13 February, 2017  |   Comment

On Valentine’s Eve

Little kids make the best Valentines

Romance is such a new construction. It was just a few hundred years ago that women were just purchased and traded out on the open market. This makes the history of Valentine’s day both fresh and confusing.

Valentine's arrow to the heartHistorians still aren’t quite sure why Valentine’s day is related to St. Valentine.
Was it that he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter?
Was it that he married lovers?
We don’t quite know.

What we do know is that some etymologists think Valentine’s day is just a confusion of consonants. Back when the letters v and g were considered interchangeable, the Norman word “galantin” which meant “a lover of women,” was at one time written and pronounced valantan AND valentin.

We love our romance, we can’t be bothered to keep our consonants straight.
Sounds pretty human.

All of that said, my favorite part of Valentine’s day are all the superstitions.

You can't be too sure what a kid's Valentine will include

Graveyard Visions
Back in the 1600s, a girl, could conjure up a vision of her future spouse. All she had to do was go to the graveyard on St. Valentine’s Eve at midnight.

There, she would sing a song and run around the church twelve times.
Boom. Vision of her future husband bestowed.

Stay at Home Version
If she didn’t want to leave her house, she could do what this lady did back in 1754:

“Last Friday was St. Valentine’s Day, and the night before I got five bay leaves and pinned four on the corners of my pillow and the fifth to the middle; and then if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out.

But to make it more sure I boiled an egg hard and took out the yolk and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed ate it shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it.

We also wrote our lovers; names on bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay and put them into water; and the first that rose up was to be our Valentine.

Would you think it? Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay abed and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house, for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world.”

Got that?

All you have to do is pin a few bay leaves to your pillow corners, boil an egg, take out the yolk without breaking the shell too much, fill the hole with salt and eat the whole thing without water.

Vision granted.
Humans, we are weird.

Tomorrow, we’ll probably make some heart shaped bacon, cut up some heart shaped strawberries and deliver Valentines to the people we love the most.

Hope your Valentine’s day is chock-full of love.

7 February, 2017  |   Comment

How to write a love poem, a template

It is Valentine’s Day soon.
I have an idea for you.
Write a special person a love poem.

This is my favorite guy smoking a cigar

Question for you: Why would you write a love poem?

I mean, really, the cons:
Love poems have a risk of being cheesy,
love poems demonstrate your creativity
love poems require vulnerability

Those cons look pretty scary, don’t they?
(Thankfully, the pros outweigh the cons.)

Way out-weighing, from the pros:
Love poems don’t cost a lot of money,
love poems demonstrate your creativity,
love poems make people feel really special.

My method for writing a love poem uses a template.
This template is based on remembering how the person makes you feel in three parts of your body.

You know how therapists often say that trauma can be held in the body? Like in Sherlock, how Watson has that limp? Or how different injuries can be healed by working through the feelings instead of just treating the body?

I believe that our bodies don’t only hold trauma, they also hold warmth, gratitude and loving feelings. This body memory is key to writing a great love poem.

For this exercise, we’re going into
our Brain,
our Heart and
our Loins
(ahem).

Get a piece of paper you don’t mind messing up, and a favorite pen. We need to get into idea-generating mode. Are you there? Do you have your paper and your pen?

Let’s get started!

Thinking with your brain is the easiest first place to start. We’re starting by generating nouns, verbs and adjectives that describe all the logical things that you love about your special person.

It might be something kind they do for you, it might be physical actions, it might be the look on their face when they’re enjoying something you do for them. For caretakers, it might have to do with how they tuck someone in for the night or the tenderness they show.

Write 5 nouns, 5 adjectives and 5 verbs related to the very logical, matter-of-fact, funny or reasonable reasons you love your person.

  

Thinking with your heart requires a bit more focus.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath, pulling that air deep into your heart. Thinking with your heart requires closed eyes and several minutes of quiet.

When you think with your heart, you remember the warm feeling in your chest you felt when you decided that this person was the person for you. Heart feelings tend to focus on gratitude, on warmth, on the choice to do the kind thing.

When you’ve been partnered for a long time, it can take a few more breaths to bubble up the heart feelings. This isn’t because you don’t love them, but because I think that thanks to all the moving parts in this modern life, loving with our hearts is often replaced by loving with our heads.

Now it’s time to write down 5 nouns, 5 adjectives and 5 verbs that burst forth from your heart when you feel your person, right there in your chest.

  

Yeah, I said it. Your loins.

Now, of course if you’re writing a love poem to a platonic friend or someone you don’t have those kind of feelings for, you can skip this one. But if you’re writing a love poem to your Big Heavy, rustle up some loin feelings.

The trouble with loin feelings is that they’ve been sneakily co-opted by media that don’t have our true loin feelings at heart (see: romance novels and nudie movie dialogue).

That’s okay! We’re in idea-generating mode here, so we can write down all the throbbing, pulsating, glistening adjectives, nouns and verbs that come up from down there and refine in a minute.

Ready? Write down 5 nouns, 5 adjectives and 5 verbs related to the private, sneaky, sexy times that make the corners of your mouth twist up.

  

Now, take your paper and circle your top 3 nouns, adjectives and verbs from your Brain, Heart and Loins. Now write them down fresh on another piece of paper.

Cut that paper into pieces so you can move those pieces around.

This is what mine looked like:

Take these words,
move them around,
group them together and
remove the ones that don’t feel relevant.

Start to think through a narrative.

Now that you have your few – it could include all 12 or just a few – take out a fresh piece of paper again and make these words make sense.

Here’s what mine turned into:

We mean to watch Netflix
until whispers lead us to
a heated tangle.
The dishes can wait.

I think he’ll love it.

If you’re stuck trying to figure out how to write a love poem, let this quick little template help you out. It won’t be cheesy as long as you stick to the truth. You know, the truth about the real reason, you’re celebrating this love we’re lucky to have.

Happy love poem making!

8 January, 2017  |   3 Comments

2016 Recap, 2017 Resolvations

In 2016, I read all the takes.

Here, I mean “take” as an article or video reflecting an opinion about a cultural, political or societal event.

And in 2016, I took them all in.

ALL the opinions on the presidency. On what went wrong. On why women should be this or this.
I absorbed ALL the takes on what my priorities should be.
Where I went wrong.
What’s wrong with me.

So many opinions, they have so many opinions

In 2017, I lighten my burden of other people’s opinions by developing my own.

In 2016, I took in every opinion, all those points of view.
It was exhausting, examining each opinion.
There were too many sides to too many issues to move forward.

I’m ready to take these into my own point of view, to defend what I believe.

2016 Recap:

I started the year at Alt Summit. I spoke on behalf of Margit and the extraordinary work they’re doing at TueNight. and things looked up! I stayed in a hotel room by myself and I also got to visit with dear friends and they helped me feel like this broken me was good enough. Dear friends have a way of doing that.

I had a job I liked in the wine industry, but they couldn’t make enough money to keep me.
I got a new contract.

I went to Mom 2.0. Glorious, wonderful, friendly and positive. No speaking engagements, only learning.

I really got into that contract.
It was important and filled with new information, useful information.
A job directed by a psychopath.
A psychopath that told me I was stupid.
A psychopath who’s guaranteed success in corporate America.

I learned a lot about what my ego needs from a job, and how I can serve a job.

I burned nearly all the career takes I absorbed this year.
“You don’t need to like your job”
“The more you work, the more you make”
“People at the top of the corporate ladder are always the best and most successful people”

They have all been proven false to me this year.
Time for them to burn.

We considered moving away from our expensive town.
(We took our first couples-only trip without the kids!)
After the election, we won’t move away.

Instead:
We will have more potlucks in 2017.
We will play more board games.
We will figure it out.

Time to retire the “but you can buy a house in this rural state for so much cheaper” possibility. For at least the next 4 years, it makes the most sense for our liberal, hopeful family to stay in California.

I turned to my children this year. I delighted in my children.

We played and danced and they were kind to me when I cried because of the aforementioned psychopath.

In 2016, I was lucky to avoid parenting takes, the titles tipped me off.

In 2016 I quit a church.
I’ll try to find a new one. Is faith like love? Is it a verb?

Where are the takes for people who want a church based on love and not judgement? Where are the churches for people with critical thinking skills?
Maybe I need to call it a coven?

You are invited to our Porch Coven: Best snacks in the neighborhood, then we’ll do some good.

In 2016, Michael Brown was shot. So were a lot of people. I unfriended a bunch of racist people I used to know.

I read more takes and all I got was angry.

I’m done with any qualms I had about calling out racial inequality.
I’m done asking your opinion about the insane militarization of the police.
I’ll call out the unease I feel when coming up against lily-white influencer programs.
We give money to SURJ and the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

I thought we were more evolved than this. But I can see we’re not.

I got hurt (hurt myself?) a lot this year.
I rolled my ankle and fell to the ground a bunch.
I tripped and fell during a full sprint.
I was stung by a wasp a bunch and had to go to the ER.
Looks like I’m allergic now.

I cut and burned myself a lot this year – I almost always had a bandage on my hand or wrist or forearm and I swear they were all accidents but maybe they were not really?

Right this minute I have a bronchial thing and two serious burns on my hands and my sinuses are on fire and maybe that’s an accident and maybe that is not really?

The takes I read about health costs make me realize that if I were to get cancer, I would die because the cancer money would come out of the education money for my children and I would rather die.

How could I possibly defend the opinion that a woman should die rather than deprive her children of education?  I need to fight a culture that would force a woman to make that choice.

In 2017, I’m grounding my body. I’m also fighting for more equitable public education.

In 2016, my dog died.
I still can’t type that without crying.

My opinion: No, I do not want another dog possibly ever and now that you’ve read this, you don’t have to encourage me to buy my kids a puppy for any 2017 holiday!

I resolve no pets in 2017. Easy.

That guy got elected, bringing into sharp focus the ways I did not listen to my friends of color. Yes, me.
That guy got elected, bringing into sharp focus the ways men have failed us over and over. Yes, you.
That guy got elected, bringing into sharp focus how I benefited from a system set up on the backs of other people. Yes, us.

My computer is always barfing out the takes

Some of the opinions I hold and am willing to defend:

Women deserve the same rights AND EXPECTATIONS as men.
People of color deserve the same rights as white people.
People identifying as LGBTQ deserve the same rights as straight people.
People who don’t believe in a Christian God deserve equal rights to Christians.
Healthcare is a right.
The militarization of our police forces is problematic and needs to be stopped.
Education deserves more money than killing people.

I thought these opinions were more widely held than they were. Guess I have some work to do.

I have all kinds of secret goals for 2017, publishing and creating and defending and putting more words and pictures out in the world. I’m holding these baby goals close, but hope to see you out there, publishing and creating and defending and putting more words and pictures into this imperfect reality.

Consider this your invitation to Porch Coven.
We have great snacks.

Holy crap, I’ve been doing this for a long time:

2015 recap, 2016 resolutions
2014 recap, 2015 resolutions
2013 recap, 2014 resolutions
2012 recap, 2013 resolutions
2011 recap, 2012 resolutions

2010 recap, 2011
2009 recap, 2010
2008 recap, 2009
2008 recap,
2007 recap,
2006 recap, 2007
2005 recap, 2006
2004/2005
2003/2004
2002/2003

 

12 December, 2016  |   3 Comments

Sweet weekend nothings, sneaky weekend grief

Because Pinot drank the water out of the tree stand, we had always hung the ornaments two feet up from the bottom branches.

Because she loved that sweet pine water, we also had to fill the tree bowl every day with fresh water.

This year, we hung our ornaments on the bottom branches (I had a big cry). And we keep forgetting to refill the tree stand (and every time James goes to do it, I cry a little more).

Dottie and Pinot eating Christmas morning breakfast

I always stood arms’ length away from people who actively missed their pets, wondering about their deal. Just get over it! It’s just a pet.

And like so much in this world, I see that I was so, so wrong in those assumptions.

My favorite part of this sneaky grief? All the ornaments that we hung on the bottom branches fell off and broke this weekend. This gives me comfort, imagining her spirit still sneaking around. She would do that kind of thing.

9 December, 2016  |   2 Comments

Advent Practices Beget a Fresh Poetry Friday

Advent Practices, hung on the doorFor Advent, my very religious mom used to write good deeds on tiny scraps of paper. She would put them in a fish bowl.

Then, every night during Advent, all 5 kids lined up to pick our deed out of a fishbowl. The next day we actually did the practice, and then we would talk about our action at dinner.

So this year, instead of Elf on a Shelf or Advent gifts, we continue our family tradition of Advent Practices.

We put our advent practices in envelopes up on the playroom door. Every day, one of these two kids take an envelope off the door and read it out loud. Every day, we do one of these actions that, in a very broad way, “make the world a better place.”

Some examples:
Find a country on the globe and learn an interesting fact about it
Choose 1 toy to give away
Talk to someone new today
Eat a new fruit today

All of this is to say that this week, one of our good deeds was to write a poem about something beautiful. And that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

A Poem About Somethings Beautiful
Inside her sleeping palm
Between her thinking brows
His broad shoulders as he
straightens
the
porch
the
day
after
Your arm thrown around my shaking shoulders
from laughter,
tears or
fear

Happy poetry Friday!
Happy Advent Practices to everyone!