Monday, April 28, 2008

Off to Sacramento

I will be getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning to fly to Sacramento with 3 other amazing parent leaders from my local district and a select group from the UTLA (teachers union) to lobby the State Senate and Assembly against pending budget cuts in education. This is a whole new terrain for me, but clearly exciting and much-needed work that needs to get done.

Say a prayer for the political novice....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Moms Everywhere READ THIS!

I had the great pleasure to meet Martha Beck at a Woman and Words conference a few years ago where she was signing copies of her memoir Expecting Adam, her transformational self-help guide Finding Your Own North Star, and breezily chatting about her life, her books, and the crooked path that led to where she is now. I found her to be funny, refreshingly candid, and gave-me-goosebumps inspiring. A perfect combination.

When this piece of hers hit the CNN homepage the other day, I knew I had to share it. Again. I say again because it already "aired" in O Magazine years ago.  Moms, we need to hear this. Until we KNOW it and no longer feel bad about ourselves and our lives, this concept should be shared again and again.

With many of us experiencing serious burnout not to mention deep feelings of inadequacy from the constant demands of juggling Motherhood AND our unmet career, personal, marital, and community goals and expectations, combined with SERIOUS SLEEP DEPRIVATION, the following is a point I want to scream from the rafters! But Martha does it so much better.

Go Here.

But I understand. You're too overtaxed to click I've made it easy for you. Read this:

In Defense Of An Unbalanced Life
By Martha Beck

It's five o'clock in the morning. I've been awake for about 23 hours, having struggled vainly to fit in writing between yesterday's tasks: getting the car fixed, taking the dog to the vet, answering e-mail, going grocery shopping, driving my kids to music lessons, seeing clients, picking up deli sandwiches for dinner and cuddling a 12-year-old through some of the horrors of puberty.

I finally sat down at my computer around midnight -- and looked up just now to see the sun rising.

Understand three things: 1) I don't have a job. I freelance, which means I procrastinate and get away with it; 2) my children are not young --they walk, talk, bathe, diagnose their own viruses; and 3) I'm kind of supposed to be an expert at combining career and family.

I conducted years of sociological research on the topic, wrote a big fat book about it. Plus, I'm a life coach. You'd think I could live a balanced life as a 21st-century American woman.

Ha. In fact, having done all that research, I can tell you with absolute assurance that it is impossible for women to achieve the kind of balance recommended by many well-meaning self-help counselors. I didn't say such balance is difficult to attain. I didn't say it's rare. I said it's "impossible."

Our culture's definition of what women should be is fundamentally, irreconcilably unbalanced. That's the bad news. The good news is that the very imbalance of our culture is forcing women to find equilibrium in an entirely new way.

The Joy of Being Unbalanced

If someone condemned you because, say, you failed to prevent Hurricane Katrina, you wouldn't dissolve in shame or work to overcome your inadequacy. You'd probably conclude that your critic was nuts, then simply dismiss the whole issue.

That's the wonderful thing about seeing that our society makes impossible demands on all women. You free yourself to ignore social pressures and begin creating a life that comes from your own deepest desires, hopes and dreams. You'll stop living life from the outside in and begin living it from the inside out.

Women describe the moments when they really "got" that the expectations they'd been trying to fulfill were unfulfillable. They say this epiphany was terrible because it meant relinquishing the goal of total social acceptance. But it was also the beginning of freedom, of learning to seek guidance by turning inward to the heart, rather than outward to social prescriptions.

If you feel trapped by contradictory demands, you may want to join this gentle rebellion. You can help create a new cultural paradigm, one that replaces conformity with honesty, convention with creativity, and judgment with kindness. That, in the end, is the gift of the disequilibrium that society has bequeathed to all of us.

Being forced to seek balance within ourselves, we can make our unsteady, stumbling days feel less and less like disaster and more and more like a joyful dance -- the dance of a wildly, wonderfully, perfectly unbalanced life.

By Martha Beck from "O, The Oprah Magazine," April 2003
reprinted at 9:13 a.m. EDT, Tue April 15
, 2008

Here's to the dance, ladies! Dance out loud!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

15 Ways to Lose A Tooth

By Miss S & GoMama

(in no particular order)
  1. Pull it really hard with your fingers
  2. Push it from behind with your tongue
  3. Wrap it in dental floss and pull
  4. Wrap it up with string, then tie it to the doorknob, then slam the door as hard as you can
  5. Bite into cold, hard apples
  6. Yank on it
  7. Yank on it with pliers
  8. Get punched in the mouth/tooth
  9. Tie a string from the tooth to Daddy's skateboard and tell Daddy to ride away!
  10. Chew on a bone, a steak, or a stick
  11. Wiggle it to death!
  12. Stick your foot in your mouth (after a bath) and kick your tooth
  13. Chew on really hard carrots
  14. Chew on a pencil
  15. Bang it with a hammer
Dang, it takes so long to lose a tooth!!!!!

Ok. What are your favorite tricks?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Moms Who Rock Will Rock NYC!

Just wanted to let the fine folks out there in cyberland know that I have been invited to speak in NYC at the ARM Conference on Performing Feminist Motherhood during the Mamapalooza Festival on May 16th. For the complete ARM Conference schedule, go here.

Specifically, I will be part of a panel on Motherhood and Social-Cultural Activism, which will include presentations from the editor of Literary Mama, the editor of Mamapalooza's The Mom Egg, and a scholar from Toronto's York University. It's an estrofest of mamativity!

Here's a taste of what I'll be presenting:

Rocking the Public Schools:
How a Community of Mothers Take Back Their Neighborhood School

Education isn't a sexy topic. It isn't as devastating as war, or as immediate as an economic recession or as hotly contested as the presidential candidates.

But it does affect the future of our children.

In Los Angeles, one of the wealthiest states in the nation if not the world, our public schools are ranked near the bottom of the country. As mothers, we will not tolerate it nor will we stand idly by and do nothing, waiting for some shift in district power to fix our broken system.

My essay will tell how motherhood birthed not only our children, but the growth of a renewed sense of community awareness and civic responsibility, and a vision to collectively invest in and revitalize our failing public schools.

In particular, I will show how one team of mothers gathered together with the school's principal to work to bring the neighborhood back to the "low-performing" neighborhood school. This is the story of a growing team of mothers swarming the wound, nurturing and repairing it, demanding and initiating change through extensive outreach, shared ideas, endless fundraising, campus beautification, community building, perception shifting, and by funding an innovative educational approach supported by professional mentoring.

Some view this wave of parent activism as an underground revolution that can be seen bubbling up in schools all across Los Angeles, and perhaps around the country.

As we transform our selves, our families, and the way we parent, so too will our schools transform by the very bodies and energy and spirit of those who inhabit them.


I hope those of you who can, will join me! For those who can't, I will raise a toast (oh yes, you can bet cocktails will be involved!) to Moms Who Rock day in and day out everywhere!