Blogger, life enthusiast, queen of chaos. Author and star of #closertocrazy, and Hairbeast Productions. I live in north central Massachusetts on a tiny misshapen, entirely accidental farm. Life is always an adventure!
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It is said that if you’re not a little uncomfortable, you’re not really living. Well today I pushed myself to be a little uncomfortable, and way outside my comfort zone and I couldn’t be more gratified. I went FLYING today in a teeny tiny 2 seater baby plane that was SO little it needed a note from its momma saying it was ok to come play.
In a weird way it was so easy to let go and not be scared because I kept thinking “well at this height there’s no chance of survival so why stress? If the plane goes down, that’s it. I may as well smile all the way instead of scream.”
I did something for myself that I’ve wanted to try for AGES. I saved a little here and there and every time I felt tempted to buy yet another plumping lipgloss (I have a drawer full) to make my full mouth a bit juicier, I stuffed that money into an envelope.
Im not perfect, no one is. My body and I have had a tumultuous relationship over the years and I have worked hard to love and to embrace myself since I am so fortunate to have a body that WORKS even when it hurts.
Im also a staunch supporter of the “treat yourself” movement in my ongoing quest to master excellent selfcare. So I DID. Treat myself. So much thanks to my incredibe and wonderfully talented friend, Kristina @hellobeautifulmedspa for the plump new pout! She has been my fountain of youth for years now and continues to ease me into my golden years (I routinely send her gifs of cranky old ladies with my desperate cries for help).
Today she smoothed me over and eased my TMJ pain with jeaveau, then juiced up my soup coolers with restylane. I know there are plenty of people who will have an opinion about my chosing to go this route but I’m not in favor of body shaming others whether they proudly embrace what they were born with as they age, or they choose to kiss science full on the mouth. Im not going to grow old gracefully. I don’t do ANYTHING gracefully. Thank heaven for sock drawer stashes and good friends.
An analysis from the American Library Association revealed that while some school libraries have bannes books because characters use witchcraft, profanity, sexual content, or because of uncomfortable themes like racism, a great deal of the most frequently challenged books of the last decade center around LGBTQ characters and themes.
Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books of the Past DecadeThe American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has been documenting attempts to ban books in libraries and schools since 1990. OIF compiled this list of the most banned and challenged books from 2010-2019 by reviewing both the public and confidential censorship reports it received.
This list draws attention to literary censorship but only provides a snapshot of book challenges. About 82-97% of challenges remain unreported
In honor of “Banned Books Week” I encourage and challenge you to grab a banned book from this list and READ. Be seditious! 😈
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Looking for Alaska by John Green George by Alex Gino And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell Drama by Raina Telgemeier Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James Internet Girls (series) by Lauren Myracle The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Bone (series) by Jeff Smith The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg Alice McKinley (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel It’s a Book by Lane Smith The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer Bad Kitty (series) by Nick Bruel Crank by Ellen Hopkins Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone Beloved by Toni Morrison Goosebumps (series) by R.L. Stine In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco Lush by Natasha Friend The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger The Color Purple by Alice Walker The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon The Holy Bible This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily von Ziegesar House of Night (series) by P.C. Cast My Mom’s Having A Baby by Dori Hillestad Butler Neonomicon by Alan Moore The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake The Giver by Lois Lowry Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle Dreaming In Cuban by Cristina Garcia Fade by Lisa McMann The Family Book by Todd Parr Feed by M.T. Anderson Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach Habibi by Craig Thompson House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov Monster by Walter Dean Myers Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter Saga by Brian K. Vaughan Stuck in the Middle by Ariel Schrag The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal 1984 by George Orwell A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher Awakening by Kate Chopin Burned by Ellen Hopkins Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers Glass by Ellen Hopkins Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesle´a Newman I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Madeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmans My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology by Amy Sonnie Skippyjon Jones (series) by Judith Schachner So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins The Color of Earth (series) by Tong-hwa Kim The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter The Walking Dead (series) by Robert Kirkman Tricks by Ellen Hopkins Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S Brannen Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
I am so grateful for the moments I can steal away to pamper myself with a little self care. I’m famous for slipping away to the beach for a few hours before work. I treat myself to beautiful lashes that soften my tired eyes through long shifts at night. I take glorious naps. I mean, I take truly magnificent naps. Breathtaking and impressive ones. The kind of naps you dream about when you’re not actually napping.
Sometimes I just stand in my yard in a swimsuit, watering my garden and staring at my chickens and ducks and turkeys because they make me smile and the sun feels wonderful on my skin.
I’m pushy when it comes to making sure those around me take time to take care too. Ask any coworker and they’ll tell you I’m relentless. If you work with me, you’re going to take your whole damn break no matter how busy it is. I’ll strong arm you off the unit if I have to. Stepping away from anything for a breather is like the oxygen mask on an airplane. Its essential to your well-being. Breathe deeply, babe, we’ve all got a ways to go yet. Take that break.
You’re also going to schedule the appointments you’ve been putting off, start planning that trip, start that pinterest board of diy project ideas you’ve been eagerly telling me about, and your going to laugh as much as possible because I won’t stop until you do and you’re going to put yourself on your calendar because it’s easier to appease me than to endure my hounding and nagging you to engage in selfcare.
Life has never been crazier than it has been for all of us everywhere all over the world right now. It’s important to feed yourself, to water your spirit, to nurture your soul. Whatever you do that makes you feel refreshed, do it. Put yourself on your calendar each week.
Protect that appointment with yourself like you would your own child’s. Take a walk, take a drive, take a nap. Read a book, play your favorite music, putter. Be mindful, be mindless. Take a break. Whatever you do, take care. You only get one you. Oh, and wear a damn mask. I’m relentless about that too.
I’m “bossy, emotional, outspoken”. I “raise my voice”, I’m “scattered, just a mom”,and I cry. I’m “pushy” because I stand up for myself and for others.
I don’t care.
I dont need validation or approval.
Im confident, informed, creative, focused on my goals, a leader, a listener a hard worker, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and yes, a mom. I lift others up. I accept help when I need it because that is also a sign of strength and wisdom. To give help and to seek help when needed.
Today’s doctor’s visit ended with orders for a mammogram to get my boobs squashed, orders to see my Rheumatologist to get poked and a glow in the dark MRI, orders to see my spine guy to get shot in the back four times, and lastly an order for a colonoscopy to round out the hand. Im calling this my royal flush. Get it? Because it ends with a camera up my butt.
Never once did I imagine I would be standing naked on my back porch, showering with the hose, sheilded from public view by a couple of pallets and a shower curtain while three dogs, several ducks, two turkeys, four goats and thirty odd chickens catcalled me. We are definitely stranger birds. I feel for our neighbors, I really do.
I work in a hospital and have an immunocompromised loved one at home so I’m not allowed in the house after work until I’ve put myself through the decontamination chamber. I’m dying to crawl in bed but that comes after I pass the white glove test.
This is not to be confused with the rubber glove test which is an entirely different thing and reserved for sexy time. Obviously I’m kidding. The rubber glove test is fun any time, not just sexy time. Again, I’m kidding. I’m not about to blog about sexy time no matter how great a good rubber glove joke fits in there. My kids read this stuff.
I guess I lead a stranger life these days, along with the rest of you. Oh sure, you may not be naked in your yard, and you may not have livestock watching your progress intently, but you have your own freak show going on and we both know it. One day I’d like details.
We have become increasingly mindful over the past months of conserving our resources, repurposing materials to build what we need, and growing our own food. Ok you got me. Maybe 5% of our own food, but that’s 5% more than we did before the word blew apart so I’m putting this in the win column.
I have put up bird houses all around my yard that have a steady tenancy I adore. I can’t have too many bird houses, that just not a thing to me, and so bits and parts of old projects have yielded some rather odd looking structures for our feathered friends. I love them almost more because their haphazard, pieced together oddness seems akin to life itself. A combination of accidental and deliberate. Unexpected happenings and moments where your heart dips and takes flight. Strange birds indeed.
I remember quite clearly the day my mother laughed recalling passing a mirror in the house while she was cleaning. Without really thinking about it she glanced up when her reflected movement caught her eye.
Her immediate thought was “who is that woman staring at me?” and then realized almost instantly that the stranger staring back at her wasn’t some older woman peering in at her through the window, but herself in the glass.
My mother didn’t recognize herself in that instant because she had been swept up in what she was doing, singing or humming, zipping along, only as old as she felt.
If you have ever had the immense pleasure of meeting my mother, you will know that she is always a vibrant, lively, and engaging companion. I have more pictures of my mom grinning wildly, up in trees along with my children than I can shake a stick at. My father’s heart has been caught in his throat more times over her scaling trees and ladders, when a more sensible person might have hired a handyman to do the job.
She is so young at heart, so unsinkable in spirit that she is the perennial tween, always caught up in the passion of the moment before sense and age weigh in to meter her level of physical investment. I adore her. I hope I am half the woman she is.
When she looked at the older face of the woman in the mirror, etched with laugh lines and worry lines from living so well, she was surprised to see that her outward appearance seemed at odds with her inner youth.
After years of never needing to wear glasses myself (although my children would argue my driving suggests I’ve needed them for quite some time) I find myself bespectacled.
I have been constantly amazed at how sharply things are in focus now, that I no longer need to stretch out my arms and squint at books and papers and instructions on medicine bottles!
I found myself enraptured with the details now visible to my eyes, thinking “How did I put this fabulously improved vision off for so long? How have I been getting around? How have I not poisoned my family yet?”
Then it happened. I passed a mirror the other day while cleaning in my house and stopped to lean in to fix a wayward strand of hair.
She was staring at me. A stranger. An older version of myself with lines on her forehead, creases around her eyes, and grey hairs. Where did that woman come from? Who let her in? And it hit me. I was the stranger in the glass.
Somehow, in the business of my life, in the energy and music of my days, I had changed outwardly while inwardly still climbing trees.
When had this happened? How did I not notice I was getting older? I decided I wasn’t so sure getting glasses had been a good idea, bringing into focus more than simply books and words. I was sharply in focus too.
Yet, the woman looking back at me had kind eyes that sparkled with humor and more than a little devilment. She looked like trouble, and I like trouble. She’s older than I’d like but I’ve decided she’s someone I want to get to know better. She seems like the kind of friend I want to be. And I bet she’s just the type who’s willing share a jail cell with you just to have a good time. I can tell just by looking at her that we’re going to be good friends.
Today was supposed to be your day. I remember entering this day on our family calendar back in March of 2019 when the school board approved it. I can remember feeling my stomach drop, my throat tighten a bit, and tears well up knowing my baby, my youngest, my sweet, brilliant and only girl would be graduating from high school and moving on.
It seemed surreal to me. Like breathing only air through decades of children at home with me, attending school open houses, field days, rehearsals, concerts, plays, practices, games, rallies, field trips, parent teacher conferences, I would now need to grow gills and learn how to start breathing water. There hadn’t been a year that wasn’t immersed in something school related.
Yet there it was, that date. Your high school graduation date. It was on the calendar. It was real.
You have accomplished so much. You have faced and overcome so much. You havs shined. You do shine.
The world turned upside down. A pandemic blew us all out if the water and sent us home. You had to finish what you began 13 years ago in this very same town in kindergarten, but remotely in zoom classes and online from the kitchen, the living room, your bedroom, anywhere you could find a spot to work along with your brothers suddenly home from college trying to do the very same thing.
You wrote papers and took exams with the sounds of saxophone, euphonium, piano, and drums sounding different songs and rhythms from the basement, the game room, and the dining room. You pieced together the rest of the quilt you made from tshirts that held special memories for you and presented it to your class using your phone.
You picked up your last few things at a table outside of the school wearing your mask, one student only at a time, paid your senior obligations, and came home with a bag. Tucked inside were your cap and gown, your awards, your gold rope and an envelope with your diploma. And you were excited about it. I wanted to cry, and you were already pulling your gown out of its plastic wraper and pulling it over your head. We even dressed up and took pictures to celebrate.
Grit. Thats what they call that. Noted psychologist Angela Duckworth described it as
“passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals”
It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. That’s what you did. Its what you do. You rose to each challenge. You learned to make the best of it. You found ways to stay close with your school friends here at home while making new friends in a college you’re preparing to go to. A college you might have to attend from our kitchen and living room and even your bedroom again until its safe to gather together even as our nation roils with anger and injustice and racial inequality.
You’re excited about your future in spite of everything going on in the world. You’re already engaged in the world. You want to help to build a better one, and you aren’t waiting for your future to start. You’re already doing it. I’m more proud of you than you can ever imagine. I love you more than you could possibly know.
Congratulations babybear, this is your day. This is one of many days that will be yours. I’m so glad this world has you in it. We need you.
**I asked to reverse her collar for this picture so the school emblem could be visible, to show gratitude to a town and school that gave my five children the gift of amazing educators for the 20 years that spanned my oldest to my youngest time there. Thank you for guiding, shaping and challenging them to grow their gifts and to use them.