26 April 2016

it's not a habit...it's cool.

I know what you're going to say: I'm not an addict. This song is about drugs, not alcohol. I can stop anytime I want. Don't judge how I cope. It's not a habit. I can stop anytime. Oh, did I say that already? I really can. I'll stop now. I can go for months without drinking. It makes me so mad when people tell me I'm an alcoholic...I'm not. Nothing makes me more angry than that.

Guess what? You made me promise that I'd never coddle you. You wanted someone who'd call  "me on my sh--." Someone who wouldn't enable you by having alcohol around. Be blunt. Not treat you differently because of your looks...and on and on. I told you'd I'd always be that person...but you couldn't handle being held to those standards.

You are a binge alcoholic by definition (and so much more!): 

Binge drinking is the practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single session, usually defined as five or more drinks at one time for a man, or four or more drinks at one time for a woman.

Do you see where we go off the rails here? I know they didn't specifically define it as someone who drinks bottle after bottle of cheap vodka until passing out, waking up, doing it again, and again and again until weeks have passed and every pore of you reeks and it takes weeks before you'll sober up. It's repugnant. 

You showed up here wanting to change. You wanted to be held to standards because you didn't have a problem. I realize now that my mistake was you not being able to say I am an alcoholic.

We gave you space. We nurtured a love between  you and our son. I can't put into words how far mama bear I've gone...you are hurting him. You hurt me. You hurt everyone. I am so mad. He wants to eat Sour Patch Kids every day like you. He looks up to you. 

But you LOVE alcohol.

The bottle is your family. It's who you choose to hold at night and wake up to in the morning. Not family. Not love. Not even respect.

I opened up to you...hoping you'd see some way up and out of the hole you've dug. I tried to kill myself once. For real. You know that...yet still you find it in your heart to cruelly call our home at all hours with threats of suicide shaking everyone up. If you're too drunk you have your less drunk roommate make the call for you. 

You left so you could continue manipulating people around you.

You could have built your bedroom in our home. Instead you spent a grand on furniture the day you arrived on the other side of the country...and you're still sweating cheap vodka and being pathetic as you skip even further down the rabbit hole you dug for yourself. I can't believe I dared to hope you'd change when you wound up in the hospital. Silly me.

I don't want my selfish and mean behavior to hurt anyone...

That's one of my favorite quotes ::sarcasm::

I have to sit here and watch my son's big brown eyes fill to the brim with tears and ask why you left him...why you won't come back. Why you not his friend anymore. Why water is making  you sick...

...is that why he won't drink water? That's what it looked like. We said you couldn't stop drinking. I now have the pleasure of explaining drunks and alcohol to his sweet heart. 

He still believes in you.

We all love you; we gave you what you said you needed.

But now you need to be brave.
Get it together.

We'd take you back because that is what family does, BUT not until you can say I AM an addict.
...and you get help.

11 April 2016

Let's See What a Mobile Update Can Be!

I confess I abandoned my blog because it was inconvenient. I prefer to dump my thoughts here...but I also prefer writing in bed at night. Spoiled, I know. Currently I blast them all over Instagram (my four year social media obsession)...but they'll be lost when a shinier platform appears.

I still haven't missed a single day hooping since my last post which means I'm approaching two years in my personal challenge to hoop outside every single day in sickness or health, rain or shine.

Since this is my first attempt at blogging mobile-style I will end here. ...cuz it would totally suck to have it all be deleted by a pesky glitch.

K, hi! Lots to catch up on. Bye! ::hits publish all nervous-like::

11 April 2015

#thedailyhoop Reaches 365 Days in a Row...

12 months of hooping without missing a single day.

...with no sign of stopping. I never set out with an end goal in mind. The rules were:
  • spend at least 30 minutes alone outside every day
  • hula hoop during that time
  • no excuses
  • write five positive things about my day down
The therapist I was seeing for PTSD told me it had been scientifically proven that people who spend 30 minutes or more outside every day in conjunction with keeping a gratitude list are happier people.

What would I do outside? I don't meditate nor do I meander; I walk with purpose.

Many hoopers celebrate a hoopiversary. I guess this is mine but only in the sense that I made a commitment to myself on 13 April of last year and used daily Instagram photos to hold myself accountable.

My hoop journey started many years ago with no definitive date. I hooped as a child. In college I went to the Children's Museum on Friday evenings for their $2 college kid night or whatever it was and used the hoops there. When I moved out on my own I bought a kids hoop (silly me right?) and hooped on my rooftop overlooking Central Sq in Cambridge. Then I saw a hooper perform to The Eurythmics "Love is a Stranger" at Sister Spit. This was a real hooper. I had no idea you could do those things before that.

When I moved to Virginia I was going to start something similar and do spoken word while on my rollerskates and hula hooping all at the same time. But my real job kept me very busy.

Next I moved to Portland where, older and wiser, I knew to get a Real Hoop...and so I did. It was pink and blue and sparkle just like cotton candy made by a woman down by the river. I literally ran over the bridge to pick it up while on my lunch break. I was content waist hooping though I did try with rollerskates, too. It was going to take more practice.

This hoop was the one that traveled with me and then melted behind my TV stand in our housefire. I had also hooped on the rooftop in Philly.

I lost motivation for everything after the fire. That story has been written.

It took two years before I ordered another hoop.

Now I have...many...
Like a dozen. Including Tristan's. He has two.
One even lights up.

I'm sponsored by Galaxy Hoop! URBAN10 for 10% www.galaxyhoop.com 

They all have a purpose. The others are Rose (my large, weighted hoop), Selkie the polypro, Molly who I turned into a giant dreamcatcher because she is lopsided, Alfie who was a gift from Sarah (TeachKidstoHoop.com), I have the twins as I start multiples, and then...then I met Rachel from Galaxy Hoop and became her first sponsored hooper! Now I collect beauties from her. URBAN10 for 10% your order. Yay!

Hooping makes people happy. I believe that with all of my heart which is why I was looking for a sponsor. I wanted to find a kind hoopsmith with imaginative style and listened to what her customers need. I found that in Rachel - and she found me. Quirky and quiet with a hooping agenda.

My therapist was right. I haven't seen her in a while to tell her. I remember thinking ehh, I'll humor her. I shall go out daily and write my lists because I can't say I've tried everything unless I do - then we'll see what other suggestions are up her sleeve.

...except it worked. No matter how hard a day I've had I always feel calm when I go outside to hoop. I have been sick - I had the flu. It snowed, it poured and the winds blew.

I hooped.

I use hooping to keep myself from curling into a lazy ball of pain.

Every day I'm in some level of pain from endometriosis and ovarian cysts. Exercise is said to help. My hooping was as much for that aspect as the others. I can't say it's helped with pain but it's helped me manage it better because I'm a happier person. On days when it's really bad I take my lightest hoop outside and do off-body moves; gently.

One of my thoughts going into this was that I had gotten soft. I used to ride my bike to work every day no matter the weather. Why wasn't I applying that to something else? Something fun?

There were days I didn't want to go out. I'm sure there are more to come.

My goal wasn't a year. It's just another milestone like 100, 200 and 300 days were. I will continue counting. The only thing I can see interrupting this ritual is surgery. I've already asked Rachel for a little wrist hoop...or I will twirl a bracelet around my finger...as long as I'm spinning, right?

There is another thing that makes this all harder: I have to hoop on my city porch. If I go into the front 'yard' I am too close to the sidewalk and risk hitting people. If I go to the park I am sexually harassed. I'm harassed on the porch, too, but I feel safer because I can just turn around and zip inside.

I have a gigantic audience of commuters and city life.

I remember the days where I'd dance at Manray every week up on the stage (or the cage as it was called) - an elevated platform at the front of the dance floor. There was more space up there. I had some sort of illusion that I was less visible. Invisible. It was my bubble and if I didn't acknowledge people they weren't there. I can't totally do that here. I know which angle I can see all directions from and figure my hoop is also my weapon. I swing a fast weave. 

There are also plenty of things I can practice inside because I've gotten into tricks! It was about a month before I was like OK what else can I do? and so it went. I don't think matching a year with my skill level is accurate because I'm also a wife, mother, and small business owner/artist. I have a lot on my plate; hooping isn't my life. It's part of my life.

I've always believed in balance and tried never to become too absorbed in one thing.

Besides, I just have to take a few steps forward and that will turn me into a street performer. I'm more like a sideshow now.

Hooping is good for your soul. If it can lift me up from the darkness it can help anyone. I encourage you to try it if you've been considering it. I was happy for years waist hooping. There are no expectations only personal goals.

My rewards for making it a year include:

I don't get them until the day I reach 365. I'm writing this on the eve of 364.

Portrait done as a surprise by my husband who is also an artist.

There aren't words to express how thankful I am to Brandon for supporting and encouraging me. He takes this daily routine of mine seriously and no matter what day it is he allows me time to myself (as I have with him and weightlifting). I'm proud of Tristan for taking an interest in it, too (which has been very recent).

Super duper thanks to everyone who has encouraged me along this journey. I appreciate it and hope to return the gesture - whatever your goal may be.

...and the beat goes on.

Monday will be 366 days in a row...or 1 year, 1 day. I'm not sure how I will write it down.

Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark for too long

Don't change for you
Don't change a thing, for me.

...and for the record it hasn't felt like a year. It's just felt like joy.

22 February 2015

Galaxy Hoop Review - Where Should I Get a Hula Hoop?

Welcome to Galaxy Hoop where all the hula hoops are made with the prettiest tapes and filled with TLC.
Galaxy is currently on hiatus. I don't have a particular shop I'm recommending at the moment, but my one poor experience (when there was a problem that needed resolving) was with "Dance Hoops" on Etsy. I am an honest reviewer and dislike calling out small businesses but I had a real problem and it wasn't resolved. I run a shop and expect the same costumer service I hope you receive from me.

EDIT: get 10% off www.galaxyhoop.com when you use the code URBAN10 - yayy! ::everybody hoop now::

I'm amazed to say that today marks 315 days of hula hooping in a row leaving me 50 more until I can say I've hooped outside for an entire year. Through rain, heat, snow, sickness and in health. The first couple of weeks were the hardest but posting on social media under #thedailyhoop held me accountable. There have been more recent days where I felt like cheating by counting inside hooping...but! while it 'counts' it doesn't towards my personal goal which is to be alone outside.

I last wrote about beginning the daily hoop adventure and hoops I was using here.

Since this past year has also included me opening my own shop on Etsy I have learned a lot about the handmade community, what I like to add to it, and what I enjoy in return. My last hoop buying experience was awful so after using a hand-me-down from Sarah from TeachKidstoHoop (whose program I have also enrolled in) I began searching for a new hoop maker.

There are so many hoops out there! I didn't want to pick at random anymore, yet the ones who came with a big presence or recommendation didn't mean it also came with a handmade feel or attitude. Some of these shops have gotten so big they're corporate comparatively.

There is nothing like waiting for your hoop to arrive!

Here's that TLC! Remember to let your hoop adjust to room temperature before uncoiling and connecting. Using a hairdryer on the tubing makes it slide right in! She includes instructions and super secret coupons!

Where are the diamonds in the rough? 

In this case I found a galaxy.

Galaxy Hoop is run by a California hooper who also likes collecting and wearing Docs with a vibrant spirit. She liked a photo of mine on Instagram and I caught her name as it passed and though ohh what's this? ::click: 

Her hoops are stunning! and we got into quick friendly conversations over shoes, hoops, and randomness. I needed a new HDPE hoop and I wanted it to be from her...and if it was as amazing as it looked I asked if she'd consider sponsoring me. HDPE is short for high density polyethylene. It is lightweight but still heavy enough for a beginner to master unlike polypro hoops which are best left to more advanced hoopers.

Every day I am asked where to get hoops but I haven't felt 100% behind my recommendations. I was just another sale in the universe of hoops. The time I had a problem with a hoop I was told coldly oh well, fix it yourself. That stung because I'd actually selected her shop based on her profile that was written as a loving mom just trying to bring in a little extra money doing something she loved on the side. That sounded familiar. She claimed her daughter helped make the hoops but when I suggested she let her daughter run with her imagination that was ignored. It felt Walmart. Warm fuzzy marketing followed by a half empty feeling upon purchase.

Galaxy Hoop's founder Rachel lives near my hometown in California. She says she started hooping in 2011 and then started making hoops so she could have "lots and lots!" Her guilty pleasure music includes listening to Depeche Mode and Wham! (if that's guilt my regular playlist is sin). Best of all was her answer to the question I ask everyone I interview but with a first time answer:

What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?

My favorite ride at Disneyland has to be Teacups. Whoever rides with me always ends up scared or sick. I get crazy on Teacups.

Twisted, right?! No wonder she got into spin arts! Leave me to gaze at the art inside Small World and dream of red-eyed yetis....

She has a great variety of both polypro and HDPE hoops. She uses a lot of color on some and minimal on others. Perfect! I wound up buying the neon reflective rainbow (as you can see!) but I was also attracted to the Betty, Blackout, and cannot stop staring at the Psychedelic Psycho or the water tape she uses on her mermaid-themed hoop...the Tim Burton inspired one...the one that looks like the feminine laces to a ballet slipper...ohh, I gaze. Maybe that's why she chose the name Galaxy Hoop. I'm a stargazer...hoop-gazer...starry hoop gazer.

I am always here to help you find a hoop that's right for you. I want more people to discover the healing and happiness hooping can bring. I waist-hooped without doing any tricks for over a decade (not every day!) before deciding to try something different. I just liked the peace it brought me. I am a special needs mom in severe chronic pain struggling with anxiety and PTSD. I'm a survivor and a fighter. I don't want those things to weigh me down and defeat me. There is something about picking up a hoop that lifts your heart and mind with it.

It's love: Rainbow Bright HD comes in both HDPE and polypro at www.galaxyhoop.com

Please feel free to reach out to me or Rachel if you're interested in starting to hoop but aren't sure which hoop size or style is right for you. I still stand behind my high recommendation of Teton Hoops if you're looking for a beginner weighted hoop (she uses fabric which feels great!).

I bought this hoop because I wanted it and have received no compensation for this review. It is from my heart. Future hoops will be provided for review but I will pay for shipping. That will be noted on future reviews per blogging review rules and full disclosure. 

So meet my first sponsor! Find Galaxy Hoop on social media for discounts and giveaways!

...and use the hashtag #galaxyhoop and #urbanflowerpot to show us each how you're doing!

If I live to see the seven wonders
I'll make a path to the rainbow's end

09 February 2015

Edge of Threeteen: Will the Landslide Bring You Down?

Uncensored Life: first few hours home with our premature son living my NICU fantasies.

Tristan just asked me to dance. "Bigger, bigger hugs, mama, bigger hugs!" He stretches his arms up. "Spin, mama, spin bigger." I had been twirling around while cleaning the kitchen with Fleetwood Mac playing in the background.

When I lifted him into my arms the songs changed and we found ourselves with a slower number (but nothing I couldn't add bigger spins to): Landslide.

My life has never been without music and dancing and I've hoped Tristan's wouldn't be either.

Free spirits. Twirling, embracing life and love.

There were two things I'd dream about in the glider during those months in NICU. I wanted to slow dance to Edelweiss with Tristan in my arms - no cords attached, barefoot in our new home. I also wanted to know what it was like to lay down with him. Two months propped in a chair that only appeared comfortable.

It's interesting how some songs can grow along with your life and remain relevant. I thought about this as my much heavier son and I danced around the room, his arms around my neck.

I've never known my life without their music.

Tristan's pasta finished cooking. He returned to The Regular Show in the other room and I listened to Landslide again...I can't imagine it fitting any more perfectly into my life than now. Who else would I build my life around other than my husband and child? They are my forever.

If I could baby I'd give you my world but until you go your own way I will be here to give you bigger, bigger hugs and twirls.

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too
Oh, I'm getting older too

NICU moms never take a moment for granted; or a moment to remove their hospital bracelet before living the dream.

30 January 2015

What Does Feminism Mean: a response to Joseph Gordon-Levitt

90's women folk-festival me speaking out for snowpeople everywhere!

Let's begin with the f-word: feminism. That's all I'll need to say to send people all over the place...unfortunately. There is no one 'brand' of feminism and so women fight about the true meaning. In a recent news article it read 'some feminists say ___ while other feminists say [the total opposite]' to paraphrase.

Definition: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

So...a while back, Joseph Gordon-Levitt asked everyone: what does feminism mean to you?

I've allowed some time pass since first watching this video. I haven't rewatched it because I wanted my brain cells fully under my influence. My perspective on things has changed a lot over the years through thoughtful discussion and personal growth - whether it's changed or further confirmed my opinion depends on the topic.

It means equality to me. It means being heard and taken seriously. It means being valid...and yes, I am a feminist.

For a while I thought it meant I had to spread the word that "snowman" is sexist; it's snowperson, duh! I didn't want to dress or act stereotypically girlie...but if you know me, that comes naturally. Why couldn't I be a frilly feminist in an apron? I can. Though many Other Feminists would tell me I can't. I'm perpetuating a stereotype.

I don't think being a feminist means you should be anti-girl anymore than I think it should mean man-hating, anti-boy. Much of what those Other Feminists embrace is stereotypically masculine. WE are the ones who have created a spectrum. This is the world we live in, these are the things we have to express our inner/outter girl....or

...woman. Other Feminists don't like that I still say girl. It's a little more acceptable if I spell it grrrl...but not much...they often take the spelling and mangle it: womyn or somesuch. Spell it however it makes you feel comfortable but don't hold it against me if I write woman.

When it comes to taking your laws of my body? Yes, take your laws off my body - but where does my body end and another begin? I'm a carrier pigeon for life.

I did my internship at an abortion clinic in the mid-90's. I was a women's studies major for the short time I could afford college and wanted to help other women who'd been raped. I thought that a fetus was a clump of cells and it would be my right to an abortion.

But as I grew I saw flaws in my strong opinions. Where do my rights end and another's begin? When does life begin? Why do we show sympathy for miscarriages but indifference for abortion at the same gestational ages? Should we tell the grieving mother it was just a clump of cells anyway?

Does wanting a fetus make it life? That doesn't seem right.

I never planned on having a child. I was super hormonal my first trimester and scared because I could feel 'it' in me. It was alive and that scared me. I didn't think cells moved that fast but I was growing life inside me.

Then I delivered prematurely at 30 weeks. When I walked into the NICU late that night my first thought was: Oh my God...it's an abortion poster. I haven't told many people that. One pound babies made my 3 pounder look huge. They were lives, people, individual humans...and they were viable. Wanted vs unwanted.

I had two months to sit in my glider with Tristan against my chest, skin to skin, to ponder that.

Another thing I questioned: why do we hold a man responsible for a child he doesn't want? If a woman has rights over her body, shouldn't a true feminist who believes we should be equals say the man has a choice too? Why are they pursued for child support if they had no say? Why can't they just walk away? Does it make them anymore wrong than a woman who aborted a child without even letting the father know?

Gendercide. How can one be against gendercide but say it's all right in general?

There are so many gray areas for a girl who believes in law and order. My husband said, but don't you have to consider yourself pro-choice if you're a feminist. Do I? or do the laws need to be changed? I don't think they should be illegal, but something needs to be redefined. It's OK to say I don't know.

I hate that I had to spend so much time on that but that seems to be the crux of feminism...but should it? 

There are a lot of things I don't have a concrete answer to and it took me years to be able to say it. Back when I was defending snowpeople I was fairly certain I had it all figured out. It was black or white...yes or no...right or wrong. Pick one.

But all these years later I see that it's just a flow of conversation...and my knowledge isn't set in stone.

Am I afraid to share this? Absolutely.

It's fine if you disagree. Many of you will...but I will respect those differences and listen to your thoughts in return.

14 January 2015

Prematurity: they might not grow out of it after all...

He was a month old, but I still would have been in my third trimester.

They'll grow out of it: that is the preemie parent mantra sung to you from the minute your tiny bundle enters the world.

That alarm? Oh, he just forgot to breathe because his heart-rate dropped too low. We just need to stimulate him a little so he remembers. Don't worry. He'll grow out of it.

Your baby turning colors becomes an alternate reality where it's all no big deal. Just rub'em a little and they'll snap out of it. They'll be like, hey body: function! and all will be right as rain.

They grow out of it by two years.

That's what they say...
and that's what they said.

You don't have to adjust his age anymore.
Phew. ...cuz that was getting confusing!

He's six months ::funny look crosses person's face:: oh, except he's actually four months adjusted. Ohhh.

We had our diagnosis appointment this afternoon. What special need would Tristan have and how would we adjust our plans to support him? I was ready for anything. I thought possible autism...maybe anxiety or OCD. I did NOT for a moment think prematurity would be the diagnosis...

and there is that numb feeling again in my heart. The icy blood pumping through my body, the body that failed. The fire that stressed me out so badly I will never know that about to burst pregnancy horrors that so many moms whine over. I still hear the silence in the OR that was filled with so many people that it should have been loud...except we were all silent and waiting for the next heartbeat to sound over the speakers. I will never forget the night my body almost killed our son.

There are other things, too. He has a speech delay and low tone and we need more specialists, appointments, therapy, additional services, follow-ups, etc, etc, etc.

But when I asked if prematurity can just last forever the answer was essentially: yes, it can have lifelong effects. There was nothing deeply remarkable about his prematurity. He only had a level one brain bleed/hemorrhage that self corrected. He really struggled with apnea and bradycardia - both come with prematurity and in most cases do pass quickly (though it seems like forever).

However...sometimes prematurity can just...last.

He's great! Wonderful, socially engaging, and creative. Smart, quick to learn. He's just young/er...and needs help with receptive language, open ended discussion, and low tone (which he HAD grown out of at one point).

Those are his official special needs.
I'll dive into paperwork next week.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive along our journey. I appreciate you all so much.

I'm just shocked that we're coming up on his fourth birthday and after being studied on video by one of the top teams in the country we have the same label we've always had. We just thought he'd grown out of it...

Edit: I should include that preemies now come with mega-rad medical binders with a business card holder, labeled sections, pen case, carrying handle, AND over-the-shoulder padded strap!!!! SWEET. :)