If it's the thought that counts then I owe quite a few people apologies and others owe me restraining orders. I'm also in great shape on account of how often I 'think' about going back to yoga, will have a book published any day now based on the words swimming in my head and should have millions - if not billions - in my bank account with all my brilliant ideas come-to-fruition. (I should check my balances.)
The difficulty is in the discipline; going from thinking about the things I know I can do to actually doing them. There's certainly plenty of motivation: Yoga = amazing body? Yes, please. Published memoir = bucket list item complete? Huge sense of accomplishment. And so on. But when comes to focusing my efforts on making these things happen? Well, I'm the queen of imagining the happy ending without even beginning with Once Upon A Time...
So I'm challenging myself. Actually, Eleanor Roosevelt is challenging me to "Do one thing every day that scares you." For 30 days I'm going to see what happens when I bully myself into bravery and document the details to see what happens when I stop being imaginative and start making life happen.
Since 30 days has November, there is no better timing to take life by the balls. I'm pretty sure that's what Eleanor meant.
And you? What are you waiting for? I'm challenging you to do the same.
Ready. Set. Go.
"My friend was getting beat up by this kid and I asked him if he was getting hurt and he said yes and I said what does the kid look like and I went and found the kid."
I turned down the radio the rest of the way.
All three of my boys are trained in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) a full three years; the six year old a first degree green belt. He's also Mr. Peacekeeper of the bunch but when he spars? I hold my breath. The kid is a powerhouse.
"You went and found him? Then what?"
"I found him and his friends hiding behind a wall. They started punching me."
I was clutching the steering wheel, scared to ask what happened next. We have made it very clear to the boys that they are not allowed to use their MMA training unless they need to defend themselves and - well - here we are, a situation where he had every right to defend himself.
"I blocked the punches."
"Did you punch them back?"
"No. Just used my MMA blocks."
"So you didn't have to punch anyone?"
"Nah. Their punches weren't very good so I just blocked them until they got tired and then I got a teacher."
I sat back in my seat. I was impressed. At six years old, he had a) stuck up for someone getting hurt, b) utilized his MMA skills while maintaining the right amount of composure and restraint and c) made sure a teacher took control from there.
This is where I make my case for MMA. When I mention my boys (ages 5, 6 and 8) are MMA trained as well as nationally recognized and awarded, I hear everything from "Geez, what is that? Cockfighting for kids?" to "Oh you're raising little fighters, huh?"
I'm raising boys. Boys who participate, play and train in a number of sports - soccer, baseball, basketball and yes, MMA. Boys who are strictly disciplined at home and whose discipline continues at the MMA studio. Who are not allowed to abuse their training in any way. If they do use their skills in a way they shouldn't, they won't just answer to school officials and us as parents but to their sifus and senseis. They will lose their ranks and belts. They are taught respect and self control before they learn to throw a single punch and they're taught that throwing that punch is only done when it's necessary.
And sometimes, it is necessary.
My oldest spent three years being bullied to the point of complete misery and anxiety at his last school. So much so that it ended in both police and school board involvement at the end of last year and us moving schools. This, mind you, with the school having a supposed "zero tolerance" bullying stance.
Yet he never threw a single punch. He never defended himself.
I'll be honest. I wish he had. When your kid cries himself to sleep at night because the kids won't leave him alone and the school officials whose job it is to keep him safe refuse to, don't tell me you wouldn't want your son to fight back too.
This is the irony of the schools' no-bullying campaigns. Even when the schools enforce and provide consequences to the kids who are bullying (which his school didn't), rarely do they go beyond the write-ups and suspensions to actually get to the root of the problem and resolve why the event(s) even happened in the first place.
Maybe this is why the bullying never ends? Why it's being called an epidemic?
The schools have kids - even at the Kindergarten level - so scared about coming face-to-face with the principal over an altercation of any kind with another student that kids will let other kids bully them until they can't take it anymore.
If they tell on the kid? They're told not to be a tattletale.
If they stick up for themselves? They're given the same exact punishment as the kid who threw the first punch.
And the moment the bully's friends find out their buddy got "ratted out" well, forget it.
Don't get me started on the parents who refuse to believe their precious child could have ever done such a thing.
We will never encourage our kids to fight. Ever. But we will always make sure they know that they have the right to defend themselves if they have to. Because in all the anti-bullying campaigning, the school's are failing to teach our kids that they do not deserve to be pushed over, punched, jabbed, tripped, bitten, spit on and harassed by anyone. And if the schools won't remind my boys that they deserve to be treated better than that by other human beings, I will.
In my defense, dearest people of the Internet, I honestly believed it would bring me good blog fodder. I mean a "21 Naughty Sex Tips" article? Really, Cosmo? How many times have you printed that in some version or another over the past decade?
I might have started off with a bit of a cynical attitude. I'll give you that.
But, ok, here's the deal. Here's where I get honest at the expense of you pointing your finger and laughing in. my. face. until your ribs hurt. Every single month? I find at least a few - if not several - articles, tips, tidbits, WHATHAVEYOU that make me go "Ohhhh."
You would think at the ripe old age of 30 I should know whatever there is to know about a) men, b) relationships, c) make-up and d) sex but apparently shit changes and trends and technology and OH MY GOD I now thumb through Cosmo's pages nodding along, eyes wide open, jaw sometimes dropped, a few particular pages dogeared like I were 14 years old hiding in my bedroom trying to learn about things, mom, I didn't care to learn about at 14 years old I SWEAR TO GOD.
I mean, until my recent Cosmo binge, I for one didn't know "what men want most at 9 pm" but thankyouverymuch June Cosmo for making me blush.
*sets alarm clock*
*looks around for a man at 9 pm*
The September issue promised to let me know what my "vajayjay" was "dying to tell (me)." And sure enough, well. *nods in appreciation*
Protips: Buy yogurt, pee after sex, give your vibrator a bath and don't wear jeans so tight. YOU'RE SO WELCOME.
I've also learned how to not just hide but *erase* dark undereye circles, shrink my inner thighs in 6 minutes per day! (don't look, I haven't actually tried that yet) and read - READ - that *cough* vibrators have come alooooong way technologically speaking. *cough*
Laugh all you want but holy hell, I am now a wealth of information. Do I have any use for it? Not so much. But if knowing is half the battle... well... dammit, bring on the war.
Fancy this: I took a little risk and bought an airplane ticket across the country to chase a job I won't like, I'll love. Did I get it? I don't know. Perhaps it was crazy on my part. Maybe I was a bit tenacious. But I'm not sorry. How does the quote go? "The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing and becomes nothing." I'm still holding out hope. I'm trying on this whole 'have faith' thing for size.
And you know what? In my adventures from here to there and everywhere in between, I had an amazing time. I got to see my family, meet new friends, bar hop in Savannah (a city I've always wanted to go to), see Hilton Head Island and manage to not ever find the ocean (I know, I know), crash a tweet-up and turn up in the local newspaper the next day, eat an entire pound of crab while grown men watched in astonishment, drink beer out of a tube served by pretty women in kilts, learn the tomahawk motion at a Braves game... and I did every bit of it with my sister RV who made it all the more fun.
My trip down South in three and a half minutes:
I posted this last year and still gets more traffic than almost any other post I've ever written - which is ironic since I kinda didn't want you to know that I could do this... ;) Anyway, it's very easy to do and can be made for any occasion but goes over especially well as end-of-the-year teachers' gifts.
Look out, I'm about to whip out the nasty crafty on you in a way I want you all to forget about as soon as you've read this and I've posted something else. It will be our little secret.
For some of you this idea may come a little too late - your kids may already be shirtless and barefoot and soaking up the sun in the name of summertime. But for a lot of us here in California, we're still in the thick of school drop-offs and pick-ups, end-of-the-year plays and award assemblies and OH SHIT did I get the teacher an end-of-the-year gift?! realizations.
That's where I come in. I *may* be able to help you. But just this once and then, like I said, YOU AIN'T HEARD IT FROM ME, mkay?
Brown paper lunchbag books
(Feel free to add your own ideas & change it up as you wish or based on your child's age and capability to contribute to the project)
Some tools/supplies you should consider buying:
Any one of these tapes/glues will work although if you want my opinion on which works best, I'd go with the one on the right - Dotto in "permanent." Whatever you do, don't use regular glue, glue sticks or hot glue.
Buying some self-adhesive letters will save you time and grief and will also really liven up your creation. Both Michael's and Target sell them and sometimes Target even sells some sets in their $1 section. If you're feeling particularly fancy, you can even purchase chipboard letters (far right) which are HELLA CUTE but also HELLA EXPENSIVE.
You will also need: Scrapbooking paper, scissors, ribbon, a ruler, stickers (to embellish if you want).
Ready? Let's do this.
First, be careful with how many lunchbags you choose to use for your book. Four lunchbags will results in *14* pages you need to fill plus a front and back cover. YEAH. However many you choose, start by laying them out, turning every other lunchbag the opposite direction so the first bag's opening is at one end, the second bag's opening is at the other end, and so on like in the photo. Then align them neatly on top of each other.
Folding the bags in half, pressing firmly to create a strong crease. Note that it's impossible to have the ends line up perfectly AND THAT'S OK MS. OCD. (I'm mostly talking to me, but I know there are others like me out there pissed off right now that they won't. line. up. perfectly. what. the. fuck.)
Open up your lunchbag book to the middle so you can punch holes along the crease to bind it. NOTE: a) This is where those tools I mentioned way up above come in handy, b) do not punch too close the edge in case the hole rips, and c) it may take a few punches with the hole punch to get through all those bags. YOU CAN DO IT.
There are several ways you can use ribbon to bind your book - I'm just going to show you one way because I'm lazy as hell. In this example, I threaded the ribbon from the inside of the book to the outside through the bottom hole and from the inside of the book to the outside through the top hole. I know. I'm confused too. Just look at the photo.
You back? Ready to do work? OK. Let's get it on.
Measuring before cutting is like, THE LAW when it comes to making these books. You would *think* every page would measure up the same but trust me, it won't. Also, BEFORE YOU CUT your background scrapbook paper for each page I should tell you that the idea is not to cover the entire brown portion of the lunchbag. You can and should leave a border. So if the page is 6x6" you might want to cut your paper 5.5x5.5" for example.
Also? I'm horrible at explaining things without making them sound more confusing than they really are.
If you have a paper cutter, you will be grateful. If not, you will probably be buying one. You'd be surprised how often this bad boy comes in handy... Cut your background paper according to your measurements. I personally like to use the same paper for both the front and back covers but you certainly don't have to. If you choose to, save yourself the time and cut both at the same time. Duh.
To make the paper stand out a little from the brown paper bag, I decided to use some ink to ink the edges of the paper a cool green color that ties in with both the paper and the ribbon I used to bind the book together. (Click on photo to enlarge and see more detail.)
I start with the cover of the book. Here's where those self-adhesive sticky letters come in handy. Lesson Learned The Hard Way: Double check that you have enough of each letter before actually using the letters. Heh.
Here's what makes using lunchbags soooo cool. They have openings at one end, right? Right. Well these aren't just openings. These are OPPORTUNITIES. (That's what he said.) Ahem. Anyway. These openings are the nooks and crannies where you can tuck away notes, photos, drawings, etc.
VERY IMPORTANT: I'm going to lay the lunchbag book so that the rest of the pages are out of my way and only the cover itself lays on the mat so that when I punch a hole through it (which I'm about to do) I don't accidentally punch a hole through other pages. Not that I've ever done THAT before. Nope.
That tool set I recommended that comes with a hole punch also comes with a mini mat that will come in handy right now. I slide it in the opening of the lunchbag so that I don't hole punch through to the next page...
Once the tag is attached via the ribbon, I tuck it inside the lunchbag opening, leaving enough loose ribbon so that the tag can be pulled in and out of the bag to be read. I will use this particular tag to say "To and From" since it's at the beginning of the book.
Now before you go about the rest of the pages in your lunchbag book, adding background paper and embellishing them, what's a gal (or dude) to do about those flaps on the lunchbags? Glue those fuckers down. Sure, if you're feeling foolish adventurous you can make use of them, but really? GLUE THEM DOWN before putting down your background paper.
Now you can go about your book however you'd like, but I like to go through and choose all my background paper first, cutting and gluing it down before creating each page. I also like to use matching paper for each pair of pages... But you certainly don't have to. You can fly-by-the-seat-of-your-crafty-pants and go page-by-page and mix match paper for all I care.
But now what? What do you actually put on these pages? This is where some variables come in. This particular book is an end-of-the-year thank you for my 7 year old's first grade teacher. So he can write and contribute to it accordingly. What I decided to do is ask him some questions ahead of time and then let him write his answers.
Fill-in-the-blank questions like:
Thank you for...
When I grow up I want to be...
I will miss...
And then I will fill in the some of the remaining pages with some quotes about teachers, a personal note from me to his teacher expressing my gratitude and drawings he did of himself and his teacher.
Wanna see how it turned out? Here it is, cover to cover:
Now if you decide to do one of these, I want to see how yours turns out. Upload your finished project to flickr and link back in the comments section. For reals.
And remember, THIS POST NEVER HAPPENED.
What I'm currently liking and loathing... It's like Oprah's Favorite Things except no one gets a car and she's actually on my loathing list. But otherwise, very similar.
I am so loathing...
This whole 'rapture' thing. I don't get it. Wasn't the world supposed to end in 2012? Is that different? Oh wait. Before you explain it to me, let me explain something to you: I don't care. SNORE.
Oprah. Blah, blah, blah. Her show is ending? FINALLY. Oh wait. Now she has an entire CHANNEL? Of just Oprah-ish things? OH GOODIE! So really, all this hype about The End of Oprah is just bullshit because really, it's just The Beginning of All Things Oprah? Shoot me.
Rain in May. Okay, okay. So where you live you get snow 10 months out of the year and have to wear shoes that cover your toes sometimes. APPLES AND FROST COVERED ORANGES. People, this is my first time having a place with actual air conditioning. Dear Mother Nature, please let me have a use for it!
All the media coverage on Arnold Schwartzdouchenneggar. What an asshole. I don't want to hear the gross oily overly bronzed muscular details and I'm sure his kids don't want to read them either. The end. Please?
But! I am totally liking...
The White Buffalo. I've seen him (solo) live once and with the band once and, well, I'm smitten. Fantastic song writing and his delivery and stage presence is riveting. A new album is on its way, but in the meantime you can find his music on iTunes... Some of my favorites: The Moon, Today's Tomorrow, Story and Bar and the Beer.
Sanuks! Saw these back when I was in Maui a couple of years ago and now I'm seeing them here on the 'mainland' everywhere. Super comfortable, the must have Summer sandal and Zappos has an awesome selection of styles and colors.
Speaking of which, I love me some Zappos. I straight up earned my VIP status with them. My #1 pet peeve with online shopping is how long is takes some of the retailers to get your items to you. Not just shipping time but this so-called 'processing time' that adds a week on to your delivery. In the words of Veruca Salt, "I want it noooooow" and Zappos is as close to 'right now' as you get. Overnight shipping that means overnight shipping? YES PLEASE.
I'll be surprised if I don't hear this song quite a few times at the weddings I photograph this summer...
Yoga. I'm back in the... bend of things and I realize how much I've missed it. Besides, how great is an exercise where just breathing correctly forces you to kegel, right?
This video is a bit long but so worth it. Sobering. Amazing. Inspiring. 50 people. One city. One question.
How would you answer it?
What are you liking? Loathing?
Just shimmying into my new workout pants and taking my two boobs and wiggling them unnaturally to form one *powerful* uniboob via a sports bra made me feel stronger and more confident and as though I COULD DESTROY THE WORLD! Which is ironic since I then immediately turned from my Hulk Hogan HULKAMANIA! pose in the mirror only to walk into a partially open door.
I've threatened to start an exercise regime many-a-times before - and even made a pitiful attempt or two in the past - but this time, it's so on. You see, I've got mad competition. And I like a good challenge. The back story behind it all is what one might call that of the Batshit Crazy variety, but in short, my friend Tamara in TX got herself hooked on this TV show "Steel Divas" about female bodybuilders (normal) and bam! next thing you know, she's down like 15 pounds, boasting over the phone about lost inches while I'm eating straight out of the Baskin Robbins Rocky Road pint container with a plastic spoon, staring at the sagging skin of my inner thigh (where I dropped a marshmallow) thinking OH HAIL NO BITCH, I CAN BE FREAKISHLY MUSCULAR TOO.
Pass the bronzer, bitches.
Actually, I don't care to throw on a teeny-tiny neon bikini, bleach my hair a pretty shade of gold and charbroil myself in a tanning salon after spending every day benchpressing a small continent a la my good friend Tamara. (You should see her flex.) I just want to tone up and maybe even try some of that 'cardio' everyone thinks is so great for you.
Of course, starting an exercise routine for me isn't about looking up exercises or diets or BMI. Nah. It's about finding the perfect music playlist, discovering you can't find your iPod since you moved, buying a new one, finding the RADDEST slap-bracelet for it, buying new workout clothes (because the ones you bought for your last Get Fit! attempt are used. Once.) and then spending a couple days at the pool tanning your legs so you look good in those workout pants which ended up being capris.
You know, because everyone in the gym gives a shit what your shins look like when mascara is running down your cheeks and your hair is matted to your forehead. DON'T LOOK AT MY FACE ASSHOLE -- CHECK OUT MY SHINS! TAN MOTHERFUCKERS, AREN'T THEY? YEP. YEP.
SIDE NOTE: What underwear, exacly, are you supposed to wear with workout pants/capris? 'Cause the ones I wore today ain't it.
Now before you get all "You're so vain, you probably think this eyeroll's about you - don't you? Don't you?" on me because I'm all tunnel-vision on what I look like when I workout, give me a little credit. I'm the not the most confident worker-outter. I practically got kicked out of Kamikazee Kickboxing at MMA because I nervous-talked my whole way through it. Well that and I kept trying to get everyone to ditch with me. "But I'll buy the first round of shots!" So venturing down to the Sweat Box where no one gives a shit but I think they do is nerve-racking.
As it turns out, my anxiety was somewhat legit. Of course, no one cared about me or what I looked like. But I did make a total ass of myself. Business as usual, I know. But apparently, there is some gym etiquette I need to learn if I'm going to get into shape.
1. It is apparently not a treadmill competition. So, you, the new girl in the gym, probably shouldn't feel the need to out-run (especially when you don't run. ever.) the woman next to you. You also shouldn't feel the need to out-incline her or outlast her. Because you can't. And you won't.
2. Don't stare at your feet while running walking fast on the treadmill. You will lose your balance.
3. Don't try to look in the mirror across the room at yourself while on the treadmill. You will lose your balance.
4. Even if your attention span is this big, resist the urge to dance on the treadmill to mix things up a bit. You will lose your balance.
5. If you're in your non-race with the woman next to you who is not even aware you're competing to win at nothing and therefore going faster than you really feel comfortable going, don't try to redo your ponytail. You will lose your balance.
6. Don't stop the treadmill abruptly. You will face-plant the control panel.
7. Elliptical machines hate short people.
8. Apparently, it's quite easy to pull the handle off the elliptical machine. Also? You will lose your balance when you do this. Every time.
9. Just when you get the hang of the motion of the elliptical ocean, the stupid thing will tell you to switch directions. What an asshole.
10. 30 minutes to an exercise machine is 90 minutes in the real world.
11. Don't touch the machines that look like modern torture devices. If you don't know what they do or what they're called or even which direction you stand? lie? sit? on them, you probably have no business attempting to use them.
12. No matter how many times you look, your ass will not have become noticeably more fit during your oh-mi-gawd-that-was-a-lot-of-sweating workout. Even if it was a whole hour long.
And that was day one.
For day two, I'm going to venture back into the world of yoga. You know, where NO talking is allowed. Like, at all. Good luck to me, right?
It catches me off-guard when people describe me as ballsy, a go-getter, out-spoken. Perhaps in comparison to some, sure, I guess I am. But compared to who I used to be? The girl who would say whatever she wanted and not care what others thought? The girl who would go against the grain for the mere sake of going against the grain? She was lost somewhere among the judgment of others, among being told she wasn't good enough and that girl - the one who really had no fear for living in the moment - became a scared shell of her former self, no longer willing to take risks, recoiling at the first sign of rejection and sauntering off at the first unkind glare.
I miss her.
It's exhausting living in fear. Afraid of what others think. Afraid of taking risks. Afraid of being me. And at the risk of losing friends, shaming family, scaring off new acquaintances, I'm done lurking in the shadows of What Will They Think? Because at the end of the day, at the end of my life, when all is said and done, I only want to be remembered, liked and loved for being me. The good parts, the bad parts, the abrasive, embarrassing, endearing and awful parts alike.
And for whomever that's not good enough, that's ok.
I can only be me.
And you? You can only be you.
That just means we were never meant to be us.
The Buddha is said to have prayed all night seeking enlightenment and wisdom, overcoming fears. For me, this is clearly no overnight journey. But I am determined to get that girl back. No matter how long it takes me to find her.
More photos here.