It UGLY and we ignore it.
We choose to.
Because we can.
We live in a place that works hard to "GET RID OF" the problem.
We live in a place that works hard to keep the homeless man off the street....so we don't have to be REMINDED.
Some don't want THAT reality staring them in the face while they are trying to get a latte'.
Maybe it is the fear. Poeple fear what they don't understand.
All the while most of us are 1 or 2 paychecks away from the life of THAT man.
Most Americans cannot wrap their minds around true poverty.
The kind that is HEAVY with despair and pain.
The kind that SUFFOCATES people.
The kind that keeps SHACKLES around feet that are already covered in MUD.
The kind that FORCES a Mother to GIVE UP her child to and orphanage...so the child will LIVE.
The kind that FORCES a woman to sell her body so that she can EAT mud biscuits.
Most cannot UNDERSTAND because they have never looked into the EYES of a poverty-stricken child....outside of a infomercial.
People are SMUG. They are PRIDEFUL.
Because they want to think that something LIKE THAT could NEVER happen to us in the good ole' USA.
It can and will...someday.
In the meantime .....we need to EXPOSE ourselves to the TRUTH.
Its UGLY....but it's THERE.
It can't be ignored.
God wants us to help those that are in need.
We are called to help those who need help.
We need to be cleansed.
We need to let HIM wash away all the misconceptions and lies thet permeate our thoughts about POVERTY.
We need to let go of GREED and loosen our hands of our TIME and MONEY.
No more sitting back and saying...
next month I'll send that donation.
No more sitting back and saying...
next time Ill give that man a dollar.
Because tommorow is never promised.
You never know when you will find YOURSELF in invisible shackles that hold you down.
So I am calling you today to open your hearts.
Spread the LOVE.......
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
My life has been a series of twists and turns.
I grew up with a typical upper middle class American upbringing.
And had tons of typical middle class American teenage fun… too much actually.
Solo much “fun” that when I came face to face with myself at 21….I didn’t recognize WHO I WAS.
I had seen the inside of too many smoky rooms.
Been on the wrong side of too many decisions.
Had to sit and think to remember too many nights.
Lived too much for any girl.
I had the time of my life and then that life had no more time.
I was confronted by God….and had no choice but to change.
From outside to within…..everything about me changed.
I decided that my life basically needed to be devoted ONLY to my faith.
I had no more time for anything but TRUTH.
Because I had been lying.
I decided that everything in my life had to have a purpose….if it wasn’t completely TRUE and honest….I was not participating.
That was at 21.
I spent most of the next year traveling in Costa Rica. I loved it. I was in love and was being true to myself and God.
But…my views were wound pretty tight. Air tight actually.
Then we started having kids and held strong to our beliefs. They never have had Santa come visit them, never gotten money from the “tooth fairy”, never gotten an Easter basket, and never participated in Halloween.
Believe me…..they are not upset.
It has been their life.
They are used to it.
They never HAD IT….so they know NO DIFFERENCE.
I have spent the last 13 years teaching them what I know as TRUTH about holidays and the reasons behind them.
I realize that MOST PEOPLE celebrate these holidays with fun and love in their hearts.
But MY JOURNEY took me the long way around. I felt like everything but TRUTH had to be stripped away from my life….
which left no room for fat men flying EVERYWHERE delivering presents in 1 night.
It left no room for cute bunnies who lay eggs or fairies delivering money.
It just didn’t….
So my children never experienced that.
They experienced things like Rastafari’s Birthday, and learning about the solstices, candy sales after Halloween, and the truth BEHIND the holidays.
TONS OF FUN RIGHT?
Then over the past few years….
something started to happen.
I started to realize that they pretty much KNEW all the things that I wanted to teach them about the holidays.
I KNEW that they were not fooled and that they would not run and REVEAL the holiday secrets to any babies…i.e...Santa.
So….slowly we have started to add some of the holiday “stuff” back into our lives.
The last few years we have had dinner for Christmas with family
the kids have gotten Christmas gifts from Grandparents
they have gotten cards on all holidays from loving family….
But never have we had a “Christmas morning” experience.
Then we decided that we were comfortable with the whole thing…we were going to Texas for Christmas with my family.
Like…..they are STILL asking me if we are REALLY coming! LOL
And we are….I am finally comfortable with that.
I feel like the kids can handle it. They know that their faith is different…and Christ probably wasn’t born in December.
And he DEFINITELY didn’t have a bunch of STUFF.
So…its cool now.
We can move on…
Halloween was something that they never experienced either….BUT.. they have seen the “Truth about Halloween”special on the History Channel every year they can remember.
After feeling my life unwind and loosen a bit….
We are going trick-or-treating.
We are stepping out of our “Comfy Zone”…
We are stepping BACK IN …a little.
We are testing the waters.
I feel so brave and rebellious.
Just like the old days….
Monday, October 28, 2013
She has begun doing this lately.....
putting her "'foot down".
For no reason really...I mean what does an 8 year old have to "put her foot down" about really?
Nothing...she just doesn't KNOW THAT YET.
She just wants to make a stand.
She wants to be heard.
She wants to stand her ground....even when her ground is shaky as SHIT.
Its something IN HER.....
I can see the strength in her eyes.
She has a hard time backing down...in that moment.
The other day she was supposed to be cleaning her room....
But, you see,....she is the baby of the family.
For her WHOLE LIFE she has been given a little "leeway".
She has been picked up after, carried(literally), and "babied" her entire existence.
But...we have only done that because ....- she only hated INSIDE CHORES.
She would rather be on the roof helping jay, or raking, or hauling wood.
So....I folded her clothes and put up her laundry
I admit it..
I did it fore her.
I figured that she was a HARD WORKER...just not as domestic in the "laundry area".
But lately.....she has been just plain REFUSING to help her sister clean up their room.
She will lay around, look at a book, or SLOWLY walk around and act as if she has NO IDEA what needs to be done.
Like..."WHO ARE YOU?? And what have you done with my sweet daughter??" Infuriating. UGH.
Which is what I was thinking when I walked into her room and ALL HER CLOTHES were still on the floor after Shasha had already cleaned up everything else ...just not HER SISTERS CLOTHES.
REALLY? I asked her 15 times...at least.
She looked at me with a blank look...kinda like a deer in headlights.
"You have to clean this up. You have to stay IN HERE till you have every bit cleaned up. By yourself." I said, very calmly.
And then she looked at me calmly with determination seeping from her tiny pores and said, "I guess I'll be in her the rest of my LIFE."
It was in that moment I didn't know whether to shake her or hug her.
She was so brave and disobedient.
I know I'm not supposed to love that ....
I love it because I know that this girl is a fighter....one day she will stand her ground...
She has will and determination ...and a pretty smile.
Who are we kidding?
There is no stopping her...no matter..
Maybe if I guide her in the right direction and teach her to love the truth...
Maybe if I mold her to love GOD with all her heart....
Maybe if I can teach her to shine her light brightly on injustice....
Maybe if I can show her that love is stronger than hate....
Maybe...all the time I spent letting her "practice" will be worth it.
Praying that one day....
she will stand for something worthwhile.
Until then...I will laugh and let her "cut her teeth" on things like laundry and schoolwork, all the while thinking, "Stand strong baby girl ...Stand Strong. One day you will change the world."
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
When you become a parent you can convince yourself of ANYTHING ….I believe it is self preservation.
I always “saw” myself (in my mind) as this easy going, lackadaisical, non confrontational parent.
I had visions of me TOTALLY relaxed, school everyday at the beach, never spanking…and NEVER, EVER raising my voice or yelling.
Because…..I would be under control, patient, loving, kind, and CALM at all times.
Life is hilarious.
I guess in my mind I always thought that with children those traits would naturally APPEAR in me.
Who was I kidding?
If I have learned 1,754,420 things since starting to
lose my mind having kids…it is this.
I know NOTHING.
I never know where life lessons will come from.
After being pregnant 4 times, nursing for 8 years, changing countless diapers,refereeing unthought-of of arguments, dealing with sibling rivalry, homeschooling for 8 years, dealing with a teenager, a preteen, a tween, and an 8 year old who thinks she is a preteen(like her sister)and 2 “sex talks”(so far…YIKES!!!)….
I STILL only know SLIGHTLY more than nothing.
Because …Now I KNOW that I know nothing.
This all came to me very clearly the other day during school.
During the morning…while they are doing their journaling or drawing…we listen to music.
Generally we alternate and everyone picks a song.
It always brings in the perfect amount of fun to the morning. Although to the neighbors …I'm SURE that our schoolroom seems completely bi-polar.
We go from…
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Countless other POP singers that I cant remember.
It is always a lesson for me in ACCEPTANCE.
It takes everything I have to ACCEPT that they like POP MUSIC more than REGGAE.
GASP! (Yet another thing I never saw coming.)
As they have gotten older…..I have actually embraced this as an opportunity to get to know them better. I feel like if I listen to what they like WITH THEM…maybe they will listen to ME more.ILLOGICAL…I know. I try to really listen to songs with them. We break them down word for word sometimes, we analyze the meanings of the lines….which they LOVE. Not.
Imagine me deciphering “Royals” by Lorde for them…
They LOVE it…LOL.
I'm sure they think it takes all the “fun” out of it.
I think that the words matter.
I think that music should SAY something.
Sometimes today…POP MUSIC doesn’t SAY anything.
ESPECIALLY for girls.
Most of the time it is all about GIVING yourself away, talking bad about someone else, or wanting something you cant have.
In the end….making you feel inadequate.
BUT…every once in a while I come across a song that I TRULY LOVE.
A song that SEEPS with encouragement, INSPIRATION, and energy. A song that LIFTS you up with words.
THAT SONG right now is “ROAR” by Katy Perry.
She is pretty amazing though….if you can see past the boob cupcakes she has worn before.
As we watched the video the other day I talked to Shasha and Sheba about how she is so pretty…but being FUNNY makes her even PRETTIER.
We talked about how she has pretty hair, and clothes, and make up…but the prettiest asset she has…
is the ability to laugh at herself.
THAT is where her TRUE beauty lies.
That is where the REAL DIAMONDS are….gleaming thru in her sense of humor.
I tried to tell them that when you can laugh at yourself and be funny…..your TRUE beauty shines thru.
And then it hit me once again….
You NEVER know.
You never know WHO or WHAT or in WHAT form your life lessons will come.
Sometimes they come in the form of Katy Perry….in the jungle, roaring at a tiger, brushing an elephants teeth.
Monday, September 16, 2013
In the faith of rastafari -there are many different "kinds" of Rastas.
Some are more strict than others, some are more lenient, customs can be different in different places, or for different people....
Not very different from the "denominations" of Christianity.
In Jamaica, up in the hills, there is a group of Rastas called "BoBos" ..
They are VERY natural, VERY much on the outsides of society.
Well one of their customs is that when a woman is on her "cycle", she must retire to a "red room"...
She is FORBIDDEN to cook for anyone, come out of the room, or even be around the men, for fear her negative "vibes" would taint anyone around her.
I WISH I HAD A RED ROOM!!!!!
I told Jason that I need one of these.
I need somewhere I can go and noone has to be around me.
I dont even want to be around myself at these times.
PMS can make me a Mommy that yells and dosent have patience.
PMS makes me a wife that dosent want to clean or cook ANYTHING!!!!
PMS makes me feel like I have electricity under my skin.
I NEED A RED ROOM!!!!
The trouble is ...I dont WANT to NEED a red room.
I want to be patient, kind and CLEAN, the WHOLE month long!!
So say a little prayer for me tonight...
Pray that tommorow when I wake up- I will not WANT a red room.
Pray that my kids get something besides Pop-tarts tommorow morning for breakfast….
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Last week was ......
I know that he has a hard time concentrating.
I know that he spends more time reading that he has to on math.
I know when he needs a break and when we need to push on.
Everyone was very excited and happy for him.
"How was your day babe?"
"Eh." he said with a heaviness in his voice.
"What do you mean. "Eh?" I said.
He just sat there and stared at the rain that was so fittingly pouring on the windshield.
"I don't know Mom. I don't know."
I pryed and pryed.
I asked and begged...
He wasn't talking.
We drove all the way home with me asking and him shutting me down.
When we pulled in the driveway he got out and walked right past his Dad.
Jay looked at me with a puzzled look....
"Whats wrong with HIM? Bad day?"
I just shrugged and followed him inside.
He sat and stared at his TV for the next hour while I wondered what happened?
A while later I left to take the girls to dance...giving him instructions to start on his 3 hours of homework(WTF???) after I left.
He nodded and said nothing.
By the time I came back an hour and a half later he was in the schoolroom with Jay CRYING.
He was asking to come back home.
In the end ......
after hours of talking and discussing..
We decided that this was not the best option for us.
We decided that if we honored him when he wanted to GO...we needed to honor him when he decided to come home.
In the end...
It feels right to have him HERE.
It feels good to know that he went out there....
and CHOSE to come back.
Never mind the chaotic classrooms...
Never mind the 3 hours of homework...
Never mind the "problem" kids...
Never mind the wrench it threw in the schedule...
NONE of that was the CORE of the issue....
The CORE of the issue for me was this....
I want them to be prepared for the world, but I don't want them to be "of this world".
I want them to be comfortable with themselves.
Comfortable enough to come to us and say, "This is not right for me."
I want them to know that we listen, we hear, we trust them.
Enough to HEAR them when they speak....no matter if they are 3, 13, or 33.
We will listen.
We will HEAR.
Friday, July 19, 2013
I look at parenting like I am building a soul.
I take what God has entrusted to me and TRY to help them walk their journey.
Wherever that takes them.
As mine grow we are facing different obstacles now.
Life in the first world for a pre teen is a landmine of decisions and choices.
I am constantly saying, “I need YOU to make better choices.”
Which is funny, because when they are little you don’t think past the diaper changes and the breastfeeding dilemmas.
Hard to imagine a life without whipping out your boob every 20 minutes….
Its hard to imagine these tiny beings …..bigger.
But – it. happens.
They become…right before your eyes.
Its actually painful…like when you get tickled till it hurts.
It’s a love THAT piercing.
And then all the sudden…its 10 years later, your boobs are tightly locked away and your kids are as tall as you….and have bigger feet.
And then …Here we are having to explain WHY you cant text someone 30 times in 30 minutes….it just rude.
WHY you HAVE to wear deodorant EVERY DAY. Seriously. Every day.
staying up late at night to see what all the girls are “talking about” on Instagram. So weird being the “appropriate police”. Teaching them to be nice even when others aren't.
why you should appreciate your friends and family EVERYDAY ….life is short and you never know what tomorrow holds.
That is what happened the other day on the way to dance.
I had Shasha, Sheba and their friend Honour in the car.
They were telling me that Talia Castellano.
I knew who she was because for the past few weeks they had been watching her youtube videos and make up tutorials.
She was a youtube sensation and all the girls LOVED her.
And….she had cancer.
The girls were enthralled with her story.
and then on the way to dance that morning they told me that she had passed.
They were really quiet.
For a good 2 or 3 minutes there was silence.
Then…I started telling them that she was put on this earth for a purpose. God put her here to teach us.
Thru Talia we could learn that life is too short for dumb arguments with your brother or sister.
Thru Talia we could learn that no matter how long your life you can shine and make a difference.
Thru Talia we could learn what it looks like to be brave in the eye of a storm.
Thru Talia we could learn to really LIVE every day.
Thru Talia we learn that you are never to young to TEACH.
It was such a beautiful conversation…..they recognized the reality that she was no longer alive….but her light was still shining.
I think they recognized that thru bravery , kindness, and joy…..your light can never be dimmed, your memory never forgotten, and I think they recognized the importance of EACH DAY.
R.I.P. Talia… you are still teaching.
Monday, July 1, 2013
People ask me one question a lot…
They ask…. “How is it that yall have stayed together soooo long?”
And it always surprises me that in this day and time….
15 years is an ETERNATY.
I mean…it isn’t. REALLY…in the scope of things.
In the days of broken promises, fairy tale expectations, and unrealistic standards….
We have been married “FOREVER”.
In todays world girls are taught to never accept less that 1000% of a mans attention.
We are taught that unless he remembers birthdays, anniversaries, and the day of your first kiss…..he is an ass.
We are fed the lie that he will be perfect. We are told to accept NOTHING LESS. Wait long enough…and he will appear.
I hear women all the time talking to their friends about how “if he wants you…he will PROVE it by…(Insert ANYTHING).
I mean we are taught to be UNFORGIVING and to expect no less than perfection.
We are taught to NEVER …ever ever ever…
Wave a white flag.
We are taught to never SURRENDUR what we WANT…for anyone.
WOMEN FIRST…Ugh. Such a set-up.
It is engrained in our minds from a very young age that marriage and life will be EASY…if you find the “right man”.
The problem with all THAT is:
No one is perfect.
No one will live up to those standards.
No one will ever be “everything” to you.
No one will ever fulfill your every need and want.
The “perfect man” does not exist.
He has never walked the earth.
I mean even Adam was tempted…and flawed.
That is the secret….
the realization that we are ALL FLAWED.
None of us are perfect.
Don’t get me wrong…I am by NO MEANS saying to settle with just ANY MAN.
But if you expect perfection…they will ALL fail you.
ALL MEN are NOT created equal…in a woman's eyes.
What I do mean is… find and pinpoint the things that REALLY MATTER. The things worth “fighting for”. Find the things that are “deal-breakers” and stick to them. But give some leeway in other areas. Learn to wave your proverbial white flag.
Marriage isn't easy and in my opinion:
In order to make a marriage last ….you have to be forgiving.
And be forgiven.
I look at it like this:
There are times in life when you have to fight FOR your life and times when I had to surrender TO IT..
The key to a lasting LOVE and marriage is to know the DIFFRENCE…
and to always carry a white flag.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
It enveloped me so quickly that I almost held my breath.
In that OTHER life, you know…the one I lived BEFORE.
Before I became…
a true wife
a taxi driver
a front yard farmer
and all all around BUSY freakin’ person….
In THAT life I had only 1 thing…
I had the freedom to be completely selfish and do what I wanted..
and believe me…
It was fun…
I drew…things other than rainbows and bows.
I listened to music…without someone saying, “Mom…can we put it on MY station?”
I went where I wanted…when I wanted.
I fed myself…..only.
I only worried about ME.
And I painted….
I painted a lot actually.
Because I had TIME…and FREEDOM.
Then…. like a shell on the edge of the ocean…
THIS LIFE….pulled me in.
It pulled me with a force that I couldn’t fight.
I knew I was going where I was supposed to be.
My resting place.
I surrendered myself to the waves…..
I found God.
I found my soul mate.
I had 4 kids.
I started homeschooling.
I just rode the waves of my life knowing that I was ….BETTER.
I was a TRUER person….I was NOW…who I was supposed to be.
And I am so thankful for that.
I found myself engulfed in all things NOT ME.
I was engulfed in Jays music…
nursing babies and changing diapers
the kids schooling
taking care of the house.
I just accepted that I had LOST certain parts of myself.
I considered it a trade….a FREAKIN BRILLIANT trade.
It was a trade I made because I figured some day…
I could reclaim certain parts of myself.
The parts that were still there…but just buried under responsibilities, bills, work, school, and well….DAILY LIFE.
I figured one day I would pick up a paintbrush again.
And I did….over the last 15 years I have defiantly used my CRAFTY side for gift making and crafts.
But…It had been 15 years since I had taken a brush to a canvas.
And then this year I was trying to think of a “dance teacher” gift for our 3 super awesome Performance Ensemble teachers and I thought….
“Maybe I could paint them a picture. It has been a while but I might be able too.”
So I went to the Art store and bought 3 canvases and some watercolors and some brushes.
Then I found some inspirational ballerina pictures on the net and started painting.
This is what happened….
I felt a bit of myself come back.
I had unlocked something.
I was still in there….
Waiting for my moment.
It was liberating.
And then the most amazing thing happened after I posted the pics on FB and Instagram…..
They started selling.
Like hot cakes they are selling faster than I can paint them.
I have painted and delivered 5 so far and have been commissioned to paint 18 more.
What's even better????
This came at the perfect time.
ALL PROCEEDS ARE GOING TO FURTHER OUR DAUGHTERS DANCE EDUCATION.
Can you say “Best Fundraiser Ever”????
I discovered part of myself again…
I am raising money for the BEST CAUSE EVER…
I always knew the waves of this life would somehow bring me back to my starting place….
Friday, May 31, 2013
Maybe I used to live a life that SEEPED with guilt and unhappiness ….
Maybe I did things that you would NEVER believe……..
Maybe the person I was is a MILLION miles from the person I AM…..
Maybe it feels like I have stolen memories from a faraway land….
Maybe as I have gotten older I have realized that THOSE things make me who I am today….
and at the same time….
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and we were “discussing” someone we both “know”. She was talking about all the things that this girl had done to make my friend not like her.
It was a string of things.
A long list.
One of the things she said was something about something she had done at 17. The girl is 26 or so now.
It really struck me in that moment.
Jeez…I hope people don’t judge me by the things I did when I was 17.
Whoa…..there were a lot of “things” I did I am not proud of.
And for the most part…I don’t know why I did them.
I didn’t come from a terrible background…I had parents who loved me. I went to a good school. I was popular. I had friends.
But for some reason……I was unhappy. I was aching.
At the time it never made sense to me.
Well….Actually- I never thought about it.
It never crossed my mind at 17 to THINK about why I was doing what I was doing.
When I think about it now…
I wanted to rebel….against SOMETHING.
It was my rebel soul stirring. preparing me.
I wanted to rebel against myself, my parents, my friends, but MOSTLY…my all American life. You know the one everyone dreams of???
The life where ….
I live in not 1 but 2 NICE houses, I had a car, loving, devoted parents, a nice school, family and friends.
I wanted to FEEL rebellious.
That neat, tidy life didn’t “fit” me very well. I wanted it to. I put up a good front. I wore a pretty mask. But…it. didn’t. fit.
I understand now that it was just me struggling thru the corners and tunnels of soul. Without even knowing it. I was strengthening myself for THIS LIFE.
I was a rebel in training.
All that rebelling was preparing me for the biggest act of rebellion of all….
Following God and walking IN my faith.
Which is a TOTALLY rebellious thing to do these days.
That life was like SANDPAPER for my soul.
Fine grit sandpaper.
It made me WHO I AM.
That struggle defined me.
That struggle MADE me.
Because after all that debauchery and fun, after all that “rebelling” ...
the true test was when God truly came into my life.
The true test would be finding a balance in my life between who I was and who I was becoming.
And little did I know….all that rebellion and “living” was exactly what I needed to get back to the core of myself.
Back to the “I-n-I”.
That life made me realize that true rebellion happens on the inside…
it happens when….
you LIVE your life to the fullest,
when you stand in your faith,
when you shine your light,
when you help others find theirs.
That is the essence or rebellion.
Sometimes its fine grit and sometimes it is rough grit.
But it is really the GRIT that matters.
As I write this today…I am eternally grateful for that life because as hard as it was…..
It made me.