Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wolf Children

Last night I gave in to my girls' badgering, and sat down to watch a freakin' anime movie at 10 p.m.

Best. Movie. Ever.

I don't say this lightly; one of the best movies I've ever seen.

It not only addresses what I believe in my heart about parenting, but also about honoring children's individuality in matters of growing up and education, and about letting--and encouraging--kids to be themselves, with the understanding that sometimes people won't understand, and will be scared of you...but sometimes they'll love you for exactly who you are.

It perfectly captures the reasons why I love living out here in the sticks, and echoes my feelings about needing space...but also a tribe. (Made up of the right people).

There's a scene in the middle that made me cry like a pinched baby, because of the poignancy with which it captures the feeling of letting your children take chances and run free, and realizing that there are incredible dangers that go along with that. Risks that can ultimately make us brave, and help us become the people we're truly meant to be. (There's actually more than one part that caused tears at our house. Keep your tissues handy.)

It speaks to raising sensitive children into adults who are both courageous and sympathetic, who can embrace their strength and their smarts without fear.

If you're a single parent who wonders if anyone can understand the struggle of shouldering so much responsibility, then this movie should assure you that someone does. And that you're awesome.

I'm not it.

Buy the DVD, or watch it instantly, but watch it.

**Note for parents: I watched this with my three daughters, ages 20, 13 and 12, with no hesitation. I'll let my 9 year old watch it, as well, but I'll probably divert his attention during the, ahem, hint at a love scene between the parents. (Bare shoulders, and, well, the dad is in wolf form. "Not that there's anything wrong with that", but...just a heads up.) There's also two instances of bare anime b**bs, which you see in the context of childbirth/nursing. I don't mind images like that when they're associated with those things, but in case your philosophy is different, I thought I'd pass it along. But even if those two things make you squirm, I'd still encourage you to watch. There's a beauty in this movie that doesn't come along too often. Don't miss out.

And, as always, I'd like to remind everyone for the sake of full disclosure that your purchases made at Amazon, when you click through using my site, help to finance my rock star lifestyle.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Cleaning Musings

I'm being very generous with myself by calling the vague de-cluttering that I'm doing in my much neglected bedroom "Spring Cleaning".

But it's the first day of spring (THANK YOU GOD!!) and I'm cleaning, so...

The above, one of my favorite things in the world (a sketch my oldest son drew as he watched me do some tutoring), was found in said bedroom today. Amidst several receipts (Note to Self: Become a Better Record Keeper), notes for articles (from the Don Draper School of Scribble on What You Have Handy), and some knitting patterns which, along with several skeins of brightly colored yarn, stand as dusty little testaments to my boundless optimism, which continues to feed the belief that one day the crafter inside of me will burst forth, fully grown, like Athena from Zeus' head, and actually complete a project.

Another great find: an old chore list, printed out a few years back, which served as a great reminder that no matter how much things change--kids grow into adults and go off to college, get jobs, babies become older children responsible enough to walk the dog--some things stay painfully unaltered.

A word for word transcript of the saddest part of that chore list...

"...after these things are done, vacuum the floor. The entire floor. The floor under the table, and the surrounding areas of floor. Do not leave any of the kitchen floor unvacuumed."

I read this and I am looking back through time, at a younger Crib Chick, an idealistic, less cynical Crib Chick. A Crib Chick who still believes that one day, the children will follow her directions and vacuum all of the floor.

If only I, or Dr. Who, or someone with the technology, could travel back in time and tell that younger, more hopeful Crib Chick to just forget it, and focus her hopes and dreams on a more likely goal. Embrace the dust.

That's my advice to you, this spring. Yes, cleaning is important, yes, training children to do thorough work is important, but some battles will just never be won. (Somewhere an archeologist is excavating a centuries-old tablet and deciphering it..."...Neglect thou not the floor in thy sweeping...Yea, even the baseboards...")

So don't take it too seriously.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Connubial Conversations

Crib Chick: "Man, it is a wonderful day for a run."

Mr. Crib Chick: "It's an Ultimate Grand Supreme day for a run."

(If you've never watched Toddlers and Tiaras, or you aren't familiar with the rampant superlative abuse in child beauty pageants, then this won't be very funny.)

Sunday, February 09, 2014

What Happens When You Change?

A little something happened recently that made me stop and think.

(Yeah, I know. That's huge, isn't it?)

Many of you know that I write other things, in addition to this blog. Part-time freelance copywriting and some journalism. I've done this for quite a while now (with breaks here and there), and so every so often, I come across something I wrote in the distant past.

Most of the time, I chuckle to myself and think, "What a card. I crack myself up." (Sorry. It's true.)

But a few days ago, I had a much different experience; my blast from the past left me a little embarrassed.

I got an email alert about a piece I wrote for a publication which was recycled into an online article, originally based on a blog post from 2005. Now, the alert had to do with someone else's article--mine was just referenced and linked, hence the cyber heads-up--but just for kicks, I clicked through and read the piece again.

And I realized as I read that it was something I would never write now.

We can talk about the subject matter, if that interests anyone (it was modesty), and we can also talk about what I did (left the article, but took down the blog post with the idea of editing and republishing later) but immediate response to the single issue aside, a bigger one loomed over me after I was done reading and realizing; that may not be the only subject I change my mind about.

So, what do you do as a person, if you find yourself changing? What do you do as a writer, if you have stuff out there, floating around, that represents you in your earlier form?

I won't lie; I could very easily fall into berating myself for writing before I'm fully cooked. (Even though I know, as I keep telling the teens that I teach on Sunday, that I'm not even close to being fully cooked, at 43 years old, and if what I'm understanding the Bible to say is correct, I'll never be a finished project.) And I was on the way to doing that....before I realized that I'm not alone.

And more than that; I'm in good company.

Leo Tolstoy is the first example that comes to mind when I think of "Writers Who Changed". (No, I'm not comparing myself to Tolstoy as a writer. I would never do that. My blog posts about the antics of my children and the messes they make are not at all comparable to War and Peace.)

Did you know that Tolstoy changed his mind about some really significant things later in life? Well, he did. (Here's a brief sketch of his life that describes some of them. And here's another. And another.) To put his life changes in a nutshell, Tolstoy had a religious experience, found new beliefs about marriage, government and peace (just to name a few things), and basically turned his life upside down, all in pursuit of...truth.

Truth, and a life lived in accordance with the principles he believed to be true and right.

On my good days, that's all I'm trying to do, too. Figure out what's right, and live it out. Maybe write about it, a little.

I might THINK I know something, and share it, but now I know (through experience, unfortunately) that I may in fact, change my mind. I may learn things, or experience things that shift my ideas.

So...what do you do? Not write until you have it all figure out?

No, I don't think that's it. Tolstoy wrote in every stage of life, and he wrote with his heart, and all the information and understanding he had at the moment. I believe if you do the same as a writer, your thoughts will always be important, and even helpful, despite inaccuracy/readjustment. Another thought might be to keep a humble tone, just in case you do in fact, change your mind later (incomplete data or understanding might be explainable, but smugness is a lot more difficult--and embarrassing--to undo) and to keep it logical. Writing that contains good reasoning, in addition to humility, is still valuable as an exercise in thought, even if you change your mind about the subject matter. (I think I kept it mild in the aforementioned post/article; at its worst, it just seemed a little judge-y, and I'm sincerely hoping it wasn't hurtful to anyone.)

It's a big deal for a novelist to get critical acclaim for one novel, but to have two of them regarded as some of the most important fiction ever written is huge.

The fact that the author later rejected both of them as not being representative of reality is even more profound, though, to me.

If it can happen to Leo Tolstoy, it can certainly happen to you, or me.

So don't quit, don't overthink it (don't underthink it either, though), just keep writing (or speaking, or whatever) with your heart and your head, and a good dose of love and humility. Be ready to be honest with your readers or listeners when you change your mind.

And it should be okay.

(P.S. If you're looking for a good, thought-provoking movie, check out The Last Station , the fictionalized account of the last days of Tolstoy. And don't forget, I'm an Amazon affiliate, so you help to finance my rock star lifestyle when you click and shop.)