What kind of writer am I?

I wrestle with this topic in my own way, at some point, almost every day.

There is this quest as a philosopher. It is to truly understand and give a proper account of the world, without bias and misinformation. Lose all assumptions and open your mind to really get a fair look at the world, and not just with your eyes. Using your mind to make sense of it all, and then help others along the way.

But you see, there are many different types of philosophers, and this only describes one sort. So I see that we are all different in many ways, yet we are all the same in many others. How we respect and honor one another, it seems so easy and obvious. How do even the highest of moral beings make quick and irrational mistakes?

I want to be an informed and helpful writer. So I analyze every topic I would write about and rule out the prospect, the ideas I have, simply because I feel the inadequacy of properly labeling the “voice” I may have. There are styles, I don’t know what they are all called and I chose to learn more about science, than grammar. I may not be great at math, but I can spell flawlessly. (Most misspelled words you will read of mine, are because I need to trim my fingernails and my fingers keep slipping off the keys, lol right!) It seems as though writing is reserved for those who study English or History. Purpose and passion is where I come in. But where is the value? Maybe inspirational messages for tea companies…

There are these things about writing, the permanence of your word. Yet, the ability to edit and truly have what you really mean, out there, for the world to see. I love the editing process, but I only do quick edits for my own writing… I have to remind myself, the message is important but I need to always read with fresh eyes before publishing.

There are timelines, and timeliness, not the same. Well recorded events and current events, often with the most pressing messages necessary. But accuracy is the key- “How Urgency Can Provoke Misinformation”, a topic I will write about one day, as it is commonly accepted and sometimes correction is less obvious, so you end up with people with the wrong understanding. What happens when they quickly respond according to inaccurate information? We have a responsibility to be accurate. So dig a little deeper when researching something, especially something important.

I have to keep my writing brief and to the point. It’s all I have time for. As a person with a responsibility to my family, there are many tugs on my time. So I have to stop ruling out my ideas, and make time for the important ones.

Rainy Day Blues

It is one of those rainy days here, as I am sure it is in many other parts of the world. When you look outside and see cloudy skies, wet weather, and it is a little chilly, how does it affect your day?

Creativity is sparked in some.

Others enjoy a warm cup to drink and a quiet book.

Many curl up and hide… really.

I like to do stuff. I drive to places I keep meaning to go, and check them out. I hit my to-do list, and actually accomplish some of the items (like write on my blog.. hey hey double whammy… keep on reading and you will see what I mean!)

Refreshing as it is, getting things in your life and home ready for the winter takes extra effort. The enticement is certainly not the actions necessary, even though the completed projects are rewarding.

Today~ I repotted a sad plant. It was on clearance for $3 from a nearby home improvement store. I was worried about this plant. It wasn’t doing horribly, but didn’t look happy enough for an aesthetically motivated house plant buyer to want. I thought to myself, “I sure don’t have any dying house plants right now, maybe I should get one.”

The fate of this very pretty green and yellow leaved plant was not advancing well into the future, unless I did something about it. Whining kids in tow, I searched the soil for bugs, none seemed evident. None of the leaves have been chewed on or spotted, only yellowing and only from the center of clusters, making me think it was either over or under watered, and was outgrowing its current conditions.  I checked the roots, and sure enough, bound in a twist, thick, and suffocating.

So I did what any ordinary garden/plant geek would do, I bought it. The whole way home I thought about two things- it would be great if my 3 year old stopped kicking the seats, I’m trying to freakin drive; and my track record with house plants is terrible, why did I just get one that needed extra help? Balancing this questionable line of reasoning, I sucked it up to the facts- at a mere $3 it would be a great next victim.

This struggling plant sat on my porch for a day or two, just in case those bugs showed up, didn’t want a population to fester without consent. It did eventually come inside and sit on a shelf, with just enough light (according to the little tag). That was 3 weeks ago… Took a little longer to make room in the schedule I guess. It got threatened with being banished to the porch by my other half, if I didn’t repot the silly thing already.

Today I actually did it. I made a crock pot recipe (red beans and rice) for dinner, and after cleaning the kitchen from breakfast and the prep… I looked out side and said to the audience, “I’m finally ready to repot this plant, come on 3 year old, lets get our hands dirty!”

It took a whopping 10 minutes.

Once we repotted it, I did what every ordinary person does, I looked up the plant variety. Wait… I think I did it backward-  turns out it’s going to be OK. Apparently, it’s not toxic for dogs and kids so that’s a relief… that was my first investigation. If they eat the stem of the leaves it offers a significant burning sensation in their mouth, but other than that it is safe. Knowing that I decided to keep it above reach, don’t want the new puppy munching on the green stuff in between meals and getting funky, ya know what I mean?

So on this rainy and wet day I helped Mother Earth with similar efforts;  I helped something struggling to stay alive flourish and grow. My cup is full.

What can you do to make Mother Earth smile on a rainy day?

The only down side, I don’t think the plant and pot match very well… Like my mother would advise, use what you got. Hopefully, it will outgrow the pot and I can do this again sometime!

The seasonal downpour comes early this year

Usually around November, when the skies become grey on a regular basis, and the flourish of summer becomes dormant, my eyes well up and my mood darkens alongside my surroundings. I grow quiet and calm to match.

I’m sure a Dr. would label this as “seasonal depression” or some similar “problem”. Recommending exercise and a healthy balanced diet (which I do both anyway), and this little magic blue pill that makes it all go away.

That little magic blue pill isn’t the answer, doc. Why is it not ok to be sad sometimes? Fear of irrational behavior? Let’s just make the world perfect and happy, science will fix it all! After my only sister, my only older sibling, overdosed on magic pills that were supposed to “fix” her- I choose to remain magic pill free.

The sadness this year comes early on account of a reality check. So instead of doing anything irrational, I ration my life. I say to my family, ” you get this and she gets that, he gets this every so often, and I will continue to cook, clean, and care for everyone.” But I am also doing this and this for me. I don’t tell them the last part, I just do it. If there is an issue they will be gently reminded that I am also a human and need to care for myself, or there will be nothing human about me left once they have all taken what they want.

And so I ration. I ration how often I speak and what I say. I have no excitement left, for that takes more than I can muster and it’s better to not fake it- children notice everything. I ration my chores and make sure needs are met, the extras I often provide must wait until spring.

This is the only thing I can do, because it is a form of suffering. Balance is required to overcome the feeling of malcontent. I must enforce boundaries for my own sake.

Sometimes you just know, ya know?

After a stressful evening surrounding the notification of a minor financial setback (letter from the IRS- ahem), I was informed of something rather hurtful- albeit true.
Something I knew but kept trying to convince myself wasn’t really true, because it would be easier for everyone if it wasn’t.

But it is true and that sucks.

There are things in this world we can change and we can control, and then there are things we cannot. We cannot change who we are, but we can control ourselves. We cannot change others, but we can influence them. Sometimes it doesn’t matter because the reality of the situation is what it is.
I overheard someone once say they hate when people use the expression, “it is what it is.” This didn’t sit well with me because it is acknowledgement and acceptance of reality, whether you like it or not.

So today, instead of my usual optimism and productive offerings I sit quietly and reflect on my situation. The best thing I can do is take time to make the right choices, because after all, my choices affect everyone else in my life.

Today I found the Easter Bunny

I have three very young ladies as a captive audience. Needless to say, this whole parenting in contemporary times has sure taken it’s toll on my soul. Did I mention I hold a B.A. in Philosophy? Yep, and add a few ethics classes, lots of upper division political science courses, don’t forget my minor is in Environmental Studies. I was what you would call an “intentional student”. I didn’t take classes for the sake of taking them, I took them because they were interesting to me and I wanted to understand more about the topic so I could make informed decisions about the world and my life in the years to come.

College is very expensive. Ask my husband- we will be paying for those important classes for years to come.

Today I hopped around my home in the middle of the night, hoping my restless 5 year old wouldn’t wake up and catch the Easter Bunny delivering wonderful sugary delights in corners and nooks of the couch. I decided that five major retailers in my area offered valuable enough wares to enhance our life. Upon checking out the sales clerk asks, “How are you?” Of course I reluctantly offer the courtesy reply, “Good, how are you?” She mumbled some polite response, expected of her on a Saturday night around 7pmish when she would much rather be at Freddy’s with all her friends horking down milkshakes or perhaps perusing the movies with that cute boy she’s had a crush on since 8th grade. I joke about having finally found the Easter Bunny. She doesn’t really understand and neither do I.

I can’t wait to hear them squeal! The “stuff” they get from the Easter Bunny isn’t that much different from what other Easter Bunny’s deliver I am sure. It is difficult to purchase gifts when your inherent nature is to resist a consumer driven society. So here I have to wrestle with offering my children a somewhat normal childhood in relation to their peers so they can understand one another, yet still have a supportive backdrop of how things really “ought to be”. We shouldn’t be teaching our children that life is just about “stuff” But we should show them through our own discipline that there is also room for spontaneity and celebration. So I select an item that each will need, love, and hopefully appreciate. This year I opted for pajamas and sandals (both of which they need), a painting craft, and a bright pink fancy skirt (for the three year old who loves all things girly), and a pair of stretch pants (which my five year old will love the purple color and softness).

The “baby” (now almost 2 years old), is the wildcard. I never know what she would actually want and with two older sisters she has almost everything she could need at her fingertips anyway. I spent time coloring a little mask from the craft store for her to practice colors and pretend she is a cat, she gets a decent variety of sidewalk chalk, and two soft bunnies (which we already had packed in the Easter bin- no purchase necessary). She also got a hefty dividend of the chocolate share this year, hope daddy doesn’t mind the shaft.

My children are actually pretty naughty and can act spoiled, too. I think many people are wondering why I would write this post about the “stuff they get”, and then confess that my kids are bratty sometimes. Of course they are, some will obviously say, look at what you give them! These are often times people who don’t have children of their own but think they might understand something about actually raising a child. Silly people. Or perhaps it is a generation of parents that didn’t have the dilemmas we have now, and were raised with a different sort of depravation and strict values themselves. So discipline is another sort of monster when you are actually encouraged to physically strike your child when they disrespect you, not in 2014 though- that’s a good reason to find the cops at your door. We have to provide this “balanced reward system”. I will be the first to admit- it is difficult to implement. What- with each new phase of childhood creeping in at every milestone, and don’t forget the seasonal changes that provide new opportunities for mischief and want of desire. There is of course our fascination with electronics- or just anything that lights up and makes noise upon our command.

In 2014 American Society you are expected to have an easter egg hunt for your kids, just like you had as a child. Your precious offspring will be youtubed, facebooked, and twittered about all day. It will be fun, you will smile, and they will eat a crapload of candy. Or perhaps you are breaking the rules, maybe you went camping and got rained on all night (if you were in NoCo I will place a bet on it!). Maybe, just maybe, you didn’t do anything. Some little people I know will find a bunny hopping around their yard in the morning, funny how I am a stranger to these kids but can know the Easter Bunny personally and the little ones have no clue what is coming. Certainly my eldest will excitedly report once she arrives home from school on Monday about Oliver and Elliott, how it’s so unfair, and that we must meet this bunny ASAP. I fact, here is the phone, call his mom and schedule a playdate!

Those of you who found the Easter Bunny this year, will quite possibly vow to do it differently next year. We all know the truth… it is likely you will pull out the same Rubbermaid tub from wally world labeled “Easter”, and do it all over again. There will be a year when the surprise is gone, and that will be the first year I am the most glad I found the Easter Bunny all the previous years.

 

Planting Trees Is Good For The Soul

When we went to get pumpkins with our children, we decided to visit a nursery. Since we wanted to add trees to our landscape, and they were buy one get on 1/2 off, we purchased eight 5 quart trees. They sat in our backyard, sheltered against the fence for a week, until we figured out exactly where we wanted to plant them.

Since it was raining yesterday, I got to play in the mud! Anyone who thinks they know me, should also know that I love to play in the dirt. Mud is just wet dirt, so I love it too. What a fun project it was. We got to work together and put something natural in the earth that will grow and we can enjoy as long as we live in our home. I must say, my husband and I make a great team (most of the time). He let me master the soil composition ratios, depths, and locations of each tree. While he graciously dug, and did most of the hardest manual labor. I love my ox. Even though he does the brunt of it, I don’t get off easy at all. Oh no way. He expects me lift, dig, haul, and put in whatever I am capable of doing. My physical strength will just never measure up to his, no matter how determined I am.

Working with our hands and bodies is healthy, it provokes a sense of ownership to the work we are performing. Although we were both very sore afterwards, it was immediately rewarding. Now when I look out my kitchen window I see the trees I planted with my husband, and I get to watch them grow everyday.  Did I mention how it was also good for our marriage? We had to work together, cooperation is key in a marriage. We managed to problem solve and think long-term together.

No matter how stressed we can get at times, it is good for the soul to work towards something you can enjoy everyday.

IDEC 2013 Afterthoughts

I attended the IDEC 2013 (International Democratic Education Conference) http://www.idec2013.org/ specifically to participate in a workshop involving Jefferson County Open School http://www.jeffcoopen.org/. First I must say, the word “Democratic” does not mean the opposite of “Republican”. Of course the word itself has political implications, meaning every individual has a say, and political meaning the organization of people. In this context, however, we are speaking of education. This translates to mean, every person in the educational community has a say, intending to include the student.

I learned a lot about the changes that are taking place in education across the world, there were many attendees from Korea, inklings from Europe, China, and other parts of the US. I am sure there were attendees from other countries that I did not get the pleasure of meeting.

Some countries are on the verge of breaking, or at least trying to break free of oppressive governments, or oppressive ways of life that are taking a stronghold on their culture and future. These educators are working to make changes from within the educational institutions to empower the individual, and create the necessary paradigm shifts within their societies using education as a powerful tool. The northern European countries I encountered seemed as though they are not trying to break free from governmental control of education so much as they are seeking to further perpetuate the individual spirit and enlighten the mind through alternative methods, possibly creating a more self-aware learner. A learner that chooses what they learn and is aware of their interests by having the freedom of pursuit.

The individuals I met from the US were from a variety of different backgrounds. Some were not educators but worked with at-risk youth and this conference helped spur ideas for them to approach alternative methods of reaching out. Many were homeschoolers, or worked with/for organizations knitted to homeschoolers. Many were affiliated with organizations that are involved in education one way or another, but are not schools themselves, and the hybrids always exist.

There were certainly, and always will be the bulls#!%%3rs too. The sellers. The ones who don’t really have a contribution but want to be known, or want to profit from the event. I came across a couple but it was not overwhelming. Thank goodness for that.

I found out about a program in my area called Innovation Labs. The website is www.redefineschool.com, and I poked around a little before writing this. I just might have to get in touch and see what I can do to help the educational community in my school district.

And then there is AERO. The Alternative Education Resource Organization, which can be visited via http://www.educationrevolution.org/. This is a great network of alternative education resources, if you are interested in the alternatives in your area, or perhaps just in your interest it might be worth taking a gander.

In the end I can say there is a lot of movement within the realm of reforming education, and there has been for quite some time. It seems to be the conflict, however, that an alternative system only works for a small group of people. When you have a lot of students to manage, the oversight has to be systematic. And yes, the drawback is the uniformity of education, but the advantage is cohesiveness and coherency. I think what many educators who are involved in Democratic Education are pushing to change is the way we view our understanding of how the system should function.
The afternoon workshop I chose to attend was titled “Intersection of Formal and Informal Education”. There was some controversy as to whether there is even a difference, and the underlying assumption among all the participants (at least it seemed this way) was that an “Informal” education was better or more important in some way. Sometimes these things go unspoken, but are present and unquestioned.

In my Philosophical studies I have come to realize one very important thing about life, and I remind people of this on a regular basis. There is idealism- what things ought to be like, and there is realism- how things are. We can strive for the ideal but the realism sets in when we accept that there are practical limitations.

In the case of education, we have the application of “Democratic” education as the practical limitation. This means for each educator how to facilitate and manage, and oversee, and guide, and mentor a large body of individual needs. Every educator would be spread so thin the quality of their work would necessarily be undermined. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. The systems (or un”systematic” systems) that are present and successful in alternative education tend to be of the smaller student:teacher ratio, and of the smaller subset of the population.

One person being interviewed said it all in one word: money.

Until our educational systems are seen as relevant enough to warrant enough of our collective contributions, there will not be enough individualized attention in education. We will have systems in place that are best suited to address the more basic needs of every student, even if the approach is rigorous and boring. As my educator friend said to me, “how does 2 teachers take 80 students on a weeklong backpacking trip?” My answer, now clear to me, “you don’t.. we do”.

That is the key. Education is not something someone else does for us. It is something we all do together, and for each other. Education is not something that happens in a building, or on a chalkboard. I mean, it can happen there too, but real learning comes from everywhere and anywhere. We have to not only open our eyes, but our minds too. We all learn in many different places, of course. I think it is important to recognize when we are learning, and how we are learning so we can strengthen and perpetuate our methods to be most effective.

Don’t Assume Another Intends to Offend

Conflict is inevitable when there are multiple different interests at play.
The best thing we can do is try to look beyond the current persuasion and think kindly of others.

How often does something happen and your first instinct is that the other person sucks. It can be something so trivial as being cut off in line at the store; or a passing comment made by a stranger, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t understand their situation as clearly as you think. There might be some very justifiable explanation for their actions, something you can’t even think of- maybe because your mind is clouded from your own busy day. It could be a bigger deal, like working with an uncooperative neighbor to pay for a fence, something that consumes hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Are they really just trying to get the best out of you? Resource sharing is a consistent conflict, we all want to make sure we have enough for our own personal security.

We can’t live our lives taking things so personal, assuming another person intends to offend us. How miserable to think poorly of others on a regular basis. To judge them as if they are judging you poorly. We will never fully understand other humans, only ourselves. It is up to us to assume there is no offense intended, unless of course, they make it clear that is the intent (which is not the topic here).

People get offended easily and it is much easier to blame someone else. Take ownership, be the better person, and try to understand where they are coming from. We have to each reach further than half way across the aisle to cooperate fully, leaving some wiggle room for those who aren’t quite there yet.

Be the example by choosing to see others, and their intentions, positively.

Help Wanted: Better People

After careful deliberation this is what I have come to understand.

The World Needs Better People.

Who is the World?

It’s everyone!

Who is everyone?

It’s you and I.

What is a better person?

It’s you and I choosing better actions.

When?

Now. Oh, and tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives.

Why?

Things can only get better for all of us!

Where?

Everywhere you go.

How?

Consider everything you do. Then try your hardest to make the best choice.

The last time I checked, there is only ONE EARTH for us to live on. International communities are realizing that the only way to function is to maintain some sort of unity. We must all work together. The only way to do this is to consider one another, and those unspoken for, and make the right choices every time we can. We can’t let money override our values. We can’t let those with the biggest voices have the power unless we know in our hearts and minds that they are working and speaking on behalf of the rest of the communities. We can’t be persuaded to view the world in a way that seems unfit just because someone influences us to think that everyone else thinks this way too. This is TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY gone wrong and we will not tolerate it.

We all have brains, use them!
We all have hearts, use them!
We all have strength, use it!

Create the world as it ought to be
This is a goal of my lifelong education.
If I do it, will you?

My Pajamas Are Dirty

So, I have been gardening!
Went outside early in the morning last week to see how the earth was feeling. As it turns out, she is feeling like making food for my family.
I couldn’t help it so I played in the dirt awhile, turning it over and seeing where the moisture is from the night before.
Rushed inside once I realized it was almost 7 a.m., and made my plan for where things will go. I did a little research on CSU Extension- this is worth checking out if you are going to garden. Certain to save you some time and headache trying to figure out where to put what.

My biggest task was getting the kids excited to garden together.
We went outside and my daughter helped sow some seeds. The other one wanted to play with her babies so that was fine too. Now I can’t help but have dreams about those first little tender plants poking out of the ground!

Here is what we planted: Sweet corn, spinach, buttercrunch lettuce, yellow italian squash, dark green zuccini squash, black bush beans, green bush beans, and sweet peas.
Still have to plant sage, and butternut squash seeds.
Will also purchase tomatoes and peppers as it is too late to start seeds outdoors in CO for these.

I love to play in the dirt.