Getting Real About Spring Cleaning

I think I vaguely remember some sort of Spring cleaning ritual when I was a married, stay-at-home mom of one child.  I had check-lists and a plan and it seems like sunbeams followed me around everywhere in that far less complicated and busy place.  I have always loved lists and still use them, but now – being single and working full-time with 4 kids, well, things are different.

And that’s okay.

flyladyOne of the first resources I turned to after things got a bit overwhelming in the household cleaning arena was the Flylady.  She taught about putting a control journal together as sort of a household bible with all of the information and checklists you could ever need.  She emphasized getting into good quick habits.  Habits not all of us learn as we are growing up, so this is a wonderful learning tool.  The other thing I loved about her is that she was really into doing things in very small amounts of time, which is all I really have, and constant de-cluttering.  I’ve used these habits and lists to spread out chores among all of us so that we are getting everything done.

I seem to be obsessed with the idea of organization, which is a bit laughable, since I feel kondo bookpretty far away from everything being all color coded and beautiful boxes and the like.  I think part of it is that I feel more at ease and peaceful when things are neat and clean and there is no clutter.  Marie Kondo talks about organization and de-cluttering by only keeping items that spark joy in you in her New York best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  I liked the focus of the book on de-cluttering and making better choices about the things that surround you everyday, but I’m pretty sentimental about pictures and so on, so I had to take the middle road with this method, too.  We still purge on a pretty continual basis.

And, Martha Stewart, well, ummm I’m going to try not to maniacally laugh here.  I do like her pretty pictures in her magazine, but really, I’d rather spend more time with my kids than folding a fitted sheet perfectly.  Besides, I figure, if I ever get married again, I could always marry someone with Martha Stewart abilities.

So how do I get Spring Cleaning done in my house?  Well, really, it’s a year-round event and, let’s get real, it happens in the corners of my life when I have time.  My biggest secret when I’m feeling really un-motivated?  I set a timer for 15 minutes and go as fast as I can for those 15 minutes.  Then I stop.  If I’m feeling motivated by that point, I’ll take a break for 15 minutes and then set the timer for 15 minutes again and go back out.  I’ve actually had entire days like this where I got an amazing amount of work done in this way.  Here are some more handy tips:

  1. De-clutter as much as you can.  Pick one room each week and spend at least 15 minutes a day.  I ask myself something pretty similar to Marie Kondo.  Do I really love this enough to clean this up a million times or can someone else be blessed by it?  And I’m really practical (except for the photos and my kids drawings), so I ask myself, have I used this in the past year?  If not, off it goes.  I find that putting all giveaways in a cardboard box right away and then putting it in the trunk of my car right away helps to get stuff actually out the door and not waiting in the box in the corner forever.
  2. Print out a detailed cleaning list.  Here’s one from Flylady – FlyLady Detailed Cleaning Lists.  Again, pick out one room each week and spend at least 15 minutes a day on it.
  3. Delegate.  Your kids need to help.  They need to not only see the process, but be part of it.  This is part of their education and how they are going to learn this for themselves.  I’ve let my kids sell their stuff on Ebay, Facebook and garage sales and let them keep the proceeds as an added incentive.  Be firm.  This stuff is important.
  4. Use non-toxic cleaning supplies.  Throw out the yuck that is poisoning your family as part of your de-cluttering Thieves household cleanerand feel safe in the knowledge that your kids can easily help clean without worrying that you’ll have to call poison control.  The toxins in cleaners, detergents and fabric softeners are challenging to those with asthma and other respiratory disease and those with skin sensitivities and the endocrine system, which makes parents even more tired from having to filter out the chemicals.  I love Thieves and use it for cleaning everything – including my dishes and laundry.
  5. Have a party.  Lol.  No seriously.  This will help you remain motivated and will help you celebrate all of your hard work.  This is why we de-clutter and organize – to have more time and space to enjoy it.

Most of all, perfection is your enemy.  Be gentle with yourself and kind.  Ultimately, this is a form of self-care, so make it as fun and nourishing as you can.  Put on your favorite music, sing, dance, put your favorite oil in your diffuser and create more room for joy and fun in your life.

 

Nordstrom is selling jeans with mud on them for $425

muddy jeansOn Nordstrom’s website,  you can buy a pair of PRPS Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans for the low, low price of $425. These jeans are unique in that, according to the website, they “…embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.”  Ummmm…

The irony here is that most hard-working Americans that would actually do the work that would get their jeans muddy would never buy a pair of jeans for $425.  In fact, this is kind of an affront to hard-working Americans.  And as I see the divide between the richest 1% of Americans and the rest of us who have to work for a living widen more and more, this is kind of an affront to all of the hard working people I know.  I remember one guy I grew up with who thought it was a waste and refused to buy jeans over $20.  I think today it’s nothing over $30.

As a parent, who is trying to raise children who value people over material things and to use the tool of money, wisely, this is just another symbol of how ludicrous advertising and marketing can become.  It’s another lesson among so many in navigating the waters of capitalist America and still coming out with your soul intact.  I know how hard these waters are, though, especially when you are a teenager trying to fit in and bullies everywhere are using any sign of status as an excuse to put someone down.

I remember wanting Guess jeans and watches as a teenager and Nike and, well, the list goes on.  Through the indulgence of grandparents and other family members, I sometimes would get little coveted pieces of clothing.  And I think it’s because I had a big disconnect with money at the time.  When I was in my late teen years and had a job and the ability to buy my own clothes, I tended towards thrift shops and Goodwill and being creative.  I was fortunate enough to have great friends who thought that it was cooler to do that and was deeply ensconced in the arts community which valued the creativity so I was largely sheltered from any bullying.

As my children have and are navigating the teenage years, I see the pressure again.  Different brand names, same need to fit in.  And I admit that I have given in on the pressure every once in awhile for Christmas and birthday gifts.  I blame the soft spot in my heart.  The part that doesn’t want them to feel any pain ever again and to always feel like they are the greatest thing the world has to offer.  Because, well, I feel that way about them and I want the rest of the world to see that, too.  But that’s not the way things work, is it?

So, I think I will continue with the same mantra that I seem to be saying over and over again to them.  Some version of – well, we could buy those jeans OR we could go to Disney or buy that Xbox360.  Or, hey, let’s just save our money and go play games together so that we can take more vacation time this year to be with each other.  You know, asking yourself the question again and again – what things do I really value?  And I hope the answer will always be for me and my children – friends, family, loved ones and being financially free.

Flying Cars are Real

flying car

I think we’ve all imagined our cars being able to fly as we sat in traffic or during a long commute.  So when I read today in the NY Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/technology/flying-car-technology.html?_r=0) about a prototype for a flying car by a small Silicon Valley company, KittyHawk, backed by Google co-founder, Larry Page, that was being flown over a lake, I was pretty excited.  And being from the land of Kitty Hawk, I enjoyed the nod to the Wright Brothers, as well.

After watching the video of the prototype, it looked a bit more like something an Ewok might steal rather than a car.  And, being a mom, I’m more than a little concerned about the safety issues with a lot of these flying around.  I know my 8 year old son would want one now.  And, I imagine crashing and falling from the sky would be a very bad thing.

So, I think we have a ways to go here, but still it’s pretty exciting that people are working on this.  Apparently, they have several prototypes and this is just one.  And NASA has been working on developing an air traffic control system for drones and vehicles like these.  It seems like a lot of great minds are trying to make this a reality and figure out what it would take to do it safely.  To me, this is part of why education matters – to give us the tools to make our wildest dreams come true.  And it’s why I really balk when they decide to cut education funding  – I really want a future with flying cars.  Oh, and an educated population, too.

How I know Essential Oils are going mainstream…Walmart

594617844-yes_theres_an_essential_oil_water_bottleToday I found out that they are selling Young Living Essential Oils on Walmart’s website from one of my Facebook groups.  I’m part of several Facebook groups that support further education in essential oils and several people were stunned by this, especially those that were Young Living distributors.  I guess it’s kind of strange to them that a big corporation is stepping out with a product that is MLM (small business)-based.

I know a lot of people seem to be anti-MLM, but I’m not.  I think a lot of people are worried they are pyramid schemes and that somehow they will be swindeled, but MLMs are not that.  Pyramid schemes happen when there is no product of inherent value.  And hey, I really value my essential oils and my lularoe leggings!

After doing some research, I’ve come to realize that MLMs are actually a big way in which the small guy can make it big and where a number of the new millionaires in America today come from.  Watch The Rise of the Entrepreneur for more information about MLMs.  The truth is, it’s really expensive to start your own business with rent, facilities costs, advertising, marketing, customer service, making your product, shipping, etc.  MLMs help small business owners grow by giving them essential support in the marketplace and great products to sell.  It’s also a great way to shop small business and benefit those around you in your community.

I’ve seen Young Living products on Amazon and Ebay, as well, which is interesting to me since Members/Distributors aren’t allowed to sell on auction sites.  The essential oils Distributors sell come directly from Young Living.  There have been several reports of people getting bottles from auction sites that have been adulterated and Young Living can’t ensure that those oils are pure.  So, if you’re buying from a third-party – buyer beware.

As I’ve waded through sites like Ebay and Amazon, and now Walmart, I’ve noticed that sacred frankincensethe prices are variable, as well.  When I looked at Walmart’s website, I noticed that there was a company called AMI Ventures that was selling a 5 ml bottle of Young Living Sacred Frankincense Essential Oil for $58.00.  Young Living sells the same bottle of essential oil for $55.29 retail and $42.25 wholesale.  And getting the Young Living wholesale prices is easy.  Members get the wholesale price by ordering a $160 Starter Kit without having to buy anything else ever again.  If you’re interested (and want to support my family business)  you can get your Starter Kit here:

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-start?sponsorid=1940873&enrollerid=1940873&isocountrycode=US&culture=en-US&type=member

 

Starter Kit

I also found a Young Essential Stress Away Essential Oil Roll-On by the same company on the Walmart stress away roll onsite for $45.28.  It’s $37.83 retail and $28.75 wholesale on the Young Living website.  And to be fair, I found several third party sellers who were selling their Young Living Essential Oils for a little over the wholesale price.  I’m not sure what’s going on there.  Probably the same thing as on Ebay and Amazon with third-party sellers and there’s no guarantee of what’s actually in the bottle.

My advice is – support small business, order through your local Young Living Distributor so that you know the oils you are receiving are the real deal without any dangerous or allergic reaction inducing fillers in them.  Young Living Distributors provide an educational support structure for you, so that you can learn more about using essential oils and essential oil products in a way that will get rid of toxic yuck in your life and lead you and your family down the path of wellness.  And you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ll be supporting a kid’s piano lessons or a family becoming financially free rather than adding to the bonus of a corporate CEO.

Done

pete and bella

This was going to be a very different post.  It was going to be all about going to a college open house with my second daughter and the college admissions process and how it’s different for each child and how to navigate it…blah…blah…blah.  But in the process of helping my daughter become more prepared for the rigors of life and discover her dreams, it got a little exhausting.  It’s not an uncommon thing for any parent.  And for a single parent or acting single parent because of military or travelling spouses, it’s double the fun.

Before I start with my story, I want to say – I am hugely blessed.  I am grateful for everything I have and my kids are pretty great, too.  So here we go.

This weekend we were going to a college open house of a college my middle daughter is interested in.  Her older sister also happens to go to this college, as well, so we could go give her a visit, as well.  Hooray!  After talking to my oldest daughter who was willing to take our dog for a walk while we went into some indoor portions of the open house, we decided to take our dog.

Last night, I was already tired from working all week.  Then I packed and actually briefly got to attend a friend’s essential oil party to support her with my youngest son.  We had to wait on my middle daughter because she was closing at her job and so we didn’t leave until a little after 11 p.m.  I drove around 3 hours to get to our hotel so that everyone else could sleep.  I crashed as soon as we got to the hotel.  We had to wake up a few hours later to attend the open house.

My oldest daughter did not answer her phone after many calls and texts, so we had to wrangle the dog through a huge crowd and opening ceremony.  It was stressful on all of us.  A few hours later, my oldest daughter texted and asked if we still needed help.  I said yes and we joined up with her.  She was able to take our dog away from the crowd and my youngest wanted to go with her, too.

We finished the tour we were on about 20 minutes after that and walked through the student center and bookstore for a little before going to get everyone to take them to lunch.  My middle daughter wanted garlic bread, so she suggested Mellow Mushroom.

Why am I writing in such a robotic way?  Because I am exhausted, but still  hopped up on the  sugar and caffeine and peppermint I took to help me drive home.  But there’s more story to tell.

When we were in the restaurant and I had just given my oldest daughter a gift and money while we were enjoying a nice meal, the snark began.  My oldest daughter was sharing that she had read my blog and *gasp* I talked about them sometimes in it.  As if they were actually part of my life and experience or something.  It was actually pretty lighthearted at first and I let it roll off of my back as I do with most of their ribbing, but as I stretched myself and became more exhausted, I grew pretty irritated.

Everybody fell asleep on the way back, so I was again left to do all the driving by myself.  I had some time to think and it reminded me about the million little things I did to get them to where they were and to do special things for them like this day.  To the point of exhaustion.  I could have slept in today and read or gone to the beach or had lunch with friends or get a mani-pedi or…a million other things – you get the point.  And believe me, as soon as this sugar-caffeine-peppermint mixture wears off, I’m going to crash.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love doing it and I love them.  But at the same time, being a parent is exhausting and thankless most days, doing it alone even more so.  One person to be the stop gap of a village?  It’s a miracle for sure.  I exhausted myself, spent my money on them and what did I get in return? -they made fun of me and my writing.

And as I watched them adorably sleep in the car – sure, I had that moment of aww, that’s adorable, but then I also had a moment of wow – I wish that was me right now!  I wish that someone would drive me awesome places  and let me sleep on the way and take me on amazing vacations and all I had to do was pack and remember to carry my luggage.  I wish someone would take me out to eat and give me gifts and money just because they loved me.  And then pay all the bills while food and clean clothes magically appeared. And then put oils in my diffuser at night and rub my back and sing me to sleep.  Yeah, I’d pretty much fall madly in love with that person.

So I’m going to go crash now, so I can do more awesome adulting tomorrow, but for today – I’m done.

 

 

How Essential Oils Saved my Family Vacation

family vacation

Last week I went on an amazing and memorable vacation with my family. Even my parents and my brother went along when I invited them to go on my first cruise ever. It was a 5-day cruise to Mexico where we snorkeled in the ocean and saw sea turtles and fish and swam with dolphins among other things. But from the very beginning, we were struck with one health problem after another.

The night before we were going to leave, my son was really worn out from travelling and his allergies and I noticed he seemed a bit warm.  I was really concerned about going on a boat with him if he was feeling sick, so I diffused Thieves Essential Oil and put peppermint essential oil on his feet and forehead, along with a little acetaminophen before bed.  We took him to the urgent care the next morning to see if we were dealing with anything serious.  He didn’t have a temperature, so they told us to take it easy since he was still dealing with a cough which had originally stemmed from his allergies.

Since I knew that cruise ships can sometimes be an incubator, we brought our diffuser into our cabin, which made our room smell like we were in a spa, as we diffused Thieves to keep away cruise crud, Lavender for relaxation, and orange just because it smells awesome, a mix of the allergy trio for our season allergies (Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint) and Eucalyptus at different times throughout the trip.

On our first day out to sea, we ran into a storm and the rocking of the boat made my middle daughter seasick.  I immediately put Peppermint Essential Oil under her nose and around her ears.  Then I put it on her neck and chest and the soles of her feet.  She started feeling better almost immediately and was able to deal with the rocking of the ship with a little help from our Peppermint friend for the rest of our trip.

family dolphin

I realized that I had brought my oils and diffuser along on this trip almost as a natural instinct to help support my families’ wellness.  They are such an everyday part of our lives now and enrich them so much that I really don’t want my family or loved ones to be without them.  So if I’m going on and on about them and how we use them for a little bit, please excuse me. (Sorry Mom and Dad!)  As I’m learning more about them and they are working to support my family lead a healthier and happier and awesome smelling life, while getting yuck and toxins out of our life, I get a little excited sometimes. It’s like – holy cow this is really working without any bad side effects and we smell awesome too!

So I continued with our oils for the rest of the trip and we had an amazing and deeply relaxing time. We brought the spa with us and then we took it back home with us from our vacation. I would say that our must haves for our family vacation were:

  • Peppermint – This oil will wake you up and get you moving.  We’ve used it to clear sinuses, headaches, allergies, sea sickness and bringing down fevers.  It’s a little tingly on your skin, so it’s nice to use on tired muscles, too.
  • Thieves – This is a great cleaner and air purifier.  We use it religiously around cold and flu season.
  • Lavender – Hello swiss army knife of essential oils.  On vacation, we use it primarily for relaxation, but it can be used for bug bites and mixed with the allergy trio, as well.
  • Lemon – We used as part of the allergy trio, but it can be used in moisturizer for teens prone to acne and in shampoo to help make your hair shiny.
  • Eucalyptus Radiata – My go to for better breathing, especially when the air is dry or your throat is and you are getting over allergies or a cold.
  • Tea Tree – Love this for acne care, but it’s good for bug bites, too.

I did actually bring  a few more like Endoflex to help support my thyroid (I have Grave’s disease).  I limited myself because of packing space, however.  There are so many lovely choices. And fair warning, I am a Young Living distributor, so I have the mad hook-up to  the best and purest oils in the world.  Check it out at www.youngliving.com.

And if you want to support my family business and your families’ health, contact me and I’ll hook you up with some learning and information and some oily goodness.  Here’s my personal link to order:

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-start?sponsorid=1940873&enrollerid=1940873&isocountrycode=US&culture=en-US&type=member

In the end, though, I was just grateful that I had the tools to get us through and to help us all create wonderful memories together as a family.  Planning my next cruise now…

turtle

 

 

Dear Mom with the Messy Bun

bunI see you.  And you are magnificent.  You’re standing there trying to herd your children away from certain death – no make up, lop-sided messy bun like maybe you had slept on it?, yoga pants, t-shirt with a stain just poking out from the long cardigan you are wearing because it’s chilly today, no earrings or rings or necklaces – all while just trying to get a few groceries so your family doesn’t starve to death.

Some people would call you a hot mess, but I see the vibrant, thankless work you are doing in raising human beings and it is stunning beauty.  You see, I know you are in the thick of the battle, dancing on the edge with fate, working on little sleep, and still working it even when it’s boring and exhausting and sometimes, downright scary. Remember the croup?

You push through all this past yourself because you are a visionary and something deep within you catches a glimpse of those tiny curls someday towering over you with great confidence and ability.  Doing things that you taught them.  Changing the world and bringing hope.  Yeah, yeah, but, in the meantime, you have to focus on singing the birthday song while they wash their hands, so you don’t have to take one more sick day and can save enough money for their college education.

But here’s the thing. Please don’t disappear. We need you too. I know the world you dance in now is fascinating and overwhelming and amazing and a priority. But I want you to remember that you are someone’s child, too.  And they had hopes and dreams for you, too. Please take the time to dream again. And, hey, we’d like to talk to you a little about it.

It’s really, really okay to take a break no matter how much the critics will toss around your parenting credentials.  Remember, they are not the ones in the fight on the ground doing the work. Nod and smile. Nod and smile. Learn to say yes to your children (and spouse) as much as you can and no to everyone else as much as you can.

I love that you can let your hair down by putting it up and out of the way so that you can get umm, stuff done.  It’s your getting down to business hair. Back to basics without all the trappings of womanhood that the advertisers say we need.  We can play with that later, but now – now it’s getting real.

And so, as I see your bun walking off into the distance with both hands clutching two little ones – melting back into the world again, I say a prayer for you. That you know you are enough. And that you get enough sleep tonight.

 

After the fire

This was my house last June:

house-fire-1

It was struck by lightning during a crazy storm in Wake County.  Mine wasn’t the only home that was affected.  The story below outlines the chaos of the storm that night.

http://abc11.com/weather/wild-weather-sparks-fires-headaches-across-central-nc/1387732/

We were lucky.  There was no one in the house that night except the cat and the guinea pigs.  And I arrived back in time to tell the fire fighters who gallantly saved them while the cat ran out of the front door.  My kids were with their dads and I was out to dinner with a friend.  I came back to see my street lined with a row of fire trucks.  This had never happened in my neighborhood before – except a fire truck coming as part of a medical emergency once.

I was curious, at first, but then as I slowly realized that it was MY house that was on fire, I went into shock mode.  When I go into shock mode, I get super practical and action oriented.  My emotions seem to shut off and, apparently, I try to figure out everything that needs to be done.  My boss laughed at me because I called her and very calmly said – so my house is on fire.  I may not be in tomorrow, but they did save my laptop!  I called my parents and others, as well.  And figured out next steps from the fire fighters and my friends and neighbors.

We pulled up behind the firetrucks and started to give them information.  They saved the guinea pigs, the cat and my work laptop.  They were certain it was a lightning strike, but had to wait for the official investigation.  They were great about walking with me into the house several hours later to get some special stuff before locking everything up and condemning the place.  The fire fighters were amazing and supportive.

My neighbor had been in his garage when the fire started after a lightning strike and his son took a video of the fire starting while he dialed 911.  He and the quick response of the fire department are probably what kept the whole house from burning down.  What I found out later, though, is that even though only part of the house was actually burned, there was extensive smoke and water damage throughout the whole home, so we lost a lot of things just because of that.

For that day, and for many months after, I was in crisis mode just taking care of my family and our basic needs.  It’s really funny, though.  I kept thinking, wow, this is a big disaster, I should be really upset.  But I wasn’t.  To me, it was a time of great blessing and renewal.  And believe me, even as I type this, I realize how crazy it sounds.  But, really, it was a time where God truly showed his face to me and how amazing he could really be.  That he truly has greater plans for me than even I could imagine!

My friends had me spend the night at their house for several nights.  My parents came down to help with the clean up and to have fun with the kids, which lightened my load and brought us all closer.  My oldest, college-aged daughter, Amelia brought her sisters shopping for clothes and basics and they all bonded together and comforted each other – and me.    My church’s youth group gathered around my children – offering love and emotional support and clothes and sleepovers and pool parties and fun.  My co-workers offered financial help, food, fun and support.  The youth and adults of my church helped me clean out the house (which we had rented) and salvage anything we could.  My landlord graciously let me get everything out of the house and returned my security deposit and a month’s rent.  My friends and family had fundraisers and contributed to my GoFundMe page.  I had an old friend who was a roommate of mine when I worked in London and was in my first wedding, contact me, and say she wanted to help.  We worked through her charity – Father’s Hands (please support them on Amazon Smile!) – and I was able to get school supplies for all of my kids.  Through a church member, the Soroptimist of Raleigh chapter gave us a financial donation to help us get back on our feet and Dress for Success Raleigh helped me with some work clothes, since much of my wardrobe had been wiped out.  We even got some free bath bombs from the employees at our local Lush store in Raleigh and essential oils from my Young Living friend, Lara, which made us giggle with joy because God knows how to delight us even with the little things.

I am certain that I’m forgetting something because we were surrounded by so much grace, but it was truly a whirlwind.  While all of this was going on, I was working hard at my job, as well.  And it is only now, almost 8 months later, that I am starting to be able to really slow down and get out of that crisis survival mode and really starting growing again.

A lot of things were pushed to the side during that crisis mode.  I stopped writing here for one.  I had to push aside my Young Living Essential Oils business to the side and am only now getting back to it.  I had been really working out and working on my diet and am now taking baby steps there again.  So I learned there is a time for everything.  And sometimes we just have to sit back and bask in the blessings and the unexpected lessons that come across our path in times of “crisis.”

Now, we are renting a beautiful home in a beautiful place that seemed to become available by some miracle exactly when we needed it.  My kids are all doing well academically (and some like my straight-A Gracie are excelling), physically and emotionally.  Our cat did run away again, but now we have the best dog in the world Bella.  I have a great job with the flexibility to take care of my family well.  And this crisis has made me closer to some wonderful people.

So, why am I writing about all of this, besides just reminding myself how blessed I am and how far we’ve come?  I realized that the thing that stops most of us is lack of hope.  I prayed my way through this.  The load was far too great for me alone.  So I said – God, I need your help.  I am old.  I am tired.  I don’t have a husband to help me.  I feel so alone here.  But I know that I’m not.  I know that you are with me.  That I am your child.  That I am a child of the King – so I am royalty.  And what does royalty do?  (The good ones anyway.)  They make sure that everyone is taken care of.  They take action.

So I took one step and then the next.  I took it day by day.  I accepted the gifts, the knowledge, the love – knowing that it’s not over yet.  There’s more work to be done.  But he is always with me.  I’ve seen it.  I see it in the eyes and hands and hearts of the people around me every day.  And the gift of the fire?  I don’t need a lot of things.  Things can weigh you down.  It is good to be purified and let all of the things that are holding you back burn and fall away.  And you don’t have to be afraid.  There’s hope in front of you – and faith and love.  We are not done yet.  I am not done yet.  I’m sure I will walk through the fire again.  But this time with great love and purpose.

 

 

Prince

Little Prince

An illustration of Prince as “The Little Prince.”

I think I have been mourning Prince’s death on April 21 of this year and am finally just coming to terms with it, or at least talking a little more about it rather than just playing his music over and over again with, let’s face it, very little repetition because he was so prolific.  I don’t know what to write about Prince and his death that won’t already have been written.  I knew the day he died at age 57.  And I find it strange that I’m still in mourning.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the shock of his sudden death, though. Several people who were near and dear to me have died over the past couple of years, and they’ve died far too young, including my father’s younger brother, my Uncle Bill, this past summer.  And it seems that they all died without warning.  It’s making me face my mortality at a time when I should still be teetering between the excesses of youth and old age and having some sort of mid-life crisis.  David Bowie dying earlier this year really affected me too, but Prince, not Prince please!

I just don’t know what to do with myself.  I have grown into the woman I am today with the soundtrack of Prince throughout my life.  I was first introduced to his music by a high school boyfriend and it provided great make out music in my youth.  Beyond that, some days I would dance with joy to his music and celebrate life with passion and some days I would sit and listen to the lyrics of songs like Sometimes it Snows in April, and weep.

I was listening to that song the other day when I realized that he died in April and I couldn’t stop the sobs from shaking me.  The first time I heard that song, I was on the cusp of going to college and being out in the world by myself for the first time.  I cried then, too, but it was a gentle cry with a Demi Moore-like tear.  And it makes me wonder at how emotion resonates and grows deeper and more complex across the years because now the cry was a solid, deep, shaking ugly cry.  Great music, great books, and great art is like that.

And after this year and last, I am beginning to think that musicians have some sort of psychic ability to foresee their parting from this world – what with David Bowie’s last video – Lazarus – and then that song by Prince.  But the truth is – the great artists lay out the truth in their art – bone bare.  And the truth is that death comes to us all.  No one escapes it.  It is not elegant or charming.  It just is.

And our choice is whether we want to stop or keep going – and, hopefully, keep going like them – diving into life and everything it has to offer and offering all of our gifts up to the world.  I’m not sure what I have to offer.  I can’t play the many, many instruments that Prince could play or write my own music or lyrics.  And you probably don’t want me to even attempt his moves.  But I can give what is me.

princeandme

Prince and I at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So instead of sitting around crying to Prince songs, when I had the chance to visit some friends in Cleveland, Ohio, I decided to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to visit his memorial.  It wasn’t very big.  The docents or volunteers or groupies or whatever they call them said that most of Prince’s paraphernalia is at Paisley Park and being closely guarded by the family right now.  I understand that.  They must still be in shock at his sudden death.  It was still amazing to see his memorial and listen to his music and video and see his signature when he was inducted.  And to realize how he touched and influenced so many other artists because his voice was so unique and unexpected.

Maybe I’m panicked because I still feel like I’m a work in progress and I have soooo much to do.  Maybe I’m mourning because I still need to hear the deep, dark, dirty, bone bare Prince truth again and I want to be amazed by the new music he might have been creating and have it wash over me with wave after wave of cruel emotion and dancing thoughts.

So I think the best thing I can do to honor him is to tell the truth myself.  To just be me.  And to reach out to the world with what I can give.  What an incredible act of love it is to be creative and open yourself to the world – thank you so much Prince.  May God bless you and keep you close to him.  And I’d like to believe that there is one more amazing concert to go to in heaven.  But I’ll still miss you here on earth.

Giving “The (Sex) Talk”

the-talk

I was thinking today about how lost I was as a newbie parent about having “The Talk” with my kids. I think this topic is a tough one for most parents. It’s hard to just suck it up and realize that your babies are actually growing up and might wander into this sex business someday.

My “Sex Ed” consisted of mostly what I learned from school in the 5th and 7th grade, an anatomy book, and a brief talk about waiting until marriage. The rest of my knowledge about my own sexuality came from my friends, reading and daydreams.

So when it came time to give my kids the talk, I was a little at a loss. I wasn’t really sure where to start. I thought about it and decided to start with an American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You:  The Body Book for Girls about the care of their changing bodies.

Then we had a talk about how babies are made along with a cool anatomy book. They have all seen me pregnant, so it was a natural extension of what was going on in real life. We went over what they were learning in school. In our school district, they sort of re-visit sex education every few years. And I just keep talking to them about their feelings and what they are going through as they get older and older.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I could add to the conversation that books and their classes at school couldn’t provide. But the more I kept the conversation open, I realized what they needed from me as a parent is my wisdom and moral compass. And really, just to know that I was there for them when and if they messed up.

So, we started talking about the internal and external pressures about sex and their bodies. I said that sometimes we confused love and physical affection, and that that was totally understandable because physical affection is awesome. We are wired for touch and procreation. And we are big huggers and kissers and snugglers in my family.

I think going against our natures and what God built us for is cruel and unusual and just plain wrong. That being said, there are natural consequences for every choice we make – pregnancy, STDs, broken hearts – the list goes on and on. And, as a caring parent, I really don’t want my kids to go through any of those things.  I want them to wait until they are with someone who loves them and respects them and will stick around through anything.  And I told them that this kind of relationship takes awhile to create.

So what we can do, what I am trying my best to do, is to explain how this mix of emotions, hormones and new experiences works and how to navigate it. And to be open and calm about any individual questions I receive. (Note to self: Try to do better at this, don’t freak out and *BREATHE*) After all, we each have our unique journey.

Wait a second. I’ve just realized that I still have to give my only boy “the talk” in a few years. Darn, just when you think you are on top of things! Wish me luck!