that? Mental illness. 

Sadly, instead of being equals, only one of those topics can be comfortably talked about away from the blog where I put all my feels. You got it! It's the one where I tell people robots pulled my baby house out of a hole sliced in my belly button. Less awkward than depression, woohoo! 

Even in scenarios where all health topics should be equal. Yesterday I looked my gynecologist in the eye during my post op and discussed with a straight face for ten minutes whether the last minute removal of my benign tumor covered cervix made my vagina shorter since I read some angry woman on the on the internet saying they twist tie it off like a sausage where it used to connect me to my uterus--and it was a relatively PLEASANT conversation! 

Then I made the mistake of mentioning that I have ADHD and have been battling insomnia for years so my psychiatrist had recommended I speak to my gyno about getting my hormones checked, he agreed abruptly, no more eye contact, turned his back to me to click around on the computer, gave a referral to another doc in the office and got the heck out of dodge. 

Jon was there so I checked, I wasn't being weird or intense, crying, eating cotton balls, staring without blinking. I wasn't even off topic, it's particularly ON topic after this procedure! I didn't ask for more pain killers OR a prescription for Adderall, I just wanted some information about my hormones especially in relation to mental wellness, particularly sleep. 

This happens to me all the time, I say something that makes me feel like I have to apologize to doctors for being a complex creature, a person who is always trying to find the line of what is relevant in a conversation to my whole body health and wellness progress. I'm not mad at him. He's a great gynecologist+surgeon so it's not hard to imagine uncovering the rhyme and reasons of "emotions" isn't a high priority in his professional wheelhouse-- but it still proves my point; mental health takes more time, more time means less patients, less patients means less fun cutting people open and less $$ for the second home in the Bahamas. 

I don't blame people for being PEOPLE, I would also like a second home on the beach if I went to school for 30 years and looked at hoo-haws all day long! I just wish he hadn't bolted out of the room. It makes me feel stupid, and in the past, might have discouraged me from following up.

Another insane thing? I was nervous and upset leading up to my surgery, but I also looked FORWARD to it so I could plan to use that time to transition off some meds and come out the other side of this with a clean slate to begin *more/new* regimens of clean eating, exercise, essential oils, pre bedtime rituals, and studied careful applications of medications that enhance my quality of life from a mental standpoint. Because weaning from medications while totally awake? IS AWFUL AND SLOW AND AWFUL.

That worked! I'm off! Hooray! Right? Well, except, even though my stomach hurts and is definitely still's kind of a relief to have the "pain hall pass" to keep out of life for a little longer. Yes, I just said that out loud and no, it's not a pain killer addiction since I quit those two days after I got home, but my mind? I'm alone with my thoughts a lot, I'm watching my handsome best friend (aka husband) shuttle kids, help me, go to work, and I am in a slow motion penalty box, puttering around the house, finding jobs I can sit for long periods of time doing like organizing craft supplies, going through old clothes for donate stuff, randomly painting a light fixture, all wondering how I am supposed to merge back into REAL life and pick up some momentum without getting drawn into the cycles that were going on before this big time out.

Not the physical part. That part I am chomping at the bit for! Even with incisions I FEEL better in my TRUNK, in my core, no one knew about the scar tissue, I was all tied up. Physical health? I know how to do that part, how exciting I am not fighting my own body this time! But the never sleeping, the impulsive decisions, the social anxiety, the disembodied feeling when I get overwhelmed by choices in the store and leave with items I don't need and not what I came for pretty much every time. Sometimes I cry in frustration when I get home and feel extra stupid because I always make a list and it never helps. Of course trying to avoid this has led to personally funding my local UPS driver's yearly salary with the amount of Amazon prime boxes he brings to our doorstep each week. 


...tomorrow. Okay? 

In the last two years between the physical and the mental health struggles that go on daily in my home, I have pulled out of life. I stand by those choices, they were small but often and built up to create an introvert fortress where I could take care of myself and my family, but the emergencies are over. Now I have to stand in this safe place, examine my life options...and put down the drawbridge to rejoin life. 

I'm daunted and a little scared. I don't know, human things, worrying I'm not funny or relevant anymore. That happens, right? Public situations make me nervous because for the first time in my life I don't have stories, I'm not doing anything with my free time I'm interested in or proud of, I'm not positive who or what I am right now, and I don't relate to people who can leave their house without a ten minute self help pep talk! 

In the back of my head, I still know (hope), I'm a survivor and a fighter. I'm an artist always looking for or scheming my next project. I LIKE people. I think life is hard and I have discernment, but I don't judge. I meet people all the time, and I enjoy that, but I don't enjoy getting to know people well enough that I can let them down. Sigh, it's a fine line. I think I am capable of what life can offer me, and I have a lot to put back in the world. THAT is what is waiting for me, LIFE is where I am heading. Right? 

I'm not ashamed to admit that stuff because we all go through these ebbs and flows.

The part that really makes me sad and frustrated about getting back in the world, is medicine, i.e. how Adderall connects my mind so I can be present and think through choices before I make them and/or be successful at *the grocery store!*, but has side effects that can require other medications that also have side effects--an extra frustrating dance because the song can change any minute for no reason. There is a part of me so weary of the DJ who puts on the groovy slow tunes with 30 seconds of slow dance beats before it suddenly turns into a spazzy high tempo jig-- making already awkward life moments MORE AWKWARD. 

I call that song AMBIEN, btw. 

Mostly, I think I'm writing this because I thought people should know (feel validated or gather some ability to empathize for someone in their own life) that my stark truth about mental health? If I could have a painful 8 week long recovery surgery EVERY year in exchange for not having ADHD, insomnia, anxiety and depression, not knowing which one is going to strike next, or how best to dance to the medication+side effects song that give me access to my best self? I wouldn't even blink, I would do it. 

I just wish it was as *easy* (haha) to talk about this stuff as it is to ask a strange dude who's got a nurse and a flashlight pointed at my nether regions if he can still yell "echo!" down my birth canal and hear a response. I wish the stigma that is lifting would lift faster. I wish I could afford the facilities where people go to get centered and have experts analyze their medicines while they safely detox from prescriptions and make healthy life plans for their current stage of life. For heavens sake, I would settle for my insurance covering acupuncture and/or a nutritionist! Today I wish mental wellness could just be part of the dialogue of being human already, and I pray everyday that by the time my children are old enough to be raising children, mental health coverage and opportunities will be boundless and considered as vital as any other kind of health care. 


P.S. I'm not cranky as I sound, tomorrow is my birthday! My boyfriend Amazon Prime Now is cued up to bring me ice cream all day to enjoy between protein bars and I continue to love the damn dog so damn much! He's my bestest friend in the whole wide world, yes he is. (said out loud as I wrote it in the ridiculous voice my damn dog deserves and loves.) He is also my bestest NURSE and he cares ALL about my mental health. It's his favorite!! I just asked him. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The importance of finishing a thought

Dear OfSunshine Blog,

How are you? I've been thinking about you lately. I'm wondering--do you go to support meetings with all the other blogs so lovingly created in the first waves of social media, then abandoned when when only .01% of the creators actually parlayed their blog into a career, leaving everyone else wandering off disillusioned by the growing popularity of 15 word memes? 

I imagine you now, in the basement of some church website where they serve bagel "bytes" with bad coffee after the meetings. Do you and the other modest personal blogs point and whisper when one of you arrives unexpectedly? You know, the one you were all *sure* was bound for bigger and better things--now skulking in with baggy clothes and big sunglasses? What do we do with all these blogs that now sit neglected after they were sought out and created in the corners of the Internet universe for anyone and everyone to spill their ideas and feelings into? 

Oh, blog! Why are you crying? Don't be sad! I never loved you for your ad space! I'm sorry I was dazzled by the lights (read: "likes") of Facebook, but it was always you and me, kid. Wipe your eyes, blow your nose. We have work to do.

Item Number One

This article: 
(You can read it, I will wait...and by read I mean skim the first of it and devour the last part)

Here is what strikes me most about that article: the contrast between the life choices of the first woman (who remembers nothing) and the second (who remembers everything). Now, I don't wish to be either of these women for various and obvious reasons, but the second woman BECAUSE she remembers so much is OBSESSED with remembering and recording everything to the point of not being a functioning person. 

Then the author of the article says "My iPhone now holds 1,217 photos and 159 videos just from the past eight months. By focusing on clicking picture after picture, I may actually be blurring away my memories of these experiences through something researchers call “the photo-taking impairment effect.” And by automatically storing all those photos in the cloud—which relieves my mind of the burden of cataloging a bunch of memories—I may be short-circuiting some part of my own process of episodic memory formation."

There is something about those pieces of information that is incredibly important to me at this juncture of my life. I'm making choices now that will decide a lot about the next half of my life. How much of it do I want to be virtual reality and photo memories, and how much should I let go of the cataloging and just DRINK IN my life experiences, fill out the contours of my SOUL instead of an online photo album? I want to refocus on photographs for the ART of something. I think I used to be kind of good at that and it makes life interesting trying to find the beautiful or honest angle of something. 

Anyway, after I read that I had a lot to marinate on and I stepped away from the Internet for a while. I uninstalled my apps for Facebook and messenger so I had to manually go to a browser to check them and I began reading a PAPER novel. Yeah, on paper. Like the kind you get from trees! Weird. 

I won't get into all of the things I worked out right now, but I did figure out one thing which I will set here as

Item Number Two 

Blogging is important to me, but like many things I would give lip service to for being "important to me" I wasn't acting like it, and I was feeling conflicted and guilty about ways the speed of technology had begun filling me with convenient empty calories. Just like needing to go on a real diet, I'd been struggling with awareness but a stubborn unwillingness to really take the uncomfortable steps to change anything. 

This is not a judgment of how other people use the Internet! I believe in social media as a new modern "community" where people know each others business and get relief and support in a society that no longer meets at a common watering hole in the center of the village. I will also continue to utilize the tools of our modern age! But... 

I need to come home. To my sarcastically named but earnestly wielded Sunshine Blog. I have ADHD, writing a thought from start to finish or working something out through my fingertips and reading it back with my eyes feeds information from one side of my brain to the other the way no medication or self help tool can. Blogging serves this better then a journal simply because most people don't comb over a journal entry for editing mistakes or concept clarity the way we would if someone else might read it.

I used to feel like I couldn't come back here without creating some kind of a back log to experiences that were only catalogued to Facebook, like this place wouldn't be a complete picture of what I had set out to create when I began to blog--but that article gave me such a gift because it told me without a doubt that obsessive compiling doesn't serve me in any way. 

I miss writing. I miss this being an up to date resource for the parents I work with on the ADHD family journey. I have missed you, blog face! Yup. I missed your blogging face! 

Next up? Tomorrow I have major surgery to wade through the recovery of, but I think a blog make over is in order. You've earned it Stay tuned :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Ok, first, watch that 60 second video, it's hilarious. I'll wait.


SEE?! Hilarious.

Oldy but a goody. Interestingly, on a group I follow someone posted this video and said, "how come everyone thinks it's funny to call this goat ADHD? Am I the only one who thinks that's rude?"

There were 14 comments under it and in varying degree's of kindness and flat out rude, they all said the same thing: "it's harmless, PC NATION ANYONE?, my kids liked it."

I actually agree with both sides of the conversation, so I posted a comment and after I read it back to myself, then I decided it's worth re-posting my comment here, simply because it's always been something I think about when it comes to ADHD in particular. I'd love to know your thoughts on this, or any success you have had personally raising awareness or explaining ADHD to your friends, family, or beyond.So with no further ado (or enjoying the sound of my own fingers tapping), I give you my response to the post about the funny goat:

I would like to respond to your sentiment rather than the video because as an ADHD advocate, one of my greatest struggles is that ADHD  does not get the same respect as words like "autism" or "dyslexia" and the idea of having an ADHD awareness month that people would proudly get behind like autism or breast cancer is impossible because the word ADHD is fundamentally misunderstood and often polarizing.

I don't mind that this person said the goat was ADHD in the video, I mind that my child shares a brain condition with me that isn't taken seriously. The solution to this isn't to police how people cope with it, because humor is absolutely part of my tool bag of survival skills, but with ongoing public education and more advanced understanding of how the ADHD brain works, I hope in a couple more generations this label will lose some of it's "only for a punchline" stigma, and be able to used in context of A LOT of conversations.

I feel like at 36, my generation was one of the first to have true access to the label with some resources. Now as a mother of a ten year old, the resources and information available to me were astonishing compared to what I had, so I pray by the time my grandchildren and great grandchildren are entering school, the amount of people who can joke and nurture and problem solve will continue to have grown like it did even in the 20 years between my diagnoses and my sons.

No one would watch a video like this and point to a goat sitting in the background by itself and say, "haha, that goat has autism!" but instead of being the PC generation, hopefully the education of what autism is will also continue to spread, and humor can be a coping skill there, too!

With all physical and mental conditions, joking ideally should originate from individuals, their family, and their loved ones who have proper context and compassion. It would never be funny for some to point at someone in a wheelchair and say, "hey, it's a human roller skate!" But if it's your brother you love coming into the room in his wheelchair, you're allowed to as a greeting, a little twisted humor can go a long way, especially since he can respond by calling you a flamingo and making you bribe him to tag along with his wheel chair pass to skip rides at theme parks.

ADHD needs to be taken more seriously, ALONG with what is undoubtedly endearing, sometimes comical, and definitely recognizable about it.

That's just my two cents ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Well THAT took a weird turn...

Hi, my name is Freaking Out, and I am in love with a 2 x 4.

I did the activating coat on the three-step process of the "metal effects" rust colored paint when it was almost dark, so I wasn't able to watch the transition.

My addiction began when I woke up to this:

My behaviors will effect you in the following ways: I'm sanding the stain off of the other railings so they can all look like this...and I'm probably gonna talk about it a lot.

Then I'm pretty sure I'm going to start buying frames, knickknacks, and even using it in completely inappropriate ways like with a stencil on a T-shirt! Yes!

...before I tried it I thought I was in control... I could stop whenever I wanted... then I tried it once and now I don't want to stop! Ever!!!!

Sorry I won't be attending any other meetings--I'll be too busy posting pictures of rust colored objects on the Internet!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

LIVING a gamer girl LIFE

Discussion Thread:
Balancing RL (real life) and Fantasy and how to help them feed into each other.


We've all done it, been up late and alone when you suddenly find yourself stuck in a load screen, or turning off your computer, when the silence or the black screen suddenly act like a mirrored surface and you see your reflection--giving you just enough time for the quiet voice in the back of your brain to yell "What the hell am I doing with my life?"

If that moment could make an "achievement" sound, we would all have earned it! I'm a gamer girl with pride. I'm also a gamer girl who needs structure.

Why am I directing this to women? Well, not to feed into stereotypes, but just in the SCIENCE alone of how male and female brains are different, I think we tend to be more aware, more active, (or at least feel more guilty) about the people, things, life experiences, or chores we are neglecting. Not that guys don't ever do this, but their is a reason the word "bachelor pad" is a usually accurate cliche. Men are happy functioning with bare essentials, where I on the other hand, know if we were faced with a zombie apocalypse (which my family will totally survive, btw. More on that in a follow up post, I'm sure), every time we find a safe little dugout, cave, or abandoned prison, one of the first things I would do would be to crawl out and grab some weed flowers to decorate with.

I don't want to survive in life. I want to thrive, and when I can't do that, I want to put beautiful things into the world one moment at a time.

The games we play? ARTISTS have come together with some of the greatest minds and technology of our time to bring MUSEUMS to our living rooms. To bring the ancient art of good story telling to our finger tips. To allow us to engage the ancient and essential part of the human brain that has allowed our species to survive for so long by being cunning, and fast, or stealthy and ferocious--defeating those who would hurt us. Puzzles, whole new universes, cooperative entertainment, and even community that expands beyond our village to stretch around the globe.

I am a PROUD gamer girl and gamer mom.



...when are we participating, and when are we JUST escaping? Too much. Where is the line of quality of life and quality of gaming life? When are we triggering the pleasure of center in our brains like crack cocaine does or overeating? (check the science on that, I'm so not making that up.)

How do we, as women in our lives, enjoy our games, and not neglect and/or "should" all over ourselves? You've heard the saying, right? "Don't should on yourself!" Haha, stupid to say out loud, but true. Especially because depression is not uncommon for introverts and the gamers I know. Beating ourselves up will just drive us to more escape from the rude voices.

This post is to open the discussion of how we make sure we are enjoying our games, AND TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES.

Things you can share here?

Something you did once that changed your life that wasn't a game, and would you ever do it again? Why or why not?

You're thought process when you sit down to play, or do you shut everything out because you know you should be doing something else. Basically, does turning on your game make you feel positive or depressed? Or both?

What are other ambitions in your life, and are you doing anything about it? Even if it's just planning for the time in your life when your schedule will allow it? I came to a point where I "surrendered" to being "mother of young children" -- tired of feeling thwarted, I really thought about it, saw the arc of my life, and said "I will not feel bad about the dreams waiting on a shelf, the movies I don't see in the theater, the hot dinners I don't eat" and it helped me. I'm actually coming to the end of that surrender time and now having to decide what I want to be when I grow up is freaking me out!

What could you do to engage with people in your real life and your games? Do you go into your children's mine-craft homes and ask them how or why they built what they did and try to understand their thought process? You should, it's fun. When you are questing, do you tuck a kid on your lap and stay focused on the quest instead of farming or stealing, and let them help you talk to npc's? That, also fun!

How do games add to your real life when you're away from home?

How does real life add to your gaming experiences?

How does your relationship handle this dynamic? My husband really loves ESO, and a few months ago we hit a new rough patch for us where we struggled with his total and complete obsession with ESO for two months... (I'm not sayng I did this, but I hearda bout a girl that unplugged her husbands tower and without a word, tucked it into the covers of the guest bed, propping it comfortably on the pillow and then I said enjoy your new wife. I mean SHE did--the anonymous person from the story), but she super liked him so one day she sat down and I made four folders he has to click through to get to the executable file. Er, "she" did... They Are:

1 - "Is there anything else you should be doing?" which means is there something that will nag and bother your brain so you don't enjoy yourself, or is there a dirty dishes in the sink? Playing is more fun if you do a quick chore and "earn" it in my opinion.

2 - "Clean up your game space" throw away trash, put dishes in the dishwasher, file the mail on the keyboard

3 - "Decide how long you want to play" what is today? Is it a weekend? What will you be mad on Monday you didn't do on Saturday? Just, no big deal, set an alarm on your phone while your computer boots up, in two hours "weed garden" and then play, then alarm "family time, dinner" play, and finally "turn to your wife and say something nice to her"

4 - "Have fun! Love, your Gamer Wife" which means, don't tell me later that you have no free time and you're so busy. KNOW you are playing a game! Decide to have fun. Sell stuff fast that you were going to decon if it means you get to the "fun" part quicker. Stop spending sop much time organizing your hoarded goods unless THAT IS what you wanted to do :) Also, it means don't feel guilty, or like you have to sneak gaming-- if you used the folders, then I WANT you to take a break and have fun.

(boys paying attention, if you do that above? I can personally guarantee the chances of your cute gamer wife smooshing her face up against your face go WAY up.)

(I mean. I'm guessing from what my friend told me.)

Anyway, that's what this is about.

Feel free to discuss, share, support, confess, and think!

The floor is yours:

Friday, May 22, 2015

History is 20/20

...too bad I was so busy looking back I tripped right over this log in the road. OUCH :P

Hey! I had to take a blog break while I decided how to move forward talking about ADHD that allows my experiences already documented with my own young children stand if it felt appropriate--which it does. We are all different. I have reviewed and I stand by how remarkable even the most difficult posts show my son to be--in addition to the fact that the ability to discuss and break down walls is a path my whole family is already on. I just needed to find new ways to follow the progression of the challenges a family goes through while allowing my now school aged children privacy.

With my ADHD family education focus, I have new personal stories, references, and ways to talk about mental health and wellness that maintains the privacy of everyone involved.

Oh, yeah, baby, I'm saying what you think I'm saying.... I'M BACK!

I had some good facebook posts over the last two years that I will be back posting over the next little while, as well as cleaning up my side bars and overall look, but I. Am. Back.

Phew! Get ready, fingers, we have some truths to lay down! Drop the mic...

Sunshine, OUT

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We don’t own any guns, but we might soon.

Usually non-stop chatter when her daddy picks her up from preschool, the pink punk was quiet as she climbed up into her car seat in his truck.

"How was school, Alice?" He asks her smiling as he pulls out of the parking lot.
... silence.

"Did you do anything fun today?"

<she whispers something quietly, but an ominous air fills the car>

Oblivious to the danger, daddy continues his investigation, "Did you show your teacher your cool rocks from the pond?"

"I KISSED A BOY." A declaration, a pink punk meets his eyes in the rear view mirror, a challenge in the way she lifts her chin.

"What? Who? What?! Why?!" His life begins to pass before his eyes, he was supposed to have years to prepare for this, instead he finds himself sputtering sounds instead of words.

Whispers a thing of the past, she squares her four year old shoulders and smiles "I kissed Liam! He was sleeping at nap time, I was VERY sneaky. We love each other! People who love each other kiss each other blah blah blah..." her chatter trails off as the perfectly reasonable middle age father with a steady job and loving family begins to wonder if he will need to use both hands to strangle a preschool size Casanova, or if one will be enough.

Finally the two minute drive home that seemed to last forever came to an end so the daddy could turn this rapidly dissolving situation over to a professional, "Mommy? Someone has been KISSING boys at school. While they are SLEEPING."
"I Iove him!" says the pink peanut gallery.

The mother assesses the defiance in the smug face and chooses another tactic "Oh my! What's his name? Did your teachers see? Are you getting married? I love him, too! Tell me everything!"

Like a Venus Trap, the sweet smell of victory lulls the pink punk into her outstretched arms...

...which is how I found out the "kissing" in question was done across a pile of tiny sleeping humans, that she blew it off the tips of her defiant pink fingers, and that "kissing with lips on lips is only for mommy and daddy and Russell and Alice and Osem, except fern won't kiss me, I hold her down, and she still WON'T blah blah blah..." and, as this chatter begins to disperse all the dark clouds that had been brewing around a certain Jon King... I knew... this is only the beginning.


alice kiss

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In the Midnight, In the Moonlight.


So, I have this friend who went through a heart wrenching divorce last year and has since sworn off jumping into a serious relationship so she can focus on her cool kids and career... but unlike myself who would probably stop shaving my legs and use the now vacant other half of my bed to hold midnight snacks and vampire trash novels, she has quite cheerfully thrown herself into loads of casual dating, totally puts herself out there, and is somehow as engaging and funny as always while she deals with her new normal and the day to day grieving (and restructuring) process that comes from the total annihilation of that little thing we call hopes and dreams. Her reward for this mischief?

Among her suitors she is dating a MOUNTAIN MAN. Like, she met him when he was TRADING leather in the mountains, he sleeps on a rot iron bed in the small cabin he built with mud and straw, showers with "two water jugs hanging in the sun", and last week sent her a text that said:

"Ive been scraping a hide that I started yesterday. And smoking hides. And Ive got an elk to skin in a couple hours. I might have a rifle sold, so I may have to go an mark it as sold on the internet. And soaking a hole with hide water to dig out for log fence Im building. What are you up to?"

I'm telling you this because when she calls me and tells me on their first date he picked her up in full cowboy getup and they made out in his truck in the rain, well... I can't help but think it's kind of a tragedy she doesn't indulge all of us with Facebook status updates about this.

(you know, since she's a respectable person, and I wouldn't know a secret if it punched me in the mouth)

Whew! I feel better. See, lady, I told you this belonged on the internet. Just think of all the single thirty something moms you've inspired to get out there with their awesome selves!

Now I have to go. I'm setting up the hose to spray over the driveway and I'm going to try and convince Jon to make out with me in his truck when he gets home from work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

command code equals deleted

The following message was delivered to one Mr. King when his wife cried over the couch cushions as they were found cast all about the beautiful living room of her beautiful home, and I AM NOT ASHAMED. That's why I made you your own version here. If a tree falls in a forest and there is no computer around for me to blog my feelings about it, does it still make a sound?


Okay software engineers, do you remember that first program you wrote? When years of study, months of work, and maybe days and days of programming finally came together, and the program opened... And it worked? The thrill?! The pride?! 

Now imagine, even though it will always be a magical point in history, in order to ever write anything new again, you always have to write that first program again. From scratch. Every day. No matter what you do, or how you attempt to save it, by the time the sun rises, the careful lines of code have evaporated, and everything you've created depends on those lines being in place, and there is definitely no way to create anything new without them... 

Of course, through the years you've probably tweaked it here and there, streamlined the process--it's not like it's even hard anymore! (or challenging, or fun) You could write it in your sleep. It used to take days, then hours, but now (when everything is running right, nothing is overheating, and your memory is at it's finest) you can write it in as quickly as a couple hours. 

No big deal.

Just A COUPLE HOURS of your life.




Imagine waking up and knowing even though yesterday was the best you've ever written it, you even sort of enjoyed it again, as your feet hit the ground, and you Sonicare the sleep smell out of your mouth hole, you know it's gone. 

Well, now you know how I feel about housekeeping. 

Some of the rewards of my job ARE like writing a program; they come in explosive bursts of SUCCESS, or soft whispers of affection... but in between those sweet executable double clicks when the pieces fall together and the fans of the hardware whirr to life in anticipation...  

Couch cushions. 

Folding clean clothes. 

Kitchen counters. 

Shoes in the hallway.

Leaves on the front porch.

Dog poop on the back porch.

Clean dishes in the washer.

Dirty hair on other people's heads.

Trash cans.

Then work up some equation that takes the essence of those tiny tedious chores, times it by a thousand other random jobs, then develop an algorithm to determine which parts of the brain the repetition of those will begin to eat away at first...

...and that's my day in terms a software engineer <cough> jon king <cough> could understand. 

Except I'm pretty sure I've never had a magical moment with laundry. 


Side note engineers: this post in no way reflects the part where, while your actively, CURRENTLY! typing, small humans can walk up and begin smashing keys with jam covered digits. And if you're really good at your job, you don't even get to push them aside and fix it quickly, you have to fold your frustrated hands into your armpits, stand behind them patiently, and walk THEM through the clean up process: 

Double click right there.

No. Not there. Over. 



Too far. Go back. See that sideways triangle without it's bottom? (Because you have to use words the uneducated spawn of your loins will understand) Click there.


But that's a post for another day. Now this Mormon mother is going to look for the program written in the tiny keychain flask Urban Outfitters probably intended for hipster twenty somethings, but should really be marketed in Good Housekeeping. They. Would. Sell. OUT.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Don’t Wait

It was a hard spring, and summer came down like a hammer. Living in the "American dream" doesn't change those facts one bit, just because it's a privilege to have the troubles I have, I'm still the one who has to decide when to plow through or sit down and cry. 

Or both.

But we did it! And now that we are on the other side of hardhammersummer, I see even more clearly how very treacherous it got, and I see how many people are still in theirs, and how many people have survived theirs in the past, and how many people have one a comin' but I'm pretty sure they haven't been watching the weather forecast and I wish they would buy an umbrella, like, yesterday.

I would lend them mine but it’s full of holes. That’s cool though, because I just found out

I am ferocious. 

I am not a quitter.

And I am smarter and braver than I ever believed.

Finding the right school for Russell was never a question of "if" for me, it was always a question of "when, and where, and how long will I look? How hard will I try, how often will I cry tears of frustration when doors close? Will I have to open my own school to do this, and am I ready to give up everything else I ever wanted to do, or be, to do that?"

When the educators of Carden Academy welcomed us to their school last week it was the best day of my life. 


Why? We took Russell out of public school 6 weeks early because of serious concerns with his teacher, another student, and our continuing education about what it means to be an extraordinary person with ADHD. After Russell was kicked out of two preschools, we found our sanctuary at Cottage Preschool where we learned that he wasn't just saving it for me, but when any adult with a spark of their own takes the time to "get" Russell, not only does he flourish, he shines. 

After we left Cottage for kindergarten, the glow began to fade until two years past found us with the fresh sting of rejection after a local private school called him "too enthusiastic" during a two day trial. When we found Carden, they too had reservations after his two day trial, but after speaking with them, they relented by giving him the opportunity to attend summer school. 

Between that offer and his first day, we were informed that his public school teacher had been dismissed at the end of the year, and was blocked from ever returning, even as a substitute. I can only speculate what her termination papers say, but after having spent hours and hours in her classroom, I felt both validated that our public school standards are at least not laying on the basement floor, and Out. Of. My. MIND. That Russell lost his first grade year to a teacher who routinely stopped her class to tell them how they are making her "already difficult life even harder" when they raise their hands while she's talking, and who, when I witnessed another child repeatedly assault other kids in the class, would shrug her shoulders and say SHE didn't see it (because my parent voice means nothing?)

I'm glad we took him out, because that is how I was able to spend enough time with him to realize we were in a medicine crisis.  I'm glad we had the opportunity to clear our systems and regroup, but that sentence doesn't really cover how AWFUL that dance is, withdrawal, dosage adjustments, not enough patience to go around, labels being reassessed... feeling completely inadequate, as a parent with labels of her own to battle, to be everything the people in my family need from The Mother.

So Russell left Kindergarten at the top of his class, but began his first day of summer school Carden below grade level. 

And Two days in... I knew we were in trouble. I could see it on him, hear it in his voice, and that's when I realized I had undermined him by letting him know this was trial summer school. The third morning as he ran out the door I decided to tell him a great loving lie, hugged him tight, and congratulated him with all my heart for making into Carden because I KNEW he could do it. Then I promptly made a phone call and had an appointment with his teacher and principle even though she basically told me she was planning on calling me Monday to deliver bad news, but I could come in if I wanted.

I had a weekend then. I gnashed my terrible teeth, and rolled my terrible eyes, and then cried my horrible tears to some very important peeps, and I went to that Monday meeting with a proposition. 

Give him a chance.

Let me see, for my own scientific purposes, if allowed to settle in for what might take longer than other kids, if he won't become more than we can see now. "Educate me on education" I asked them. And let me see that I am wrong when I say that some kids may attended Carden, but Russell is the kind of kid who will BECOME Carden.

I knew he loved it, I knew his cursive that he picked up faster and more beautifully than any 8 year old his teacher had ever seen,  was worth fighting for. Yes, I was fighting for cursive!

And these extraordinary educators met my challenge! Because of my proactive nature, and because the day I told Russell was IN, his anxiety dropped and so did some of the troubling issues they were going to tell us about. I told them what I had done and was prepared for cold rejection, for statistics and compliments on character as they shuffled us out the door, but instead they allowed us the gift of time! His teacher began putting in an extra hour with Russell every morning.

And I was grateful.

And scared.

He got better and better everyday! Leaps and bounds on his school work and his behavior at home!  But I knew... four weeks to catch up, to settle down, to get it together...

As hard as I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable dismissal, to really glean what I could from the experience, the day before his last day of school I crumbled. I am ashamed to admit I lost faith... I think it was simply too painful to hope for, and I didn't know how I was going to be able be for him in his life what this one school was for a month.

When we went to the school, we passed a woman heading to her car in tears. I know the school sounds elitist, but after spending time in the classroom, it's really not that... it's a learning style, it's the Carden method, it's a quick pace, and even though I was sad, I trusted them, that they would let me know if Russell would feel behind, inadequate, and essentially "on trial" everyday he was there which isn't good for anyone.  

We began our conversation with some of the finer details of Russell's academic struggles and learning style, and suddenly we were in a conversation where they were referencing our first meeting, when I said Russell would "become Carden" if given a chance, of how at the end of that meeting I told them "Russell will get where he is going because I am his mother; it's not the weight once lifted and it's done, but the length, and I will ALWAYS be his mother."

Then they welcomed our boy with tears in their eyes. They praised his character, his effort, his cursive, his art, and his teacher told me in all her years teaching she has never met an ADHD child who is so WILLING to course correct, and who has been able to connect with the other children so they root for him when he works a math problem at the board. 

I am so proud of him. I am proud of us. I kept it together for the most part in that meeting, but when we left the building I was instantly wrapped in the ferocious arms of the best father a boy could ever pray for, and I cried a salt river all over Jon Kings nice work shirt, and I saw the triumph shine in his beautiful face--the man who religiously drew goofy stick figure pictures on every brown lunch bag Russell ever took to preschool all those years ago. 


Fight for your kids. Start now. Don't wait. SEE them for who they really are, that information will guide you more than any outside source on the planet. There are experts for everything, but we are the Worlds Experts on our children--we could be interviewed on the news and it would say that under our names! Believe in your ability to navigate, because that belief will be your compass, and it's NEVER too late to get your bearings. 

With hope and gratitude,

Alissa Rae


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Damn You Catherine Zeta-Jones

And not for that time you said "I know a million dollars is a lot of money to most people, but to us it's just not."

No, I'm mad at you because even with your five luxury homes, full time staff, and measly "millions" of dollars, you still checked into a seaside care center to manage your bipolar, which essentially means the rest of us with our overflowing pockets filled with tens of dollars are totally screwed. 

I mean, I guess I am grateful she was so graciously public about her ongoing management of bipolar, but mostly I'm mad that even she can't "fix" this, or at least keep it private using the Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of gold coins she keeps in the basement. 


Do you know what they call two overlapping conditions? Co-morbid. Isn't that MORBID?! What's wrong with co-existing? Or even conjoined? Like some amazing three armed two headed goat, but we get co-morbid? It makes me feel like a slab of grey human in the morgue of those ABC crime shows. 

The fact is, ADHD is kind of like one of those sleazy characters on Melrose Place that will sleep with anyone. ADHD and OCD? Oh yeah, they hook up all the time. They would probably hook up more but they spend a lot of time washing their hands and then forgetting why they were washing their hands. I assume ADHD and ODD have a lot of angry make out sessions. But ADHD/bi-polar? They are so sleazy I assume they must have thousands of secret love children. ADHD will totally be your baby mama.

I'm telling you this because when you start down the road of ADHD awareness, it's suddenly not good enough that you've become willing to accept it as part of your life, but suddenly you have to consider all these other lovers. No one told us it was a package deal, and I would really prefer a monogamous relationship with one mental illness if that's alright. I mean, I'm Mormon but I'm not THAT Mormon. 


Okay, so finally I just accepted the pattern of highs and lows, seasons of feeling immortal followed by seasons of total despair, sometimes cycling through an entire year of seasons several times in a day. Although I should pause and mention the gift of ADHD with bipolar is preferable to me than what I have witnessed in singular bipolar. In the same way we can never make our brains be quiet to sleep, or watch a movie without fidgeting, it's also that non stop chatter that will talk you out of dangerous highs and lows. Because it seriously never shuts up. 


I tell you all of this because as my FB friends know, I went to check myself into the hospital yesterday because switching off the Resperidone sent my heart murmur into a tizzy and I couldn't feel my lips or feet or hands because of my low blood pressure, and for weeks I was having ten second rages where I didn't feel like myself, and as I got off the medicine that was causing that, they seemed to get worse and also added ten second hopeless fits that were not who I am. In between those fits, I felt nothing. Like a void of human emotion, and I wanted to care, sort of, but I didn't feel anything enough to want it that bad. 

Isn't that sad? Here I am taking medicines I'd rather not to try and be my best self and it turns me into a stranger and makes me dizzy. And the first two weeks of it were so great! I remember the week after I began taking it, such an overwhelming sense of clarity, and relief that I wasn't terrified anymore. After what we just went through with Russell and school, and being rejected from a stupid snobby school, then falling apart in his current school, to being on the maybe list for another great school, all the while dealing with his intense mood swings that usually lashed out at me with articulate specifics of my failures toward him... I was sort of living in a shell shocked place. The Resperidone was a God send those first couple weeks... until I got foggy and didn't notice it. And stared to change, and didn't notice it. And then became angry, and noticed it, but didn't know why. 


And now you have the background of what led me to the hospital yesterday, but what I haven't told you yet is that I didn't end up checking in. I might be a little cracked, but once they hooked me up with a mobile heart monitor and I had the overwhelming support of my family and friends I was able to step back, call my therapist and get over to her office. I turned myself and my bank account over to her, I don't have a money swimming pool! Together, she has helped Jon and I plan an affordable five day detox from the inpatient facility of my OWN bedroom. After our appt she sent me to acupuncture, then Jon and I had dinner and I came home and slept hard for twelve hours. 

This morning I was off to visit my psychiatrist, then back home where I am writing this. I am going to watch and follow a yoga breathing DVD when I'm done here, and then if my legs (which are still seizing with charlie horses from the withdrawal) will cooperate, I am going to the Angels vs Yankees game with Jon and his brother and wife. 

I'm just trying to breath. 

I just want to live. 

I can't do this without your support. 

Already our local friends have risen to the occasion in helping with the kids, my doctors have risen to the occasion by taking the time to really help me schedule this weekend and set me up with appropriate outpatient care, and my far away family and friends have lifted my spirits by their non judgmental and unconditional love and support. 

I should be embarrassed by this I guess, but I'm not. I WANT to share this with anyone interested enough to read it, because even though I resent her indifference to having oodles of monies, oh! and a PUBLICIST to carefully word everything for her, I'm glad Catherine Zeta Jones didn't try to fix this herself at the expense of her family, and that she isn't ashamed to admit we all need help sometimes. 

Some more than others...

Yeah. Of Sunshine.


(p.s. they are totally worth it)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Depression After Success

That (the title) is a THING. It's like a real thing! It's been called a lot of names by psychologists over the years, but Dr. Hallowell seems to have coined that perfect three word phrase when he made it a chapter title in one of his many awesome ADHD books (Driven to Distraction etc.)


Depression AFTER success. 


Go ahead, let it sink in. Then if you google it you will find all these links to ADHD blogs, to bi-polar blogs, support for Olympians who return from the games and fall apart, mothers who finally get pregnant after years of infertility and IVF, people who survive cancer, people who finally have their dream home, addicts who have been sober for about a year, college graduates...

I think everyone gets some "depression after success", but for the people like me (and the people I am most drawn to in life), it is a DEFINING and non stop cycle in the life experience. An intense project, good or bad, gives you purpose, intention and deep satisfying focus. It releases you from the guilt of the other things in your life you may not be managing all that well. Then imagine after you spend days, weeks, months, even YEARS becoming good at something, a mini expert... when the task is complete not only are you left with a void where all your focus used to channel, but you are left with all this knowledge that must now be stored away--and all your left with is Tuesday, May 21st 2013. You wake up. It's your birthday. Your youngest child started school yesterday and the dog potty trained really fast.

You were an excellent mother of babies. You WILL be an excellent mother of children, but today is the first day with no full time babies and it was SO hard, and so FUN, and went by so fast... I didn't get to say goodbye.

Depression After Success brings to mind the days after Alice's very successful Mary Poppins Birthday party where we dressed up four tiny girls as the practically perfect nanny and took them to the carousel. I try to be on top of my own mental state and I remember saying to Jon the night of the party after the kids were tucked in bed, "The next four or five days are going to mess with me."

What I recognized from past episodes, but still didn't understand, is that I was already feeling the VOID. For weeks I had been filling my down time by hand stitching white roses to a hat or googling "umbrella with parrot handle." Some of you may be aware I never posted the pictures of that party, I got depressed! I think I couldn't bring myself to finish the project! Of course when I was finally better I was already distracted with a new pile of shiny emotional trinkets and "ToDo's"

So what makes me different than any other person who ever planned a birthday or a wedding, trained for an event, or built a house? Well, when life events aren't creating intense focus projects for me, I will seek them or create them myself, but the NEED for it can cloud my judgment about what that project should be, often gravitating toward the closest source of chaos. 

Like the time we had to pay off the fence on a house we didn't own for three years AFTER we sold the house. It was a simple misstep, when we lived there Russell was very young, our new home wasn't landscaped yet, so I threw myself into elaborate planning which eventually included a beautiful fence I decided to finance for 0% interest for five years... but of course when the void of that completed project hit me I turned my focus to the unfinished basement and quickly realized it would be a long time until we could fix it up the way I would want to... so we put the house on the market. 

I'm glad we sold, I'm glad we moved, it made us available to move to California... but it also gave me three long years to think about why I was still paying for a fence on a house I didn't own. If I had stepped back and looked at the big picture, the move to California was inevitable and I probably should have scaled back expenses that wouldn't really increase the value of the house. 

I'm glad to say I learned a lot from that, but I needed help. Fortunately my years of occasional therapy make me sort of fearless about being proactive, so after we moved to California, with the help of Jon, a financial advisor, and even a therapist to assist in the difficult money conversations between husband and wife, we started making much better goals and realistic budgets. You have to do that stuff, I married him for his wide shoulders and big brain--not because we'd make great business partners. You have to work on that part! And you can't blame each other for what isn't working. I never showed him my résumé before he married me, I just promised him he could see my boobs. 

:) sorry dad. I should have warned you about that one 

<insert lots of evil childish laughter here>

The reason I tell you this is because I found a couple great articles about Depression After Success and by far the most helpful one talked about how, in the same way a soldier returning from a mission has a debriefing, every finished success deserves a "Debriefing." You can see this good post by clicking here.

In my case, I have just completed being "Mother of Babies" so Sunday night when I was beginning to grieve I decided to tackle the two part assignment, the first part being the debriefing. It went sort of like this:

- What was the outcome of this project? Healthy, independent, engaging children who are excited to learn and have adventures.

- What is good about the outcome of this project? They are still alive.

- How do I feel about my performance? Great! Well, okay. A little disappointed but mostly really good!

- What mistakes did I make that slowed or otherwise negatively affected the completion of this project? The learning curve was tough for me. Surrendering to the loss of freedom and beginning to enjoy that loss as a blessing took me a while. I regret to report there were some spankings. I did my best, but if I knew then what I know now I think that could have been avoided. 

- How could I avoid making those mistakes in the future? Be engaged in the present. Tune out the noise of life and give more importance to eye contact, deep breathing, and take time for myself.

- What was the best part of the project? What was the worst? Oh my! The smell of a newborn neck, gummy smiles, the sound a diaper makes when they crawl, first words, first SENTENCES, holding hands, listening to their prayers. The worst is feeling alone, when they cry and you're too broken to calm them down, toddler poo pants that are like changing the diaper of a long haul truck driver.

- What strengths did I discover in the completion of this project? I am ferocious. I am capable. I can rock a carton of milk to sleep on my hip for ten minutes before realizing I'm still carrying it around and my arms don't feel sore the next day. 

- What new abilities or knowledge have I learned from doing this project? Um, that before I knew nothing, and now I know everything except I can't remember most of it.

- What do I wish I had known when I started this project? That you don't have to make excuses, if being a parent is easy for you, good on ya, but if you can't make it to a play date because you simply don't want to, you can just say that and other mothers understand. 

- In one or two sentences, what were the lessons of this project? To see myself as someone worthy of nurturing as I learn to nurture people I made in my body. To use those love hormones to love myself, and to never stop moving forward.

YOU GUYS! That was just the debriefing! The next part (that I will spare you the play-by-play of) about building on your success is equally fabulous. 

I wish that not only I, but everyone I knew, would take the time to do this after a success. A long fought one, or just a well planned birthday party. I dropped Alice off at school today and I don't feel empty. I made that beautiful, bright, capable girl. She is totally ready for school. I DID THAT. She helped, but you know, even through all my mistakes, I did it. I prepared her for this part of her life.

Depression after Success? I'm sure it will happen again, but not today. It's my birthday and I'm going to eat cake.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Party animal, that’s me.

I have a problem, and I've been such a spaz about it I don't even know how to explain myself. 

Let's start with the part where I am totally not professional. Like, if my coworkers (children) had access to the internet, I would have been fired a thousand times by now.

Okay, that's all I can say while "others" of an actual professional nature might be listening-- please excuse me for a second...

Ahem! Attention Professional Ladies and Gentlemen of Alex and Von; please refer to my stellar and completely professional introduction to your products here:

Please Don't Lick My Face

<wait for it...>

Ok... are they gone?


Being professional is hard! Sometimes I feel like such a weirdo. My end game is so different from what most people are moving toward I don't even begin to know how to explain myself. Like the part where I want you to come over and get free samples and I really, for REAL, don't care if you buy anything. 

It's tricky because I was raised in a store. IN a STORE. When I was five I was arranging soap and rugs and asking people, "How are you doing today? Can I answer any questions for you?"  hoping they wouldn't say yes because I had no idea what to say after that. 

I know HOW to be professional. I know how to open a storefront on etsy or sell Chinese antiques on eBay to make some extra dough, but that's not why I signed up for this gig. I signed up because I am SO picky. I signed up because I was devoted to the Body Shop for years, I would wait for clearance events and stock up on their wonderful vitamin c face scrubs and vitamin e illuminating moisturizer. I would pounce on a good deal for an eyeliner or foundation at department stores or online, and I was devoted to Maybelline colorfast lipstick for about five years. 

3 years ago when I lost the first fifty of my seventy pound goal, I hit a plateau. That's when I paused and got the book "How Not To Look Old" by Charla Krupp. I loved it! Feeling more fresh faced, applying my makeup correctly, buying pants that weren't to small, and getting the right underwear just gave me that little boost I needed to lose the last 30 pounds. 

Last year I was so disappointed to look Charla up and find out she had died from breast cancer. I was stunned and so sad, but since she was a woman who made a living trying every beauty product ever invented I have to admit it made me rethink something I had been trying to avoid--what is in my make up? And lotion. And shampoo. 

I'm not trying to be insensitive, the causes of cancer are complicated and rude, but I threw away my colorfast lip gloss anyway after I did minimal research before discovering it had such a small amount of lead in it they weren't required to list it in the ingredients. 

I'm not made out of money, people! I live on a strict budget that has, on occasion, tried to molest me through the computer screen. I started investigating my makeup more, spending a little more, and over a few months gradually budgeted to switch out some of my long time favorites for things that were more natural at places like Sephora, or Nordstroms, or the AMAZING Lush stores that have been popping up. 

Fast forward a couple years and, honestly, you guys would be crazy not to take advantage of all my experimenting by checking out the products I have found through Alex and Von.  No one even asked me to become a consultant, I went to a party my organic guru neighbor was throwing, I ordered some products, and a day after I received and used them I was knocking down her door trying to find out how I could make this stuff available to my friends. 

I'm SO picky about where my dollars go, but there are not words to express how refreshing it feels to work hard all day, and suddenly be washing my face with Mint White Tea Foaming Wash. It's like a present for my FACE! For my nose, for my bathroom sink! Then I treat any trouble areas with the Purity Spot Treatment that doesn't suck all the good stuff out of my face. As a 33 year old woman who has tried everything from Oxy to Proactive to expensive sets from Oil Of Oley, I was about to surrender to the dermatologist for a Rx for Accutane. I'm too old for the awful monthly hormonal breakout! Now I can't believe I'm saying it, but this stuff has been kicking butt! On my, um, face. 

Not only does it immediately soothe the undesirable swelling and redness as soon as you apply it, but it's also eliminating acne causing bacteria. I follow it with the light and lovely Acai Moisturizer that has such a delicious scent I wish I could brush my teeth with it.  There's no other way to say this; I haven't had an ouch zit in over 8 weeks. Before that, I can't remember the last time I didn't have at least one sneaky monster frustrating me somewhere on my nice mom face. I'll give you an update in six months to see if this trend held up.   

Even more than that, I discovered for what I could pay for one massage, instead I could have week after week of "spa experience" at the end of EVERY day—just by owning the TO DIE FOR Honey Almond Body Butter. I have never used ANYTHING like it, it starts as a solid then melts into your skin as it reaches body temperature. It is not heavy, I can slather Alice head to toe, and it gives her pink ouchy eczema skin luscious nurturing moisture for hours and hours without being slimy or heavy. 

That said, I still wasn’t gonna do parties. I don't want people to cut me out their newsfeed because I've taken on a “stay at home business.” I don't WANT to bother you, and I don't ever want you to think I've only invited you to my house to sell you something!

But when I thought of having regular casual get togethers... (shhh...)  I sort of got excited!

And that’s how More Monday began. In one post I’ve gone from No Parties, to YEAH! Parties! I love how this has evolved, I love the group of rad humans that have been coming together over here and on our facebook page, and I am thrilled selling the people I love products that fill every corner of my own home, not to mention my friends that have also become consultants, filled their own homes with goodness and are somehow getting paid for it.

That’s what they call a win/win, or in this case Party! Party! Join us soon ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Once you see it, you can’t un-see it….

I wear dresses. A lot.

I wear make up everyday.

I shave my armpits several times a year for heavens sake!

And I'm a feminist?

I think I'm a feminist! Huh. I guess I didn't realize it because I was raised by an artistic independent mom, feisty intelligent sisters, and my father was a big strong man whose presence filled a room without any need for him to be extra patriarchal about it. Later I married a man who has a beautiful open smile, wide shoulders, loyalty and purpose in every action he makes, and doesn't care if I talk about my feelings (and everything else) on the internet. 

I wasn't raised in any particular religion, but I was raised amongst Mormons every day of my youth. I was able to partake in many benefits provided by what would later become my chosen religion, but I realize now that I was lucky to be able to do that and still avoid being prematurely subscribed to the consistent and often subtle messages delivered to Mormon youth during their spiritual education. 

I cringe even writing that because I know how it will make some people cringe reading it, but there's this thing I've never been able to put my finger on and the other day I was suddenly faced with a blue print mapping my dilemma so eloquently, I didn't post anything on Facebook for TWO DAYS. 

Two. Days. 

That's, like, a hundred years in Facebook time. I could be dead for all you people know! I'm sorry for any alarm I have caused but I read an article that thoughtfully examines and compares the new LDS youth teaching guides for young men and young women and my head stopped functioning.

(You can read the whole article in here: Exponent II Spring 2013)

Check it out if that's your thing, it's brilliant, but the ten seconds that has been flash frozen in the front of my brain is this:


And all of a sudden I could see. I could SEE. For the most part, we call our boys to action, to leadership, to responsibility, and we call our girls to believe, to understand, to support and edify.  All great things! 

But the distinction--suddenly my brain has been one domino after another of aha! memories clicking into place.

For instance; I all of sudden see the draw I had with the guys in my youth, particularly after high school when I was a wayward 18 year old living a few blocks from BYU campus. I wasn't so far gone to be "dangerous" but I was a sheep just far enough out of reach to need a Shepard.

I have never in my life presumed to have visions on behalf of another person, but, wow! Suddenly in retrospect even I am a little taken aback at how encouraged and appropriate these young men felt it was to tell me what the spirit had impressed upon them ABOUT me. In the context of my love life, not my physical well being or education, but my romantic life was an area which they were being spiritually guided to advise me about? 

If this had happened one time, I would totally not bring it up here. Maybe it was a special case? Maybe I'm being disrespectful of someone putting themselves out there? But the truth is, it happened to me with almost every eligible bachelor I came into any extended contact with during that time. Easily more than 20-25 times in a 9 month period.

What's interesting about the man that eventually did take me and marry me in a Mormon temple is that he was a recovering alcoholic, sober for a little over a year, out of the Navy, and beginning college for the first time at age 27. Though he'd been baptized at 8, he'd never really been active, and to this day has never been "impressed" to advise me how to alter the course of my life. We travel side by side, sometimes we take turns pulling the other through a heavy tide, but our hands have remained clasped and I have taken that for granted in the way it has supported the WOMAN that I am. 

The thing is, the BIG THING, is this is not a Mormon thing. We were watching Swiss Family Robinson for the first time with the children tonight, and oh! The imagination! The adventure! That movie stands the test of time, we were all captivated and Russell has already begun drafting the perfect treehouse in his mind... but the women in that movie. Sigh. I don't know if you remember how they save that "boy" from the pirates and she turns out to be a girl, but watching it tonight... well that's when I knew my transformation into the title of feminist was complete. I will NOT sit here and watch this with no comment. I will not allow my children to absorb her behavior as even the tiniest bit believable despite me voicing no qualms that it only took them ten minutes of movie time and, at most, a couple weeks of real time to build and furnish five levels of tree house including a fully functioning kitchen with plumbing and an ice box stocked with, wait, is that corn?! Corn. 

No, go ahead, believe the corn! Believe the boys took the extra days needed to hang drapes before getting their mother and young brother out of the lean-to shelter on the beach and safely into the tree at night. But don't you (not for one second!) believe that when a giant boa constrictor wraps itself around your brother in the murky swamp and tries to drown him, that the person who was as tough as a boy until you discovered she was a girl an hour ago suddenly can't make it to the side of the marsh without your help before you go to aid your brother from the snake that is trying to EAT HIM. 

She's fine. 

And if she's not? Boy or girl, she is too delicate to live and it's just natural selection doing it's job. Don't laugh! It's an important job.

In conclusion, if feminist means I want everyone to feel like I do; that I can be whatever I want to be, even if that's a stay at home mom, and still be a leader in and out of my home, have strong opinions, nurture friends and strangers alike, proclaim, meditate, apologize, or set someone free with confidence, boss my husband without being called a nag, and be bossed without feeling controlled, then yeah. 

After I read that article, I went to church and had an amazing discussion with my Sunday school class of 14-16 year olds about something unrelated, and when they left the girls went to watch a spiritual movie and have popcorn while the boys had a special guest speaker and were required at the end of the lesson like a "pop quiz" to write a "pop talk." Something about it reminded me of the activity at last years youth conference that was a favorite and involved the boys carrying the girls across the street because they couldn't do it without each other, but I didn't hear about any of the girls carrying the boys across in the same spirit and THAT would be my idea of a powerful team effort. 

I couldn't help but see it. And now that I see it, I really don't think I can un-see it. It's not about taking something away from our men, it's about making sure we are empowering our girls with the strength of their voice to speak, of their hands to bless, of their feet to travel. The youth I have been so blessed to teach could not be better examples of what my church is able to give to their children. My girls are sharp and strong willed, my boys are honorable and devoted. I can not speak to the current youth where I was raised, but looking at my California young women I can't help but wonder if they have felt the call to lead simply because they are not the norm for their culture. As they are coming into adulthood with peers who are beginning to make some serious adult choices, more is required of their spiritual sense of self if they continue to stay on this path. 

In the end I was left sitting there thinking about what an important guide my patriarchal blessing has been for me, and also years later sitting across the desk from Mrs. D at cottage preschool when I was just about to sink below the waves while I held my family afloat with sheer force of will and a good husband. These are two Mormon miracles in my life brought about by revelation, and they came at the hands of a man, and of a woman.

As it should be. 

I am a grateful Mormon Feminist.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It’s For The Children

Wait! No need for an intervention; I know I'm a little Facebook obsessed these days. My poor blog is barely speaking to me! But seriously, in between the long conversations I have on here about my feelings, kidney's, and LIZARDS, Facebook is where I have the most fun and you should join me with the button on the upper right if you haven't already.

I'm also obsessed with photo editing. I love that extra little creativity I get to add to a moment. It's not about eliminating the authentic feeling of a picture, but about transferring a feeling of what it was like to be there.

For those wondering, on the iPhone my TOTAL favorite photo editor is called "Wood Camera" and for my iPad I'm partial to "Camera+" and InstaCollage. You know, just FYI since I tend to try a million apps before I pick favorites. The most IMPORTANT update my blog has missed was the one that involved THIS GUY:

photo (1)

Yes, Osem is his name and it comes from the following Russell Art at the spider loving age of five:

photo 4

Orb Weavers ARE Osem, and Osem is TOTALLY awesome too.

Anyway, thanks for not harassing me too bad about my Facebook enthusiasm lately. I'm in the mom stage where I do a lot of "hurry!!” ...then wait. I don't have a bazillion Facebook friends, so I feel pretty free doing my best to entertain myself as I share our life in bite size pieces. It's a lovely feeling to be connected to so many people from all area's of my life and I hope you can tell I like you by how I trust you with all the information you would ever need about my armpits. That's my love language, you know: Armpit TMI.

Also, if you didn't see this:

photo 1

That is my Facebook BOOK. It only cost $80 bucks to print 302 beautifully hard bound pages of updates, photos, comments and links from my wall for the entire year of 2012. Unfortunately for you (or fortunate depending on how much information you want about our adventures in education or the play-by-play of Alice teaching Osem about human anatomy), if we are Facebook friends you now have ringside seats to the perfect solution for the wife who took three weeks to immortalize two wedding pictures in glitter and stickers. The Facebook BOOK is how this ADHD mom can finally capture, compile and easily access the magic and chaos of the years I get with my young kids.

Life is our miraculous, sometimes tragic, and always precious gift. I feel an enormous responsibility to the children I brought to this planet to be a balanced, loving, encouraging parent who will foster their learning, independence, and stability. I feel an equally great responsibility to those who didn’t or do not have the opportunities I have, to do this job well, and never behave entitled to have the family I do, to be living in the year 2013, or to dismiss the resources available to us where we live. I know my fellow moms feel this same way. I know it in the way they take so many opportunities to express gratitude and pictures on Facebook even though the life of every good mom is difficult and tedious no matter how you Instagram it. I’m lucky my particular friends also make time to share difficulties and quotes that inspire them.

I guess some people are addicted to Facebook. I can get addicted to technology in general, but right now, Facebook is a conscious choice I happily make. I am out and about in the world, I enjoy my kids and friends and community everyday... and I love sharing that with the my Facebook community, too. I get to know new friends quicker, stay up to date on old friends, and engage with my family almost daily in a way that makes us all virtual neighbors.

Which brings me to my final disclaimer: if we are Facebook friends, at some point I guarantee I WILL comment on your stuff, "like" it, or message you. If you don't remember who I am, or how we met, or why I'm commenting on your stuff, you should unfriend me right away because I consider my news feed a great source of entertainment and information and impulse control is not high on my list of skills……

You are disclaimed :)

Now I'm going to try and figure it how to upload the video of Osem and his first encounter with a lizard. Until next time, see ya on Facebook, peeps!