Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Fantasy Film of Therapists Everywhere

I went to see Inside Out and loooooved it.

It's like the film Being John Malkovich, except more appropriate for children, and more appropriate for adults too.

Can I just say: how wonderful that Disney co-created a movie in which the main characters are the emotions operating an 11 year old girl's brain?   I just got all tingly writing that.  Joy!

When Anger, Joy, Sadness, Disgust and Fear are at the helm, there is far more action and adventure than in all 17 Terminator movies multiplied by Die Hard with Avengers on Fury Road.  That's a total fact. 

Looking forward to Inside Out: Puberty (3-D). 
On the big screen, not in real life.
I like a tidy 90 minute experience as much as the next escapist. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gotta Keep Reading!

Miss C's class sang this song as they wrapped up their second grade career.
Just stinkin' cute.

This is, I believe, the original:

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Right to Bear Arms

This week, in reading about another incomprehensible shooting that took place in Charleston, South Carolina, one question I see repeatedly is: Are Americans more violent?

Over two years ago, just after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I wrote this:

The Right to Bear Arms

Saturday, April 25, 2015

5 Years

Five years ago I put up my first post here. 

Slightly intimidated by the idea of blogging  (how to do it and what is a widget and how do I make a picture go here ), I was helped by my friend Allison.  After she got it begun, I could just write something, and hit publish.  Once I had that part in place, it became easy to learn about this newfangled technology and I think I know what a widget is, in layman terms. 

Back then, Miss C was 3 years old, I thought this would last for 90 days, and I did not consider myself a feminist. 

I considered myself a mother who was honored and daunted by this gift of raising a girl, and wanted to understand the world she was experiencing, and like all parents, I wanted to fix stuff and change stuff and like all parents, I got humbled and schooled many times in that department. 

But, oh the growth!

Prior to becoming a mother, prior to having a daughter, I was someone who had spent much of my life as.....what is the word that means the opposite of feminist?  Is there a word?  That was me.

In my youth and teen days, I quoted Rush Limbaugh and was often on the lookout for feminazis.  In high school I walked out of a religion class because my teacher,  a Catholic feminist, began talking about birth control in answer to a students question.  I was like I don't know what the anti-Christ looks like but it might be her and I am outta here

Though I stopped quoting Rush at some point, many of my ideas were still of the mindset that:
men know more.   

Given any hypothetical situation, I'd end up with that as the unspoken but certain proof. 

I never would have said that because I doubt I knew it was a core belief.  I understood it as a fact, and there is no need to examine or question a fact.  It just is. 

I found in my work as a therapist that sometimes, when a client was undergoing some major metamorphosis, the unearthing, illuminating, and releasing of limiting beliefs had to come nearly from the source---or a symbol of the source---from which they sprang.  This was not "always" by any means, as sometimes we make a huge, cataclysmic shift, reject something entirely, and shed a belief in a fast and furious way.  But many times, we take small steps of change because it is less frightening this way. 

There were two early shifts, which pointed me to unearth this limiting idea. It took 18 years to acquire and live from this notion and the following 18 to dig it out and set it down.

*I chose a Catholic college and as a requirement, had to take a theology class.  It was taught by a good looking seminarian, 7 years into his study toward the priesthood.  He was nicknamed
Fr. Whatawaste.  As in, whatawaste that man will be celibate and not adding his genes to the pool of humanity.  He spoke quietly, was kind, and clearly loved the subject he was teaching.  He was in love with the Vast Love.  Here is where my world began to rock a little bit: as he taught, he asked questions, and encouraged us to ask questions.  About the existence of God, and anything at all.  Because he was not a feminazi, I didn't walk out of the class.  And because this was coming from a priest, I sat with my discomfort, knowing that the apocalypse could be arriving any minute now.

*In my four years of  college,  I majored in psychology and English, and twice, seriously contemplated becoming a nun.  By the time I graduated, I had concluded, somewhat like Maria Von Trapp, that I'd make a very terrible nun.  I went to work at a Jesuit school and lived in intentional community with other teachers.  The Jesuits, as an order, love the Vast Why.  Every Jesuit I encountered had at least three graduate degrees, or dual doctorates, or was currently pursing some study of something or other just because.  On my third day of working at this school, I attended Mass.  There were a whopping four of us there, including the priest.  He surveyed the scene, and said, "It's so beautiful outside.  Let's have Mass out there."  I thought there is no way this is legal.  But I followed along slowly, trying to gauge if the anti-Christ could be a Jesuit.   I calmed down in the sun and sat with the two nuns, the Jesuit, and we had Mass on the sidewalk.  And then when the priest finished a brief homily, he turned to Sr. Juanita and said, "What do you think about today's reading, Sr. Juanita?"  I decided that yes, the anti-Christ could indeed be a priest.  But then I listened to Sr. Juanita and was drawn into her deep reflection, her incredible wisdom, and I entirely forgot that she shouldn't be talking.  Then, the other nun gave her thoughts, and when I was asked for my thoughts, I was like, no way I'm participating in heresy.  Pass
Every time this priest said Mass, he spoke a few words, and then said, "I invite any here to share their own reflections on today's readings."  It took me awhile, but soon the discomfort changed into an eagerness to share.  I forgot to remember that I shouldn't be speaking. 

After those two things, other experiences continued to jolt me and expand me.  My world got bigger bit by bit, until I had shifted enough to feel this split that happens when you have internalized an entirely different set of beliefs, but have not fully integrated these things into your actual world.  It's a painful place because you can't go back, but going forward often feels...impossible.  During this point, my good friend listened as I verbally tread water about this split.  Her reply: "You're in the closet about your beliefs.  And that is a very painful place to be." 

One thing made it easier, almost effortlessly, to take another step.  I had a daughter, and she had no idea she was not supposed to ask questions, or speak about certain things.  And her questions have not ceased since she acquired language.  Sitting on my lap in church several years ago, I daydreamed out the window and she listened intently.  Then she put her hands on my cheeks to pull my face toward hers, and said, "Mama, is this fiction?  Or nonfiction?"    That question comes from her in many forms, about everything.  Once she figured out the difference between opinion and fact, she spent several months filtering everything through this newly understood concept.  From the dinner on the table to the stars in the sky.  Everything I said to her was sent to either opinion or fact, immediately.  Sometimes I could see the words leaving my lips and her sorting them as they moved toward her, categorizing them as needed. 

Me: "Time to brush your teeth."

Her: "That's an opinion."

Me: "That's a fact."

Her: "No, it's an opinion because I don't think it's time to brush my teeth."

Me: "I disagree with your opinion and am restating the fact that it's time to brush your teeth."

Her: "It will be a fact when I do it, but right now it's an opinion."  Pause.  "But I'll do anyway."

These exchanges were actually not done in sass.  She was really filtering, entirely everything, through this new lens.  Nothing was left out of the system.

A fellow therapist once said that we permit questions and explorations from children that we don't permit within ourselves because we assume their innocence, and somehow distrust our own innocence. 

I like this view.  We forget the innocence of our own curiosities.

I'm not in the closet about my beliefs anymore.  I have shifted my faith community, I'm not afraid of the word feminism, and finally, I've figured out that I believed something (men know more) and found how untrue that is.  I began to see how limiting this idea is, not only to women, but to men as well. 

Feminism, now that I am not running from it, is not hateful toward anyone.  It is immensely loving, toward men, and toward women.  It will have a name until the world is changed enough that the name will evaporate because it won't be necessary to call it anything, it will just be.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Unassailable Aunts

"Aunt Margaret told me that if I lived my life as a nonreader, I could experience seventy or eighty years of the world, but if I read, I could enjoy three thousand years of the world's most enlightening thoughts and stories. "

--Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia

Reading Pipher's reflections on extended family brought to mind Miss C's spectacular Aunts, as well as my own incredible and incredibly diverse Aunts. 

More gems from Aunt Margaret to her young niece,

You need to read all of Pearl S. Buck, though her later books were inferior to her earlier ones.

You should live in Paris, Rome, or New York in your twenties.

Never trust anyone who uses the word 'frankly.'


He had an interesting life, but he is not an interesting person.

About unnecessary pennypinchers, Aunt Margaret quoted Oscar Wilde:

He knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Pipher's lesson from this Aunt:

"I learned from her that no one's ideas were unassailable.  I heard her assail my father's and my uncle's opinions almost daily. "

All quotes are from Pipher's memoir Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Question of the Day: Discretion Advised

Here it is.

The NCAA tournament is in full swing.

You are watching a game. 
You notice that the opposing team is playing dirty and not being called on it. 
You go to your twitter account and you energetically tweet that the other team is:

"playing dirty & can kiss my team's free throw making a—"

Now for the question.

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the response tweets include calling you:

a cunt
a whore
a bitch

telling me to suck a two-inch dick

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the responses include threats of rape?

Who is permitted to have passionate feelings about sports?

Ashely Judd, apparently, crossed the invisible line and received a tsunami of tweets letting her know she had gone too far

Here is her assessment:

I love March Madness so much that even now, what I really want to talk about is how Sunday's strategy did not, in fact, work. I really want to talk about a deeply distressing dream I recently had that UConn beat us in the finals, in which we scored a scant 49 points, not to mention the oddity of why my awful dream featured UConn and not Wisconsin.
Instead, I must, as a woman who was once a girl, as someone who uses the Internet, as a citizen of the world, address personally, spiritually, publicly and even legally, the ripe dangers that invariably accompany being a woman and having an opinion about sports or, frankly, anything else.
What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet. Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood. My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually.

Here is the op-ed she wrote about this, where she bravely discusses her own history of sexual abuse, and why the backlash of threatening tweets are pulling her forward to speak, instead of be silenced. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Barbie Spy: Coming Soon (or take 10 seconds to sign a petition )

I was in Trader Joe's last week and I saw that they had peanut butter with chia and flax seeds mixed in

And peanut butter with the jelly already swirled through.

And some kind of peanut butter that had cookies in there too. 
Or maybe it was just liquid cookies in a peanut butter jar.

There are people whose job is to sit in a room together and create. 
To think of something that does not yet exist, and then commission it to be made. 

It makes me marvel at the awesomeness of creativity, and also makes me wonder if the chia and flax seed camp had a heated argument with the liquid cookies camp.

Making up new things in the US is a vastly supported venture.

But sometimes, creators and companies suck make bad choices.
And we have to remind them to cut the crap make more ethical decisions on how to make money without taking advantage of 5 year olds.

In the US, there are no regulations which limit marketing to children.
I've posted about this before, when the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood drew our attention to the fact that Scholastic was joining forces with the American Coal Foundation (see here and here), and when Fisher Price was selling the iPad Bouncy Seat (see here).

And now, CCFC has brought attention to more nonsense:

A Barbie.  That talks to your kid.  And records what your kid says.  And stores all that information in a cloud.  And uses that information to market to children more specifically.

To a teenager with this idea, we might say, Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

To a creative and entrepreneurial 12 year old we might ask, Do you think that is a good thing to do?  To take advantage of your little sister by giving her a doll that records her private thoughts and musings and then uses them for your own profit at a future date?

The company might say, But Fisher Price is doing it!

And we can say, If Fisher Price were jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you jump too?

Or, I can cease all these analogies where I compare terrible company decisions to parenting conversations and we could just sign a petition. 

The good news is that: these things work.  Companies don't like to upset their customer base, and so sometimes, they listen. 

Here's a synopsis of Hello Barbie.

Here's a link to sign a petition.   (I'm signature 1675!)

Make interesting peanut butter, not data-recording cloud-storing Barbies. 

Let's remind Mattel to make good choices.

Image result for trader joe peanut butter chia