Late Season’s Hiatus – #ROW80 Update 12/19/12

What do you do when words and comprehension fail?  Will you share, please?  

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I know my updates are generally much more complex than this…but, the truth is, the writing-related things I’ve done this session are not product-oriented.

I’ve been mulling, pondering, musing, simmering, processing, percolating, composting, conversing, gaming, swimming, reading, and commenting…but not writing.

There was a time, not so long ago (like, at the beginning of the year, for instance), when this would have bothered me enough that I would have forced myself to write anything at all,regardless of quality.

Because of ROW80, I am instead choosing to go with this space and energy.

But, because I am who and what I am, I am also filling this post with images of my happy, thriving, peaceful children, in celebration of childhood, joy, and wonder.

There has been a jolt of sorrow, shock, and horror in the world, and I am responding empathetically on many levels…as a human, an adult, a parent, and as a mother who has suffered the death of a child…

And as a grown child of abuse, as a schoolroom outcast who was the target of bullies –    themselves likely abused and hurting.

And as a person who chose, from the beginning, not to send my living children off to school…for many reasons, one of which was an instinctive and unshakeable conviction that they, like all young mammals belong with their mother until they can reliably tend to their own needs in an adult world.

So many facets and perspectives…so many things running through my mind.  So much I want to say; so many assumptions I think ought to be questioned….so many people who are so dear to me, and who must be experiencing this even more viscerally than I.

All the children – the victims and the shooters – who died, because people are being broken so severely and often in this society that the brokenness explodes into horrific violence.

So very much I want to say..and so little ability to find words…or even coherent thoughts…for them.

I’m feeling both potent and powerless…

I know there is another way, because I live it, and so do many of my family’s friends.  I know it is a more peaceful way, and that its focus is very, very far removed from the world of school.  I want to share it, to offer an alternative, but I do not want to offend, or attempt to open minds closed to this reality.

I can’t write about it, or release the need to examine it, somehow fit it into my reality, maybe find meaning in it that I can distill and share…

So this is the longest thing I’ve written since Sunday, when I last updated, and completed the rough draft of my short story, “Morning Coffee”.

I am OK with not writing.  I need to be quiet with what’s moving within me.

My goal for this round is to honor myself…and this feels like a time to truly attend to that goal. 

So I am choosing to honor the need for stillness, and to leave my laptop closed for the time I need to…even if that means I finish the round with many dangling projects.

I’m learning how to post from my Kindle Fire, which lends itself to shorter, maybe less profound posts.  I’m doing my best to be gentle with myself as well as others.

And I will share my reading list here, for sharing…with a caution that there are many views  expressed in this list.  I do not agree with everything in this list, as you may not…but all of it seems somehow relevant, because all of these viewpoints and stories are a part of the world in which we live.

  • Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies Revisited (I am not a fan of the Elf – manipulating children with threats is not in keeping with the Christmas spirit, or respecting children, to my view.  Also, my kids were creeped out y the idea of elves, fairies, jolly strange fat men,and bunnies traipsing through our house spyin on them and stealing teeth when they did believe, and both are relieved to know that it was all fictional).
  • Nine Signs That You Might be an Introvert (I thought I was about evenly balanced between introversion and extroversion….but I have  8 of the 9 signs.  Maybe why I choose to go within myself and quiet at times like this?)
  • Apologies to the battered child (from a parent in process) (This spoke to me on so many levels, with deep truth.  I have been, to a lesser extent, that child and that parent.  Profound gratitude at learning a new and healthier way while my children were still young, and with my, and trust could be rebuilt.  A wish that my own parents could see that their actions had lifelong impact on their children, and that they were willing to hear and know that, and to move together toward whatever healing might be possible, for us.)
  • What would you do, Mom?  (This chilled me.  That teachers must think along these veins, that children are required by law to attend school, where they can become targets….this is too big for me. I do not understand why this is in any way okay, and I feel like weeping for all those children while profoundly grateful that Jeremiah and Annalise are not there.  Suddenly, the tedium of those homeschool reports and requirements seem far less tedious by comparison….and I am intentionally bathing all the schoolchildren, all of their teachers, and all who come in contact with them in love and peace…because I can’t think of a more useful or healing response…)
  • Connecticut School Shooting Tragedy: Child Trauma is at the Heart of Every Act of Violence (This is a post from an unschooling author whose views are often a bit too extreme, reactive, and generalized for my tastes.  While I would argue the use of ‘every’ in the title, because some diseases, like schizophrenia, can lead to violence without there being childhood trauma, I do believe that there is a general tendency in our culture to see children from the outside in, with little to no effort invested in seeing how the way they are treated is experienced from their perspective…and I believe that this lack of empathy and understanding that things seen as trivial to adults can be devastating to a child’s psyche.  I believe this because I have lived it. To this day, my parents would assert that what they did to me was never that bad, and yet, the more I learn myself, the more fractured places I find, places I know were broken when I was small, because I retain the experience of that breaking…)
  • SOS (Jeremiah and I were watching Saving the Titantic on PBS on Friday, and got talking about Morse code, Marconi machines, and SOS.  So we looked this up to see what SOS stands for –  nothing, as it turns out – and played this clip.  We both learned something –  unschooling win on a difficult day.)
  • I am Adam Lanza’s Mother (this troubled me –  that the mother used her child’s image, and that her litany of what she has tried does not seem to have included simply accepting her child as is, with his sensitivity to stimuli that is likely being  hugely overtaxed in a restrictive school environment, and her seeming assumption that every outburst is due to a diagnosis, and her listing of the many drugs he’s been medicated with, without seeming to question what effects those drugs may have had on him…but, mostly, I hurt for her child, whose difficulties she has made so very public, and I wonder if she thought to secure his approval before posting these details of his life without ever giving his perspective on any of it.  I wrestled with including this link, because I don’t want to spread this…and yet, this seems to me to really point out some of the attitudes and assumptions that may lead to violence, and certainly cause breakage of the child’s spirit and strength of self.)
  • You Are Not Adam Lanza’s Mother (A balance and response for the last article, this one seems more rational, points out the assumptions and deficits in the original post, and made a strong case for exploring the child’s point of view.)
  • ‘Childism’ – As Utterly Unacceptable as Sexism and Racism (This I loved, although it also disturbed me.  It speaks to the blatant public shaming that has become fashionable of late, with Internet humiliations by parents who do not see that their bullying and disrespect of their children will not and cannot lead to true respect from those children, that children are people as much as any other, and deserving of the same calibre of respect as any adult.  It doesn’t go so far as to discuss whether laws demanding all young humans of certain ages must attend school are constitutionally acceptable for American citizens.  The Supernanny clip really moved me –  I used to watch the show and follow those practices –  and I will readily admit that they did not help, and had me spending a lot of time as enforcer.  Our home was not remotely as peaceful, connected or joyous as it has since become… I wanted to scoop up that little baby boy whose feelings were being so ignored, peel those offensive and trapping T-shirts off those siblings who likely have been given no effective tools for dealing with the inevitable conflicts of a shared life, and get down on that floor to listen to a child so distraught they would allow themselves to be dragged across afloor for the simple hope that their needs and wants might be heard and counted as important.  Short of being able to do any of that, I can share this article, and hope it might widen a perspective or two along the way…)
  • Conversations (If I could count the number of times people have spoken to mychildren in this vein.  It is a scripted interaction, and the questioner, because this is not a conversation as much as what I assume is well-intentioned interrogation, is always something at a loss when my children proclaim that they are not and never have been in a grade, that I am not their teacher, and then, generally, steer the conversation to a more interesting and equal footing. A good number fade away rather than engage in anything remotely meaningful…their intention was not to truly engage, apparently.  My guess is that, to them, children are incapable of deeper interaction, or perhaps not worthy of it.  In any event, this tendency of adults to quiz children and to behave as though school ought to be the focus and framework of their lives mystifies Jeremiah and Annalise, who lead rich, textured, and school-free lives, and would love to talk to you about their passions!)

Well, after my comments, I feel that there is something I can say, now…it’s not all I want to say, but it brings a sense of peace.

I don’t need to say more than what I have, just now, so I will simply list my ROW80 Sponsor Visits (sorry, comments have been a little slow, due to my needing to cocoon a bit  and be still with my thoughts).

So that’s it, for me, except to echo Tia Silverthorne Bach

I encourage you to enact some random acts of kindness. Especially for yourself – most of us are far too hard on ourselves, or moving far too fast for our own good.

And for children.

Too often, children are given what are perceived to be kindnesses from an adult viewpoint….but the child does not see life as we do, and, as I go deeper into a partnership connection with my own children, and they confide in me openly, I see that there are many courtesies children would appreciate, but which adults might not even consider…

More on that soon…my own children are asleep, at an hour when they often are awake, and Jim is home from work, and our little nest is feathered with sweet, soft peace.  I am going to eat a shrimp and veggie quesadilla made just for me, and settle back into just being for a few hours…

I just realized that this is the official final check-in, but I will be posting mine on Sunday, after the round ends.

 

 I choose to focus on sweetness.  Will you join me?

 ROW80 updates  linky..

Food – Thankvember Twentieth

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Food – Thankvember Twentieth

America is the wealthiest nation in the world. We have ample resources to feed all our citizens – and yet,every day, we are told, 1 in 6 people will go hungry.

Clearly, something has gone wrong.

There was a time when most people grew their own food, or traded services or materials for what they could not grow.

Before that, there was a long history of hunting and gathering what was needed to feed oneself and one’s family.

It seems to me that there is a powerlessness that comes from not being able to produce any of one’s own food. And I wonder if there is a power grab being made in the unavailability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy foods, in many inner city areas, and in the cheapness of mass-manufactured food products.

I’m not fond of conspiracy theories, but it does seem that, as food becomes more and more the purview of huge conglomerations concerned more with profits and market shares than they do the nutritional or chemical content of the items they market.

It reminds me of what was done to Native Americans who were forced off ancestral lands they lived upon in harmony with nature. The reservations were unfailingly on poor lands that could scarcely support anyone, and strong and proud nations were controlled by the expedient of being robbed of the resources they would need to live healthy and balanced lives.

In both cases the resulting imbalance is generally summarily pawned off on those with little power and no real hope of change. And, in both cases, someone is benefiting from the necessities of life that are being denied.

In my own life, food was a source of great conflict for the majority of my life. I’ve always been a grazer who took my time eating anything, and didn’t want very much at a sitting. I would have preferred to eat small amounts every hour or two.

This was in direct opposition to what my parents required: that I eat two or three meals a day, with no snacks, and that I clean my plate in what they felt was a reasonable amount of time. Their attempts at making me comply included requiring me to stay at the table until finished, or, if I would not finish, serving the cold remains at the next meal, and then the next. Threats, punishments, yelling, and even being spanked with a stick were a part of their strategy to reform my “bad behavior” around food.

I began my own parenting with a milder version of the same concepts. I didn’t force my children to eat all of what I served, but I served what I chose to, and chivvied them to eat. I also allowed my parents and a sibling to use food as a means of controlling my children, even though I knew how it felt to be controlled in that way.

Bounty from the farmer’s market!

I am grateful, today, that I am healing my relationship with food. Now, I see it as pleasure, and as fuel, and as a way of tending kindly to myself and my health. I eat without guilt, generally, and, more and more often, without compulsion. I eat consciously, attending to what my body and soul need.

And I have released my children to do the same. Watching them choose their own diets, and seeing the shifts that happen when they are in growth or plateau phases is enlightening. Children, when unpoisoned by parental assumptions about food, can be very wise about it. It is not uncommon, here, to see my 8 year old assess her choices for protein content, because she knows she often feels grumpier and more volatile when she doesn’t eat some fairly regularly.

There is an ease in what we eat, a willingness to consider alternative foods and diverse ways of procuring food, to grow some of our own food, and to eat as we wish, for goals of our own. If there is power in choices about food, we are learning to use it, for our own benefit, and to share it, which benefits us all.

 

It’s a BLOG HOP

Peace- Thankvember Nineteenth

 

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Peace- Thankvember Nineteenth

As nations in another part of the world are massing for a war, while saying they will do anything to prevent violence against their people, it may seem a little odd that my gratitude today is for peace.

I’m not unused to being called odd. In fact, I kind of like it.

What I have noticed, in this conflict, and in most others, is that doing anything seldom means attempting to resolve the disagreement peacefully, and even less frequently seems to include an honest assessment, on either side, of how they have contributed to the friction, and how they might make restitution for it.

Violence is never the way to peace.

Yes, I said never.

Violence and war are the antithesis of peace and love.

We know this – but,when our passions are aroused,we tend to forget.

People will tell children that fighting doesn’t solve anything – and then they will support a war.

Wars are insanity; they are jagged broken places in humanity.

I am not anti-war.

I am pro-peace.

There is a very large distinction there.

Being pro-peace, the first and most important change I made was within myself.

It is one thing to say I am pro-peace. It is a very different, and much harder thing, to strive to live peacefully myself.

I was not raised peacefully, and, as a child, I had very few examples of peaceful living to aspire to. Perhaps that’s why Star Trek and especially Spock resonated so powerfully with me, and why they still do. Striving for peace is easier when you see others also striving for peace, even if only on television, at first. Seeing a community living in peace, or at least aspiring to, provides a lot to learn from, even when it’s a fictional one.

I am very fortunate to have made some very dear friends who also truly strive to live peacefully. Many have become chosen family – inspiring, uplifting, entertaining, passionate people who think I am pretty cool, too.

I get to interact with these people in a way that I cannot with most others. It’s not common, in modern American conversation, for all parties to be mutually respectful of one another, especially if they disagree, or if one or both stands to gain or lose in the interaction. It’s more common, on the whole, to find people insulting one another rather than looking for positive traits in one another.

But that is how it is, in most of my life, now. I have chosen to spend my time interacting with people who live the concepts of peace, who seek fulfillment over power or money, who sparkle with joy and vitality, whose minds are open to new ideas and opinions.

I see peace in action on a daily basis, in how these people are in the world, and it gives me an example, and advice when I need it, and an ideal to aim for.

As always, though, there is another side.

I have let go of some connections for reasons that include:

  • The relationship was too toxic to work toward or allow for peace
  • Respect was demanded but not given, where
  • There was physical, verbal, and/or emotional abuse
  • Manipulation, shaming, and/or guilt were used as a means of controlling the relationship
  • I felt consistently censored and prohibited from expressing my honest opinions, choices, needs, and/or desires.
  • I felt that being myself was somehow suspect or criminal in the perspective of the other.
  • Old relationship patterns were still playing out, even when I attempted to change my approach or deal openly with the problem.
  • It has been demanded that I refrain from talking or writing honestly and openly about incidents in my life that may alter someone’s opinion of other involved parties.
  • I have been expected to meet someone’s emotional needs and/or heal their emotional wounds out of a sense of obligation, especially when little or no regard has been given to the wounds the other may have caused me.
  • I am not yet able to avoid frequently responding in reactive rather than conscious ways when in conflict with this person, especially if there is frequent and/or simmering conflict in the relationship.

When I realized that relationships that meet some or all of these criteria cannot be healthy or peaceful, I began to realize that this is true in any case, for me – even if the other party is a parent, sibling, or long-time friend.

The above are what I suppose Dr. Phil would refer to as “deal-breakers”, for me. I have tried, for most of my life, to forge peaceful relationships when some of these factors have been involved.

It has never worked.

 

Spock mindmelding with the Horta- a silicone based life form who murdered human miners as retaliation for the unintentional slaughter of her young. Spock was the instrument of peace between two species who misunderstood one another.

I need relationships that are mutual, striving for peace, respectful of all, honest, and do not put image above substance.

I need real, multifaceted connections, and not dog-eared scripts I memorized as some younger version of the woman I am today.

I need bonds that sustain, not chafe; that delight, not shame; that support, not ridicule.

I need people in my life who see who I am, and how who I have been is a part of that, but only a part.

I need relationships that are real and endlessly shifting, where everyone involved is there by choice, and where everyone brings themselves wholly and willingly.

By asking myself what I need from others, I opened myself to deep kinships that feed me in way my former connections, born of a grasping need to seek happiness through others could not. I have released some relationships, but always with the hope that, someday, the situation will be different and healing might begin.

And I have found a new level of peace and personal fulfillment, which I strive to pay forward into the world in my interactions…and to ask myself and others, on occasion, the most important question of all:

“How can I love you better?”

It’s a BLOG HOP!

Joy – Thankvember Eighteenth

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Joy – Thankvember Eighteenth

For a good deal of my adult life, I didn’t give joy much thought at all. My parents and teachers had made it abundantly clear, after all, that being an adult was serious work. They didn’t talk about joy, or finding my passions, or following my heart and my own instincts. They talked instead about responsibility, unmet potential, pipe dreams, common sense, and work ethic, and so these things were where I put my focus.

So, whenever I did something I loved doing, for no other reason than that I did love it, I dealt with a sense of guilt that had me making justifications for why it was a worthwhile endeavor. Often, I would set myself up with assignments and schedules, which gave whatever I was doing a sense of importance in the “adult world” – and, at the same time, sucked the pastime free of the life and fire that had drawn me to it in the first place.

There was something unspoken about doing things just for the sheer joy of doing them. At the same time, I have a nature that resists what is forced upon me, but which thrives on inspiration, intrigue, imagination, and delight.

I suffered much guilt for doing as I pleased, and that took much of the wonder out of it.

It took me until after my fortieth birthday to realize something. This is my life. No one else can tell me, really, how to live it, because no one else is me, living every breath of my own life.

I don’t need permission anymore to live on my own terms. I don’t make justifications for indulging in my passions.

Two years ago, I made a conscious choice to learn to do only what brings me joy. I’m not perfect at it yet, but I am learning.

Does this mean I never wash dishes, do laundry, scoop up after the dog or clean up after the children?

In a word, no. It doesn’t mean that at all.

What it does mean is that I am learning to approach necessary tasks in a different way. For instance, the homeschooling laws in our state require us to write five to six reports per child per year, as well as keep an attendance logs.


I do not like writing these reports – they are tedious and dull, in a way that the things the children are engaged in never are. These reports remind me of one of the primary reasons we chose not to send the children to school unless they choose to go – school tries to reduce everything into a recipe or a formula. After years of watching my children learn in ways as individual as they are, I can attest to the fact that this is not true.

However, I love my life with my children, and value their freedom to learn in ways that are natural and relevant to them, personally. I trust that they will learn what they need to know, and I am willing to support them more or less around the clock as they do so.

If I did not write the reports, we would be in violation of state homeschooling law, and that might lead to being required to enroll the children in school.

My children have this joy thing down pat!

So, I write the reports, and I do my best to keep my focus on what is being gained in the writing. I make sure I have lots of other interesting writing projects going, then, so that I can slip in a point or two on the reports somewhat painlessly, here and there.

It works the same with laundry and dishes. We buy sweetly and naturally scented detergents, and I do the work in small segments. And, when I really don’t feel like doing them, I don’t, because hometending begrudgingly creates a bad vibe in our home.

By respecting my energy levels and my right to live my life as I please, I have both brought a great deal more joy into that life, and, although it may seem paradoxical, far more productive.

It’s a BLOG HOP!

Unschooling – Thankvember Second

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Unschooling -Thankvember Second

It would be impossible to overstate the depth of my gratitude for unschooling, and the huge shifts it has engendered in my family – and in myself.

 

I am the child of abuse. I do not blame my abusers, who were a link in a chain that stretches back through generations. However, the patterns of my upbringing are layered through all the levels of my psyche, like a type of poisoned baklava.

 

Until I began to discover the basic philosophies of unschooling, and to apply them to myself and my interactions with my children, I did not realize that these layers existed. And so I acted out the patterns that made up my own childhood, inflicted some of the same abuses upon my own children, even while knowing that there was something wrong, some disconnect that had me too often being unkind to the children I love with all of my soul.

 

Years of scouring mainstream parenting books and periodicals only made the situation worse, as I began to realize that their intent was to manipulate children to conform to adult expectations. I began to realize how much of my time was spent in creating and enforcing rules and consequences – the “enlightened” name I gave to punishments that were often born of frustration or impotent rage.

 

As I was reading more and more about raising children with principles rather than rules; respect rather than reward and punishment; and partnership rather than dictatorship; all that energy, and all the angst that came as part and parcel of being the lawmaker, police, and judge over my children seemed to be wasted.

 

There was a tumultuous period of transition, where I changed too much, too fast for any member of our family to cope with, but, within a few months of beginning, the differences in our lives and our homes made all the adjustments and rocky periods worth it, even though, if I were beginning again, I would move more slowly, and allow far more time to adjust to the changes in a more gradual fashion.

 

Now, four years into our unschooling journey, we have an incredibly loving, peaceful home. It’s not that we don’t have some of the same emotional storms that exist in all homes, especially those with passionate personalities, and now that both our children are closing in on the grand new adventure of puberty.

 

It’s that we no longer look on these storms as tantrums, or the mistakes our children make in the course of living their lives “behavior issues”. Instead, we look at theses compromised moments in the same way that we do our own. There is no need to punish or correct; simply being there for someone (whatever their age) who is weathering emotions too intense to be contained.

 

We talk here, a lot. Not in the way that parents often talk to their children, in scripts and to-do lists and lectures. We talk as four people who love each other, like each other, and genuinely enjoy living together. When there are conflicts, we try to resolve them quickly, and in a way that respects needs and wishes as much as possible.

 

We also actively work toward improving our ability to discuss problems and conflicts peacefully, which not only makes our lives better now, but gives us all very valuable tools to use in all conflicts.

 

Because my children have the freedom to choose much of the content of their own lives, their learning is natural and relevant. They are surprisingly capable, already, at 11 and 8. They are not preparing for life – they are living it, right now and in every moment, on their own terms. They aren’t at a loss for how to fill their days, nor do they look to their parents to tell them what they are supposed to do next. They are confident, and engage adults as equals, usually with a friendly smile and genuine interest.

 

Taking the leap of faith of leaving behind the mainstream ideas that did not work for us was frightening, but it has changed our lives tremendously for the better! =D

 

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For more on unschooling:

Sandra Dodd

Joyfully Rejoycing

Soul to Soul – OctPoWriMo, Oct.14, 2012

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Soul to Soul

Twelve days makes a very short lifetime –

So very much I never knew

About who you might have been.

A brief little blip, like the ones on the monitors

That measured the breaths and beats of your life.

Made less by that robber-baron, coma.

So very much of your life taken

From you, even while you still lived

Leaving a half-death that we couldn’t share.

But before we knew, and grieved,

On the night of your birth, when still

There was hope…

That night, as soon as I could,

I came to you, and pulled myself up

To see your face for the first time.

Your gaze found mine, instantly

You knew the sound of my voice,

And so you watched me.

Soul to soul, mother and son

Everything else faded out, and away

And there was only us.

You met my eyes as an equal

As though you knew you could not stay,

And had long since accepted what I could not.

Peace and wisdom met me, embraced me

In the way I longed to hold you

You settled into my being, my son.

You seemed to be saying that

All was as it was meant to be

Leaving me only to accept.

I looked and looked

And, in that shared gaze

A lifetime of knowing was held.

The next day those wise eyes

Drooped, then closed

And did not open again.

The Broken Code – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 11

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The Broken Code

For so many years, I was silenced by force

As surely as I am bound by gravity and mortality.

An unspoken code known by all victims, everywhere

The broken code of silence we followed with our

Fractured sobs.

It’s the broken code of power and dependence

Of the need for and the withholding of affection

Of yearning for love and the coldness of apathy

Of those who decide and those with no choice

Terror and threat.

The broken silent code is my family’s code

Bred into my bone, my soul, my mind, my breath

As it was bred into my own parents, and theirs before

One does not speak of things that are done behind

Closed doors.

And so I, the child with the blonde hair down to there

The vivid blue eyes that shaded to grey, the image seen

Walking with her family, seeming-joyful, chattering

Pretending without knowing that all was perfect

A wordless lie.

But within our home life was far different

Shame and humiliation were a daily affair.

For any reason or none the code would play out

Now my parents,once helpless and weak

Had the power.

The broken code bequeathed them the right

To break their children as they were broken

To knock us down or yank at our hair

And shred our emotions as if they were only

Salad lettuce.

Why? Why did they do that to us?

Why does anyone torment, when once tormented?

Why are we so prone to force the same

Shames and hurts and terrors upon those we say

We love?

That’s the secret, I think, of the broken code.

It reseeds itself in the fracturing it creates

As the weak grow strong, they lust for the time

When they will wield the power, the ridicule

Sweetest revenge.

The broken children living now in adult bodies

Want vengeance against those who fractured them

But the broken code does not allow that, and so

They turn their focus to the children they create

Breaking them.

I was sworn to secrecy before I could speak

In every time I watched my parents fight

Yelling, doors slamming, days of my mother

Behind that door, and my father’s fury unleashed

Upon us.

If someone came by to visit, though

Out came my mother, all smiles, my father with

His flashing eyes at his most jovial.

As though there was no hostility between them, the

Perfect Couple.

Until the door was closed once more, me holding my breath

Hoping, despite the evidence of all the times before that

This time would be different, and the peace would remain

I thought it was peace, when it was nothing more than

The broken code.

And so I learned young to wear two faces, be two selves

The cheerful, beloved child who cavorted and talked, always talked

The words a flood meant to disguise, deflect, and protect

So that no one would ever see the frenetic furies

That were life.

The broken code is an instrument of shame, and

Lest I might think to one day speak up, it carried many

Ways to assure me that the insults and blows

Were nothing other than I deserved, necessary because

I was bad.

The broken code is an efficient weapon, slicing through

Self-esteem, confidence, ability to see clearly

What is deserved, and what is not, and what is

The result of the code’s shattering effects. It was all

My fault.

So I was told, and so I believed, for far too long,

In too many ways, I silenced myself: My instincts, my voice

My knowing myself, my motives, my strength, or even my right

To live in my home, with the family I loved

And be safe.

So I grew to be another child in an adult shape

And I began to inflict the broken code upon the children

I brought into this world, in the same way it was inflicted on me

I knew not what I did, any more than any do who have lived the

Broken code.

But something within me survived, stubborn, rebellious and free

And through tragedy it caught hold, and began to grow strong

Offering hope and a new way of being that fed peace and joy

Talking with rather than yelling at, hugs and snuggles.

Healing began.

As I heal, I learn what it really is to be an adult

To live without the shackles of the broken code,

To free my children, my husband, and myself to be

Not chained servants of a broken code but just

Who We Are.

And still, though I am grown, my parents believe

That my life is theirs, and not my own, and that I

Am shameful and cruel for speaking my truth and

Striving to live without any need of a

Broken code.

I hear that I have hurt their feelings and made them look

Like monsters,” claims my sister. “They are good people who

Just made mistakes.” As though abuse could be as innocent as

Burning the toast or making a wrong turn or stubbing a toe

No Big Deal.

It is I who should feel shame, for speaking my truth and wanting

To heal – for myself and for those I love. Because my parents’ pride

Ought to matter more than that, than peace and healing and honoring

The need not to sacrifice myself or anyone else to the cruelty of

A broken code.

My parents are not monsters. No one is. No baby born evil.

Children are fractured, wounded, sacrificed , ruined.

By the broken code of abuse, silence, domination,

My parents, and I, my siblings – all of us are victims of

The broken code.

I do not hate my parents, nor wish to cause them hurt.

I wish for them healing, and peace, and an end to their torment.

I speak my truth because it is my truth. And hiding it to spare

Feelings is to ignore my own, and allow wounds to

Fester.

Silence can never bring healing, pretending can

Never make me whole. Never bring to light

The shadow world that goes on, so often unseen and unknown

Closed off behind masquerade smiles and tidy front doors

Secretly scarring.

And though it may mean I never speak to my mother, my

Father, my sister again, though that loss may throb and ache.

I cannot be silent. I must shatter this broken code.
Because any code that requires silence and violence can never

Lead to peace.

The little Foster girl with the long blonde hair”.

It’s a Blog Hop!

Your Soapbox Awaits Presents: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell!

My response to Shan’s Unschooling post in the A-Z challenge during April was visceral, wistful and yet shot through with recognition. When my youngest son was a year old, and my elder son almost 2 1/2, I needed knee surgery, which became a convenient excuse for me to quit a job I found unfulfilling. The small space of the three years I stayed home with them was magical.

I remember stretching out on the lawn one early morning so that Wolf could show me the rainbow in a drop of dew. I had been a serious child, and limited my exploration to the worlds in books; this sensory exploration of the physical world, especially seen through the curiosity and somehow right reckoning of my boys, opened my mind and heart to things unknown, unseen, and untasted.

At the end of those three years, I surrendered my boys to the tender mercies of public schooling and its forcing square pegs into round holes, consoling myself by continuing to interact with them in the ways formed while I was not working outside the home. We talked about everything they were doing in school, which I always tried to supplement with further explorations of what they were interested in pursuing.

When the boys were 11 and 13, we traveled to Washington, D.C. One morning, my husband and Wolf had gone downtown to get in line for tickets to the Washington Monument. Johann and I had a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant next to the hotel, talking about whatever came to mind. I was discussing the political history of D.C. with him when a couple sitting across from us came over to our table. They apologized for disturbing us, but wanted to tell me that they were Canadian, and in all their travels through the U.S., they had never witnessed such a conversation between a parent and child. I was quite taken aback, as I certainly was not trying to teach any particular agenda at that moment; I told them that such conversations were daily occurrences for us, to which they nodded and replied that was clear given the matter-of-fact manner of both question and answer.

I have often deeply regretted sending my boys to school, especially through some particularly virulent bullying episodes by their teachers that proved the truth of my misgivings. There was never any teaching of the sort recognized by the school system, yet my sons learned more at home than they did until college. Thus my wistful response to Shan’s description of unschooling, shot through with the pride that, without even knowing what it was called, I fostered my sons’ learning at their own pace and interest level.

My sons came home last Sunday; one of the first things they mentioned was the trip to D.C. and how we used to have such wonderful family vacations. As they are now 19 and 20, I cherish the opportunity to have a few more family times with them before they head off into the world. I smile to myself at the vigorous debates that pepper the dinner table, the offhand way that one of them will educate the rest of us on a topic of interest; I think that no matter what else I accomplish in life, in this I have done well.

****************************************************

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell has been in love with words all her life. After trying to channel all her writing into academic work, she has decided to carve a little space for fiction. “Although it is difficult to fit writing into my life, it would be harder to let it go.”  She writes historical fiction, often drawing on her background in medieval literature. She writes about language and literary history on her blog, http://lapidaryprose.wordpress.com ; her author website http://elizabethannemitchell.com is under construction.

Elizabeth loves feedback and would enjoy hearing your thoughts and suggestions. Contact her on Twitter: @EMitchellwriter; or by email: lapidaryprose@gmail.com.

Just Rowin’ Along – ROW 80 Goals Update #9

Lise sleeping in the front yard….a new hobby.

I don’t have a lot to write tonight, beyond  my update.  No real reason; I’m just in a  quiet space, now, deep in processing mode, because things are happening, thoughts are swirling, and I really don’t want to put into words what isn’t ready yet.

I do, though, have news, and a few tidbits;

  • My poem, 4AM call, is being published in the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.  I will make $3.00 for its publication –  my first paying gig in several years! =)
  • My life has been rich in family over the last days.  The collages here will attest to the mellow, peaceful flow going on here….smooth, rippling waters, with just a few swift currents.
  • With the wide array of goals I’ve set, I’ve been feeling like a few things are slipping away from me each week.  Not in an ignoring them way, more in a tucked into the corner way.
  • Today, I had a sudden idea to  use a tin to hold slips of paper with my goals categories written on them.
  • I experimented with pulling a slip from the jar, and working on that category’s goals.
  • When I have made measurable progress on each goal in the category, I set the slip aside and choose another.
  • I won’t return slips to their tin until all have been selected, which will make me feel a bit better, I think, about how I am balancing them.
  • I may stop using this method as I wrap up a few more of the goals, and feel that I’ve attained some form of equilibrium for those remaining.

Growing things….

Round 2 Goals:

Reading:

  • Read at least 5 blogposts a week (not including my own), and like, comment, and/or share as I am moved to.
  • I read the wonderful A Lucky 7 ROW, and made a long and personal comment (when you’ve known the author since you were both 4, it’s hard NOT to be personal!).
  • I read the inspirational and thought-provoking Fun Ways to Network.  I shared on Facebook and Twitter.
  • I read the celebratory  100,000 , shared on Facebook, and commented.
  • I read the delicious self-affirmation in Happy New May, Dear ROW#80 Friends, and commented.

Jeremiah communes with Elijah’s tree.

  • Create flash fiction, short stories, dialogues, character sketches, alternate scenes, and poetry for  Chameleon’s Dish.  Wander cow trails, and learn these people and their lives more fully.
  • I have added to the scene I have been working on, but think I will set it aside for a while and begin a new one, soon.
  • Pull material from 750 words posts not part of the Chameleon’s Dish first draft.
  • I have clipped one entry of about 650 words. and will be posting it both at The Unfettered Life and to in my Sunday update, here…
  • Create essays, stories, and other pieces based upon these writings.
  • I will be posting that piece both at The Unfettered Life and  in my Sunday update, here…
  • Locate, rough edit, and format all chapters of Chameleon’s Dish.  Input into Scrivener. 
  • I have located Chapter 9 (which will eventually be Chapter 2) and created a LibreOffice file for it.  I have also reformatted it for easy transferring to Scrivener.
  • I began to create a Scrivener project for Chameleon’s Dish-  Rough Draft by adding the first scene of Chapter 1, and setting up the basic project structure.
  • Finish father-in-law letter and send.
  • I added more notes to this letter draft, and still have about a quarter of the letter as written to mull over and make notes on.
  • Once the notetaking is done and the letter has had a few days to rest, I will begin writing a revised draft.

Jeremiah, Warrior of the Broken Sword

  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • I am having some trouble getting into the blogging flow… I think I just have too many other projects going on.
  • I am therefore going to use the flow charts only if I am at a loss as to what to write, and want to work on one of my blogs.
  • I will try to do the Monday highlights at The Unfettered Life at least twice a month, because it will make reporting that much better.

Networking:

  • Continue joining hops, fests, challenges, and other community blogging efforts.
  • As mentioned above, I joined the Story a Day May Challenge.
  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I have commented on and read four posts.

Annalise’s current round of chalk art.

Submitting:
  • Continue submitting to hops, challenges, fests, etc.; at least 3 each month.
  • As mentioned above, I will be writing a story a day for the month of May.
  • That leaves two to join for May.

Photography:

  •  Organize all photos on hard drive/move to organized Picasa web albums or delete.
  • I have cleared my recent downloads, and also some redundant and empty files.
  • At this point, the remaining folders have some redundancies, as well as photos that have not yet been uploaded  to my Picasa Web Albums.
  • My focus, going forward from this point, will be to go through those folders, uploading and deleting as appropriate.  Some of these have been waiting for quite some time, and it will be a relief  –  an likely fun, too – to deal with them!
  • Watermark all photos that appear on my blogs, and all those I post going forward; begin watermarking favorites not on blogs.
  • I  added watermarks to all the photos in my Picasa Collages Album, and synced to my Web Albums.
  • Next, I will find the posts which use these collages, and replace with the watermarked versions.

The artist with her creations…..

 Learning:

  •  Get Scrivener  downloaded; begin learning by inputting  Chameleon’s Dish.
  • I have input Chapter One, Scene 2, into the existing novel format.
  • I was apprehensive about adding additional scenes past this point, because the existing format only has two, and I could not easily see how to create them.
  • I toyed with the program a little, and found that by clicking to the place  in the main binder where I want to add a scene or chapter, then clicking “Add Text”, I can add as many scenes and chapters as I need.
  • I added Chapter One, Scene 3 in this manner.
  • From this point, I expect that the adding of scenes and chapters will flow more quickly, naturally, and easily.
  • I will be doing minor reformatting and editing as I go, but anything major will be waiting for next ROWnd’s rewrite.
  • Use Twitter and HootSuite at least one day a week.  Learn more.
  • I used Twitter  –  just Twitter, without the HootSuite platform for several hours on Tuesday afternoon.
  • I am becoming a little more comfortable with this platform.  I might even feel at home there, someday!
  • For WordPress, create a running list of questions; work on finding answers!
  • I have added my big question regarding last night’s domain name SNAFU (I somehow assigned the domain name to my new Story-a-day WordPress.org account, “stealing” it from my writer blog –  gulp!).
  • This issue seems to have ironed itself out! =)
  • I have added ideas to try for two of the other questions I already had on the list.
  • I will experiment, at some point, and see what that yields…..

More Lise and her chalk art – so glad I took the pictures before it rained!

Organizing:

  •  Edit all 2009 posts on  The Unfettered Life.  Consider layout and design changes.
  • I have reread Learning Nothing….the Final Frontier in preparation for editing and updating.
  • Next, I will begin a fairly major edit/reformatting of this piece.
  • Input Chameleon’s Dish to Scrivener; Complete story arc for Blood and Breath.
  • As mentioned above, I have moved both of these goals forward.
Self-care:
  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Monday: Skipped hometending; lazy at-home day; lots of outside Lise time.
  • Tuesday:Attended t’ai chi class and brought Miah. Stopped to see two pairs of Canada geese, one with several little yellow goslings, at the creek on Coon’s Crossing Road.  Snuggles and love with Lise.
  • Wednesday: Outside time with Lise and Miah; photography; being clear about my needs; sleeping in after two poor nights’ sleep; coffee with Jim.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Monday: Mowing, outdoors stuff.
  • Tuesday: T’ai chi class –  a surprisingly thorough workout!
  • Wednesday:A little more mowing; mellow hometending; outdoors activities with both kids.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • Big time self-decorating.  Jim helped me to bleach a section of my hair and add vivid blue dye….
  • It isn’t just how I pictured it, but I’ve learned a bit more about the process, so next time will be better.
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Monday: Reading, writing, relaxing, and simply BEING.
  • Tuesday: More reading and writing; joined the Story-a-day Challenge; t’ai chi; a couple of hours of solitude; color for my hair; TWO hot showers!
  • Wednesday: Reading and writing; outdoor photography; taking the time to consider a vivid dream.
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Jeremiah: I invited Miah to join me for t’ai chi.  We had lots of fun and good, private connection time.
  • Jim: Coffee and companionship; help with the lawn (a bit much still for his broken hand); and the suggestion that he should get a new riding jacket to replace the leather one that has now been cut off him twice; and honest and open communication regarding or not-quite-aligning visions of our family’s future plans.
  • Annalise: Lots of snuggles and tickles; attended several animal weddings; toured her most recent chalk art exhibition, commemorated with photos; listened to her reading.

 Administrative Stuff:

  • Write and submit third quarter reports for both children.  These are due on June 1, 2012.
  • I have revised Jeremiah’s Reading section.
  • I have written Jeremiah’s Writing/Spelling section.
  • As we are now officially into our “fourth quarter”; I will be stepping up my focus on getting these reports finished and sent – it felt good to have them completed early, last quarter, and I am looking forward to that feeling –  maybe even sooner, this month!
  • Cleanup email folders/organize, move, read, delete, act upon as needed.
  • I have deleted over two dozen messages from my Transactions in Progress file (some, almost a year old!), leaving only those I need (hotel and campground confirmations; receipts for services I no longer want; etc.
  • This leaves only a few files with a couple of messages in each; after which I will begin reading and acting on what’s left.
  • I also intend to set aside a bit of time every so often to weed through these folders, so that they won’t get so congested in the  future.
  • Input two writing practice notebooks to Penzu.
  • I am now up to page 26 of 120 in notebook #1.
  • Given the time left in the round, this, too, will likely become a greater focus in the coming weeks, especially as I complete other goals.

A girl and her dog…..

At my last post, I skipped  introducing any of my followers, mostly because it was late, and I was very tired.

Tonight, though, I have 5 more  interesting people to recognize: 

I’ll maybe be more talkative, come Sunday…or maybe not.  Quiet times are a part of me.  Good stuff happens in the quiet times….

Some of the other ROWers may be more wordy….why not take a look around?

Y is for Yelling

500 Words On…Yelling.

Yelling was an everyday occurrence, within my family of origin. With four children and two parents who hadn’t learned how to contain or rise above their rage, there seemed to always be some reason to yell at someone.

There were  times when my father went from child to child, asking questions that seemed designed to find us in some wrongdoing he could yell about. If he went through all of us without success, sometimes he would go through the process again – and, eventually, he either found or created a reason to vent whatever frustrations had driven the process.

There is much less yelling here, and what there is is generally short-lived and soon moved past. Nearly all the yelling there is is done by the children – when you are seven, or even ten, life can get too frustrating to take, very quickly, and yelling is a safety valve that prevents an explosion of a far greater magnitude.

I do the best I am able not to take the yelling personally – getting reactive and yelling back never helps, and usually makes things far worse, and it hurts my head, throat, and soul, besides.

Besides, it isn’t personal.  It’s just a young person, still relatively inexperienced at life and conflict, who is dealing with more than he or she can handle. The anger or hurt or frustration pour out, and sometimes the words that get used are hurtful – not because the child truly hates me, or their life, but because that is how they feel in this moment in time, and that feeling is too intense to allow them to realize, just then, that there will be love, peace, and joy again – and that they might only be moments away.

I’ve realized, over the last year or so, that, when I can remain in a place of love and calmness, neither feeding or ignoring the emotional chaos, but instead letting it pass through me like a stone through a deep still pool, it’s sometimes enough to help calm the tempestuous energies of the child, as well.

It’s a quiet way to say that I feel their emotional discord, and I still accept them. If the yelling was directed at me, I might say, softly but firmly, “I didn’t deserve that.”

And then, I go about my business, which seems to reassure both children that things are going to be all right – that they might be better than they thought.

Usually, the yelling child will take themselves to their room, to fling themselves on their bed.  Often, fatigue was the impetus for the yelling, and the child will be asleep within moments, to wake up happy and better-rested.

Other times, they will settle, and find a diversion. Miah might turn to a book, his 3DS, for games or a show on Netflix; Lise likes books, Littlest Pet Shop characters, and caring for her stuffed animals.

I don’t handle every episode as well as I might, but I keep learning, and each success grows the peace in our home.

Sometimes, I still yell – my ability to control myself is not yet as all-encompassing as I would like it to be.

I no longer excuse myself, not blame myself,  for that.

Instead, I keep learning, and healing – because I prefer loving, trusting peaceful life, and yelling isn’t a means to that end. =)