2 February, 2016  |   Comment

Pluck it out

Dottie's taking it upon herself to pluck out some eyes

A few weeks before I quit the church*, the priest talked about that cheerful old passage from Matthew 18:9 with that golden nut, “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.” It’s a doozy, and easy to skim over if you’re not religious like I’m not religious. But something in his talk resonated with me. Since I have this internet weblog, I wanted to unpack it here.

Here’s the text he referred to:

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it’s better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

Pretty brutal, no?

The priest went on to break it down. Where Jesus mentions “your hand,” he’s talking about your work, or where you get your power. If your work causes you to do shitty stuff, you’re better off having cut off your hands than doing the shitty stuff. At a basic level, doing shitty stuff for your work causes a special kind of hell in your heart.

“Enter life lame” refers to your motivation. If your motivation comes from a rotten place, if your motivation is spite, is anger, is vengeful, it’s better to have stumps below your ankles than the living hell those feelings incur.

“If your eye causes you to stumble” refers to your worldview — if your worldview is so horrible, that you aim to hurt people, it’s better to be one eyed. That hot, burny feeling of wanting to take away from others is a hell in itself.

Now I’m not going to argue theology with anyone. I have a spotty church record, and as I mentioned above, I quit that particular church. But I like where Jesus was going with this because it resonates so strongly with me.

  1. Work/Power – Having to come up with ideas to sell products I strongly oppose is awful. Yet, I can come up with excuse after excuse about how this is what I need to do to support my family (Uh, no it’s not).
  2. Motivation – I’m ashamed to say that spite TRULY is my main motivator. I find the extra wind beneath my wings by wanting to stick it to someone. Even more oomph comes if they really did me wrong. Spite is an effective motivator, but wouldn’t it feel better if I chose to go after my own goals? Enemies be damned? (Yes, yes I would.)
  3. Worldview – That hollow, hot feeling of wanting to watch someone lose everything? It’s something I’m well acquainted with. Especially as I watch the election stories this year, I see a lot of other people are cheering for others to lose too. Not lose a political race, but lose in life. And that feeling… that’s hell. (Who am I rooting for to lose? Why?)

Three cheers for this undefined spiritual lady applying some of that age old wisdom to herself. Avoiding hell, especially the hell in this world, has everything to do having a good life. I aim for a good life.

Jesus is just alright

* Usually, when you quit going to a church, you just quit going. No one mentions it again. But this church had good, curious people who wanted to know why. And so I told them. It rarely goes well when you tell anyone why you won’t do their thing anymore, much less church people. And that’s for another day.

1 February, 2016  |   1 Comment

February’s project

When I turned four, they gave me a typewriter

I guess I understand boomers now.

When I was in college, and those 40 somethings waxed on
about how music just isn’t the same anymore, man.
The spirit of music is just so hollow, man.
The zeitgeist doesn’t make sense anymore, man.

I couldn’t understand them, those Baby Boomers.

My response was always, like duh, things change.
Things curve towards my cute 20 year old body,
so get with the program, boomers.

And yet, here I am, paralyzed by the same thing on my internet.

I’m now a 40 something, waxing on,
about how the internet just isn’t the same, bruh.
We used to write truthful, charming updates about our lives, dude.
It was hella small and hella sweet, yo.

(BRB, taking a word shower.)

Here I am, saying, like duh, HJ, things change.
Things curve toward their cute 20 year old bodies,
so get with the program, culturally irrelevant lady.

And like I’ve found freedom in embracing my lumpy forty year old cultural irrelevancy, (LADIES, did you know it’s absolutely the best thing ever not to be catcalled anymore?) I find freedom in my internet old ladying.

So join me this month while I post my old-fashioned internet thoughts every day.
I’ll forget to post the share buttons and I’ll fail to properly promote my posts.
I’ll fumble the Snapchat and my images will be too big.
I’ll forget to apply all the best practices I use for my work to myself.

(And it’ll be a blast.)

5 January, 2016  |   10 Comments

2015 Recap, 2016 Resolvations

Goodbye 2015! You are done now!
It was a put your head down and push against the boulder year for me.
Was it like that for you?

Work trips and counter wipedowns.
Procrastination and avoidance.
Some really terrible phone interviews.

St. Helena's amazing pool

In 2015, I started exercising for real. Between my Tuesday and Thursday workout group and my three times a week barre class, I found strength I didn’t know I had. The first months of 2015 were filled with embarrassment as I willed this lumpy meatsack forward in the pool, in the barre class and on the track. Here’s to spending more of 2016 up in my body, taking advantage of this biological miracle.


Our bocce team Joanie Loves Bocce turns ten (!) this year and I can’t wait to see how we evolve. We ran yet another successful chili competition and I am so proud of all the lady winners.

This week, we're bringing the fixins with our meal plan

Meal planning continues. I shared our plans nearly every week last year, moving mostly to Instagram. We only stuck to the plan about 70% of the time, but that’s 70% better than the alternative. I look forward to sticking to the plan next year.

We made a pizza cake.

Professionally, I took my foot off the gas. It has been difficult to remind myself that my kids are a really fun age and I want to be around them more.

I did that, and I’ve loved the memories we’ve shared. But it’s been at the expense of a massive amount of professional confidence. I can’t wait to get some of that drive and satisfaction back in 2016.


But I get to spend time with these amazing kids. Watching them light up as they find their interests has been one of my favorite things about this year.

Cream pie fight!

It’s been capital F Fun with the kids. Tons of adventures, from parades to face painting, to cooking classes to homemade art camps. This Memorial Day, we even hosted a cream pie fight for the neighborhood kids.



We threw two fun kids’ parties, too, one 7 year old hosted a Jungle Breakfast and our new six year old had a hoot at Chuck E. Cheese!

My class of internet friends had big birthdays. I got to surprise Pamie for her party, and had a blast. Making new friends is something I haven’t done in WAY too long, and her people are some of the best.


Then I turned 40 and threw an Adventureparty for the record books. We celebrated all over town, dressed like campers and counselors, doing crafts and eating hot dogs. It was in the top 5 memories of the year.

No one cares about my body or opinion or looks anymore! I’m forty! I’m on my way to the promised land!





We had a fun Halloween before we hopped a plane so I could speak at Blog Her Food (what a great event!). I even won a cocktail competition. Then we visited my family in Wisconsin for the week, which was good and hard and complicated like so much of this life.


I am still madly in love with my amazing husband. He is my favorite person in the whole world and he keeps getting favoriter.


Speaking of resolutions, I had another list, a secret list of 100 goals for 2015. And I crossed off about 80% of it.
Well done, me.

Some of my list included:
No diet soda for the year (DONE!)
Run a 5K (I ran three!)
Make butterscotch pudding from scratch (DONE!)
And so on, for 97 more numbers.

Since I crossed so much off that secret 100 goal list, I made a new one for 2016.
Normally I’d share it, but my relationship with the Internet has evolved drastically over the past 3 years.
I’ll keep that list close to my heart.

I just looked at last year’s resolution post, and had resolved to right some inequalities, I haven’t done anything on that end.
I’m sorry. I’ll do better in 2016.

Can I blame the lice?
(No, Helen Jane, you cannot blame the lice.)

Because holy hell, 2015 was the year I became intimate with the human scalp. More than the dog’s emergency teeth cleaning, more than two months of broken washing machine, more than the daily indignities of my life as a working mother in these United States, lice was a big part of my 2015. From under-the-breath conversations with parents in town, unless they’re hermetically sealed, pretty much every child in Northern California gets it, has it or manages it.

It’s everywhere.

I bought all the sprays, the chemicals, the lice patrol visits. We now comb out the kids’ hair for bugs 3 or 4 times a week. Lice is just a thing we just manage now. Go 2015. Go evolution.


I can see you, sitting there, more disgusted with me than you used to be, I get it. I used to be disgusted by lice too. But since lice management stole so much of my 2015, disclosure is in the interest of transparency, really.

I pushed the lice boulder all year long.
Right out here on my rarely updated Mommyblog.
Take that, confident professionalism.


As I read through this post, I’m surprised about how, well, bummed, I sound about the year. Don’t get me wrong, I had some really lovely moments.

But I’m counting on the fact that 2016 is going to be wonderful. In this first month of January alone, I get to attend a wine conference, speak at Alt Summit, I get to visit some great friends and enjoy the heck out of my clean post-holiday home.

That said, my exuberance about the internet has been tampered by its evolution. I’ve finally developed a healthy sense of shame. I’m busy with kids and home and community, right here.

So for 2016, my public resolvations are to make more friends from different backgrounds, visit New York City more than once and make more art. Those feel right for the place I’m at.

Let me know if you want to be a part of any secret listmaking for 2016, I’ll help cheer you on.

3 September, 2015  |   Comment

Good things on the internet this week

I read some dense, heady stuff this week on the Internet.
It was worth the time and thinking.

Harvest time!

From 3 Quarks Daily
Can Free Speech Survive the Internet?
“These days it is not enough to consider how your words will appear to the people you would like to read them. You must bear in mind that anyone at all might discover them, share them with like-minded souls via social media, and hold you answerable to their moral standards.” < more

The more I see how utterly unprepared humans are for this internet reality, the more worried I get. I no longer text, email, say on the phone or say in electronic format anything that I cannot defend to my death [threat]. We’ll get there, but we humans aren’t quite yet set up to communicate with the entire world at once. And our brains and emotions suffer the consequences.

From Sady Doyle
PC Comedy and Paul Revere
“In other words: They made the joke because they didn’t know, at the time, that it was a bad joke. They were just wrong.” < more 

Sady draws a brilliant line between art and comedy and rape jokes and making the work that will inspire people to greatness, not abuse. It’s a difficult read and 100% worth setting aside the time.

Here’s a gif of Dottie rolling her eyes. Because that always does the trick for me.
DJH rolls her eyes

26 February, 2015  |   4 Comments

Praying for you


Pray for me.
Pray for us.
Pray for them.
You’re in my prayers.


The word pray, is one of those words I avoided.
But Facebook brought it back to me, front and center.

I love the sentiment behind prayer — I’ll send you a focused, good thought. But from church, I get the idea that thinking good thoughts for someone and praying for them aren’t the same thing. There’s something about the word “prayer” that brings a third party, the notorious G.O.D. into the picture.


My mom is a champion pray-er. She attends two prayer groups a week, prays first thing in the morning, before each meal and before bed. No one I know attends more church than she does. On top of that, she’s at all of church’s extra-curriculars. The result of all this prayer is that she looks far younger than her 79 years and has a peace in her heart I truly envy.


After Dorothy was born, I had serious anxiety and depression. We were alone and broke and miserable. Mom suggested I pray. At the very least, she said I’d feel better by “throwing it out to the universe and letting the forces that be take care of it.”


I can’t deny it, I did feel better when I stopped taking personal, mental responsibilty for everything happening in our lives at that time and said, “Okay, life, you got me. I’m trusting the Universe to take care of it.” Here, by the Universe, I mean the creative force that brought me and you to this moment on this miraculous earth, not necessarily God.

Or is that God?


I prayed until I was about 11. Mostly, my prayers were a mix of superstition (Hell is scary!) and letters to Santa.

Please, may I get a bra.
Please may I get a stereo for Christmas.
Please may my dad stop being so mean to me.

Fittingly, the brilliant Karen Armstrong has said about God — “We often learn about God at about the same time as we are learning about Santa Claus; but our ideas about Santa Claus change, mature and become more nuanced, whereas our ideas of God can remain at a rather infantile level.”

I’m in the middle of that evolution. I’m not sure my idea of God has evolved that much from that eleven year old me, begging for my first bra. But when I talk about my belief in a creative force that runs through this particular reality, is that what I mean? Is that God? I’m still sussing it out.


After listening to this Invisibilia episode (seriously, go listen), the link between good thoughts and prayers got even more blurry. The first part is about a woman with mirror touch synethesia. When she shares her nearly crippling sensitivity to others’ emotions and physical sensations, she tells us “thoughts are things.” Add to that some of the research coming out from quantum physics, and well, I believe her.

In this world of interconnectedness, I watch the praying and the non-praying collide in the great social experiment of Facebook. I watch the Santa believers and the God believers and the scientists all muddling along on the same plane. I see cancer diagnoses, lottery winners and suicide, all of them paired with requests for prayer and responses of prayer and Blessed Are The Fruits.


I send a good thought, I hold you in my mind, I hope for the best.
But is it prayer?


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