Friday, January 23, 2015

Controlling Online Life So You Can Get Back to the Important



Focus and discipline are the keys to production. Production means you produce and all the precious time we have results in an outcome. If you (read: I) were to manage that scrolling and clicking and stayed OUT of those time consuming rabbit holes, yes, this means BuzzFeed videos (seriously, is BF not killing it with those videos lately?) then we'd have something to show for our hours in front of the glow of the screen.
 
We all know about the time we spend online, just like we know but don't understand that weird time/space slinky action thing that warps the minutes we're on the internet into hours. Now you see it, and zaaaaaaaaaaaap snap, now you don't.
 
Where DID those two hours go? Last thing I know I was searching for *Lunch Boxes+Sturdy* and then I'm looking at a video of Taylor Swift sliding down a snow covered college campus hill on a lunch tray. 
 
This can't go on, I'll tell you, there are things I need to get back to doing that I did before I moved online. 
 
Important things, like this list right here of how I'd be spending my time if it weren't for the seduction of the internet:

--Staring at my fingernails, willing my lazy butt to get out of the house and get a manicure.

--Poking around the snack cabinet deciding on what to have for second breakfast.

--Walking around the house with two pairs of socks on to stretch out my new winter boots.

--Letting my Bethenny Now! exercise DVD play in the background while I finish up the sweet-n-salty chips the kids left out last night.

--Going to the basement with intention to cull toys, DVDs, books. Walking back upstairs after surveying area for three minutes with my hands on my hips.

--Be at the local yoga class where the teacher there waits until I'm *this close* to falling asleep to sneak up on me and make me jump ten feet in the air by whispering "namaste" into my ear.

--Or I could be at Zumba, where the instructor there tries for the 7th time to talk me into leading her Zumba Silver class.

--Pull the blankets off the beds to let the sheets "breathe" as Martha Stewart Living advises. Consider that my housekeeping for the day.

--Decide to have lunch with my youngest at school. Surprise him with McDonald's only to have him grab the bag out of my hand and say, "Thanks mom you can go home now. No. Really. You can go home now."

--Notice that my jeans have permanent knee mounds, take myself to Old Navy for new pair, where all are too long and too tight. Refuse to try the larger size up. Drive to Hefner's Cup O'Custard, stay in their parking lot and lick my wounds, metaphorically through Death by Chocolate triple scoop in cup. Consider Death by Chocolate a literal invitation.

--Drive to an afternoon matinee. Suffer through Playing for Keeps about hyper-sexed soccer moms wanting to do aging soccer star Gerard Butler at every which way while he coaches their little ones on for a team win! Play a game with myself and try and guess which mom is the one who gets behind the scenes special skills "reffing" session.
 
--Rummage through my husband's sock and underwear drawer. Hoping to find something linking him to exciting past Bourne Identity double-agent life. Find only saved tags from the past ten years of boxers in case new ones don't fit.


I've got so much to get back to from the old life. If you want to get back in control of the life you had pre-internet, then it's time to download some of that software that locks you out of Facebook and gives you only 5 minutes of twitter. Or.... you can stay online with me, and send me your answer to "What Kind of Egyptian Queen Would You Be?"
 
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photo credit: The Daring Librarian via photopin cc

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It Lies Below The Land of the Remembered



For as long as I can remember, my mother has talked about her fear of being dead.

Not of dying, she looked forward to that. To seeing her mother again, her husband who had passed away when he was 39 years old, of being with her four gone before her brothers.

I must not be forgotten. If I am forgotten, my body is alone. I cannot bear to watch and know, that my body is alone.

I would sit on the edge of the bed, and listen to my mother's phrases of worry. She never asked any of us if we would visit her grave, she assumed she would be buried, and then forgotten. So sure was she of being left entombed and unattended, that her fears kept her roaming through the house at 3 a.m., consumed with the vision of a stark, physical afterlife.

I would hear the floor creak as she paced in the dining room. I would hear her in the kitchen, getting a glass of water, then half an hour later, another glass. Her mouth made dry by the anxiety of the future. Sundays were the worst, after church when the priest would talk of ashes to ashes, dust to dust. It was then, that I think she first came to think of cremation.

She was Catholic in the strongest definition of the word, she had grown up being told Catholics could not be cremated. But I remember the day that I was driving to my house, with her in the passenger seat beside me.

The priest say, I can be cremated. It is not a sin.

Oh? I didn't know it was a sin. Was it a sin?

We were told to only be buried. But, now he say yes, and I will do it.

She burrowed through her ever-present purse and found what she was looking for. A small business card with information, numbers, check amounts, and contact procedures. All of this, on thin white card stock of two by three inches.

This is what I want.

To be cremated.

The priest say, I can do it.

When my mother did pass away, she was cremated. I kept her card in my coat pocket during her burial, patting it every few minutes, making sure it was there, in case any family member questioned her request.

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There is a scene in the movie, The Book of Life, that jumps, sudden and swift, out of nowhere. It is in undeniable contrast to the rest of the film, and is of The Land of the Forgotten.

When I saw this scene for the first time, I gasped. I sat between my two children and said to them, “THIS is why my mother was so afraid of being buried! The Land of the Forgotten! Do you hear what they're saying about the Land of the Forgotten!?”

On screen, we see black against grey against another grey hue, barren and stripped, no color in sight, nor vibrancy of life. No visitors. And more haunting than the lack of others, is how quickly one can arrive in the Land of the Forgotten.

"One only has to be forgotten."

My mother's body was turned into ash, this is the insurance she needed to be sure that her bones were kept out of the Land of the Forgotten. But for me? Her fear has become my vigilance.

I say her name every day, I keep a candle in front of her framed picture. With my sentinels at the gate, she will never feel or hear the empty gusts that blow across the Land of the Forgotten.
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Life Changing Stories


photo credit: Reid Peterson Life Changing Stories
Everyone should be free to live a life that celebrates who they are. Living with joy and without the weight of things that hold you back, things like shame.

I have often spoken on shame and how it keeps us from feeling included, accepted, and understood. Reid Peterson, of the podcast Life Changing Stories, contacted me after hearing me present for The Moth, and asked if I would explore the topic of shame for his listeners. I was honored, and couldn't wait to share my experience of how letting go of that emotion set my life on a new path, one that was made of a sense of solid self-worth and value.

We spent a great half hour talking to each other, and I'm proud to share our dialogue of that with you, via his podcast, Life Changing Stories.

If you know of someone who needs to lighten their load on this life journey and has been carrying the burden of shame for too long, please share this with them.

Thank you so much, for hearing, and listening.

http://lifechangingstories.me/31/

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About Life Changing Stories: "I was inspired by stories shared from The Moth, I realized that we often hear someone tell a story but seldom hear what the person learned from the experience. That’s when I thought “Man, if people share more of the wisdom of what they went through, it could be extremely supportive and inspirational to the listener!” That’s why I do Life Changing Stories. To give you more meaning and depth- of what someone goes through. To provide more hope, inspiration, and support in your own life." ~ Reid Peterson

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why Your Children Need to See Selma


Acting on the tremendous article written by Deb Rox of BlogHer citing reasons America needs to see Selma this weekend, I headed to the theatre 30 minutes away, my teen children with me.

Selma is rated PG-13, and provided your child is 13 years old, take them to see it. The dialogue between you and your child during the film, on the drive home, and still the morning after will open your eyes and their eyes, over how much our children don't know about the not so in the past history of Selma, Alabama.

Talking about the human condition, suffering at the hands of supremacy and injustice, and of doing what is the right thing to do in the face of fear, brings you together in community for each other. Making the effect of Selma more immediate, is how this time in our history, was not that long ago.

Selma is a drama, by any and all definition, but the pride that is unmistakable on the screen, in bringing to life 1964, is an opportunity that shouldn't be missed. This is not a movie about Martin Luther King, but it is about moments that leave you unable to breathe, from the first opening scenes, my hand over my mouth from gasping. To see the injustice on a screen in front of you, unbearable to comprehend as truth, brings not only consciousness of what our country is enduring right now, but a call to action. It is hope of what can be accomplished when all join in to right a wrong, when we show up for each other. A line in the movie says it perfectly, "Being kept from voting is not just a problem for Black Americans, it is a  problem for Americans." The reality of struggle within a party is seen here -  even when having the same goal - the layers and complexity for change to occur bring us a perspective that few of us have, illustrating how many hearts and hands it takes for things to happen.

Every single person in the audience for Selma will have their own take away. Mine were tears, my childrens' were disbelief in the recency of the struggle of Black America's perseverance in the right to vote. Not the vote in the twisted legal sense but in the true ability to cast a ballot.

There are reasons to see Selma, and the ones that prick your conscience are the very ones to act one. Attend a showing, take your children over age 13 with you. Show them the far reaching roots of the anger in Ferguson, and across America.

The fight for rights of Black America has been going on for a long time, and a piece of that history is here for us to see, in Selma.

These films are needed to capture and cast open the cost, which was high, of the story of Americans wanting to be accepted as Americans. These films are films our children need to see. Take your children to see Selma, to open their eyes, give life to the pages they've learned in school, and plant a seed in a young heart.

As soon as you can.

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
 
 

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Learn the Secrets of a Blogger! All This and More!



  • How READING YOUR WRITING ALOUD IS DIFFERENT than someone reading your words online
  • My FIRST TIME READING MY WORK ALOUD!
  • HOW IT FEELS TO AUDITION for Listen To Your Mother and why it’s WORTH A LONG DRIVE if you don’t have one in your backyard
  • Why not to let FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING hold you back
  • TIPS FOR AUDITIONING for Listen To Your Mother and how it CHANGED MY LIFE
  • MY plan for PITCHING YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC RADIO and why it’s important to BE PREPARED and TIMELY
Information about how and when to PITCH YOUR LIVE STORYTELLING TO THE MOTH including WHICH CELEBRITY I HAD QUAIL EGGS WITH !
  • How I landed MANY OTHER SPEAKING OPPORTUNITIES
  • Listen To Your Mother Show details from Carisa Miller, co-producer of LTYM Portland, about WHO CAN AUDITION and HOW TO AUDITION for Listen To Your Mother
  • Whether you can AUDITION FOR MORE THAN ONE SHOW and/or IN SUCCESSIVE YEARS
  • Answers about the TYPE OF PIECE you should audition with/read for the show including TOPIC, LENGTH and more
  • How the Listen To Your Mother shows are CAST and HOW MANY CAST MEMBERS are selected in each city
  • Carisa’s TIPS FOR AUDITIONING for Listen To Your Mother
  • Why Auditioning for Listen To Your Mother is such a GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR BLOGGERS
  • Carisa’s MAIN TAKEAWAY from being involved in Listen To Your Mother
  • Why BEING AN AUDIENCE MEMBER for a Listen To Your Mother show is an amazing experience and HELPS YOUR COMMUNITY
Resource Links:

--Alexandra’s BlogHer Voice of The Year piece: When Someone You Love Has A Blog
--Alexandra’s first reading at Listen To Your Mother: The Reach of a Small Moment
--Alexandra’s readings on local public radio (WUWM, Lake Effect): We Don’t Eat PeacocksMagic Memory and Fred and Me
--Pitch Information for The Moth
 
ALL THIS and more! On Beyond Your Blog's Podcast: Finding Outlets for reading your work aloud: 
 
 
**A huge thank you to Susan Maccarelli, founder of Beyond Your Blog, a site that helps bloggers get published on sites beyond their own blogs! Follow Beyond Your Blog if you want to get read!
 
And for fun, let's have some more exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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