Learning to Swim

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Posted on : 22-Mar-2017 | By : Amber | In : adulting, learning to live, parenting brilliance, reflection, Uncategorized, Very Important Things

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Live authentic.

I looked at those words, and the only thing I could think was “What the heck does that mean? Is this some new concept that, once again, I’m not going to grasp?” That happens to me a lot; for someone that people keep saying is intelligent, I feel REALLY dumb a lot of the time. It took me forever to not break out in a cold sweat ordering anything but black coffee.  True story.  One day, people are going to figure it out, and they’re going to revoke my adulting card. That might not be so bad, except they’ll probably take my coffee and driver’s license, and then things might get ugly. That’s how fights happen.

I’ll be honest with you; I don’t like that feeling. I’m no brain surgeon, but like I said, I’m generally thought of as a reasonably intelligent person. I have a degree, I have more academic work beyond that. I worked with juvenile sex-offenders in a locked psychiatric facility, and later I taught for many years in the classroom. I then went on to my most important and challenging work: rearing and homeschooling my daughters. I’m a voracious reader, and I write. I write all the time, even if I don’t share it. I write about not having anything to write about, for crying out loud. I write about everything, and yet a two-word philosophical phrase could put me right back in the rear of my college algebra class, struggling to wrap my brain around a concept that just didn’t seem like it wanted to be understood.

I looked at those words, and I was lost at sea, trying not to look like I was drowning.

 

Learning to run

Here I am, 48 years old, and it took watching my two daughters to help me understand what those words meant, and, even more important, to realize that I was, finally, living that meaning myself.

Perhaps the most precious gift we can be given in this lifetime is the opportunity to be a parent. I was given that gift nearly 22 years ago, and I have to say that I’ve learned far more from watching my children become the people that they are than I think I ever managed to teach them. You see – I’ve watched them live authentically.

I’ve been blessed to spend most of every single day with my children. I’ve been more attuned to who they are than I ever was to who I am, and now I see – so much more than I saw before they came. I’ve seen them become THEM. I watch, every day, as they struggle to find their bliss. Their fight. Their WHY. They may not have discovered it completely yet, but they go about it in a way that I wish I’d learned so much sooner.

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You see, they know who they ARE. Not what they will do for the rest of their lives, not who they will marry, not things that we so often look at as being the benchmarks of a successful life. Rather, they know what they stand for. They know what they value. They know the things that make their hearts happy, and that, I think, is what it means to live authentically. They are true to themselves, true to God, and follow what makes their hearts HAPPY. Funnily enough, I think they might argue that with me, tell me that they don’t know what the heck they’re doing and what do I mean, I don’t either? But? I don’t think living authentically means you necessarily know what you’re doing. I think maybe it means remaining true to your core while you figure it out.

In the self-sacrifice that is parenthood, I have had the opportunity to learn what it means to live authentically. Not from some great work of literature, but because I’ve had the chance to live with two souls that are, perhaps, two of the most REAL I have ever known. In fumbling to help them grow, I learned what my fight was. My why. My bliss. I learned that, in order to help them live in a way that was true and right and real, I had to do the same thing myself. I had to discover the things that made my heart happy, and I had to put the effort into cultivating those things. I might not know exactly where I stood on everything, and I might not yet know exactly who I was, but when I put in effort to explore those things, every day? I was living authentically.

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Maybe I’m learning to swim after all.

 

(the photography in the post is by both of my daughters; you can find them on Instagram at @celtaebri and @teacupukulele)

#DearMe

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Posted on : 08-Mar-2015 | By : Amber | In : So..., Stuff I care about and you should, Very Important Things

So, I’ve noticed that there’s a movement, at least on YouTube, called #DearMe, where people write a letter to their younger selves.  Some of it’s funny, some of it’s poignant, and while I’ve done it myself recently, I thought I might revisit the idea.

Dear Me:

I’m writing this to the me-in-the-past (I’m not saying how far in the past, because it really doesn’t matter, and I have some vanity left) to tell you something about relationships. In particular, a relationship you’re going to get involved in, and what me-in-the-present needs you to know so that, maybe, you think twice.

See, there’s a big, BIG difference between boys-with-beards and men. You’re going to find this out, because you’re going to think a boy-with-beard is actually a man, and you’re going to find out differently.  I thought I’d point out a few of the differences to you, and maybe it’ll help you along the way.

A BWB (boy with beard, yanno) will talk a big game, but a man will put action to words.  Oh, that BWB is going to say lots of pretty words, like “I’ll keep you till there’s nothing left in our future but sunsets and rocking chairs”, but he’s not going to DO anything about it.  It’s too much trouble. He’ll tell you how he was burned, how he’s been hurt and can’t love, but the cold fact of the matter is he doesn’t want to put in the effort to love YOU. Harsh, but true.

A BWB will talk about his ambitions. A lot. He’ll give you all sorts of reasons why he’s not there YET, but he’s gonna be. A man doesn’t talk about his ambitions.  He chases them. If he tries and fails, he doesn’t tell you that it didn’t work out because of politics, or economics, or the powers that be upstairs that dislike him.  He will simply fall back, adapt, and overcome, and he won’t tell everyone along the way.

A BWB will tell you that he wants to protect you, take care of you, that you won’t want for anything – except, apparently, loyalty or someone with the courage to fight for you, because those things he won’t provide.  A man will protect your heart like it is the most precious treasure he’s ever been given – because it is. He won’t play games with it. He won’t lean on you for support and then fade away when YOU need HIM. He’ll be the rock you always needed. He’ll be your safe place to land.

That’s the bad news.  The good news? After that BWB has torn a big hole in you, a MAN will come along who will be with you while you put yourself back together. He’ll tell you you’re beautiful, and his eyes will tell you he MEANS it. He’ll hold you when you’re falling apart, and it’s because he sticks with you when you’re at your worst that he deserves you at your best. He’ll make you feel beautiful, desirable, and most of all VALUABLE, and you’ll never feel safer than you do in his arms. He’ll have a natural dominance that calls to your submission, he’ll make you laugh, and he’ll make you so grateful that the BWB is out of the way, because if he hadn’t been, you wouldn’t have seen this. And this – this is so much more than you ever thought it could be.

Oh – he’s exponentially hotter than the other guy, too.  Just so you know. Like – whoa.

So hang in there, me-in-the-past. It’s about to get a whole lot better.

 

 

 

You Might Be A Douchecanoe If:

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Posted on : 20-Sep-2014 | By : Amber | In : Complaints and such, Rambling rambles, Stuff I care about and you should, Very Important Things, zombies

I’m in a mood. Ok, so really, that’s not all that unusual, but suck it up and deal with it, buttercup.  You know where the back button is on your browser.  You’re probably only here because you were looking for Zombie Apocalypse Survival Tips, and I really only have a few of those. I might put them at the end of this post.  Or in the middle, so you have to actually read it to find them.  You should totally keep reading, ’cause those tips are the ish.

 

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So, I was thinking, what exactly makes someone a good friend, and what makes them a douchecanoe? This train of thought made me sad, then angry, then disgusted with humanity in general and then the cravings set in and next thing I knew I was wondering Walmart at midnight looking for red wine and chocolate, so I figured I’d better just write it down or I’d end up drunk and/or fat(ter).  <Tip #1 – Never pass a chance to stockpile ammo, coffee, or toilet paper.  Hoard that stuff like gold.> I came up with these signs that, if you find they fit, you might, in fact, be a douchecanoe. Wow, that’s a lot of commas.  (Disclaimer: I know all of us do these things sometimes.  That makes you a human with a life. If, however, there’s a pattern there…yeah.)

  • If you talk to someone a lot, but THEY’RE always the one starting the text convos or initiating the calls, you might be a douchecanoe.
  • If it’s obvious that someone is upset, or sad, or depressed, or facing down a horde of hungry zombies, and you don’t at least try to offer comfort and/or ammo, you might be a douchecanoe.  Nobody is expecting you to solve all their problems, or at least sane people aren’t, but they’d like to know they aren’t fighting their battle alone.
  • If you have told a friend a bunch of big ole lies, and then assume that EVERYONE ELSE IS A LIAR, TOO, and get all bent out of shape about those imaginary lies – you’re definitely a douchecanoe.  You don’t even get a might tacked onto this one. It’s one thing to have baggage, another one entirely to assume everyone else is as totally screwed up as you.
  • <Tip #2 – Trip the more annoying members of your group.  The zombies will get them first, stopping to feed and both giving you time to get away and ridding you of a serious nuisance.>

So, what do you do if it turns out that you are, in fact, a whole canoe’s worth of douche?

Well, you could try NOT being a douchecanoe. You know, actually let people know that they’re important to you by making an effort now and then. Initiate a text conversation.  It won’t kill you. Surprise them with a phone call.  SHOW them that they mean something to you, if they do.  If they don’t, maybe it’d just be better to let them know that they mean about as much to you as one of those freebie newspapers that get thrown on your porch now and then, you know, the ones with the expired coupons and outdated movie listings. At least then they’ll learn what sort of person (and I use the term loosely) you really are and they’ll bestow their energy on someone who might actually deserve it. Unless they’re a douchecanoe, too, and in that case aren’t you made for each other,  life is too short to turn down a good friendship when it presents itself.

My Best Zombie Apocalypse Survival Tip:  Don’t be a douchecanoe. People are less likely to feed you to the undead hordes just to get rid of you then.  Just saying.

EDIT:  You might be an incredibly huge douchecanoe if you think this post was inspired by YOUR interactions with ME. It was inspired, in actuality, by something I’m watching a dear friend deal with (who isn’t, in fact, a douchecanoe). But if it makes you feel important, go right ahead and call me names in comments that I won’t post, ’cause it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want here.

 

 

 

 

Let’s get a few things straight

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Posted on : 05-Sep-2014 | By : Amber | In : Rambling rambles, Stuff I care about and you should, Very Important Things

Yeah, I know, this wasn’t supposed to end up being a political sort of blog, and it still mostly isn’t, but you know, if I can’t say what I want to say here, then I might as well just pack it up and head on home. Or head to the bedroom, since I’m already home on my sofa, because laptop and mobile computing and stuff.

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See? Work at home! No pants required! Don’t I look excited?

I figure myself a pretty independent woman.  I have a college degree. I had a career as a teacher before I left to school my own children and do this nifty writing thing, which pays just as poorly but I can do at home in pajamas.  I can even do minor home repairs and I’m very, very good with a gun. I don’t call myself a feminist, but that’s an entirely other blog post that I’m not sure I can tackle without medication, but I’m quite capable of carrying on my life on my own.

Have I encountered sexism in the workplace?  You betcha.  Do I think there is a “War on Women” in this country?

Not just no, but H**L NO, pardon my language.

Oh, there’s a war on women happening in this world, all right, but folks, it ain’t here, and I’m about to drop a little knowledge on you that might sting a bit.

Having to buy your own tampons every month isn’t war.  Having to cover your entire body, including your eyes, before you dare venture into public, because you’re a woman, is war.

Having to pay for your own contraception isn’t war.  Being banned from any education at all because you’re a woman is war.

Getting whistled at by some guy on the street isn’t war.  It isn’t rape, either, by the way, so just shut up about that right now. Being sold into sexual slavery for the princely sum of $25 when you’re 9 years old is war.  That’s rape, too, in case you were unclear about it.

Women in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, even the UK are being maimed in acid attacks, gang raped, sometimes killed because they besmirched a family’s “honor” by GETTING raped or refusing to marry someone repugnant to them – THAT IS WAR ON WOMEN, FOLKS.  Having their clitoris removed, usually without anesthesia to top it off – THAT IS WAR ON WOMEN.  That is radical Islam’s plan for every female on the planet, and if that doesn’t fit your definition of a war on women, you need to fix yourself.

Call me crazy, but I’m just not bothered by having to pay for my own tampons, or my own birth control, and I have to admit it raises my spirits when I get whistled at on the street.  I can hear feminists having the vapors from here.  Attempt to wage a REAL war on women against me and mine? You’ll find out just exactly how good I am with that gun.

 

I Just Can’t Even

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Posted on : 13-Nov-2013 | By : Amber | In : Complaints and such, Stuff I care about and you should, Very Important Things

Apparently, one of the things I just can’t even is update regularly. I’d say I’d try to be better, but I can’t guarantee that’ll actually happen, so in the interests of not lying, I’ll just say hi.

Hi!

Kinda nuts how things have changed in the last almost-year, and how much they haven’t.

Eldest is a full-time college student with a part-time job. I never see her much, but she’s also not asking for money, so I’m trying to look on the bright side.  I miss her being around, though, and not just because she was doing the drive to co-op twice a week. I actually like my kids, even though that seems to be an unpopular thing these days.

I’ve never had a problem going against the tide. Imagine that.

Like being politically conservative.  That seems to be going against the jet stream. During El Nino. Ok, I don’t really know that that would be any worse than actually swimming against the regular tide, but it sounds more dramatic, so just go with me.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Conservative. Me. I am.

See – I don’t think that minorities of any ilk need government hand-outs to move ahead in life. I don’t think that I, or anyone else, should have a say in the private affairs of two consenting adults – and I don’t think I, or anyone else, should be responsible for financing that life. I think that an economic climate that allows business to operate freely, with minimal interference, fosters more jobs and more opportunity and more prosperity.

I don’t think that the government is better at spending my money than I am, and I’m VERY sure that I’m better at helping people I see that need it than the feds are. Call me crazy.

Lots of people do. Or they did, until the debacle that is Obamacare. I’m trying not to giggle when I see things like “I thought it was a good idea, until I had to pay for it.”.

Well, DUH. WHERE DID YOU THINK THE MONEY WAS GONNA COME FROM???

Why does it seem impossible for people to understand that the government doesn’t MAKE money. It doesn’t produce anything. All of its income comes from taxes. Who pays taxes? THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Well, most of them, any way.

Want universal healthcare? Better be prepared to pay for it.

Want education for all? Better be prepared to pay for it.

Want housing assistance? Better – I’m sure you get the gist.

Every time the government subsidizes (look it up, folks) someone’s housing, or healthcare, or education, or food, that money comes FROM TAXES.  When they give out more than they take in, there are a limited number of options. Borrow from other countries like China, cut spending somewhere else, or raise taxes.

This is economics 101, people, but it seems to be a relatively simple concept that is escaping the vast majority of voters.

I’m just sayin’.  Until the zombie apocalypse happens and we’re all reduced to bartering for instant coffee and shoes, this is a concept everyone needs to understand.

After the apocalypse, though, all bets are off.  I have enough ammo and coffee to keep going for a long, long time.

 

Lightly Grilled Weasel on a Bun – with Chips!

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Posted on : 15-Jan-2012 | By : Amber | In : Rambling rambles, Stuff I care about and you should, Very Important Things

Once upon a time, this fantastic, flawed, amazing woman named Jenny decided, on her blog, to coin the term “FURIOUSLY HAPPY”. Once upon a time, a not-so-fantastic, even more flawed, no-where-near amazing woman named Amber decided that being furiously happy was, in fact, an abso-freakin’-lutely brilliant idea, and decided to do just that.

The beginning of 2012 tried to dent that decision, like a zombie denting the head of its next victim (see, Bri, I did the zombie thing). A favorite uncle passed away. A beloved pet passed away. Furiously happy wavered on its legs, looking remarkably similar to a newborn giraffe.

However, even though it tilted and stumbled, furiously happy did NOT go quietly into that good night, and I’m writing this blog entry about it because, well, I’m still furiously happy!

So many things and people make me furiously happy, and the recent losses in my life made me decide that I needed to recognize at least some of those things and those people, because you never know when you won’t be able to tell them again. So, I’m telling the whole world (or at least the handful of it that reads this blog).

YOU MAKE ME FURIOUSLY HAPPY. All of you. For so many reasons. From my girlfriends like Bridgett and Mekala and Lisa and Jamie and Georgia and Helen and Kaye…to former students turned beloved friends like Sean…to fellow writers like Jenny and Barb and Gail (and Kaye again, because she’s that good)…to folks I’ve never met in person and who don’t really have a clue who I am, but who inspire me in some way like Tim and Chris and Cherie and Kat.

To the family that is the core of who I am and who I’m still trying to become.

Even to the furballs that share my life and cause no end of frustration and laughter.

So many of you.

I’ll still get angry, and frustrated, and I’ll still battle the lying SOB that is depression, but I will not let them WIN. I won’t give them houseroom in my life or foothold in my soul. I just won’t. If I do, I know you’ll stop me.

So, yeah, I’m still FURIOUSLY HAPPY, and I intend to stay that way, regardless of what life throws at me, because – well, because I deserve to be. We all do.

Yes, you, too.

Makes You Wanna Scream…

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Posted on : 16-Mar-2011 | By : Amber | In : Parenting Fails, Rambling rambles, Teenagers, Very Important Things

*Author’s Note – WordPress ate this once already. I love you, so I’m rewriting it. Fear me.*

So – there’s this kid I know. Good-natured, hardworking guy with a big heart that I totally want in my corner when the zombies come, because he’s big enough to swing a mean machete and loyal enough to swing it to help out his friends. The problem is his family treats him like crap.

I’m not talking about your ordinary, garden variety crap, either. I’m talking the sort of crap you find encased in glass domes with signs saying “for when the usual crap just won’t do”. THAT kind of crap. This kid’s stepfather is a class A Numbskull, and his mom must either be threatened or drunk, because she allows said Numbskull to dish out the afore-mentioned crap. Oh, not to all the kids, mind you – the kids she shares with the Numbskull get preferential treatment. It’s the kids she had B.N. (before Numbskull) that get the short end of the stick, and you’re not going to convince me that she doesn’t see it, because she’s got eyes in her head.

You know, I’ll take a lot of things from a lot of people, but you don’t mess with my kids. You want to be safe during the Zombie Apocalypse, then stand behind my kids, because I guarantee you they’re gonna survive. Nobody messes with my girls. That means that I don’t understand why in the Sam Hill anyone would treat their children like this, step or other, and since I have seriously great great step-parents, I really really have no frame of reference for this. No one would do this to my child, no matter who is the one doing the “doing”.

I know all I can do, at least at this precise moment in time, is offer support. What I’d like to do is significantly more, um, action oriented. And probably frowned upon. Or not, depending on who you are and what organizations or municipalities you work for. I am open to suggestions, however.

A Christmas like no other

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Posted on : 20-Dec-2010 | By : Amber | In : Very Important Things

For those of you who don’t know, and you must be a little isolated if that’s the case, Jenny of TheBloggess.com started what has become the most amazing outpouring of Christmas spirit I’ve ever seen.  I’m not going to relive the entire thing here, because Jenny has kept us all up-to-date with the avalanche of goodwill HERE.  I’m going to sit back and let you go read it, and then you can come back here.

Done?

Now, if that’s not the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen, if you can read that with dry eyes and not have your heart torn out of your chest and then put back together better, then you’re not human and I don’t want to know you. Really.

The fact that I was able to take some money that was literally sitting around (change, but it’s real money, yes?), put it in the bank and literally make Christmas happen for someone – not so much with the money, but with the fact that someone CARED enough to make the effort for a person they didn’t even know – has taken my Christmas and made it, well, MORE. More valued, more treasured, more peaceful, more sincere, just – MORE.

I know what it’s like to wonder where the money was going to come from for groceries, or bills, or to keep the lights on. I know what it’s like to lie awake at nights and wonder where the Christmas presents were going to come from for my girls. My husband is the hardest working man I’ve ever known, and the Economy of Doom has nearly taken everything from us; it’s because family and friends offered a helping hand when we needed it that we’re finally, maybe, seeing a light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t an oncoming train. Full of zombies.

This year, we could pay it forward a little bit, and the funny thing is, it’s done as much or more for my Christmas spirit as it could possibly have done for the folks we were able to send gift cards to.

And – you want the icing on the cake? I told Bri about it, and she wanted to give a card, too. She’s a hard-working 15-year-old, and she makes her own money teaching violin classes. When we sat down with her debit card and the amazon.com gift card site, I went to put in the $30 – and she told me to make it $50. She said then there’d be a little extra for Christmas dinner. I asked if she was sure, and she just said “I can afford it”.

How many teens would have done that??

How have I, truly, become so blessed?

Merry Christmas, everyone.