Sunday, May 27, 2012

LAST POST ON THIS SITE: i'm leaving for wordpress

hi team  grass oil - please adjust your sets. i've moved to wordpress. you can find me even easier at

thank you for your support.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Baaaah. Baaaah. Karma is Not a Bitch; it's a Sheep.

Oh my gawd! 

I mean, I just! RRRarrrarRarrrrgh! Ugh! Someone give me a ... a ... a STICK to break! And then throw at ... at ... something!

I hate it when the life lesson fairy whacks me with her wand. 

she looks so innocent and all "who, me?"-stupid, but
she's bloody brilliant.

Thanks to her (really, me) I have a throbby, rheumy lump the size of a Starbucks Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte (no whip) on the back of my head.

I deserved it. I deserved to get the life lesson fairy smackdown. 

I deserved to have her open her can of "what you said?!" on my smug neediness. 

Uhhhhgh. I think I'm gonna barf. I used "smug" and "neediness" and "my" in the same sentence when referring to myself. (Uhhh... upon reading that on review, I activated my gag reflex; I could go into a huge introspection about why I clearly have issues with vulnerability but I'm not in the mood -- one flaw at a time, please.)

Can't say I didn't see it coming. 

Can't say I didn't make it happen. 

Nope, definitely not Little Bo Peep or Little Miss Muffet on this one. 

I know who I am: I'm the wolf who ate the granny and now I'm wearing her lace bonnet and reading glasses, waiting in her bed under the covers for Little Red Riding Hood. But Red is very smart. And patient. And she won, because the wolf was an ass.

Ok, I'll get to the point: I have a thing about boundaries. Boundaries have literally saved my sanity; I construct them (almost typed "constrict" - no Freudian comeuppance there, huh?) for myself. I like doors. I like fences. I like knocking. I like appointments. I like zones. I like phones. I like boundaries of behavior; I like understandings between people. As for social visits, I don't always do well "Hey, we were in the 'hood and thought we'd swing by!" Mostly because my house is a combo newsstand, cafeteria, study hall, music conservatory, library in the midst of a Dewey Decimal inventory, toy emporium, snack bar, art studio, petting zoo, laundry station and soccer gear depot. And apparently, I only like boundaries for myself because other people aren't allowed to have them. 

Well, that's not entirely true. I mean, I do allow for them and I actually prefer them for other people, regardless of the relationship. In fact, even in this particular situation, I encourage them. It's just that, well, in this particular situation, I apparently like to pretend they are biodegradable; that the ravages of time and emotional bonds will render them null.  

They aren't biodegradable. I don't have a backstage pass. They are real. I see them. I have near-sightedness (clearly!) and I can see the boundaries; I have intuition and I even feel them too.

HOWEVER ... In this particular situation, I did a mental, "Hey look! There's Elvis!" on myself and I turned into a sheep. I knocked over the fence, lightly stepped over its remains (which is in reality already a violation and clearly not a "light" step) and I start nibbling on the nice green ivy and grass humming "mares eat oat and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy..." in my friend's yard.  


Mmmunch.... >tasty! get a little closer< mmmmmunchmmmbaaaah.... >sweet! move in a little closer< mmmmunchmmm baaaaahh >there's some excellent clover over there, right under her feet...< mmmmmmbaaaaah.... and ruh-roh. I bit her toe; right through her butt-kicking boots. 

Don't look up. Don't look up. Avert your eyes and definitely keep chewing. Oh look! A four-leaf clover! I'm gonna need that.

I titled this post "Baaaah. Baaaah. Karma is not a bitch; it's a sheep." Because Karma is not a bitch (in fact, I try not to swear in what I write because while imprecations -look it up!- are colorful, they don't always work in my posts... I digress). Karma is an adult 44-y.o.  sheep with #4A natural brown wool wearing a white t-shirt, a flowered skort, and running shoes. I am the bully sheep today. (I am biting on my upper lip as I type this. Man.... Irony stinks.)

baaaah. don't i look innocent? baaaah.

Bully sheep are insidious. They are real pains in the backside. They are immature. They are what Freud called the "Id" - that child part of us; the one who Wants What I Want and I Want It Right Now and If You Don't Give Me What I Want I'm Going To Make Your Life Uncomfortable and Push You to Be Assertive and Send Me To My Room And Then I'll Be Real Mad At You! I Will! . . . .

Unnnntil the superego comes in and I Figure Out What I Did Wrong. 

The Id. It's insIDious. That was clever! You like that, eh? Come back any time, I'm full of 'em.  

The Ids want their own way. They don't want to hear anything you have to say unless it's: "You're right, I'm wrong. Here's $500." 

Fat chance. 

I have often referred to "bully sheep" as manipulators who act weak and sound weak and use phrases like "you're hurting my feelings" and "but I just wanna..." and "please don't tell me how I hurt you; I can't bear to hear it..." to get their way and crowd out the other person's needs with their bleating so that not only is the other person unheard, but the other person can't BE heard. It's all Charlie Brown adultspeak to the bully sheep. 

Hear me! Baaaah! Baaaaah! 

I mawkishly bleated and bleated and bleated the other day. Baaaah! BAAAAAAAH! CLOVER! BAAAAAAH! So much so, that I genetically transmogrified from sheep to another farm animal: Ass. I'm taller so the view is better, but The Work is hard.  Heehaw. "Eye-ore" of Winnie-the-Pooh lore is an ass. He annoys the bejeesus out of me. I used to work with an Eye-ore. He would walk around with his bow on his tail that was pinned on to his fanny and mope around and "Wull, I gu-ess... I mean ... we cooo-ullld do thaaayut..."and I'd want to put on my harlequin glasses for better aim, pull a hairpin out of my chignon, poke it through the fingers of my leather gloves that I would whisk out of my basket purse and slap him across the back of his head.     

not me, but well, it fits the mood.

It's only fair. Karma bleats. I was in the other position (I will *not* say "victim"; that word's not in my vocabulary, truly) a while ago with another person who was the bully sheep and I opened the can of kick-butt. It's the correct order of things. I get what I deserve. Heehaw. But I'm moving on. I've accepted my position in this and I've learned. Boundaries need to be respected; sheep are not allowed in conversations between human beings and that is that. 

The greatest part of this post, for me, is that I've been wanting to write about bully sheep for a while, but the karmic energy (yeah, I believe in that stuff) was all wrong. I was all finger-pointy at the other people, the other bully sheep, and well, that serves no purpose other than being well, annoying and sorta hypocritical. 

But the life lesson fairy took care of that tout de suite!   

Thank you. (Have a wonnnnnderful Memorial Day weekend!) 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

raffle basket and beans

This just happened about a half hour ago.

I am going to make this brief because if I write too much, I'll spoil the story's natural simplicity.

About a month ago, our elementary school had a fun fair to raise money for the PTA.

I bought roughly, oh, 60,000 euros' worth of raffle tickets.

I put most of them in the spa basket and the others in the "Let's Garden!" basket hoppers.

They say life gives you what you need, not what you want.

I won the gardening basket. Thing 3 (8), loves to garden.

This is good.

I do too, although I prefer mostly the flowery kind of gardening.

I have a small herb garden on our deck in a faux whiskey barrel and we have a small vegetable garden in our backyard; it's about 6 feet by 3 feet in size. While it's modest and quaint, symbolic of a fraction of our interest in doing our thing to grow our own food, the breadwinner and I recently overhauled its soil bed. I were a plant, I'd be thrilled to be in there.

Once our wooden playground, that ubiquitous suburban "family lives here" trophy, goes in a few years, we'll make the garden bigger. But then the kids will be grown and closer then to moving on. It's a decision we've waffled on each spring over the past few years: to speed up their youth and take away their play set which they still use or to let them stay kids for as long as we can. . .  we have determined we are in denial, let life ravage us with time, but we're in no rush. The playground stays.

The Monday following the raffle, I untied the tulle netting nestling the basket to examined my loot. The basket was stuffed to the brim with tools, gloves, starter kits, a lovely glazed outdoor planter, tiny terra cotta pots, stakes, spikes and a sole packet of seeds. I was pretty psyched with my win.

The seeds were for green beans.

Didn't Jack get some magic beans? I looked around, but I didn't see a cow in the basket. No goose either.

The packet of bean seeds (which are just beans, let's be clear about this) had already been opened, I'm guessing by nubby hands, curious about how these things go down or maybe even curiouser about whether they were magic beans.

I looked at the packet, which was dated for germination in 2009, considered it for an instant and cast it aside. I have a green thumb with plants that are already living; the ones that come to me as seed ultimately die.

It has been rainy a lot here. I love the rain, it's more than rain to me, it's like a fantastic experience that washes away all the blahs; and when the sun comes back out, as it has today, it's a brilliant and welcome reprise.

Because I'm the only one on staff, I went out to the garden to check on things: the tomatoes have their telltale yellow blossoms, the peas are doing what they do; I have no idea if the eggplant is on schedule, nor do I know anything about zucchini, but everything is still green and larger than it was last week. I nodded at the plants, told them "good show" and turned around.

On my way out, I looked at our collection of raffle basket tools now resting in a decommissioned window planter near the foot of our bright yellow slide. One of the trowels has a massive belly on it; it's more like a bulb planter / trowel combo. It collected about 2 inches of rain. I lifted the handle to discharge the rain water and beneath the handle, I discovered this:

I smiled and actually said, "Hello, beans. You are destined to grow as plants, aren't you?" (My children and good friends will tell you that I often speak to plants and bees and birds. I'm not nuts, I'm excited to be in communion with them.) So I knelt down, picked them up still cradled by their little and futile envelope and put them in the last remaining spot in the garden along the fence-line.

I backed up and regarded the scene, and smiled for many reasons. I smiled most of all because of the reminder that we all can grow, even I can, anywhere, even when I'm feeling lost and confused. We can even grow in our envelopes we've constructed for ourselves; which will try to contain us, but which clearly can't because we're bigger than our envelopes. We just have to relax and let nature take its course.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

twelve ironies for better living

Life throws many ironies at us. 

If we are paying attention, we can learn from the ironies. They are sneaky and subtle though, so it requires getting out of our own way to be the best student. 

Here are a few of my favorites challenges experiences:

1) It takes great strength to admit a weakness. Once we do this, simply admitting we're weak at something allows us the grace to become stronger at whatever we're facing. It's almost like the admission neutralizes the weakness or the overcompensation and replaces it with awareness. All of a sudden, there are new ways to dealing with something. All tickets on the awareness train are one-way, no transfers.

2) Faster is easier; slower is harder. Tell anyone who's lifting weights or doing push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc., to maintain proper form and slow down the motion by a factor of 10 and you will see their bodies shake due to the resistance. Don't believe me? Try it. How about this: try talking slower, taking a moment to choose your words before you speak.

3) Whispers garner more attention than shouting. When someone shouts, we listen but only because we physically have no choice. When someone shouts we just want to run away. When someone whispers, we listen and close in because we want to hear what's being said. 

4) Naivete begets wisdom: the more "falls" we supposedly take are actually progressions to achieving success. There are no more stumbling blocks; just stepping stones. Don't despair at a supposed set-back or lapse of judgment: you are meant to learn a lesson. Look for it, it's there.  

5) It is hard to be soft. When we are soft, we let people / sensations in. Doing this requires we let down a guard. Letting down our guard means we accept we could be wrong about something (usually about being so hard) and it lets us out as well as letting others in. It allows us to admit we hurt too. Getting hurt means we are taking chances; I always say, "you can't win if you don't play." 

6) It's easier to be angry than to be happy. Happiness requires gratitude and humility; that we accept the way life is and the blessings that have been given to us. For some people, being angry is a strong addiction that fosters judgment, closed-thinking, complaints, increased isolation & disconnection from the larger society. Chronic anger is also reeeaaally bad for our hearts and arteries.

7) We can't appreciate light without darkness. Being in the light requires acceptance of our realities, that dark moments got us here to appreciate the light. Sometimes things just suck, endurance makes us smarter. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "When it is darkest, you can see the stars." That darkness allows us to use our other senses to work through problems. Feel your way out; don't think your way out. 

8) Without silence, we can not appreciate sound. Without sound, we can not understand silence. We might say we want silence, but that would mean no birds chirping, no sound of rain gently falling, no music, no laughter. I think that rather silence, we just want peace, and that's a totally different experience. You can have peace with sound. Peace comes from within.

9) Being alone can make you easier to be around. Sometimes we are hard to be around: bristly and snappish. This usually means that we might benefit from being alone a bit, to sort ourselves out. Being a mother, I can attest to the benefits of my own personal "time outs." 

10) You can not know hate without knowing love first. Indifference is the easiest thing in the world to commit to. Take a stand on something, one way or another, and you're also bringing awareness to the opposition. Taking a side without knowing its opposition breeds bigotry not indifference and certainly not tolerance.

11) A good cry makes you happier. While the immediate effect usually feels as though we've been drained, and we probably have (all that woe weighs a lot!), a good cry ultimately makes us feel better, and lighter; ready to take on the world. 

12) Fats can help you lose weight. The body needs fat to generate hormones and the good cholesterol that helps regulate them. If you remove all fat from your diet, you will definitely not lose fat because your body will hang on to it to stay healthy,  but you will lose lean body mass (muscle) because it's the body's most efficient fuel. The right dietary fats: olive oil, raw (unroasted, unsalted) nuts, avocado and other vegetable-based fats will help you stave off headaches, get proper rest and keep your hormones in check. 

Try out one or two of these ironies. See what happens.

Thank you. 

Some of you are new to Grass Oil, check out some earlier posts . . .

Humor in the toothpaste aisle
Mindfulness in apologies 
Parenting and the flight of time

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Snark: Revenge and Mary Janes

Usually I try to be calm and conscientious and conscious.

I try not to react.

Sometimes it's just not worth it.

Sometimes, you just wanna say to the guy who drives too close to you while you're minding your own business, "PUT DOWN YOUR FREAKING PHONE, A$$HOLE."

Or, say when you're heading to a soccer game, "MOVE YOUR PIECE OF CRAP OUT OF MY WHEEL WELL."

Sometimes you want to kick a cat. Flick a beetle. Squash a bug. Slap something. Flip the bird.

Sometimes you want to hurl a bag of steaming dog poo at grown men who wear their pants too low, WITH a belt, and show the world their "pretty" underwear and scream, "YOU KNOW, IF YOU WERE IN PRISON, YOU'D BE VERY POPULAR WITH YOUR PANTS LIKE THAT!" (I only just recently learned that fashion statement was a sign of availability for dating in the penitentiary system.)

Sometimes, if you're like me, because you know you can't legally hurl a bag of steaming dog poo, you pretend to do it. You imagine it happening.

The monks on the mountains in Tibet would tell you that's your false self living out a fantasy because There Is No Such Thing As Revenge.

Well, my inner snark disagrees.

Sometimes, I feel like I just have to let an epithet stream unfurl. That doesn't mean I do it; it just means I'd like to do it.

I was a mobile executive. 

Tell my five-year-old self that there's no such thing as revenge. My father tells this story best, but I'm going to do it instead:

When I was very young, my older brother was asleep on the couch.

He was lying there, I can remember it, on our parents' avocado-green, wool-upholstered davenport. It smelled of the long-lost manhattans, old fashioneds and cherry tobacco pipes enjoyed by relatives I would never know because they were probably dead at the time. It was about eight feet long and its armrests were paltry and mostly wooden; you could feel the ribs and spine of the structure beneath the armrests that must've been padded with band-aids (maybe that's where they all went, for we didn't have any in the house when I was a kid unless my brother bought them).

While this isn't it, it is in spirit. Ours had flat itchy cushions and only five or six "buttons" along its backside to add dimension to an otherwise hideously flat and hairshirt-ish experience.

I will always heartily reject my mother's opinion that the sofa was comfortable because it was covered in freakin' wool boasting texture so irritating and painful that only burlap could exceed it. I remember seeing the outlines of its springs testing the tensile strength of the fabric that shrouded them. Its belly would yawn beneath the frame directly below the two main, ill-sized main seat cushions. That couch was not fluffy or endearing. That couch was a piece my parents inherited from someone with incredibly bad sense of the aesthetic. That couch inspired my very costly love affair with down cushions. You endured that couch, but it was the only one on the main level of the house, so that's where my brother decided to plop himself down. He was brave.

Apparently my "revenge is best served cold" self had a message to deliver to him.

To conduct recon, I walked up to him and examined his vulnerabilities, his bodily position: face in toward the back of the couch. Good, he was inhaling old furniture smell, known amongst children everywhere to be amongst the most caustic in the world. His backside was exposed to the world. Better. Definitely asleep because his eyes were twitching. Excellent.

I crouched down, looked around the room and considered my options. I bent over, and grabbed the heel of my right foot's mary jane with my vengeful, sweaty and dextrous hands (my mother was convinced I'd be a surgeon). I imagine that I reached back with one hand, held down the back of the heel, lost my balance and landed on my fanny on the outside left armrest of the couch, where his head was nearest. (I never heard her say I'd be a gymnast.)

From my sitting position, which was clearly better so I couldn't be seen even if he did wake up, I imagine that I pulled in my right heel, closer to my fanny and forced off the shoe. I grabbed the armrest of the couch with my left hand and pulled myself back up to make sure he was still asleep.

With the side of the couch about six inches below my chin, I turned to my left, bent over at the hips and picked up my shoe. I turned toward my brother, zeroed in, arched over with my left arm and smacked him on the head with the heel.

They're not as innocent as they look.

I stood there. Shoe in hand. Apparently I didn't know enough to discard the weapon. Or to run away.

He woke up and rubbed his nine-year-old head. His hair was short and straight and he was a long child (as is he quite tall now). Running his hands through his sweaty and still sleepy hair, he said, "Owwuh. Wh-? Wh'dja do? I . . . "

This is what I do know, no more imagining:

He didn't smack me back, he was good to me that way. I mean, he was (and is) a really decent guy, (even though he is part of the 1%). Instead, my brother walked up to our dad who was probably screaming at a football game on TV (we were Buffalo Bills fans), and moaned, "Owwwh. Molly just hit me in the head. She just woke me up while I was sleeping and hit me on the head. With her shooooe."  

Our dad apparently eyed me, still holding my weapon. I was looking fierce, so he said.

"Well, why do you think she did that? Did you do anything to her? Upset her?" Dad asked.

"No! I was just sleeping. I couldna done anything, I was lying down," answered my brother.

"Nothing?" my dad asked. "Are you sure?"

I was standing about 10' away, all squinchy-faced, arms crossed against my chest in my smocked butterfly dress and supposedly fuming. A size-three black and shiny mary jane dangling from my hand was cocked and ready for more.

My brother looked at me and insisted he'd done nothing.

My dad said to him, "Not before your nap? Maybe yesterday or last night? . . . . . . . Think. She wouldn't have done that for no reason. Maybe you,"

After a moment, my brother righted himself and then shrunk again, rubbing his head, "Oh. . . yeah."

And that was that.

Sometimes snark wins. These days, even though I aspire for more centered behavior, I'm not above being snarky when people go below it and I am sure to have a size three mary jane around just in case.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Ahimsa": how do you brush your teeth?

It's been 24 hours of ahimsa awareness for me at the Grass Oil compound.

In yoga today, we talked about "ahimsa" which means "The principle of nonviolence toward all living things.

Not so faaaaast... the first lesson of ahimsa, is that it must begin within.

I'm savvy to ahimsa. In a spiritual and practical sense it means doing everything you can with love and kindness -- BUT FIRST: with yourself. I love the concept. I'm crappy at it. (see?)

A kicker of ahimsa is that if you can't practice loving self-acceptance first, then everything you do will be considered violent. That stinks. And it doesn't seem very ahimsa-y at all.

Before yoga this morning, I continued thinking about ahimsa after the breadwinner chuckled to himself last night as I scrubbed the day's "oils and pollutants" from my face.

I looked at him with suspicious wonder, "what?" I said. What is "suspicious wonder"? you ask: it's a facial expression, also known as a sneer and raised eyebrow, which usually accompanies, "What's that smell?" in most houses.

"It's just interesting is all. How you wash your face. It's like you're trying to wash off your face," he said.

>labrador retriever head tilt<: "Huh?"

"You scrub so thoroughly. So diligently. So . . . furiously."

>labrador retriever sneer<: "Grr."

He was right. As usual, he was right. The breadwinner has the most gentle of souls and mannerisms; he is truly the yin to my yang. He's like a soft breeze to my hurricane. I considered his comments and thought about ahimsa. Apparently not thoroughly enough because . . .

I snapped open the top to my moisturizer and kneaded it as fast as I could into what was left of my face and thus began, my pre-sleep consideration of ahimsa. I plopped myself into bed, grabbed the covers and stuffed myself into my beaten and propped goose-down pillow. "It must begin from within..." I kept repeating in my mind.

"It must begin from within..." relax the eyebrows. Flatten my "eleven" line between my eyes.

"It must begin from within..." release the lower jaw; move it side to side. 

"It must begin from within..." suspend the tongue. Let go.

Holy crap. This ahimsa is serious stuff. Self-love is serious stuff. I drifted off to sleep, probably with my face loosened (and nearly hanging off my skull if the breadwinner is right about how I washed it) but my mind was racing and I'll bet my fists were tight.

Aaahh.. himmm.... saaaahhh....


I woke up today perky and rested. I was sorta thinking about ahimsa. My lower back was tight (in yoga, this is the sacral / second chakra: cravings, pleasures, addictions, body image: ching! after my facial scrubfest, I concluded it was body image). I decide to do a couple floor stretches and side twists to release my hamstrings.

"It must begin from within..." don't go so deep; don't worry about touching the toes just yet; and bend the knees.  Breathe.

After about two more minutes of consciously releasing, breathing and letting go (which I did, but which is insanely and ridiculously hard to do) it was time to wake the boys.

I think I wake the boys gently for 99.8% of the time. Sometimes we're in more of a rush than others, so I'm less ashimsa-esque than I'd like. Today was a gentle day. But upon further examination, I realized it wasn't: I jumped quickly out of my stretches and stepped harshly on to the floor, I moved brusquely into the bedroom and I firmly plopped myself down on my Thing 3 (8)'s bed and didn't whisper to him.

Now, if I were a levitating buddhist monk on a mountaintop in Tibet, I'm sure I would do all of this more mindfully, but I'm not. I'm a tight-backed American mother in a house. So I do give myself some slack there. However, once I realized I wasn't being gentler, I dialed back and re-engaged more softly and consciously. I have really horrid memories of being hideously woken up as a child, so the fact that I  am aware of that and that I enjoy operating differently is pretty awesome. Ahimsa.

What occurred to me as the day has progressed, is that we are really shitty at practicing ahimsa. That means you too. Sorry. Go, leave the page. Unlike. Deny the truth, be sure to mindfully not judge and gently click that "X" button on your way out just to confirm your mastery of ahimsa.

Still with me? OK: How do you brush your teeth?

Do you do so gently with a patient circular motion, taking care to massage the gums and tenderly clean the enamel or do you spaz out like Tasmanian devil and scrub the crap out of them up and down and back and forth and circle this way and circle that way and don't forget to beat the daylights out of your tongue... to the point where you have lather?

Me too. Don't forget to spit like a sailor. (I love sailors, I love all members of the military. I support our troops.) Bang your toothbrush on the sink three times to get the water out of it and energetically wipe your mouth.

How about when you use the steps? Do you step gently and mindfully, placing your foot before you take on the next step (which, by the way, does a great job for your core and back) or do you thud your feet down, as though every step is a frigging nightmare and just getting to the top means you've defeated the beast? I've been trying to be more mindful lately, and usually when I'm 2/3 of the way, I remember to step more softly which automatically pulls in my core.

What's the rush? Where's the fire?

In our yoga place, when you arrive on time, you get to set up where you like. I like to grab the back corner because I'm so ahimsa-esque to myself. Not. I like to grab the back corner so no one else follows my lead as my practice can be intense.

Today in yoga, I set up where I could, still in the back row. We have a wonderful group in that class. One person "C," arrived later and didn't set up where she normally does. A lively and funny banter ensued between C and person "B" who ended up taking C's traditional spot. Person "A" noticed and the conversation went thus:

A: "C! You're over here today! Hello!"

C: "Yes, Hello! Everyone's moved around today. B (pointing at B) told me I was in the wrong spot over here."

B: "No, I said 'different spot,' not 'wrong spot.' "

Me and D, E & F: "No, B said 'different' spot."

Me again: "C, you might've heard 'wrong spot.'"

And that was that. Normally, I would have let it go between B and C, but because this became a pentagonal discussion, it was important to end it.
Sidebar: That "C" heard "wrong spot" was an inner dialogue she had with herself and it flew completely in the face of ahimsa. That she had judged her repositioning as "wrong" and then falsely projected that judgment on to "B," when everyone else witnessed the contrary, was representative of a VERY OLD emotional wound of C's and I gotta give props to "B" for not taking the bait. 
I like C enough, but I keep my distance because C is what I consider a bully sheep: someone who has and projects self-hate issues and unconsciously manipulates situations to make herself the victim of people who happen to be breathing around her. Compliments from bully sheep are usually dipped in a healthy dose of self-deprecation so you'll be lulled into complimenting them back. Here's an example: 
"I could never wear an outfit like that; she looks so good in it, with her cute little body... I'm an albatross." (With her 5' 10" frame, wavy auburn hair, alabaster skin and lovely weight.) A victim/sucker would say, "Oh! Of course you would!" and the bully sheep would hope the sucker would say she couldn't wear an outfit like that either. Don't fall for it. Just say, "Oh" and move on. (Staying neutral leaves them with their stuff that they tried to put on you.)

The Good News Is: No One's Thinking About
As Much as You Fear They Are. 

The Bad News Is: No One Is Thinking About
You As Much As You Wish They Were.

Another non-ahimsa practice I'm noticing is that we tend to wallow in sadness or we subject ourselves to experiences that we know will disturb us. Facebook is like that for some people (me). I have read and personally experienced jealousies erupting because of Facebook: I view other peoples' fabulous lives, vacations, and private jokes; I become offended that I wasn't invited to an event (that I probably couldn't have gone to or might've not enjoyed anyway). I realize that many people put only their best picture of themselves up or post the better information of their lives online. I read recently where this phenomenon was referred to as "best-face facebook" statuses. (The fact that the post I linked to just above bums me out because it's less than a year old; clearly there is something familiar  about feeling rejected.)

As for the better-than-thou portrayals, I can feel sorry for myself or "hide" their content, but that doesn't take away the feeling of inadequacy or the fact that they're having fun. That I feel less-than because I haven't bought a new BMW galactic star cruiser or gone to Jupiter again or can boast that my 8-year-old daughter aced her medical boards IS TOTALLY UP TO ME. The fact is, there will always be someone richer, more popular, taller, smarter, prettier, funnier, smarter, healthier, fancier, Zen-ier, nicer, softer, more graceful and eloquent if We Make Them That Way. COUNT ON IT.

What we do with that information determines our success with ahimsa. Do we beat ourselves up because of the fact that someone's always gonna seem cooler than we are? Or do we move on, be grateful for what we have and practice ahimsa and let it go? How much of this is ego and vanity? We are giving away our value when we do this because trust me: no one else thinks about you as critically as you think about you

Facebook, texting and e-mail presents another quandary for me: sometimes I say things that are interpreted a different (I could have said "wrong" but chose neutral "different") way as e-communication is quirky. Or sometimes I interpret things differently than they are intended. I also need to remember that I'm not responsible for someone else's filter. Nonetheless, I hate the feeling I have in my stomach, wondering if I've screwed up and chewing my nails. Is this what we want from social media? Waiting for the "like", hoping for the friend request acceptance, constantly checking the phone, the e-mail, the wall?


Is this what social media wants from us? 


Such self-doubt keeps us checking in, staying online and wrapped up in our false selves (see below) and totally dependent on approval from many people we don't even know (especially if you have a Facebook fan page). This dependence started to get pretty hairy for me about 2 months ago.

As such, I've purposefully elected to interact more  face-to-face or on my landline phone with my actual voice. I've also removed my Facebook app from my phone's pages and I have made it so that I have to login and logout each time I go on Facebook on my computer.

Might this strategy affect my lifelong dreams of being a fantastic writer? No. Because I can be a fantastic writer no matter where I am. I can also be a shitty writer no matter where I am. Having to have people know about me / my writing (the obssession with fame, extrinsic acceptance) is what feeds the ego and the ego is what ruins ahimsa. (Because if your ego is involved at all, you're gonna compete and you're gonna push yourself harder than you might ordinarily.)

Why do I share this stuff then? Because I think it's important; people get too wrapped up these days in things that don't matter and miss the things that do matter. I also think it entertains and people can relate to it. The point is I can write it, as in have the freedom and ability to write it. So I do.  Why do you read it? Because you can. :) And I'm grateful. 

What about wallowing in sadness? That's not ahimsa. Even if you do it with softness. I know there are legitimate mental disorders that clearly present challenges to shaking off the blues and the people with those disorders are in my prayers. We have depression and anxiety in my own family of origin, so I'm no stranger to it. At times, I get the blues. The thing is, after a while, I realize it's self-perpetuating for me and it's hardly ahimsa-esque. If I think sad thoughts, I will stay sad. If I remember and dredge up sad memories, I will become sad and eventually angry: angry at myself for stirring it up or wasting energy on things that can't be helped or for other reasons. 

If I think happy thoughts, I will become happy.

Here's a FASCINATING related opinion on the web about why some of us choose negative states (non-ahimsa) without realizing we choose them that I couldn't say any better. I found it at the "Life of Learning Foundation":

"We value negative states because of the strong sense of self we get from them. This may be very difficult for us to see, but the light of Truth will show us the freeing facts. No one wants to believe that he or she values things like self-pity, anger, and depression. We would insist we don't, and as evidence we point to the fact that we fight against them, but the struggle gives us a false sense of life and importance. It focuses attention on us and makes us feel like the center of a great deal of activity. The more we struggle, the more valuable these states become, because the more interesting and exciting they make us feel. We never feel ourselves so strongly as when we are furious, or hurt, or depressed. Of course, this self is a created self, a false self. But it feels real, and that's why we cling to it. The power in the state is that by giving it our life, it feeds back to us a false sense of life and power. And as a result, we miss out on the Real Life we could experience if we were not filling ourselves with the false."

Sometimes for me, music or thinking of my silly dog or a scene in a movie or simply taking a walk can subdue the blues. A change of scenery does wonders: it gets you moving, makes you look around (so you don't get hit by cars or attacked by geese) and snaps you out of it.

I am actively avoiding reading sad stuff; I'm a news junkie, so that's hard to do. I also try to avoid stirring up my own or another person's sad again and again. Instead of being sad, we can take walks in our minds or around our blocks. But again: I'm not insensitive to the needs of others. People with medical depression or other disorders have a different experience and that matters. But walking always helps. :) 

What about how and what we eat? Do we sit or stand? Do we give ourselves a napkin and drink without a straw? Do we chew and taste our food? Is the food nourishing or wasted calories? It's not easy. I'm not a vegan. I'm a steak-loving American mother. I avoid fast-food like the plague, but there's clearly a conflict with practicing ahimsa when I eat meat. I remain aware of that and I privately thank the animal for the life it gave. I am human, flawed and selfish. 

One more thing: The irony is not lost on me that we are killing ourselves to live longer. That's painfully true. I am all for health preservation, but there is a point where we can do damage. We drive ourselves harder athletically than we should; we run longer than our bones can take; we don't rest; we push push push and then get disappointed (but probably not surprised) that we've blown a ligament or torn a tendon. Our desire to live longer must not be fulfilled at the risk of ahimsa; there is no point to living longer if you bust up your body.

If ahimsa is new to you, try it when you brush your teeth. See what happens, watch it reach other parts of your life. 

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Good blogs: Sharing the "Liebster" love

I was recently considered by a super nice person, a fellow blogger: the incompetent hausfrau, as deserving of some recognition; she awarded me the "Liebster Blog Award"-  my first blog award ever! Thank you, thank you. I'll take your questions after the presentation. 

I usually dilly-dally on things like these, but I wanted to get this out the door, stat!

When I started writing publicly, back on January 2, 2011 (the hell with new year's resolutions, I'm usually fashionably late anyhow) I did so the suggestion and with the support of some pretty awesome people. Thank you, Peggie, Terri, Cheryl and Tracy. 

I feel lost if I don't have a reason to do something, so I decided I would base my blog on things and stories of having a family, being from one and my thoughts on how to go about life in spite of it all.
I have a couple loyal commenters whose feedback I always appreciate, besides them: I don't really ever know if anyone actually reads it; but when I'd heard from the incompetent hausfrau that she did, it lit my heart. 
I believe the objective of this award, like any award is to share a good thing when you see it*. I love good writing and up-and-comers. So, without further ado (this my be my Shortest Post Ever), it is my pleasure to award The Liebster Blog Award to:

kat hurley - this survivor has an amazing personal story and she continues to inspire others daily. she is an advocate for all human beings who actively breathe. her passion is to serve humans, but she is only human. check her out! 

the loneliness of the stay-at-home-mother - she's got a nice rhythm and i dig what she's done with her Monday letters of the day. i've also seen her write about other blog posts in ways that can transform, check out: have I told you lately?

mommetime - i love her layout, her thoughts are pure and she's a fantastic photographer; she presents an amazing blend of imagery and words.  

MSRP - a funny guy with a great sense of humor, no matter how skewed his political views. WOAH! did i just say that?! check him out. 

The Winy Child - this guy deserves some traction! he's a 6-year-old comic book genius and he tells tales about his characters. Heck, I can't explain it any better than he, so here's his shtick: "This is a really funny comic. Here are the names of the characters and some facts about them. Pepper is really funny. He's the dog in The Winy Child. Soks is the cat. The Winy Child is in The Winy Child. Dexy and Gorel are the parents.

*How the Liebster Blog Award works:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 lesser-known blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and give a little blurb about why you chose each blog.
5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

. . .

Thank you. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ISO: my missing $7.50 sock.

so i bought a pair of socks about two months ago with my son, Thing 2 (11). 

he needed new sneakers because the leather ones he insisted on wearing had a smell all their own. we bought the socks when we bought the sneakers.

the old sneakers (not the new ones) smelled like garlic and cat piss. 

I. Kid. You. Not.

we used to think that there were dying muskrats in the house or musk anything in the house when he would remove them. 

so we went to a local running store to get new ones. 

"what about your quest for equanimity? to just let things be?" you ask? 

"what about my quest to exist in my home without searching for SCUBA tanks?" i retort. 

the guys at the running store Have Great Legs. it is very coincidental that they're all about 24 years old too. 

T2 tried on a pair of nice running shoes. i wanted to get him mesh ones so that they could breathe too. after all, if he was going to kill another pair of sneakers with his foot's death stench, they should at least be able to breathe. 

he liked them, they had to order them in his size. 

"come back wednesday, they'll be in then from our blahdeblah store" said a blonde guy who looks like this: 

photo from

So we go back a few days later. 

When we return, we were met by an employee who looked like this:

"how about some socks to try them on?" i squeak-ask, twirling my hair and twisting my toe into the carpet.  

so the guy and his dimples who looks like the man in the second picture above floats to the rack and summons a pair socks, "any favorite color, buddy?" he says to my son. 

"green. i like green," says T2. "look mom, they have your favorite, periwinkle!" he adds.

the green socks waft magically to my son as the man who looks like the man in the second picture above gestures his hand in T2's direction.

i'm doing my best to keep it together, man. 

the man who looks like the man in the second picture above looks at me and says, "oh? periwinkle? that's a great color. it's >DO NOT SAY "MY MOTHER'S" ... DO NOT SAY "MY MOTHER'S"< my grandmother's favorite color." 

a part of me died inside. 

"oh, your grandmother's? is she 44?" 

no, i didn't say that. rewind the tape >deedlweedletweedlweeetloodledeedle<

"oh, your grandmother's? it's a classic color, very serene and comfort-- oh, you have a pair in my size in periwinkle? great...."

"you're what, a small?" and he commands the socks that are his grandmother's favorite color to land on the new sneaker's box.

T2 is racing around the store, "i loooove these shoes, mommy! they make me so faaaast! these socks are so comfy!"

"i love it when kids say that the shoes make them faster..." the man who looks like the man in the second picture above said. "i used to say that when i was little ..." 

"yeah. me too. what?" i said. i mean, i did NOT want to imagine the man who looks like the man in the second picture above as younger.

"so, that'll do it for you both? would you like to try on any shoes?" said the man who looks like the man in the second picture above

"no. i uh, i'm wearing these because, um, i was gardening. these are my scuzzy gardening sneakers. my running shoes don't garden. they're at home... i take fitness very seriously."

WAKE UP man who looks like the man in the second picture above

i think i put him to sleep.

"c'mon mom! let's go home! i wanna show these to brothers and dad!" 

so we walk to the register. $65 shoes becomes $99. 

what the what?!

"debit. oh, here, i'll sign. all the machines are so different, i never know where..." 

i don't care. the man who looks like the man in the second picture above is smiling; yellow feathers are popping out of his mouth. i am the canary. 

i was in the cage, like this:

when i wanted to be out of the cage, like this:

we get home. T2 shows off his sneaks and everyone's excited. 

the breadwinner (that's my husband's new blog identity) asks about their cost because he wanted a pair just like them a few months ago but they were out of them and i tell him, 

"$65, but the socks added $30. >wince< pleasedon'tfaint." 

the breadwinner? oh, he went out to get bread and never came back.

i tried on my socks the next day. they were awesome. in fact, they are guaranteed for life ... they better be at $7.50 a pop. 

after that, i lost one. i never actually ran in them. 

i'm a little bummed about that. so if anyone sees the right one to this one: 

please let me know. we can go tell the man who looks like the man in the second picture above all about it. 

thank you.