That's Not Okay

That's Not Okay

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

Thoughts on Meditating

March 30, 2014

I sometimes think I was born under a dark cloud. I have never experienced this thing they call “luck.”  My mystic says this is my dharma. I came into this world wanting things to be harder for me. She says I designed it this way before I even got here.

Can I un-design it?

I see the value of challenge. I even see the value in toil. When you work hard for something, it tastes sweeter. You appreciate the little things all the more. And you have greater empathy for the majority of the world who have practically nothing in their lives that resemble comfort or prosperity.

I get it now. Lesson learned. Empathy elevated! Done.

Ahhhh, but no. Still the toil and struggle.

I see that I am lucky in lots of ways. I have never been seriously ill. I have an unexplained source of inner confidence and optimism. I’m naturally smiley.  My children are healthy in mind and body. And I am surrounded by a vast community of friends. Right there, is all I can ask for.

But for the sake of Christ, at almost 45 years old having worked hard all. my. life. I would very much like to be able to pay my bills. Professionally and financially, I seem to be missing a wingnut. Somewhere something needs tightening down…or maybe loosening up. I’m not naturally mechanical but that shouldn’t stand in the way of my financial independence.

Since long before the break up of my (last) marriage, I’ve had trouble connecting the professional and financial. I’ve worked plenty hard, graduated with a great GPA (if only I’d known how little that mattered in the real world) and took every work opportunity presented. I have often worked 2-3 jobs at a time. I don’t have a spending problem either. Although I like to reward myself on occasion, I can live frugally.

Presently, I live quite frugally. The kids and I don’t take vacations. We don’t have cable. I don’t have a  gym membership. I color my hair at home. There’s not a lot of extras. But despite the penny-pinching, there’s just not enough to pay the bills.

My biggest obstacle is a common one for many. I’m both the mom and the breadwinner. The child support I receive although appreciated,  is quite honestly, a pittance. And at any rate, it’s not intended to be something to live on. I never thought about marrying for money. At the time, my spouse seemed like a good earner…certainly good enough, but over the years that shifted and post-divorce, his sense of responsibility for us has been annihilated. He would only give the minimum ordered by the court and God damnit, I say So Be It.

The issue at hand is greater than that and the solution does not lie in squeezing water from a stone. Although life would be easier if I could rely on my ex to help support the kids, the fact is I can’t. And anyone in a divorce situation cannot. Those days are gone, that ship has sailed. It seems on some levels, both right and just that I am shoehorned out of any reliance on my ex. I am an independent entity and solely responsible for the success of every aspect of my life. There’s the dharma.

(((Insert uncontrollable fear and subsequent weeping.)))

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

I don’t exactly romanticize modern marriage. It hasn’t worked for me. But this single parenting doesn’t exactly work either. I have strived and connived but I still cannot strike the balance between being Mom Extraordinaire and Head of Household. The hardness of it all has crushed me. I’m a little tin can smashed flat by an anvil off a tall building.

The struggle has laid waste to my sense of self and my hope for the future. I have put my dreams on hold and worked 60 hours a week for 5+ years and have little (in my short-sighted vision) to show for it. I ask myself again and again,

What am I doing wrong?

I know this is the “wrong” question. I know I’m not doing anything wrong. I know I am loved and valued. I know I am loved and valued by a God that created me OUT OF his love for me. I know I am love. My heart beats with nothing but love. It is the breath in my lungs, that little song in my heart, the living embodiment of my gorgeous children. It is what causes a smile to spread clear across my face when I hold a tiny leaf of a plant in my hand and have the great honor and pleasure to wipe off an aphid and I hear it whisper, thank you.

I know. I know.

And yet…the bills pile up. The clients don’t pay. The children want and want and want. Rates go up. New things are invented every day that cost a $1,000 and you will not be able to deny them or live without them. You will get letters from school saying your kids are truant. Your ex will hit on you. Your family will want distance rather than intimacy. Your friendships will shift and people will grow apart. Your children will develop wicked tongues. Everyone in your privileged home town will seem to be getting ahead while you get left behind.

Shit breaks. Shit costs more than you can afford. There are a finite number of hours in a day and a finite amount of false happiness you are able to generate. This is the truth. This is reality.

Right?

…maybe not.

Truth and reality are perhaps not so cut and dry. That little song in my heart, that little glimmer, that shimmery mirage of hope…like heat on asphalt, you can’t touch it and you can only see it from a certain angle, that stuff still lives. It believes in miracles and divine intervention. I firmly believe there is MORE. More to life than bills, and custody arrangements and IEPs and petty disagreements and pimples in your wrinkles and late bills and mounting debt, there’s MORE. In fact, there’s a whole other life. In my mind I’ve always called it the Life Under Life. It runs under our day to day, our physical world, like a river. A life-giving, unconditional river of love. It’s where we are from and it’s where we will go. It is the true truth. It is the real reality.

I have touched this river and felt its flow while doing yoga and meditating. I have experienced its magic while laboring and birthing my kids. I have experienced it every time I didn’t follow despair all the way down the rabbit hole.

I need to get in constant contact with this river. I need to pull out of this present rabbit hole and get healthy and hopeful. I have toiled and tried and it has only gotten me so far. I need less toil. I need a new truth. I need a new reality.

I would like to journey with you through my commitment to meditation and yoga. I spent 15 minutes this morning with a guided meditation on my iPhone from an app by Abraham-Hicks. Abraham is a  non-physical being who speaks through a woman named Esther Hicks. They end every session with their message, “There is great love for you here.” And even though the idea of a non-physical being talking through a human gives me wicked heebie jeebies, that message brings me undeniable comfort.

I am not a great meditator. I am an antsy pantsy kind of person. Prone to itchiness and unable to sit still for long this is not natural for me. But I have seen the benefits. I know that this practice clears the mind, dredges that river so it can flow and is the ultimate reboot.

More than this, I have felt every day of my life, from when I was a very small child, through school and despite my total anonymity and all the failings of my adult life, I have felt inexplicably called to a higher purpose. I have felt that strong connection to the rest of the world. I have experienced the power of a smile or a kind word, and somehow I have felt it ripple all around the world. The power of meditation is universal. I know sulking around my life, feeling despondent and worthless and unlucky, does not serve me nor does it serve the world I was sent here to influence. Meditating and putting myself in the mindset of love for 15 minutes a day can change so much. I’m gonna give it a try. This was from my guided meditation today:

“Your life continually calls for expansion through you. And All That Is benefits from the important part you play.” Abraham

See you in the river…

Any Way You Slice It

March 17, 2014

An encounter with some really bad luck.

 bad luck

First off: you and I both wish this were shorter. But it is what it is. Thanks for bearing witness.

I want to tell you a story. A funny story. A story I hope you’ll find funny. A story I hope to continue to find funny.

My friend Soph and I wonder if we enjoy our foibles too much and that’s why we have so many, so consistently! As believers in the law of attraction we hold that that which we give energy to persists. And if positive energy is the most attractive energy, it would stand to reason that if we find enjoyment in our problems perhaps more will come to us.

Of course I don’t know that we really believe this but the important thing is we all have our things we attract. Our issues. Our baggage. Perhaps ME more than others (as you might be convinced of at the end of this story) but, rest assured, and I do, we all got SOMETHING. Here’s mine du jour. May your life feel a little better in comparison.

Almost a month ago, my transmission went out on my 2002 RAV4. It took the mechanic over a week to fix and it cost a buttload of money. Too much I thought, but I had my car…which I need. As you all know, I’m a single mom and I drive all over this great city for my landscaping job and I need a car. Unfortunately, after a day of having my car back I realized it was not fixed. It drove the exact same, dangerous, herky-jerky way so I took it back and in a not-great mood. The guy fixing my car loaned me his car so I would not have to rent a car again. This car.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
My gangster box. Of course, I appreciate not having to rent a car but this car is not great for transporting landscaping equipment as my SUV was. But that’s not so much of an issue cause I’m pretty much not working in August. My kids are out of camp and their father is on vacation and working for the entire month so I’m on my own with the kids this month.
Now I’ve been prepping for this month of August. I knew it would be challenging. No work means no money. And being with the kids 100% means no breaks and that’s just what August is. August to me is like December without Christmas. However, my long-awaited vacation will be coming in September and the kids will be back at school. All will be well. Nothing to do but muscle through, right?

Well…then the ex drops the bomb that I would not be able to take my September vacation as things were changing at his work and he wouldn’t be able to take the time off. (This being the day before he left for his two-week vacation.) AND he would not be able to take the kids overnight as he was going to have to be at work earlier. When he dropped this bomb I had to just turn and walk away cause I was not going to let him see me cry. The god-damned pressure of being a single mom/provider/human being is so, so intense. I need that fucking vacation. I need to live my life. I need to CREATE my life. I’m beyond frustrated.

The next morning my neck goes right out. Like…OUT. The pain runs down the back of my head, through both sides of my neck and down my left shoulder. I can barely drive my kids to their physicals at the doctor that morning (the gangster box does not have power steering). Since, I simply did not have the time or money to hit the chiro I call Soph and she reads to me from Louise Hays’ book Heal Your Life and the basic affirmation is about the need to be FLEXIBLE. (no, really? ;-) The affirmation goes: “I am at peace with my life,” and I say it over and over and over and I’m reminded that morning that I am blessed with super healthy kids and a wonderful pediatric practice and in the end I heal myself. My body tells me I should probably do some yoga that night but I think I just end up drinking beer and watching The Bachelorette.

Next day, I get a letter saying my dishwasher has been recalled (It could burst into flames!) and Maytag will only refund me my money if I buy one of their high-end dishwashers. Whatever, right? Be flexible. I’m at peace with my life. So I get someone to watch the kids and I head out the next morning in my gangster box to Sears to buy a god-damn dishwasher.

Let me stop here for some juicy backstory. Since separating from my ex, I have had five car accidents and gotten four moving violations – in two and half years. Prior to that I had gotten a total of two tickets my entire life and never been at fault for an accident. Things change. So after my fourth moving violation I got this letter from the DMV.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
I would like to say in my defense, that (at the writing of this letter) I had never ever CAUSED a crash. So that first sentence is just not true. I feel that’s about as far as I can defend myself however. I had a little fender bender after that and before that I totaled my car by hydroplaning and crashing into a tractor trailer on the freeway but the truck didn’t even stop so that’s hardly causing a crash.

Let me also tell you that when I went to see a psychic last year, she said that I had some trouble with cars and accidents and I said yes. And she said I had a special guardian angel that had been protecting me through many lifetimes (What up. Gerome?) and she said that I kept him very busy. I told her to tell him that I was sorry about that and so she kind of mentally went away and came back and said, “Gerome says it’s okay. You were the same way on a horse.” Funniest line uttered by a psychic ever. Anyhoo…

A few months ago I got pulled over for speeding. A whole ten miles over the speed limit. I’m a menace I tell you. Luckily it had been long enough between tickets and I could take the traffic school option. Of course you have to “pay off” the DMV to keep a point off your license so that added $150 to my $350 ticket. Yeah. Awesome.

So back to our story: I’m at Sears and I get this big run around (they want to charge me to pull a permit for installing a dishwasher?) and I leave very frustrated and without a dishwasher. As I pull out of the mall parking lot I hear sirens behind me. I pull over to let the cop pass and he yells at me to pull through the next light and pull over. No. Fucking. Way. You know, maybe I have a tail light out. I mean this isn’t even my car. Wait. I don’t even have the registration. I don’t even know my mechanic’s last name. Uh. Oh.

So the cop claims I ran a stop sign IN THE MALL PARKING LOT which is not even true and he and I argue back and forth but then I have to start explaining about the car not being mine and now it’s “let’s step out of the car.” I TOTALLY LOSE IT. Yep. I’m one of those folks standing outside her mechanic’s car, crying on the side of the road while the cops writes me a ticket and threatens to impound the car. I sign for my ticket (not an admission of guilt, I’m assured), pull my shit together and go on my way with the knowledge that I am going to have to go stand before a judge in Chatsworth and plead my case just to keep my license. Holy Shitstorm Batman.

That’s Sunday.

Monday. I decide to get Molly a cell phone. Her father doesn’t tend to carry his and sometimes I’m not sure where she is when she’s with him so I like the idea of being able to contact her when I want to. And then I can cancel my home phone service which is still under the ex’s name and is inundated 10 -15 times a day by creditors. Molly’s thrilled and I’m up for a free Blackberry upgrade so we are ALL happy campers. We go back home, I spend 45 minutes on the phone using a “man’s” voice, pretending to be my ex canceling my phone service. I get the service cancelled, plug in my new phone to my computer and proceed to wipe out EVERY CONTACT I have on it. Somehow the software or whatever replaced everything on my phone with the contents of my computer address book which I only use to keep about 700 email addresses for Molly’s school and La Leche League. I jump on the internet to figure out what the hell I’d done and realize that I’ve knocked out my internet. My DSL was attached to my fucking home phone line! I have erased all my contacts and snuffed out my access to the internet in less than an hour’s time.

I really wish I could say to you that I did not have a giant, big-ass pity party for myself that began with the thought: if I had a HUSBAND to help me with this shit, none of this would be happening. Cause that’s an unfriendly road, my friends. And I don’t want to take you down it.

So Jana comes over and takes my kids so I can put out the fine china for the pity party. I go down to Verizon and they are gigantic losers and can’t help me and I just have to bear it. It’s a hassle. They are all just hassles. It’s a shit storm no doubt. But it’s not WHO I AM. It’s just crappy circumstances. That’s all.

I do finally listen that night and do yoga and meditate and read my inspirational books and get centered and make an appointment with my therapist. I hire a sitter to watch the kids all day the next day so I can go write and peace out and make things better in my life.

Monday.

Sitter comes. All’s lovely. I pack up my computer and put on makeup and look forward and upward. I get in the gangster box, start the car, pull away from the curb, my phone rings, I pick it up and hear:
WRRR WRRR WRRR WRRR.

I get pulled over on my own street.

My emotional state at this point kinda plummets. I really feel like there is a good chance I am living some other kind of parallel life. Like everyone else, I saw Inception and loved it. Loved the idea of the totem a lot and in fact, walking out of the theater after seeing the movie, I found a pendant in the pocket of my jeans. It’s a pendant my friend Anne got me. I have no idea what it was doing in my pocket but I decided to make it my totem and I enjoyed rubbing it and touching it all day…communing with my totem. Keeping myself in the real world. Well I forget once again that my totem was in my jeans and I wash the totem in the jeans. I then discover the totem in the dryer…broken in two.
HOLY SHIT! That means, you realize, that for me and by the extremely realistic rules of Inception, this is all a dream?

Moral of the story: keep track of your stinkin totems.

So as soon as I realize I’m being pulled over, I turn off my phone and throw it on the floorboard. It’s total instinct. I actually have no memory of this exact moment. I’m piecing it together backwards like a police detective.
So the cop pulls me into a parking lot and walks up and says he’s citing me for talking on a “handheld device.” I mumble something. No idea what. Maybe, “okay.” What other response is there at this point. “Okay.”

I’ve really taken the path of least resistance now and have just gone numb. It’s safest. Then I realize I gotta explain about the car again and we go through all that somehow. He then asks me to sign for the ticket (…not an admission of guilt…) and I do and he stops and looks at the ticket and looks at my license and says to me, “It doesn’t look like you’ve signed the ticket the same way you signed your license.”
Now there’s a fucking handwriting quiz?
I kinda laugh and say, “I’m sorry. I’m a little upset.” (To say the least, right?) And he says, “Care to try again?” and hands me the ticket. I do try again but it’s no better and he lets me leave.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
MY BAD SIGNATURE

This is the beginning of my great day?
WHAT?
I get my bearings. Put my license away. And where is the damn phone? And I can’t find it. Anywhere. Okay. I start the car, drive away from the scene of the crime, relax myself somewhat and stop and look again. The phone is not there. I’m on my hands and knees looking everywhere and nothing. The phone is gone. The phone without the contacts. The phone that just got me pulled over (well, I didn’t do it…) THAT FUCKING PHONE. Nevertheless, I still need the fucking phone. But it’s just not there. Totem. Breaking.

So I drive to my friend’s house who lives nearby and to whom I know I can present myself in pretty much any state and she will have me. (This is true of all my friends actually. This is pretty much how I IDENTIFY my friends.)
I knock on her door and she’s happy to see me. She claps her hands and says, “I have a PRESENT for you!” She skips off and comes back with a beautiful bud in a baggy. “Humboldt!” she exclaims. I laugh and as good as it looks, I think, I’m probably the LAST person you want to give that to…

“Follow me,” I say. “I have a story to tell you.” I take her to my car and make her help me look for the cell phone and start filling her in. Thing is, neither of us can find it. We move the seats back and forth. We empty every bag in the car. We scratch our heads and look again. My friend slides her hand down between the bottom and back of the driver’s seat and all of the sudden, she pulls out a KNIFE. A knife that has been wedged in the seat and pointed at my back the entire time I have been driving this dude’s car!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
THE KNIFE.

We spend the better part of five minutes laughing our asses off. We send her kids for a flashlight and find the phone immediately. Right under the seat.

This knife has been literally stabbing me in the back. So there’s that. There’s your totem. Your law of attraction. Your poison arrow. Your affirmation.

And I’m glad that knife’s no longer there. Life has been calm (i.e. regular shit storm) but I keep hearing in my head the words that came to me when I was meditating that night as an explanation of current events: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

I can translate this for myself in two ways: either I’m Spiderman (I do spend a lot of time around spiders), or my life needs to be much, much more than IPAs and The Bachelorette.

These days I feel bi-polar, caught between thoughts of suicide and the experience of transcendence. I feel close to God but mad at him. I want to be at peace with my life but I also want a peaceful life.

My friend Soph quoted our friend John Paul who said to her, “When the shit hits the fan you know you are in a sacred place.”

Guess for now, I’ll just go with that.

Nameste, bitches.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Bad things come in threes.

A Legitimate Rape

August 21, 2012 3 Comments

This blog is a direct response to Rep. Todd Akin’s now famous and memed remarks of 8/19/12 regarding rape and pregnancy:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s (pregnancy) really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The ire and attention his comments raised has been called by Republicans: a “reflect and redirect” strategy by Democrats; “instead of focusing on the REAL ISSUES of the election.”

I disagree. I think these ARE (some of) the real issues of this election. Concerns regarding women’s rights and experiences are bubbling to the surface for good reason; they are legitimate and important. For me, personally, “legitimate rape” has been an issue I’ve been exploring for the last decade.

Ten years ago, if you had asked me if I had ever been a victim of rape I would have told you, “No way!” But I know better now.

Perhaps it was the forced sexual encounter I experienced when I was seven years old that colored my later sexual experiences in such a way so as not to understand, to not see that sex should be completely and 100% consensual. Perhaps also, maybe, the ‘date rape education” of the 80s came to me too late. My brain was already filled with images of masked intruders and women screaming “RAPE” at the top of their lungs to understand that there was a gray area of rape. That you could be raped by people you knew. Even people you were attracted to.

How, I wondered, was it rape when I was too embarrassed and humiliated to scream, or to stop him or to interrupt him, or to even utter a word? Back then, in my pre-30 year old brain, it wasn’t rape. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t rape. It was just the way things were.

I feel differently now. I feel sex against your will is rape. No matter the circumstances. Do I bear a responsibility in what happened? Yes. Is that man still a rapist? Yes. Was what happened rape? Yes. Absolutely.

I’ve often thought about writing this blog to educate young men on some really simple ways to know if you are raping someone or not. I don’t mean that as snarky as it sounds, for truly I believe, some basic rules of sex might make things clearer to young men, and take the pressure off the scared, confused and insecure girl who wishes she could stand up for herself, rather than just submit, pray it is over soon and go home.

I lost my virginity to a rape. A boy I met at the beach, who I liked a lot, took me into a stranger’s house on the morning of the 2nd day of our acquaintance, and laid me down on a bare mattress. There was some heavy petting that progressed at amazing speed and within what seemed like seconds, he was inside of me. I think asking first is nice. Lesson #1.

The next time was that same destructive summer. On a whim, I allowed myself to be driven by a couple of boys, who I thought I knew well but didn’t, to a town several hours away from my home. When I got to their hometown, the boy I knew better disappeared with his car and his promise to drive me home. His friend invited me to tag along with him to a party. I was hopeless in my despair…how could I have gotten myself in this situation? so I drank quite a bit at the party. I was raped that night by at least 2 different guys. I woke up from my black-out several times in locations inside and outside of the house with some asshole pumping away above me. Lesson #2 – don’t fuck unconscious girls.

The next sexual phase of my life was a good one, with a loving, long-time boyfriend. However, one afternoon while we were expecting his parents to return back to the house, he grew impatient and badgered me for sex. I said no several times but he forced me to have sex with him anyway. This is the only experience of rape I ever accepted as such although it was with my sexual partner. Later that day, he and I talked about it and he took full responsibility for it and apologized. He apologized again when we met up some 20 years later. In fact it was the first thing he said to me. Lesson #3 is a chestnut but still true: No means no.

During my college years at Penn State, there were some loose sexual assaults on campus but nothing that would qualify as rape. The rape during my college years happened during a holiday visit home. I was playing cards with some longtime friends at a stranger’s parents’ house. This stranger who I will call Mike (his real name) and I seemed to be hitting it off while we played poker at a card table in the garage. He was really cute and all that jazz. After everyone left I stayed behind and we finished our beers and then he kissed me while I sat on the washing machine. Before I knew it, my bare back hit cold concrete. I can still vividly remember how my head conked on the stone-hard floor. He used his full weight to keep me pinned and took my jeans and underwear off. I told him no. I told him not yet. I thought about yelling but knew my friends were long gone. I begged him to wait. To slow down. To stop. It stopped soon enough. And he rolled off me, and said thanks, and laughed.

As I raced out of there, I chastised myself for what had happened. For putting myself in that position. For sending the wrong signals. I think now, in my heart, that voice was the abused seven year-old talking who didn’t know any better but to blame herself.

Now I think, I KNOW, I did nothing wrong. I believe with all conviction, that there is not a girl in the world who really wants her first sexual encounter with a man she likes to be on the oily floor of his parents’ garage. Her bare ass frostbite cold on the concrete of an empty house in winter. Lesson #4. No woman wants that.

I did not blame Mike at the time, in fact, I didn’t hardly remember the occurrence, until many years later while swapping stories with a girlfriend. Recounting one story led to another story and another and I realized I had many experiences with rape. All legitimate.

I think we all have something to learn from these experiences. I think it is damn important we do so. By sharing our stories, our fuck-ups, our misjudgments, we can help young men and women sort some of this stuff out, see the gray areas, find their voices, act with respect and patience, and do a lot less hurting of each other and a lot less damage in our culture. And calling a rape a rape is a step in that direction.

spiritual parenting explained. http://tm

April 5, 2012

spiritual parenting explained. http://tmblr.co/Z37ZbyIuqeSC

funny-baby-sticking-tongue-out-300x249

The Art in the Everyday Challenge

March 7, 2012 3 Comments

THE ART IN THE EVERYDAY CHALLENGE STARTS HERE.

Hey you!

Discontented mothers. Regimented wives. Whatever the male equivalent is. You! You, who’s never been to you. Let’s find ourselves. Let’s get expressive. Artistic even.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Click here and  Follow Me on Pinterest check out my “Art in the Everyday” board. In an effort to…keep up with me…see the art in the everyday…I have posted some photos that express my life. The idea is simple:

Capturing the small moments, striving to see the beauty in everything, the art in the everyday.

Please send me an email (thatsnotokay@earthlink.net) or a message through Pinterest and I will add you as a contributor to the board and then you can post your “art in the everyday” photos to inspire others. And best of all, YOU get the experience of seeing your life through a new lens and of creating art from your every day. You may even gain a new appreciation for your life and for your self as its creator. Or just post a photo and we’ll see where it leads…

A little background. I’ve been consciously honing what I consider my artistic identity for well over 5 years now. When I started writing again, after a hiatus I will refer to as “stretch marks,” I only had one day a week to write so I had to make that writing day matter. I could not waste time fiddling with doubt or bantering with the inner critic…I had to get words on the page! There were lots of little ways I defeated that time wasting crap, but one of the big ways was to convince myself that what I was doing MATTERED.

I mattered.

I was a writer. I would be read. I was an artist. I would be seen. What I had to express was important enough, relevant enough to fight for. I counted. I needed to master the craft of writing (a girl can try!) and that was going to be time well spent, god damnit. I HAD to consider myself a writer. I HAD to call myself an artist, cause no one else was.

To make art you need to observe. You need to listen, watch, record, reflect. This takes effort. This takes a limb and a person brave enough to walk out on it. You need to say, okay, this one time I will be a total narcissistic fuck and pretend everyone gives a shit and post this photo of daisies for all to see!

(((Insert inner voice screaming, “PLEASE DON’T JUDGE ME!”)))

These days, I don’t sweat that uncomfortable skin-crawling feeling I get when I refer to myself as an artist. I don’t worry as much about people rejecting my material or judging me, but you might. You might not see yourself as an artist. You might not see yourself as someone worthy of hearing from. You might not see your world as something worthy of reporting from. But I challenge that idea. Literally…I’m challenging it.

Show me the Art in the Everyday. Your every day. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. Just something seen through your thoughtful eyes.

Again, email me or  Follow Me on Pinterest and ask me to add you to the contributors for the “Art in the Everyday” board. Before you know it, you’ll be posting!

Thanks in advance for playing!

Love,

erin

Enhanced by Zemanta

Shit My Kids Ruined – A Tribute

February 13, 2012

That’s NOT okay. The name of a web series and a blog and what I hear myself say all the time.

This video illustrates just that.

We all must walk the walk. No one gets out unscathed. Our stuff is no exception.

 

A Tribute to the Damage Kids Inflict from erin riley on Vimeo.

That’s Not Okay – a blog and a webisode – let me explain

February 10, 2012

ImageRaising kids. It’s a mother of a job.

“That is not okay,” is the phrase for every mom trying to gently break it to her kids that they are ruining her life.
“That is not okay,” is what said mom thinks when she sees how far she’s drifted from shore. No land in sight.
“That’s Not Okay” is a webisode about a mom at the crossroads of (gag) middle age.

Susannah Dawson is a 33 year-old, SFV-living, SUV-driving, stay-at-home mom far from shore. She’s an anonymous blogger spilling the beans on her celebrity husband and her two children all over the Internet. And most important to our purposes, she’s BFF to three other stay-at-home moms: Annie (the difficult wild child), Candice (the smart, sexy one) and Meg (the perfect mother) all trying to keep it real.

Keeping it real is important.
Motherhood has been up on that pedestal for too long. It’s romanticized and criticized and homogenized.
But no more.

This is not your mother’s show on motherhood.
These moms were raised on the urban legend of bra burning as well as the promise of a new deal for women sponsored by Feminism. They graduated from college, went to grad school, moved across the country to L.A. where they became well respected in their field. They fell in love and married great men. Great men! Then they got pregnant. How wonderful. So…unexpected. But so wonderful!

This show is part blog, part best friend. You’re along for the ride.
You’re knocked up. You’re a breeder. Congratulations!

Without warning, your body becomes public property to well-meaning strangers who will pet you without asking.
And be warned: while pregnant and hereafter, your every parenting decision is open to scrutiny and judgment. Watch out especially for the prior generation. Hint: They think they nailed it.

You start to lose your brain. Literally.

You put down your reading group novel to read “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” also known as ‘You’re Kid Is Going To Catch Something Horrible and Die.’
And yeah, it was probably that glass of Chardonnay you had, but whatever.

Pregnancy is called expecting. Expecting what exactly?
Expecting equal pay for equal work in your own household?
Think again.
Expecting to have great sex after the baby? Oh, baby. Expecting to have any sex after the baby? Come on.
Do you expect to have some time to yourself ever again? Do you expect you’ll recognize yourself in the mirror post-baby birth?
Let me tell it to you straight. Here’s “What You Didn’t Expect and Why Didn’t Anyone Fucking Tell Me?”
Each pregnancy ages you an extra seven years.
Your feet will grow an entire shoe size and they don’t, like, go back.
The skin on your stomach will never look normal. Forget about it. It will look like a torn-up box of tissues. Like oil shimmering in a pan before it burns. Forever.
That’s not okay, you say?
Listen.
Your vagajay might need stitches. STITCHES. It will not look normal after baby/miracle but it does recover a bit over time. Free advice: Don’t bother looking at if for a while and do NOT ask your husband to look to see “if it’s alright.” It is not all right and he does not want to see it.
And someday that baby you love and nurture and live for will learn to talk. And she will look at you with those eyes that are your eyes and she’ll say, “I hate you. You are ruining my life.”
In closing, say bye-bye to your dignity and social standing. You’re now a non-person. You don’t get Social Security or contribute to the GNP.
You’ve chosen to “opt out.”
You’re a stay-at-home mom at the opening of the 21st century. An enigma. Like that old-school telephone ring on the iPhone of life. You’re retro, baby-maker. A throwback.

Now what? The kids are growing up, going to school. You have a little more time on your hands. You see your friends going through it. You feel it. Ch-ch-ch-changes. You have a standing 5pm glass of wine/phone call with your girls while you “make dinner” and you ask each other: WTF?
Regrets? Yeah I’ve had a few.
Well, what now?
I mean, you’re not a housewife, are you?

And in the immortal words of the bagger at Trader Joe’s: “So…you’re a stay-at-home mom. What do you do all day?”

Let me show you.

Freeform Podcast: RambleCry<3Blog

February 7, 2012

I’m an erratic artist if you wanna know the truth. Although I am trying to go pro. And you “adapt” for the screen, not “translate.” Maybe free form podcasting and mom brain don’t exactly go together. Still, I love…

Listening is your only option:

I<3Blogging

Bl(ogR)eading: My Mind Field

February 7, 2012

“I’m here. And I loved me. And that was enough to make it through the night.”

Lay down my darling and listen up. Click this pretty blue link and listen to me read sweet nothings to you.

My Mind Field

Or read it. Either way, I love you.

My Mind Field

So…four days ago my husband moved out of our house.
This is what I wanted. Freedom. A chance at joy. A time for growth and peace and healing. But this is not what I wanted. I want to be with him. I want to have a family. I want to have a future. I want a husband. I want HIM. I don’t want to be alone. I want to be curled up in his arms and to feel safe and loved. I want to love him. I want to shower him with love. But the truth is that there is no such vessel for my love. It’s a fantasy. I miss the best of my husband. I miss the house of cards which is the hope I have carried for over ten years. And I have watched that house crumble more times than I can count. So I’m a fool. So I’m in love. So I will always love him. And my love will float. With no place to land. With no chance of return. I know this but it still hurts. Man, hope is a gut buster.
I love my husband. Shit, I adore him. It seems impossible after everything. For I have hated him too. I have begged God to take the burden of living with him from me. And now that the burden is lifted I am floating somewhere between the fantasy, the dream of the life we were supposed to have together, and the memories of loss and despair and abandonment. It definitely sucks. I won’t kid you.
But, I am proud of me. Of the me who found the strength and courage to face the life I really had. It was nothing like the fantasy. It was not a dream. It was mostly a nightmare. It was a one-sided marriage. I carried all of it.
Yesterday I was remembering (because memories can safely come to me now) a time maybe a year and a half ago when my dh was raging for days on end. I was scared. Sad. Angry. Confused. Depressed. There really isn’t a word for it. I was frozen. Totally unsure of what to do, how to proceed, how to fix it. Helpless times a hundred. Anyway.
After the kids were asleep, my dh would rage for hours and then completely retreat and I would be left holding the emotional baggage. I couldn’t sleep. I would try to sleep on the couch. Sleeping in our bed was an impossible thought. I’d lie on couch wondering what am I doing here? WHAT AM I DOING HERE? On this couch. In this marriage. In this life. Hard to sleep. Go figure.
I’d grab my grandmother’s rosary and just pray. And try to pray a prayer that was empowering. I knew I couldn’t just pray to be saved anymore. The saving wasn’t coming. A miracle was not going to drop in my lap. Jesus wasn’t going to appear like a mirage in front of me and pat my hand and magically change my husband and my marriage and my life. But how could I do it? I couldn’t change him. I had grown to know that all too well. My love wasn’t enough for both of us. And my past, my babyhood abandonment, had left me with easy, victim-y excuses for my life during a dismal, dark night: I was un-loveable. There was something wrong with me. No one cared. No one loved me. No one could save me. NO ONE WAS COMING!
So I did small things. This was what I remembered. This is what I had pushed back. But I can tell you now.
I could only sleep for short spells on the couch. I had to get in my bed, despite the fact that my raging adored husband’s peaceful snoring was like a slap in the face. I needed to sleep in my soft bed with my special pillow and my white noise humming next to me. I had to sleep. I had children to care for. So I wrote myself notes. Simple notes on small squares of white scrap paper, folded and tucked under my pillow. The notes sometimes said: “You’ll be ok. This too shall pass. Tomorrow is coming. The sun will rise on you.”
Sometimes they were forceful: “You can get divorced. Fuck him. Hold on. This is your life. You get to decide.”
But most often they said this: “You are loved. I love you. I love you Erin. I see you. I hear you. You’re wonderful. You’re loved. I love you.”
I’d sleep with them under my pillow, along with my grandmother’s rosary, hoping their strength would imbue my sleeping mind, my dreams. If I woke during the dark, troubled night my hand would find the note’s soft crease and I would remember: I’m here. And I loved me. And that was enough to make it through the night.
Turns out though, that’s enough for always. For all nights. That’s all there is.
The next morning, I’d hastily jump out of bed and throw these notes away before the bed got made. I didn’t want my dh to see them. I don’t know why. I’ll tackle that next time. This is enough for now.
It is what it is.
No judgement. No good. No bad. It’s way too complicated for that.
Or is it just too simple for that?
Is it just life? Just humanity. Just breathing. Just loving. Just living.
Thank you Jesus. Cause you were there.
I know.
Cause I’m here.
Here I am.

I love you.

(Thursday, January 17, 2008)

Bl(ogR)eading: Eat, Pray, Love, Dance

February 7, 2012 1 Comment

“We PRAY. At the altar of ocean. At the ashram of sand.”

Your eyes are too pretty for mere reading. Your ears on the other hand…

Eat, Pray, Love, Dance

And you can listen to an actual Dance Your Ass Off Party here:

http://erinriley.posterous.com/dont-stop-believing

Come to think of it your ears are pretty beautiful too.

Eat, Pray, Love, Dance

Some people need to go to Italy to Eat.
Some people need to go to India to Pray.
Some people need to go to Indonesia to Love.
But we just have to go out our own back door.
Cause here in “the Nuys” we got it all baby. And then some.

I was a 30-year-old pregnant girl when I walked into my first La Leche League meeting. Before my baby (Mollster!) was even born, I had attended many meetings. The instant camaraderie, mutual respect, empowerment of women, the love, friendship and support…it was un-like anything I’d ever experienced…from women anyway.

And now, 8 years later, I have at least thirty wonderful women in my life I consider MY FRIENDS. 15 of them showed up at my house on Friday night to shake their booties DOWN. It was freakin’ awesome. I love them dearly. I am their self-appointed social director and I am humbled to be so.

I didn’t invent any of this, but when I walked into that LLL meeting and I felt it. Well…I knew one thing.
I knew I wanted more of THAT.
I needed more of THAT.
And so I got it.

So we EAT.

At restaurants, that have liquor licenses. First Thursday of every month. Come in your jeans. Gussy up. Give it up. Gossip. How are the kids? Tell me what your man did last night. Order more drinks.
Tell me how fat you’re getting (you’re not).
Tell me how skinny you’re getting (size 6–shut UP).
Order dessert. Come on, we’ll share.
Tell us you’re pregnant, you’re not, you’re married, you’re not.
Come on, we’ll share.

We PRAY.

At the altar of ocean. At the ashram of sand. At the temple of sky. At the mosque of sun. At the church of friendship.
Beach Fridays every day of the summer and then some. Free Zuma. We’re claiming it for Van Nuys! You think the dolphin show is something until you see the moms fly ass over teacup into the surf frantically but with much aplomb pressing their children to “stay on their feet.”

The weather is always good over the heads of good friends.

Plus, it’s a magic beach. Magic to me because of our good friend JJ (hope you don’t mind, girl).
JJ was going through a divorce and the requisite financial crisis. She talked about, if not had decided on, moving herself and her two boys all the way back to Texas to be near her family.
I had her one morning in my kitchen and I could hear in her voice and see in her tired eyes that she had reached/hit despair.
Oof, despair. Oy.
In the hope of at least lessening her pain, I quickly asked the moms in our immediate group for a donation. She needed money now. There was rent and utilities to be paid and a dead beat, blah,blah,blah. She needed us.
In one day I raised $700! That’s a lot in our little part of the world.
I gave it to JJ at Zuma the next day and it was so moving.
I mean MOVING. The earth MOVED people.
She was touched, obviously, but also inspired, changed. It was moving.
She realized in that moment that she HAD family…RIGHT HERE.
She didn’t have to up-root her life there.
She had a life here.
The great thing about living like this…caring for each other without limitation, this total experience of friendship, this generosity that reaches out to take care of each other from a point of view of RESPONSIBILITY…is that we get to experience each other’s moments. When JJ realized that we were her family, we realized it too. Standing next to her I moved right along with her. Her reaction, a sigh, an exhale, pushed my heart around inside my chest. All around. I felt the strong bonds of family like the big roots of a tree, like the perpetual pull of the tides at Free Zuma Beach. By the simple act of giving.

So we LOVE.

We love our babies. We love breastfeeding and natural birth and making the best of situations that don’t always go our way. We love to push each other, to catch each other, to buoy, to banter, to cajole, to comfort, to laugh, to love each other.
We love our community, our world. We want to protect our children, our environment, all women’s rights, all human rights.
And we love each other. We are different, different, differerererererent women. We CHOOSE to love each other.
We live each other’s dreams.
I think this is something revolutionary.
I see it on Oprah sometimes. You know she gives these women cars, makeovers, shopping sprees, new kitchens, new houses and we, the women at home, not getting shit, are ecstatic for them! And I mean over the moon, crying tears of joy, clapping on the couch, you GO girlin’, like it is happening to us.
This is what we do. We really live each other’s dreams. And this is revolutionary, I think.

And now we DANCE.

We shake our hips, our shoulders, our tits, and our heads loose of the constraints of our everyday lives. We are sexy, free, funky and oh, so fabulous! We are mighty good at celebrating each other. I have so much to learn from these diverse, and between you and me, very dirty women. It is my humble desire that they continue to teach me and to dance with me.

I learned that fun is more contagious than the flu. (Watch out – it’s fun season.)
Black leather boots and Sinead O’Connor are still hot.
Back pain and blisters mean you tore it up last night.
I’m not the only one who needs more of this.
And I learned that when you are surrounded by friends, those women you love, adore, fetishize and cradle, you let everyone wear the hat.

How do you get some of this you ask?

Dream their dreams.
Be their family.
Share their dessert.
And let them give you lap dances.

Eat, Pray, Love, Dance with me,
Your Little Red Corvette

(Monday, March 10, 2008)

Enhanced by Zemanta
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.