Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies

I told you I was going to write a social blog post, and here it is.
Recently a friend on Facebook posted this:

To the young men I have fallen in love with in the past: It is my fault for believing everything you said, for words are meaningless without follow-through. It has been an assumption of mine that being motivated leads to success/happiness. However, without commitment & discipline, motivation stays in the mind...there must be practice. As with most people I meet, I believed in you more than you believed in yourself. I was never put first - by you or by me.

Moving forward: I am my number one, and forever will be. I will keep myself open to the universe's possibilities, but some of these walls are staying up for healthy measure. I still believe humans have limitless potential. However, if you have not accomplished at least one of your major life goals, don't waste either our time.

(credit goes to Heather Marcus-way to go!)

Just as recently I saw someone I used to know with a man. She put her arm around him while he coolly held his beer. She kissed him on the neck. She held his hand because he didn't take hers. He was cool and aloof, daring not to reciprocate any of her overtures. She was into him; he was using her.
That someone was me at one time, acting in complete and total deference to a man. My preferences were his preferences. I believed he was what he said he was. I loved the thought that I wasn't good enough for him and that I now had a goal, and he had a correct me, to make me his project. 
What was wrong with me? It isn't just me, either; this is a common occurrence.
WHY oh WHY do we do this?
There are a million articles online about this very topic. But we still don't learn. We don't. 
Where the answer lies is debated among therapists and psychologists, but I believe we do it because it is familiar. They do it because to demean and diminish is familiar. It feels good, chasing, being thrown the occasional crumb that you so desperately long for. Somewhere along the way, we have been taught that this is all we can expect. And men are taught that is all they are capable of giving.  Bad boys keep you on a variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement. It is similar to playing a slot machine. There is the excitement of never knowing if he is going to show up or not, and then when he does, ooooo, fireworks! A pay-off! And then one day you wake up, pissed off that the lever yields a pay-off less and less. And that you've spent your life savings. And he could care less.
The thing is, when we are on an in-love high, we think we've really got something here. This is it! We've got a catch. This could go on FOREVER. This is great! We excuse bad behavior, because, as Heather said, we believe in HIM more than he believes in HIMSELF. 
The sad reality is that it is just us, staring at the slot machine, taking what we can get, spending more than we have.
Recently I had an epiphany. I had received an email from someone in my life who is a taker, kind of like the guy my friend was dating. In this email, the person was upset that I was not grateful for a crumb they had thrown me after a l o n g time of taking more than they were entitled to take. 
I thought, "I am no longer grateful for crumbs." That used to be me, but it isn't me any more. I will not be grateful for crumbs, because I have more worth and dignity than that.
My therapist gave me a quote: successful people go all the way in. This is so true! If I go into a relationship whole-heartedly, then my partner should, too, at the very least. Crumbs not accepted. Words and actions must match up. 
 The simple truth is, there are men out there that at first, seem trustworthy, but are in reality just prettily packaged bullies. Another simple truth is that we KNOW what we are getting into. There are always signals we ignore, things that tell us something is not quite right, or this is familiar in the way chronically hurtful things are familiar. And yet we choose to ignore those signals, listening instead to our insecurity or fear, or thinking love can fix anything. This does not, however, give them an excuse or a way out. Everyone makes choices, and men who are selfish or hurtful are that way because they choose to be, not because you ignored the signals.
Precious women friends, let's help each other, as sisters, believe in ourselves.
for further reading to help strengthen your sense of self (please overlook the labeling of others if it bothers you, for there is good content in these:!t=1006

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quiet Constructs

Ahhhhh, the pace of our lives picked up considerably. So much is happening all at once. The kids are growing, birthday season is coming, and school for mama and children is in full swing.
Yes, we have a birthday season: 4 birthdays in 3 weeks. It's a great time of year to celebrate loved ones, especially when surrounded by the glory of autumn in Kentucky.
My school is stretching me in ways that are at once stressful and invigorating. It is so nice to be immersed in writing and thought and to remain hungry for learning, and to remember that  I am, in many ways, and despite my insecurities, smart (in other ways, not so much!). My classes this semester include Cultural Anthropology, Lifespan Development, Abnormal Psychology, and Sleep and Dreaming. I am pinching myself a bit for these classes are just so rich and even though I'm losing a lot of sleep to late-night papers, I am loving it.
I have a whole post coming on my soon-to-turn-eleven-year-old. She, too, is changing and growing up in so many ways.
Our days are filled with more busy-ness than I am comfortable with. But it is all good, and this morning I remembered I do have constructs in place to help us remember to breathe, to just be, to express freely. One of those constructs is Sunday morning waffles. It's the only day of the week I get out the waffle maker and make proper waffles. The other construct is the music nook:

Serena and Davis regularly engage in drive-by music making. We have on our piano a jar of recorders, a dulcimer, and a drum. And the piano is in constant use these days. Serena has discovered the minor scale on the piano to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". Every day, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". And she plays several songs from school on various recorders; wooden Choroi flutes, penny whistle, and plastic recorders. This morning, I was so grateful for the music in our home, and this little nook that encourages it.
This Sunday morning has blessed us with beautiful weather, and the coolness, a harbinger of seasonal change. I was tired of some pieces in my wardrobe, and so, honoring this relentless drive to transform that lives so faithfully inside of me, I dyed those pieces with indigo. The cure for tired clothing is most certainly indigo.

Indigo on linen and cotton in the sun....surely a pleasurable sight.
But a better sight is that of my imaginative boy:
Happy Sunday friends!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Catch my breath

"Thank you" is my mantra these days. Life is a whirlwind of activity and progress and I'm soaring in the process of finding my voice. I'm loving school and carrying a 4.0, something I never thought I could do. 
I just emerged from a deeply moving women's retreat, and I would like to pause and write about some things that were stirred up, some subjects that have been brewing but that I need to put out there in the interest of bringing some insight and awareness around certain topics, and to encourage a focus on healing. 
I've taken shelter in the fact that this blog holds many facets of my life, but I am feeling the need to streamline a bit. Being in school makes me feel all writer-ly and so forgive me for my awkward practice yet to come but I do have some ideas to put out there and possibly develop into articles. Who knows, I may decide writing is a "thing" for me. 
Speaking of blogging, my poor Waldorf handwork blog has been sorely neglected. It has been on my mind for some time now and I am in the planning stages of bringing more into it. Summer will give me that opportunity.
So after a brief foray into a few social and psychological issues on this blog, I will return to the joy of making things. (also, I have a garden now!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thinking, Thinking

Lately, this article has had me thinking. The summary of the article reads:
"When the brain's analytic network is engaged, our ability to appreciate the human cost of our action is repressed, researchers have found. The study shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time."
You'll have to read the article, which, like many studies, leave more questions to be answered and a rich ground for further discovery and study.
After I read this, I immediately thought of the people who others describe as "being in their head". I do think people who rely too much on the logical network risk becoming repressors and avoid feelings at all costs. What goes along with that are all kinds of negative behaviors, because if you cannot understand or care how your behavior affects another, then you will have a tendency toward behavior that is dishonest, deceitful, or downright harmful to others. Those who rely too much on empathy risk being naive and overly trusting and are taken for granted. Our culture (in a broad, general sense) seems to favor a high level of detachment, and does not know what to do with feelings.
My next thought was education. Could the way children are educated be helping them rely too much on the logical network and not enough on the part of our brains that use empathy?  What if we were all taught and encouraged, as the article says, to be fluid in our use of both parts of our brain: the logical and the empathetic?
 In my work at a Waldorf school, I find that people have different reactions to the Waldorf way of educating children. Often, people think Waldorf is an "art" school,  and therefore not academic enough (I know in other parts of the country this is not the perception). Waldorf schools have an emphasis on teaching children how to think for themselves, and how to truly be in relationship with others. It is a paradigm that is much different from what most of us are used to and art and music and drama are integral parts of Waldorf education. It is a way to develop intellect in a way that does not ignore the heart of a child. I believe studies like this highlight a real strength of Waldorf education, for practicing the arts in a certain way can help us cycle between empathy and logic
(Waldorf education is a long subject and the internet is full of sites extolling its virtues. If you want to know more, start here.) 
This is where education has the capacity to be most healing for our culture.  I once knew a little boy who grew up hearing from a parent, "Logic would dictate..." as a critical way to address his behavior. That parent was right. Logic would dictate, but empathy would understand. .  I wonder how our society would be different if we were taught in our homes, schools, and workplaces, to value this ability to move with fluidity between our heads and our hearts? Developing intellect is easy; empathy, not so much. I feel like developing deep empathy could take me a lifetime. We truly need more empathy in this world.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

crocheting again

I crocheted a quick project for bringing spring indoors.  I took an empty spice jar, crocheted a tube to fit and added a small loop for hanging, and then hung it up. It would have been more effective to crochet three more and have a proper display, but that takes more time than I have right now. Yarn from Adrienne, dyed by me. I think some daffodils are in order.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

summer camps

I am happy to be teaching two camps this summer. I'm searching for inspiration for projects right now and here is a taste of what is inspiring me in planning for these camps:

Summer camps: “ART OF THE HORSE” CAMP:
It is the Chinese Year of the Horse. Campers, ages 5-12, will celebrate all things “horse”! We will learn all about these magnificent animals and venerate them through sculpture, painting, drawing, and drama. Camp will conclude with a visit with real horses. Taught by Angela Davis. Held July 21-25.
8.00 am - 3.00 pm; $245 per week
Waldorf School of Louisville’s infamous handwork teacher, Angela Davis, will be teaching campers ages
7-14 to knit (or hone their knitting skills), felt, weave, dye and crochet. Projects may include tapestries,
wall-hangings, a knitted treehouse, small animals, and silk scarves. Some building with wood will be
incorporated as we will build an Earth Loom together. June 23-27.
8.00 am - 3.00 pm; $245 per week

I did not credit all the photos....arrrgggghhh. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

broken windows

The broken windows theory has intrigued me for some time now, especially when I read somewhere (I'm sorry I cannot give proper credit) how it was applied to human relationships. Basically, the broken windows theory says that the appearance of an environment affects the way people treat it. For instance, if a neighborhood is littered and run down in appearance, people will feel free to toss their litter on the ground or leave a door broken. This attitude, in turn, invites other forms of misbehavior and increases crime rates.
When I read about this theory as applied to relationships, the author was saying there is a relationship between how you treat your inner house and how others treat it. In other words, if you allow your windows to be broken, others might feel free to smash your windows or bust a door frame. You might even invite them to trash your inner space with you. In talking about this with a friend, he said, "but not everyone will break the windows. Some will help fix it."
That was profound for me. It didn't occur to me that people make choices about how they treat their environment and also in how they treat other people. I've always blamed myself. Perhaps something being in a broken state makes it more vulnerable because it is attractive to the type of character who would cause even more destruction, both in environment and relationship.
It made me appreciate the people who have empathy and compassion, and made me want to seek those people out. The truth is, we all have some windows that are broken, some doors that are jammed shut, some furniture missing and in disrepair. What if we all purposed to be the safe kind of person who can hang out in someone's inner space and say, "hey, I know that hurts. Let's get a hammer and nails and we can make that better."
It seems I have a pattern of inviting people who harshly judge my inner space, or who I allow a mutual wrecking, and give the wrong messages. My friend's message was impactful for me because it showed me a way out of my shame for having "broken windows" and gave me hope. Not everyone breaks your windows, my dear.
I think this applies to women who get in situations where they feel like they give too much in their relationships, and get little in return. It's true that men and women differ in their approaches to their emotions, but things like kindness, empathy, attentiveness, acceptance, tolerance, and presence are gender-neutral. Either you show up in each other's broken houses and make things right, or you don't. Give all your gifts and furniture away, and give it away to a person who will give you something better in return. It all sounds so idealistic, doesn't it? But I think on a basic level give and take and improve and heal is how it operates.

What about the houses that are beautiful on the outside, but cold and sparse on the inside? They do not welcome with warmth. There is not much happening, but their windows don't appear to be broken. Theirs is an illusion...the illusion of caring yet the caring is superficial and there is not much of real value offered. 
Interesting, isn't it? And I'm sure the metaphor could be carried on and helps me pay attention to how I treat others and myself.