2013 Year in Review!

Another year ending and a new one begining. I love New Year! It is so nostalgic and hopeful. I enjoy planning for the new year’s goals and reflecting on what happened in the year ending. Here’s my year in fives.

Top 5 Selfies

I actually used my own mug as my facebook profile several times this year. Part of the reason I rarely did this before is that my kids are damn cute but it is certainly a mark of progress in my journey of self-love that I found myself cute enough to unseat the kids form this coveted spot. Oh, and I like hair color.

New Year's 2013

New Year’s 2013

red hair

red hair

pink hair

pink hair

pink streak

pink streak

white!

white!

Top 5 Moments

I finally published my Gender Neutral Parenting book in late October (print in November) I hope it really takes off in 2014

I finally published my Gender Neutral Parenting book in late October (print in November) I hope it really takes off in 2014

I got my "mom" tattoo commemorating our infertility journey and my beautiful kids.

I got my “mom” tattoo commemorating our infertility journey and my beautiful kids.

We took our first family vacation!

We took our first family vacation!

I started an etsy shop for infertility related goods and jewelry. I liked my snarky cards.

I started an etsy shop for infertility related goods and jewelry. I liked my snarky cards.

This was actually taken at the end of 2012 but that's my grandpa and my sister and cousins. Grandpa died in January which isn't "best" at all but this year was filled with thoughts of him and that *is* good!

This was actually taken at the end of 2012 but that’s my grandpa and my sister and cousins. Grandpa died in January which isn’t “best” at all but this year was filled with thoughts of him and that *is* good!

 

Top 5 Articles

1. A Framework for Feminist Parenting

What Could Feminist Parenting Look Like?

Not feminist parenting as in “I’m a feminist and a parent”, but more in the actionable, skill-based philosophy of parenting through feminism. What if you didn’t use power over your kids but instead shared power with them? What if you nurtured socially conscious adults ready to challenge patriarchy? Let’s explore a fresh look at parenting rooted in feminist ideals of respect, equality, and social justice.


Source: Getty Images

2. Are You Raising a Bully Bystander? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Steubenville is a horrific example of the bystander effect. But what if your kid is a bystander to teasing, to name calling, to social ostracizing – behaviors that some refer to as “kids being kids?” Have you addressed that? Are you sure you’ve modeled the proper way not to stand by? Let’s look at some ways parents might inadvertently be supporting bystanders.


3. Men Feel the Pain of Infertility Too

Plenty of men feel depressed and isolated because they’re unable to conceive, but there are few outlets for support, says Paige
Lucas-Stannard.


 

4. My Homeschool Philosophy Series

Part 1: Introduction Holistic Education

Part 2: Transfer, Transact, Transform

Part 3: Unschooling


5. 4 Ways Parents Teach Kids that Consent Doesn’t Matter

This video blog I did about consent was my most viewed video of the year on my new youtube channel.

Starting a new year and so excited about the changes coming! I have a new book in March (based on the Transformative Parenting class), I have a new unified look for all the websites, and I’m working on a free series of workshops that will be a kind of virtual parents group. I hope you’ll join me!

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Gypsies

Did you know my ancestors on my Dad’s side are Romani? No, not Romanian, Romani. And no, not like the Romny you see on My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. But, yes, Romani are historically called Gypsies because people thought they were Egyptians. They are not. They are from the northern part of India and were forced out of their homes to wonder Asia and Europe. They are the ultimate wanderers.

So maybe it is my Rom blood? I’m not sure but I have it bad. Wander Lust. Always have. When I graduated high school and my parents wanted to buy me an expensive piece of commemorative jewelry I asked instead to go on vacation. Twice in college I got to take classes that traveled: I studied the geology of the Colorado Plateau in Utah and Arizona and I studied Phycology (study of algae) in San Salvador, Bahamas. My honeymoon was a month backpacking through Europe.

Having kids makes traveling harder. Money is tight and there is always family to visit when you have the time off of working 50 weeks a year. Pete and I have talked about our retirement dreams for years: buy an RV and travel the country.

Then I met a woman named Tara and she and her family – a husband and two kids – were traveling around Australia in a camper. I kept waiting for the end of that sentence…”until the money runs out” or “for work” or “for two weeks”  There had to be *something* after that sentence, right? You can’t just raise kids without a home can you?

That was 4 years ago and I didn’t think “yes! I’m going to do that!” on that very day. But, in my heart I dreamed that I had that life. Then, one day out of the blue, Pete said he dreamed of that life too! Here we were dreaming of something different but not pursuing it because it is SO CRAZY!

Families are supposed to “put down roots,” buy a house, have a steady job, save for college, and vacation occasionally if you are very lucky. We couldn’t just make travel part of our lives could we?

Then the last two years happened. I was forced out of my job after having kids which was a nightmare at the time. In hindsight, I don’t know that I would have ever left such a lucrative job on my own. Then our house went into foreclosure (not due to losing my job ironically but because of my time in the hospital with the twins). Pete couldn’t find work. He actually started driving to Boston for job interviews. Yet, here we were with a house we were trying to short sell which tied us to one place. That place had no jobs. It was a horrible catch 22. It seemed that owning this thing called property was an albatross.

We were able to move and downsize our lives but, strangely, we had gotten a taste of freedom. Freedom from a work-till-8-pm job and the mortgage that went with it. We hated the forced stationary quality of that life. We hated the live to work paradigm. We hated dreading Sunday nights. We hated spending Saturdays working on house stuff instead of having fun. We wanted something different.

1478954_10102028271020644_1208691901_nWe wanted to work to live. We wanted our weekdays to be so wonderful that the weekends hardly felt different. We didn’t want to count the days till our next vacation because our life was so wonderful it felt like vacation. We didn’t want our vacations to be a scurry of hitting every family member’s house with sight seeing thrown in. We didn’t want to come home from vacations needing a vacation from our vacation.

We didn’t want to be owned by stuff. We think we own it but then we are slaves to it. We have to maintain it and continue to pay for it. We are owned by the bank we pay each month. We fill our lives with things. I had a dozen pans for different uses. I had 3 different meat thermometers for different purposes. My kids had more toys that I ever wanted them to have. We were buried under stuff and the time the stuff took. All those toys needed tidied up and cleaned. All that house needed work and cleaning. The yard. The two cars. The bills.

So there it is. We are doing something different. We have sold everything we own. We have our clothes and necessities. We have keepsakes in storage. And…

We bought an RV. We are going to travel and work. Travel and live. Travel and raise our kids. Travel and school.

I was thinking of starting a new blog (and I probably will document what we learn as we travel here) but this is just more of our Baby Dust Diary so I’m going to stick with it. I’ll continue to post things about homeschooling, unschooling, and now ROADschoooling.

Maria Kang, Here Is My Excuse.

tdy_tren_excuse_131016.300w

Ok, this has been floating around and causing a bunch of nasty comments from all sides. Here’s my take.

First, her asking “what’s your excuse?” is just more mom-judging-mom-wars propaganda. You are not competing with other moms. It isn’t a race and there is no set definition of success (and if there were it would be at least 20-30 years in the future for Ms. Kang, since her kids are too young to say “I win!”). Stop being part of what drives women apart.

Second, her comment implies anyone would need an “excuse” not to have achieved the goal SHE set for HERSELF. Good for her for achieving her goal. But, why does she assumes her goal is the goal of all moms. I’m a goal setter by nature and I wonder what her excuse is for not meeting my goals? How far is she in finishing two manuscripts in 2013? Has she meditated at least 3 times a week? Has she read 50 non-fiction books this year? Are her kids able to explain why the government is shut down (her 3 year old could)? What’s her excuse for not reducing the amount of stuff she owns by 80% in 2013?

Do these sound absurd? They should. These are *my* goals and I don’t expect anyone else to be meeting them except me. So, for me to say, “hey what’s your excuse for not meeting this goal?” is so presumptuous that my goals are the most worth-while goals. Which is absurd.

But, of course, Ms. Kang doesn’t stand alone when it comes to finding her goal to be more important than anyone else’s. Thinness is the ultimate goal of human females and everything else you do pales in comparison to how taut your abs are. The supposition is that my goals are pointless if I’m doing it in a fat body. Which is also absurd.

Lastly, her image and message trot out the same old fat shaming (notice I didn’t put quotes around fat shaming like it is some quasi-thing) fallacies. People keep mentioning “good for her for being healthy and fit!” Um, no. This image tells us nothing about her health or her fitness. This image tells us she is skinny and has abs. She could pound cookie dough all night and never touch a salad. Her blood pressure could be through the roof. Her arteries could be lining with plaque. She could do sit ups and lift weights to get her tone but be incapable of running a mile. We know *nothing* about her fitness from this image. What we know is that she’s skinny.

We also know that our society INCORRECTLY conflates skinny with healthy and fat with unhealthy. We know that a mom who was overweight and said “what’s your excuse?” couldn’t possible be talking about her fitness even if the picture was of her crossing the finish line of a marathon. She must be talking about something else because there is NO WAY she’s PROUD of her disgusting, fat body. I mean, really? Ewww.

And if she wasn’t crossing the finish line of a marathon she’d be even more reviled. People would say she doesn’t deserve her kids because she’s going to raise them “fat.” Nevermind that a picture can’t tell you that she is an ER doc that saves lives or a volunteer at the local women’s shelter that many women owe their lives to. None of those things matter. She should quit those things and get her ass to the gym because Ewwww!

Because a woman’s most important goal in life is to make sure the space she occupies is a pretty as possible – oh, and as small as possible too, of course. I mean, it’s kinda nice if you also learn to read and write and save people, but for goodness sake: be pretty.

I hope Ms. Kang is a wonderful mother and also very healthy! AND I hope she also helps people meet their fitness goals in a positive, body affirming way because, of course, she wants them to be physically and mentally healthy. I hope people owe their lives to her and her positive influence. I hope she makes the world a better place.

But she didn’t do that with this image. This image makes the world a worse place. A place where more mother-shaming, mom wars, judgement, shaming, and lack of humility and acceptance are reinforced.

What’s my excuse? I’m busy making the world a better place.

Finding Me

openI am feeling overwhelming gratitude right now.  I feel like a vessel that has opened up and the universe is filling me with love.  Or, rather, the love is flowing into me and back out.  I am light – both lightness and illumination – and love and peace seep into and out of me.  I have no negative thoughts or feelings – or, when I do, they are able to flow back out because I’m open.

Three years ago I was the opposite. I was in a bad situation, yes, but more than that I was tight – like a ball of rubberbands.  There was no space in me.  Everything was inward and pulling to the center.  My negative feelings and negative situation couldn’t escape so they sat at my center and festered. I think of conflicts I had with people at the time and how I was too closed to embrace the other person and their needs.

It is startling to me to see the difference in me.  For example, I had an impromptu get together with wonderful friends the other day.  My house was messy, I was messy, but it was ok.  It would be easy to think this was about the people in my life (awesome friends, more about that in a minute) but I really think it is a change in me (which probably helped me attract such wonderful friends).  I have literally NEVER had a friend into my house without a week’s notice.  No, really, I mean it.  Ever.

Why? It is insulting to all of my friends to think it was because they would judge me for not having a perfect house and a perfect life.  They are wonderful people and wouldn’t have cared about that.  But I did.  I cut myself off from people because to know me meant to see under the shell of perfection I was projecting to the world.  I mourn the deeper friendships I could have had if I had been open.

Another example, I would never have been able to do a video class three years ago.  My self-hatred at my fatness would have kept me from it.  Now, I’m not free from any body image issues, but I’m not paralyzed by them either.  I just did my first video lesson and you know what? I’m smart, and friendly, and warm.  How could I have thought the size of my butt was more important than that?  And I’m sometimes not smart or not as friendly as I hope to be and I’m fat, fatter than 3 years ago.  But, you know what? I am wonderful.  I am enough.  And that is beautiful.

I’ve quite suddenly made the best two friends I’ve ever had in my entire life.  That might sound sad but I’ve always been close to my family so I thought that was why I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends.  And I do mean sudden.  I’ve met them both in the past year and I love them so much it about makes my heart burst.  I feel like we’ve been friends since birth.  All the things I thought about friendship have been turned on their head.  Aren’t people friends because they have something in common?  I could make a list as long as my arm of how I am different from these two women.  It isn’t about some beneficial convergence of hobbies or passions.  It is infinitely more abstract and magical than that.  I couldn’t tell you why we are friends.  And especially not why we are such good friends so damn fast.  But we are.  And that is beautiful.

I am on the cusp (or perhaps I’ve fallen over the edge) into a career that feeds my soul.  I always hear “do what you love” but so few people live that.  I didn’t think I could.  What if you love gardening? Or reading? how do you make money at that?  I didn’t know you could feed your soul and contribute to your family’s income.  And that is beautiful.

If I could talk to my younger self I would say to stop labeling yourself.  Even good labels are bad.  I was the smart one (so watch what you say).  I was good at science (and therefore not good at art, or writing, right?).  I was the pretty one (so what a disappointment to get fat!). I was the talented, outgoing one.  These things meant to lift me up where huge weights tied to my ankles while I tried to tread water.  Even things like virgin – a good thing until it isn’t.  Until an honest expression of sexuality is terrifying.  Be open, young Paige.  Be open to be who you think you aren’t.  Because you are.  And that is beautiful.

My marriage has an open wound right now.  But, once again, labels minimize the reality.  I’m not the betrayed or the betrayer.  I’m not the victim.  I’m not the saint. I’m just me.  A wonderful, meaningful human being and so is he. So, I’m open to it all.  No labels just open arms to receive and to give.  Life only has one purpose and that is love. Period. There is nothing else.

So thank you.  Thank you, universe.  Thank you, you who are reading this.  Thank you, you rolling your eyes at my fluffy-speak.  Thank you, me.  Really, thank you me.  You are beautiful soul. You are enough.  And that is a beautiful thing.

I suddenly understand the title of book by Iyanla Vanzant.  On day my soul just opened up.  It really did.  And there I was.