Friday, May 30, 2008

Blame Blissie

Blissie emailed this to me. It is Friday. I am waiting on my login to a grant system. Waiting and waiting so what do I do? Um... answer these random questions and tag someone to be next :)

50 ODD Things about you! Now that you are reading - you too have to fill it out!Learn 50 things about your friends and family, and let them learn 50 things about you!

1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes
2. Have you ever smoked heroin? No.
3. Do you own a gun? No. I don't want to have guns around while my kids are little. Or big really either.
4. What flavor do you add to your drink at sonic? Mmmmm Cherry or Vanilla.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Depends on what doctor.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? I love them if I don't think about what they are made of.
7. Favorite Christmas movie? Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life. Ok... I like Christmas Vacation too.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee with cream.
9. Can you do pushups? cheater ones... LOL but I can do sit ups with the best of em - bring it on baby.
10. Age? 39.
11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My silver 2 linked hearts neckless I got for Valentines this year - from my 5 valentines :)
12. Favorite hobby? Writing. Photography. Scrapbooking... I miss scrapbooking.
13. Favorite Actor? Matthew McConnehey, Robert Downey Jr., Johnny Depp, Matthew Broderick... what the heck - I get little crushes on all movie actors from time to time :)
14. Do you have A.D.D.? Probably.
15. What's one trait you hate about yourself? I can just be too nice sometimes.. too much of a Yes person.
16. Middle name? Hoo!
17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? This grant is almost done... I love this tune on the radio right now from Counting Crows... and oh my gosh my colleague is back and I have to go back to grant writing.
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday/today: Hummus & Grilled Chicken (today's lunch), A BBQ sandwich (yesterday's lunch), and Lindens
19. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Smartwater, Coffee, Diet Coke/Pepsi
20. Current worries? Bills. Migraines. Will the twins ever sleep in their own beds?
21. Current hate right now? Bills. Senseless Violence. Stupid People.
22. Favorite place to be? There is no place like home :)
23. How did you bring in the New Year? With a big RL hoo!
24. Where would you like to go? Tahiti or Greece or Ireland
25. Name three people who will complete this ? :) You, you and you. (plagarized right from Blissie)
26. Do you own slippers? Yes but I never wear them.
27. What shirt are you wearing? My brown polka dot silky shirt with scoop neck.
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Clean sheets are the main pre-requisite for me
29. Can you whistle? Sure :) I played the flute and piccolo - I think that must help a bit.
30. Favorite color? Blue or Pink
31. Would you be a pirate? No
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Whatever is randomly floating through my head
33. Favorite girl's name? Rachel :)
34. Favorite boy's name? Simon, Zachary and Noah
35. What is in your pocket right now? A ponytail band (waiting patiently for the Friday afternoon bun of doom) and my rose quartz and hematite little rocks...
36. Last thing that made you laugh? The underwriters at a birthday party in the office this afternoon - they are CRAZY people!
37. Best bed sheets as a child? Pink flowers
38. Worst injury you've ever had? 23 stitches in my back up near my shoulderblade from falling on a mountain trail while jogging.
39. Do you love where you live? Sometimes.
40. How many TVs do you have in your house? 4
41. Who is your loudest friend? My 5 year old Simon
42. How many dogs do you have? 1 big lug named Feliz
43. Does someone have a crush on you? Hopefully someone somewhere :) I know at least my 4 men at home love me - does that count as a crush?
44. What is your favorite book(s)? Julia Cameron's Artists' Way... I need to be MUCH MUCH better about practicing her recommendations. Amazing stuff.
45. Where were you born? Ames, Iowa
46. What is your favorite candy? Mmmmm Chocolate Orange
47. Favorite Sports Team? AZ Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns
48. What song(s) do you want played at your funeral? Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkle... not sure why... just came to me :)
49. What were you doing at 12AM? Probably snoring LOL
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Thank God I slept through that bird singing at 4:15 am today!

OK - Bigd and Jenda you are NEXT!

The Unspeakable

Yesterday there was something that happened on the freeway commute that was so horrific I didn't really take time to think too much about it. I couldn't. It was too terrifying. Unfortunately, I made it home just in time to hear the top local news story and there it was again. This time in not vivid detail, but enough to make me feel nauseous and wish I hadn't made the kids switch Spongebob to the news for me.

I tried to put it out of my mind and go about my crazed evening hosting for the beautiful Jendalicious at the Glamshack. It worked. I forgot about it. I didn't feel that well when I went to bed but figured it was just from being tired at the end of a long day.

When I awoke this morning... I knew I had to blog and get it out. I knew that my mind had peculated on it all throughout the night and I must share these thoughts. Not to gross anyone out but with a specific purpose of a higher order. To remind us all that we must never take each other for granted, and above all, remember how fragile human beings are - not just emotionally, but physically as well. If you are eating breakfast right now you might want to come back and read later...

Yesterday there was a man who was walking along the freeway... a Navajo man. His last name was Yellowhair. I am particularly sensitive to those types of things having lived and taught many many Native American students, mostly Navajo, for years in Northern Arizona. My ears immediately perked up when I heard his name on the news because I knew there is a clan, a network of people, somewhere mourning him. For some reason that made it so much more personal to me.

Anyway, for some reason he had left his car and was walking along the freeway. One report said he was walking in and out of traffic. All this in the wee hours of the morning sometime after 4 am. Was he drugged or drunk and disoriented? No comment of that. Should we assume he was suicidal? Perhaps.

The horrific part is he was struck. Not just once by someone who stopped to help. He was struck by 5 cars that sustained serious damage to their vehicles who stopped or later reported they were involved. He was struck by perhaps an additional 10 to 15 vehicles, including commerical vehicles, that no longer knew it was a person... a human being. They had to shut down the freeway for a huge stretch - 80 yards - to recover the pieces of Mr. Yellowhair. They had to gather his parts and clean it all up. Now while writing this I feel like vomiting, I also feel like sobbing.

You may wonder why the heck get so emotional over someone you don't even know, over a news story that could happen in any city, when there are tragedies that happen anywhere and everywhere all the time worldwide? Why let this one get to me? Something in the news story triggered something deep inside me: an image of a DPS officer carrying a single black man's dress/work shoe. First it made me think - wow, those guys have an unspeakably hard job. Ewwwww and ugh. Second it made me think - that man, Mr. Yellowhair, at the end of his life, was treated no better than an animal on the road. In fact, they think that is why people didn't stop who hit him, they figured it was just an animal and kept on going. Not that hitting animals makes it better but... heavy sigh.

Flashback to 10 years ago and I am reminded of a very personal situation in my teaching career when I had 2 students (not ones I directly taught) but good friends of students I had in class. A small piece of paper was delivered to my classroom twice in a short few weeks. The paper that contained a note I was required to read to my students. The note that shared with my students that a horrific thing had happened... each of the students had chosen to take their own lives stepping in front of oncoming freight trains just a few miles from our high school. I remember the sick feeling of the reality of what a train does to a human body. It was that same sick feeling that came back to me yesterday and still sits in the bottom of my stomach now.

While you can't focus on the particulars too long without feeling overwhelmed (which is why I must blog this to get it out), it is important to ponder long enough to remind each of us how fragile life is. We become way too immune to the atrocities human beings commit against one another and the random accidents and natural disasters that occur every day causing unnatural death because it is blasted to us over and over again in the media every day, every hour if you really want to search cable tv. We compartmentalize it. We choose to not think about it and go about our daily to do lists as if these things didn't happen. I suppose that is the better way to go.

I have to share with you my very very personal strategy though of coping with such things. It is a freeway survival strategy, a daily strategy I practice. I pray. I say blessings on each of my kids and my husband and kiss them and hug them right before I leave. No matter what, I never want my last words to them to be anything less than that. I don't want something horrific to happen to me and have them remember my last words being something stupid or trivial. I also say blessings over each one of them... just that simple word... just a simple phrase... "blessings on you" as a means of protection. God honors that. I know He does.

When I see an accident, or like yesterday, when I first heard the news of that accident, I silently said a prayer for that man and his family. Somewhere he had once been someone's baby, someone's brother, maybe even someone's father. Those people would be hearing those same news stories through grief stricken horror. I try to wish people well who cut me off and do stupid things driving. Really. Sounds silly I know - but I heard of it once in a brain research session - it relieves the stress. If they are driving so stupidly as to almost cause an accident, perhaps they are in a much bigger hurry. Wishing them well somehow takes the pressure off. But when I see an accident on the side of the road, I pray.

Life is fragile. Human beings are not invincible. We spend much of our time in this world consumed with media that would have us believe otherwise. While we can be and do almost anything, at the end of the day, we are a collection of soft tissues that can only bear so much. Please be gentle with those you come in contact with... with their spirits, with their minds, and with their physical beings. Life is short. Remind people that you love them. Give them a hug, take the time to smile, and please be aware of who is around you. Offer up a few prayers of your own for those who may be in such a dark space that they can't find the right words to ask for help. Be with Mr. Yellowhair's family in just a fleeting moment of prayer, and all the others out there like him who didn't have someone offering blessings on him when he set out on his journey yesterday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Many Days Off Does It REALLY Take?

So today I went back to work. I have had a really weird few weeks between traveling for work and being gone almost a week and then back to an action packed week with an event and family craziness... THEN an EXTRA long Memorial Day weekend. My schedule is out of whack. I might have forgotten how to have complete thoughts and actually finish a group of tasks in an organized fashion from a desk. I most definitely have forgotten the hideous commute - that really wasn't so hideous today (should I actually see the gas prices as a blessing in disguise for my commute time???).

I missed my blogging time today though. I missed my time to explore all the blogs I had begun to keep up with and comments I leave. I missed my SL exploration time. Did you notice a SEVERE drop in the SL economy? You KNOW the market was severely hurt by me not having high quality shopping time :) Hopefully Parker and Blissie were willing to help me out on that front. I think Jenda is too busy building her business to devote quality time to shopping so I won't ask her to have carried that torch for me today.

Today was also the first REAL day BigD had full charge of all 4 yahoos. Yes, this is something that happens every summer. He does it well. I hear they played in the sprinklers and played games online. We are having another barbeque dinner tonite. I tell ya there is something to this whole Mr. Mom thing I could so get used to! The thought of only getting myself out the door in the morning with clothes that match, and hair that looks ok is beyond easy. It is as if Staples gave me the easy button to push and life is good again.

But I'm tired tonite. I won't lie. I went in to work early thinking that meant I would leave early and really I left late. I have to discipline myself better to get out the door early on the back end of the day if I am going to start early. I don't really have to have a 9 or 10 hour work day, right? I CAN turn the achieve, achieve off and be ok, right?

I had been home so many days in a row the kids thought I had left on a business trip when I talked to them on the phone this morning. Have I scared my babies for life? Poor things! All in all, I guess it is good to go back at the end of the week. Anyone can suck it up to do 2 days and then have a weekend right? (read again repeat, read again repeat is the mantra I will practice).

Happy soon-to-be Friday everyone! I'll have better blogger thoughts tomorrow... promise! I'll leave you with this little goodie - couldn't pass it up :)

There's a 50% Chance That You Need Therapy

If you think you need therapy, you probably do. But there's a good chance you don't.

Like everyone else, you have your fair share of problems. And unlike most people, you're fairly good at solving them yourself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A HA! For... the... BIRDS!

4:15... hello. 4:15 AM. I barely opened one eye. I saw the light coming in through the glass block wall of our bathroom... not sunrise... just that first light that is grayish. And... I laid there listening to that bird. Some bird that has decided he MUST perform outside our window every day. Either that, or he is singing with a microphone a few doors down. I tried to not click my brain on and close my eyes and go back to sleep. I was somewhat successful but that bird. Over and over again in my head. Nuts you say? She is NUTS!

By 5:55 am I found myself back into a snuggly sleep when I awoke to a distinct doorbell. Ok... that made me certifiable. I'm officially now NUTS. Who the heck would be ringing our doorbell at 5:55 am.

Either way... it sent me on a mission to tiptoe down the stairs and begin my quest for the bird haunting my early mornings. Dave came down about 20 minutes later and said he awoke to bird sounds he had never heard before... LOL !!! My sound wasn't up THAT loud on my laptop. I take comfort in the fact we must BOTH be nuts. Misery loves company.

I found a site where some man has chronicled all sorts of bird sounds in Northern Arizona where we used to live. Go figure. Why would he do this? It isn't exactly a garden spot where he was - but heck, it sure beats 110 degrees (yes Blissie - I bet there are still spiders there though - icky ones - if there are that many birds there). You KNOW you can't resist seeing this guy's site, North American Bird Sounds . It actually would be cool to use if you were teaching kids and in the middle of a bird unit. (Sorry teacher in me).

So Dave thinks I'm joining the Audubon Society. Please note I am not. Yes, I am officially obsessive compulsive easily demonstrated by this post.
In general, only the male songbird sings and is he communicating one of two messages - 'go away!' or 'come here!'.

~ Bird Squawk!

Come to think of it - those are the SAME two messages human males give out - in RL and SL... HOOOO! Why is it that the female gets so shortchanged - no matter what the living form? How come we don't get a chance to sing and say 'go away' or 'come here'?? All I know is I get dirty looks when I try that :) Must be universal for living things... girls are expected to be quiet, pretty, and patient... waiting for that male song.

Ok. Enough. This entry is going to become cliche if I don't end it here. I'd hate for people to think it was "for the birds" or any other cliche that could be thrown in. I'll wait until tomorrow morning and pray that bird sings when I am ACTUALLY supposed to get up and go back to work.

Let me leave you with a little Paul McCartney if you were brave enough to muddle through these mutterings with me... Thank you Paul :) I would MUCH rather wake up to you singing that at 4:15!

A YouTube experiment :) Because there are way too many Beatles tunes to enjoy first thing in the morning... a KimalaKohime YouTube Beatles playlist. Hoo! (plus it kinda takes my mind off the haunting bird songs of earlier hours.

And... I can't end without the amazing Wikipedia. Leave it to Wikipedia to show us how to appropriately use soundclips from the Beatles. Hoo!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Test #2

Hmmm don't you think the littlest brother is the PERFECT subject for this experiment?
Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel
hmmmm mobile blogger test #1 - no go :(

Big Surprise?

For those who know me, I bet they would believe this is me. I'll have you know I took it only once. True blue... that is me:

I was feeling a little tapped out in terms of blog posts for today. But, I feel like my blog has gained momentum and I wanted to offer something. My goal is to post at least once every day. Life sometimes gets in the way but selfishly, I love the relationships I have developed in the blogosphere. I want to honor them by offering at least a little post.

Yesterday was a perfect example of how much I value and honor my friends - and how it is reciprocated. The Rez Day party was so fun! The music was fantastic (thank you Crighton Johin), the food was delicious (thank you Blissie Boucher), and the crowd was lively and just fun! Bigd had invested in Truth or Dare - and when people got a little quiet, the questions were there to liven it up... well that and the gestures and the avitar washing machine for cheap entertainment.

People were incredibly generous. People have been and continue to be incredibly generous on SL... generous with their time, with their lindens, with their ability to offer help and assistance with creating, with shaping, with shopping. Hoo! I am forever in awe of how individuals from all over the world, total strangers can find each other and develop friendships that extend beyond SL. I don't mean we are all meeting up for coffee or anything. But, honestly, can you tell me you go through your whole RL day and NOT have a fleeting thought wondering how someone is doing? I constantly wonder what Blissie is doing, just sayin :) LOL! Or... does Jenda REALLY say those things in RL while out in public? You know the gesture I'm thinking of... or does Crighton REALLY swear that much anywhere and everywhere (my guess is yes, damn potty mouth)... Or... is Feemebleu wearing her metalic skin today to repel harmful sun rays? Or Parker... is she wearing some gigantic dress at her job in RL? THESE are the deep thoughts that fill my brain :) Bradley and Borday? Well mostly I hope you are fully clothed in your RL as you go about your day. Does Borday offer to remove parts of clothing for each work order he fills (Hoo! Now that might boost his business :) ). Amylyn... does she really sit in a room full of giant penises to conduct her day to day work in RL? Ok... I admit... I'm losing it.

Thank you for being there all of you. Thank you for each of the things you bring to our lives. I have to tell you a little secret. You have given Dave and I more to talk about in RL than we have had to talk about in YEARS that doesn't focus on child rearing and bills and never ending work drama. Hoo! Cheers to another year (yes D is too afraid to commit to saying that - but what the heck, right?). Cheers to more Rez Days and dance parties and unseen or not yet shopped for attachments and fantastic clothes. Cheers to the limitless adventures that SL offers all of us. I look forward to them with each of you!

Monday, May 26, 2008

YOU are invited!

Happy Rez Day to Me! Happy Rez Day to Me!
(ok... Bigd too... Happy Rez Day Bigd!!) Hoo!

So here I sit - beside my larger than life invitation well crafted by 2 SLfriends I love dearly (imaginary or not - Blissie and Jenda). No... you cannot have the special mini-Moxie picnic blanket and pillows as it is not yet ready for prime time.

Ok... yes... the invitation may be a bit gaudy perhaps. But! You KNOW you want one! Inside is the fabulous collector's edition of the Rez Day hat by Jenda Starbrook. If you weren't inworld on my friends list, I wanted to make sure you were invited. And yes, I will share a hat with you upon arrival :) I even have dancing frogs and skeleton top hats too - courtesy of Jenda and Crighton. I tell ya - these imaginary friends - can you beat em? Hoo!

Come by and enjoy the ocean breeze, a narly tube ride, a swim over to some other neighboring open water swim, or dance the afternoon away.

If you don't yet have a SL account and are completely baffled as to what a Rez day is... then... TODAY is your day baby! Hoo! Join us in world. Here is the scoop - the notecard from inside the larger than life invitation:

OMG!! 1 year in SL! How many RL years is that? How many dog years? Sigh... my calculator is broken.

~ Rez Day Party for Bigd Flanagan & Kimala Kohime~

Come celebrate with Bigd and I! Hoo it up with us. DJ Crighton Johin will spin your requests and our favorites. Bring your board and catch a few waves. Come to just enjoy the sun and good friends on the beach. We are so glad you have been with us through thick and thin this past SL year. Join us from 3-5 pm SLT, Memorial Day in the USA, Monday, May 26.
*hugs*Kimala Kohime

Follow this link... IM me for a water taxi or a prop plane. Whatever you do... just join us for some SLbarbeque and a lovely slice of cake. I'm SURE there will be cake in some form. I can't imagine Blissie coming to a party without cake :)

Is 4:30 the new 6:30?

I peeked through one eye at 4:15 only to see the clock was 2 hours earlier than what I expected. The daylight was just starting to come through our glass-block bathroom wall. The other 3 in bed with me were still snoring. (Yes... you read right... 3) Dave was wayyyyy on the other side of the bed snoring away. Followed by Simon who was also snoring away but asked politely in his sleep for his Ben10 watch. Followed by Rachel who was sweetly snoring and had her hand entwined in my hair and a leg thrown over my abdomen. Could it only be 4:15? It was at that point that my brain clicked on. There was no going back.

My poor husband. Throughout the entire school year he had to poke me with a stick and have a marching band come in to perform so I would get out of bed by 6:15. He had been up for hours at that point and completed most household tasks, had coffee on SL with Blissie or wandered the empty SL streets alone (favorite pastime of his), and planned his attack on nutso parents all before I ever even exited dreamland.

Now? 3 days into the non-school year phase of our lifetime performance and I am 3 for 3. 4:15 or 4:30 AM... awake. Does this mean I am taking the summer shift with Blissie for coffee? My blog title was already formulated before I ever left the bed. Does this mean I should try to do an earlier work day and head in by 6 so that I can work 7 to 4 this summer? Does this simply mean the adrenaline from the last few weeks is finally burning off in my system and eventually I'll return to my old ways of loving sleep after 4:15?

I've had a whole string of headaches recently. Migraines actually. I've messed with my bed settings (sleep number.. hello... hoo!) I've drank enough water to float away. I've done stretches and downward dog. I've taken my trusty Relpacs... but that is NOT a long term solution. I think they could be from the fallout of returning to a very full work schedule. Overly packed event days and trips going from 0 to 90 mph in terms of work might do it. Maybe waking up at 4 something and then desperately trying to go back to sleep does it too. I think I've read that can cause headaches. So here I sit. Just me and my blog. And, Rachel who freaked out that I had left the bed. "Mommy, come back to bed" were her good morning words to me through tears. Snuggled beside me on the couch under a fleece blanket, she is also now wide awake.

Monday. Memorial Day (in my country). I am sure there is plenty more material in this blogging brain of mine to share... it just has to percolate. I won't bore you with it now if you have hung in this long, appeasing my desperate need to blog the obvious.

Cheers to summer schedules and 3 day weekends and a full day ahead of barbecues and whatever else you plan to do to celebrate the official start of the summer season, and a thoughtful remembrance of those who we have the holiday for in the first place.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Little Tip I Used ALL Week + More You Don't Really Need To Know

Thank you for sharing your image online so I could adequately describe my week.

And.. when that didn't work... I would repeat the following mantra over and oveR and ovER and oVER and OVER. God Bless Jerry Seinfeld! Hoo!

I woke up this morning feeling like I had been run over by a mac truck... oh wait... that was yesterday morning. But this morning... I opened one eye - just enough to peek and looked around at the sunlight filtering through the blinds and squinted to see the clock and thought it's SATURDAY! We made it to SATURDAY! A week ago... I was having trouble seeing the forest for the trees. The checklist for the week made me want to run screaming for cover.

I do well with multitasking. I can handle a full week at work. I can handle a full week at home. It is when the three come together to make the perfect storm that my head literally pops off. My poor husband's head had popped off long ago so together, as raw nerves, we proceeded through our week. I have to thank my colleagues at work for their tremendous ability to form a team and just GO! The event at the zoo was amazing (probably material for another post) and a fantastic kick off to good things to come for our little organization (insert big grin). The family events that seemed never-ending just happened, one after another, and my fearless partner in crime was more than willing to make last minute trips to the store, and join me in just keeping his head down focusing on the end goal - surviving the week.

For my own purposes, I have to recap in chronological list from start to end - NOT to induce a panic attack from post-tramatic stress but to celebrate. CELEBRATE! Hoo!

Sunday: Mom's birthday celebration including waterballoons and slip n slide in the backyard for our crazy kids. Yes, the temperature was 110 degrees - and the hot car makes things even MORE challenging.

Monday: What was Monday anyway? Ummmm Hmmmm gear up day I think for what was to come.

Tuesday: Twin's 5th Birthday - pizza and cupcakes at school, Build-a-Bear family excursion and... their favorite dinner... mall food court Hoo! Then hostessing at Savoy on a new shift where I botched the time... (thank god my SLfriends are forgiving)

Wednesday: Scramble for last minute details for the big event. 3 additional work meetings. Why? Why? Why? D had graduation work so the kidlets and I had "he-who's" for dinner and hung out. I hosted at the Hive - yes, I had scheduled Friendly Fire who ROCK - but again WHY do I do this to myself? Thankfully my SLfriends again were forgiving... (small worry creeps in about using up all my chances). Brutal dust storm hit today. Does wind add to frantic"ness"?

Thursday: The event. Leave for work at 6:30 am. Drive behind the scenes at the zoo :) Pray for serenity now and the right words to supernaturally happen (yes it DOES work! HOO!) Success Success Success. 65 attendees, 35 trained, only minor technical glitches. WHEW!Celebrate by driving across the Valley to get a new Blackberry. And... OMG! It was only in the 70's today and we had rain! There SOOOOO is a God!

Friday: D heads out at 5:30 am to get the last minute thank you flowers for kids' teachers. A MUST for the last day of school. (Thank those teachers please!!). Half day of work for me with about 3 wardrobe changes because I am too exhausted to make basic decisions. Come home in time to join the St*rbrooks crowd for a sidewalk dance party and then round my RL crew up again for 1 last celebration - Rachel's dance beach party at preschool. Rain, rain, and more rain. It is like liquid gold for Phoenicians. MMMMMM. Yes, weather makes a difference. It helped to have it rain. I ran in to host at The BeeHive - late yet again but thankfully to understanding owner and had a successful event still.

Serenity Now! Serenity Now! Serenity Now! My butt is sooooo not leaving this couch much today. I don't care if D spends the entire day snoozing it up and all the kids run amuck. Cheers to teamwork and forgiveness and supportive family and good friends. My la vida loca couldn't happen without you. And yes, it goes without saying, I MUST reserve the title of "Crazymaker" for me. At least we never cease to get a lot accomplished :) I would hate for anyone who knows me to say they were bored. Mmmmmmwwwwaaah! (a.k.a. big kisses to all those who know me and put up with me)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today has been brought to you by the number.... 5!

At 2:25 pm today, my baby girl turned 5. Her brother, turned 5 at 2:28 pm. With everyone winding down for the day, I wanted to honor today in my blog. In some ways, this past 5 years feels like an eternity. In other ways, it feels like all I did was blink.

We commemorated the day by serving up pizza and cupcakes at preschool. How can you not enjoy pizza and cupcakes with 30 other 4 and 5 year olds? Their teachers had made them crowns. God Bless teachers - especially preschool teachers! 30 little ones each with a full agenda of me-me-me and needing to learn-learn-learn and play-play-play. Whew! It exhausts me to just think of it... But.. back to the real post material...

Exactly 39 weeks, 1 day full term, it was the ultimate test in mental stamina, and physical stamina. It was hard on me - but really - it was a team effort. Our oldest 2 boys didn't know how much their lives would change but stepped up through the 8 weeks of bedrest. My parents, and D's parents helped. D's mom even lived with us for 7 of the weeks at the end of my pregnancy. D listened to all my aches and pains and helped me through each of it. My colleagues also helped :) I worked each day through bedrest from my laptop and phone. I won't lie - the daily questions of "any babies yet?" did get tiring but wow - what a privilege to keep up with work when I was ready to go out of my mind from the 4 walls of our bedroom and coverage on TV of the invasion of Iraq.

May 20, 2003: 6 lbs even - both of them, 18 inches long - both of them - the only thing different was the girl-boy necessary parts and Rachel's dark head of hair and Simon's light blonde hair. We knew it would be hard but we had NO IDEA really what changes were in store - for our wallets, our sleep schedules and our sanity. We had no idea how much we would LOVE these little people and how much it would make all of us better in the process.

I was trying to think of what 5 things I would wish for them and for all of us as we look to the future. Here is what I have come up with:

  1. Remember the things you dream up with Ben10 and Barbie now - and don't forget as you grow up that your amazing imaginations can help you become whatever you want to be.
  2. Love your family. Friends may come and go - but your family is stuck with you :) Remember to say you are sorry and tell them you love them. Time goes very very fast - you don't want to wish someday you would have taken the time to say either of those things after it is too late.
  3. Make good, true friends. Treasure friendships that prove the test of time, and the test of the heart. True friends will love you in your low moments, laugh and cry with you, and help smooth out your rough edges.
  4. Take pleasure in all the small things. Notice the things that make you laugh or make you surprised. Treasure the firsts - no matter how small. Today was the first time Simon that you actually remember riding on an escalator. Remember it is fun to laugh at being scared and laugh when you realize you enjoyed it.
  5. Get a good night's sleep. When all the sugar has burned off from the cupcake-soda high, let yourself collapse into a soft bed and drift into dreams. No matter how tired you are, or how much fun you had, or how much you are worrying about the next day - a good night's sleep always helps things come into perspective. Make a note that a good nap can do the same thing :)

I don't know where we will all be in 5 years - so I won't even try to predict. I'm just so thankful I had the privilege of celebrating this day with you and seeing your sweet smiling faces beam as your dad and I joined you for lunch partying at school. I'm so proud of your big brothers too. It has taken a team to get us to year 5.

It's late. It's a big week that still has more excitement to come. I better take my own advice. I'm off to respectfully honor list item number 5.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fond Farewell Bel Cove

Lay on the beach and listen to the waves... just watch out for falling coconuts. Hike the mountain... Gaze at the stars, Cuddle in the Cave. Enjoy! NOTE: Monthly Tier is 1385L per block of 140 prims.

Estate plot (3696 sq m) landscaped with cave and teleporter system from mountaintop to island beach. Secluded special SL spot - not to be missed! $8000L OBO.

Swing by and take a look for yourself! Hoo! bel Cove Bali Mountaintop/Island Getaway

Contact me inworld on IM or email for more details.

Sunday Stress

When I was a teacher in the classroom, Sunday's were predictable. I would spend the day at school working on my classroom, making copies, getting things ready for the week. It was a way to work through the nervous energy that rippled through me as I psyched myself up for the trials and tribulations that a week teaching high school students brings. I loved teaching. I loved the challenge. I loved the laughs. But eventually, the stress got the better of me. It was time to try something new.

Moving into the non-profit world I found my hours increased by leaps and bounds. Hard to imagine that I could work more having come from the classroom - but it is true. 60 hour weeks and year round schedules. I think the difference is in the year round part. Being a teacher, you pace yourself like a runner. You know you have to get a certain distance over a certain time period. You take breaks for water but you plug on through. The transition from one world to the year round world required me to rethink my pace. The first few summers were hard. I always worked through the summer as a teacher at the community college but it had the highs and lows of a new job and that was an adrenaline rush in itself.

Having been at this job now almost 7 years in June, I have the pacing down. But it is the travel recovery before and after that gets me. I love to travel. I have always enjoyed the trips I take for work. Adventures in networking with new colleagues. Nothing better than traveling back East to the PBS mothership :) But, along with travel comes a hangover. Not from drinking too much, but from jet lag, from the intensity that comes with being "on" almost 16 or 18 hours a day and worrying about all the happenings at home that I should be there for. They are fine at home. I have a great home team. But it doesn't stop the worry.

I'm back now after almost a week away. 3 nights is my maximum in good conscience. 4 full days. I think that might have been when I spent all day Friday with a migraine. Stress hangover? Hard to gear up then for all the events in the days to follow. I know it may sound silly. But preschool graduation, mom's birthday, the twin's birthday, a major work event at the Zoo later in the week where I facilitate the program, and then the last day of school and organizing all the presents for teachers are enough to make me want to go back to bed and not get up until next week. All this on top of voicemails and non-urgent emails I let await me until I returned to work this week. Xanex anyone?

I'll default to my best strategy. My best strategy is to put my head down. Focus on one event at a time and not think too hard about the rest until one is accomplished. Then, on to the next. Prayer works well too. I need to turn it over instead of just lament it. Breathing always helps. Maybe a few yoga stretches. Its only 10 am on Sunday. Plenty of time for me to deploy my strategies. All those, and a few slip n slide trips with my kids in my parents' backyard should be the perfect remedy.

There is a science to all this - happiness and stress and anxiety you know. I'll leave you with this thought I found...

The answer lies in the pie chart theory of happiness. Recall that 50 percent of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes, 10 percent by life circumstances, and the remaining 40 percent by what we do and how we think?that is, our intentional activities and strategies. The secret of course lies in that 40 percent.
~ Sonja Lyubomirsky "Get Control of your Happiness"

In the meantime, I find a way to peek at those emails and check voicemail later today. A pre-emptive strike on my week ahead. Hopefully I can squeeze in some Hooing too in SL. A few deep breaths in and out... and I'm off!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Heat Coma

Is there any reason in the world you would choose to take a nap in a snuggly robe on a May afternoon in Phoenix? Add then that your daughter comes in, climbs beside you (she's 4 almost 5) and pulls up the covers? Ok yes... we are civilized Phoenicians with that new fangled thing called air-conditioning but man! I had to actually work to make myself wake up. I even had a dream that I was asleep and couldn't wake up - how wrong is that??

I admit - my first mistake - was slowing down enough to actually want a nap. I'm exhausted from a traveling week and a migraine yesterday and twin preschool graduation. I'm exhausted from what is to come this next week (starting tomorrow) including my mom's birthday, the twin's 5th birthday, a major event for work we are hosting at the zoo (Hoo!), and the much anticipated and celebrated last day of school (double Hoo!). Maybe my body imagined next week and simply thought uh uh - no reason to open those eyes - you will just get stressed out. Now that I write it all down, it does frighten me. Oh well - face 'em head on.

Summer is upon us. Summer in Phoenix is like winter everywhere else. Kids do things in the early hours when it is cool - and until June-July when eggs start to fry on the sidewalk - actually play outside in the early evenings. It still "cools" off. But then - does 100 feel cool? Most certainly yes when the temperature climbs to 115, 120. UGH. But - yes - I am over dramatizing. It is only May and we aren't there yet thank God!

Heat coma? Hard to have an exit plan from that one. Does it mean I am masking depression? Does it mean I would rather live under the covers in my soft sleep number bed forever and avoid the realities of the rest of the world outside, on the other side of the covers? Maybe :) But I know better things await me too. My 10 year old was quite enthusiastic to have me Google and Wikipedia "Heat Coma" to see if such a thing really exists outside my own crazy imagination.

Here's what we found: Wikipedia - NOTHING. No one ever thought to write about such a thing. Google - an abstract - regarding snails that got too warm in the ocean in Scottland. Go figure. Nothing in the scientific community about exhausted working moms of 4 kids bundled up too snuggly on a Saturday afternoon in an upstairs bedroom in Phoenix. I guess I personally will have to take up this torch. My 10 year old eagerly awaits. He and I will do this research together. Hmmmm does this mean more sleep? Sleep.... gooood (caveman voice please).

Welcome to the Blogosphere... 2.0?

I started hearing about blogs a few years ago. I looked at a few and Too personal. Why do people divulge such personal things online? What do the other people in their lives think about them blogging such intimate details? Why blog?

I explored a few blogs related to work. Eh. Good information. I still preferred websites. I still preferred to use the web as an informational source - a one way resource - with the web giving me information. I got behind online learning in a huge way within closed, asynchronous environments. Discussion boards, even instant message with friends. Sharing classroom resources - anywhere anytime learning was where it was at. I still fee strongly about that today and helping teachers open those doors that exist for them through online learning. But blogging? Hmmm.

Then I stumbled into Second Life. I found comfort in a new web identity. I was still generally the same person I am in my first life, but I could be choosy about the details I shared about who I am. As I grew in Second Life, I had a good friend - a good SLfriend - begin a blog. /me eyes Blissie Boucher (not to name any names... Gypsy woman...) That was quickly followed by my husband... Gaviota Coastline... Wow! Could I really just sit back and let this happen to me? Could I really just be a blogsideline sitter? Then another... The Guest House, Crighton Johin... and his wife, Jendalicious... who I hear was a reputable blogger in some other life I have yet to learn about. The dominoes were falling - click, click, click - and I knew they were headed my direction. I met some fascinating new people I never knew in-world (aka SL) like Joonie. Joonie's SL Journey inspired me and touched my heart. I gobbled up these bits. I felt empty and curious on days when my favorite bloggers failed to post. Where were they? Why didn't they blog? Internally I would will them to come back and post. (I still do that by the way... sorry I'm just a wee tad bit obsessive that way.)

So.. somewhere along that line...mid paragraph above I believe.. I decided I would be best to just jump in. I finally had a reason to blog. I felt compelled to share of my second life journeys. I felt an overwhelming sense of letting people know who I was and what I thought - beyond the pixelated version that SL offers. I was clear in my purpose and that fueled the words. The words poured out of my fingers across the keys. My seat was firmly planted on our couch and I knew I couldn't move until I had poured everything out of my heart in that first post that needed to flow. It felt good. It was a release. It was validating. It was... publishing. Could there be anything more exciting for someone who used to teach English 101 and 102? (please don't gag)

I anxiously awaited a response. Like a watched pot waiting to boil, I checked back time and time again to see if anyone had looked. I waited for comments. I added analytics so I could check stats. I posted again and again. Each time feeling more validated than the first. I poured over others blogs and commented - knowing that they may be hungry for response as well. (not that anyone was hungrier for validation than me... heehee).

Then, a few months ago... I learned a lifeblogging lesson. I can write to write. I can post just to post. I can do it for me. I don't need an audience. I don't need comments (even though I crave them). I can just write for writing's sake and feel the tremendous empowerment that comes from seeing my own thoughts come together to form an articulate post. I found silly ways to keep my blog affair going through the lean creative times... youtube, polls and images. I use those still to satisfy my need to post when I am out of time, or out of energy.

Then... insert car screech noises here... I found the "How is Bradley?" blog. I had known and just loved Bradley inworld. I had laughed so hard I cried at his trivia events at Popeyes. And, I had genuinely appreciated getting to know him, a little of his RLife (aka corn man visits and MCB), and we became friends who realized we both shared a history living in Phoenix. I had been missing Bradley inworld... he shared he was leaving for a while and I was sad. People leaving inworld sometimes never come back. He popped in for a quick visit and a dance one night and we discovered we both blogged. After searching him up, I was opened to new layers and levels of the blogosphere... for me it became personal blogging 2.0.

Bradley's blog is a tool for his personal growth and well-being. I am continually impressed by his ability to be so candid and honest. I admire his self-reflection. I smile at his anecdotes of family and laundry folding. I am so blessed to know him as a person - not just an avitar. And... the door was opened. He introduced me to something called Blog Catalog and others who write of amazingly personal journeys in this world. The blog as a tool for self-exploration, growth, and most importantly healing has been the biggest revelation for me in the 2.0 evolution of the blog. Shiv379's posts touch my soul. Shiv's Brain: Gripping images, heartfelt struggles, and just sheer humanness. Real people sharing some of the most personal details from deep in their beings... I am in awe.

Today I discovered a new treasure... Storied Mind. A blog with beautiful art from flickr and well crafted words. Would I have found JohnDX1 any other way? Maybe. Most likely not. Blog Catalog somehow connected us.

This web... this 2.0 social networking internet shaped world we live in now... is quite a phenomenon. A tool for sociologists and psychologists. An archive for historians. A place for people to be human. I am honored to have a place in it. I am appreciative of those who quietly led me to the water's edge. I am excited about the deep dives ahead of me into the depths of it.

Thank you for being so willing to share such an amazing piece of your soul with someone like me, with someone like whoever is reading it. Thank you for being a pioneer in the 2.0 web world. Thank you for helping the world to remember good things can come from the web and from human nature in general.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

HUMAN Rights!

I'm so tired - it was a long week, and a long trip home BUT I am most certainly NOT too tired to blog about human rights.

Think about it. Please! Do you have a license to drive? Do you have a fishing license? Do you have to have a license to have a child? Unfortunately no. Please consider the rights of the children in your life. Treat them with respect. Teach them boundaries. Show them unconditional love. Help them to grow up with tolerance and creativity and imagination and the ability to see a world without limits.

Be thankful you have a warm bed to sleep in, clean sheets, and running water to take a shower. Be thankful you live in a home with earthquake standards that were adhered to when built. There are countless dead after the natural disasters this week in the far east... countries in which human rights are an after thought. A clip earlier in the week said for every week that help could not go in to help the typhoon victims, they could multiply the factors by 15. The stench of bodies is so thick now, that the stench reaches the survivors (and few rescuers) noses before sighting the dead. How about the parents in China? The parents trying to find their children's bodies just to recover and bury. To grieve. What kind of rights exist there? Any?

Hug your loved ones. Kiss the ground you are standing on. As much as we argue in America and make fun of our governmental leaders, we are still so blessed to have the affinities in life we have, and the rights to believe what we want, and protest, and think differently.

Figure out what 1 thing you can do each day to make the world better for someone else. It can be as simple as making eye contact with someone and smiling genuinely. It can be as complex as buying someone a meal who hasn't had one in a while. Or even more... imagine... and then ACT.

Life is so short. Tell the people you love you love them. Take care of the people you know. Make something better. Contribute to the greater good. Offer up whatever you can to those who don't have all you have - even if all you have to offer are prayers.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Road Trip

I'm off today to PBS Land... you may scratch your head and wonder what that is. Not PBS headquarters - we refer to that as the mothership (heehee). Instead, a giant conference that shares the latest greatest in programming. Yawn? Well pinch yourself and wake up!

What could be more fun than dinner with Super Why? Or breakfast with Sesame Street? If you aren't jealous - find a little person aged 6 or younger and just ask them what they think :)

Nora Jones made an appearence not too long ago. There are lots of reasons I love PBS - but humor me for a minute and watch.

This one though, will always be one of my favorites. Humor me again and watch. Not a bad take on this song, eh? (Yes again I am reminded of how old I am enjoying the Spin Doctors).

Hope your Monday is good! Today, has been brought to you by the letter "Y" and the number 5 (5 hour drive to PBS land). Hoo!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rockin' Out with Mom

How else would you expect the hippest 4 kids to celebrate mother's day? When the oldest 2 were singing Beatles and Beach Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash when other kids were singing Barney and Sesame Street? The youngest 2 were raised on Gin Blossoms and Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana. Requests for the car stereo range from U2 Vertigo and Green Day Wake Me Up When September Ends. Santana and Rob Thomas Smooth is a favorite. Car fighting ends when the favorites fill the air and flow out the car windows. Not bad for a packed Toyota Highlander with no room for any extra baggage or passengers. We are a force to be reckoned with speeding down the freeway.

But today, this morning, we didn't barrel down any freeway. Instead the plan was for a "quieter" mother's day celebration... a yummy big breakfast, fantastic cards (store bought and homemade), a couple of CDs, and the In-World Travel Guide to Second Life :) Does my family know me or what? Roses and chocolate cake for later. We'll grill seafood tonight. They've gone all out because we just couldn't swing it a couple weeks ago for my birthday. I'm really appreciative. I love them all no matter... if there are presents or celebrations or not. But I won't lie... it is nice to have a day like this. It's nice to have people remember the things you love and spend the extra money even if we shouldn't. And, I'm really proud of them - they have good senses of humor and are actually a pretty fun crazy crowd to hang with. Noisy as all get out - but fun. Our poor neighbors. :)

What kind of festivities you ask? My crew NEVER opts for a quiet celebration. I don't think it ever even crosses their minds. Instead, we've spent the morning warming up the PS2 with SingStar. (My dad will be here helping out next week when I travel for work - so they have to find the favorites - and he'll be belting it out with them - I just know it. How many grandpas enjoy Tom Petty? Just sayin... But... I digress.) Singstar... it is like Karaoke on steroids. When you have kids, and you launch into something like this, the crazier your performance the better. Would you be surprised and/or would I fully embarrass myself to share that I kicked ass at Madonna's Material Girl? I suppose when you are a "Super Star" you don't hide from fame (wink).

PS2 SingStar

Yes, we have SingStar Amped. They had gotten me Big 80's for Christmas (Like you are surprised at that). We've already been online planning our next purchase. A few of us have achieved "Super Star" status. Little ones who don't even know the words are still "Amatures" but that isn't a bad thing. Dare I even venture down the teacher path long enough to share how it is teaching reading? But, points are scored on pitch and consistency. All of this is done, btw, to the music video version on the screen. Were we a little noisy for a Sunday morning? Probably. Will the neighbors just have to get over it? Most definitely :)

MY Fab4
I thought it was important
to include an outdoor shot
so you would be reassured
we aren't ALWAYS shut-ins
with our high tech toys :)

Bottom Line: Family is important. Make sure you say thank you today to someone in your family - even if it is just through a phone call and saying hello. If you don't have family but you have friends that are close like family, celebrate some time with them. Life is too short to not love and appreciate those closest to us. They are the ones who are with us through the good and the bad. It's important to value them and love them. If you need an excuse - use Mother's Day as one. (Even if you don't have a mother around you want to thank.)

My lead partner in crime deserves a thank you. I'm glad to be on the roller coaster of motherhood with him as co-pilot. He does a mean load of laundry and is dedicated to middle of the night asthma treatments for our youngest when I am long gone for this world. Thanks for pulling out all the stops today D :) Hoo!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

2 Dangerous Questions to Ask a Woman

We live in interesting times. Newsflash? Doubtful :) I will refrain from sharing any news like network news. I most certainly don't want the campaign ugliness to find me... heehee

So have I stalled enough to have you wondering why did I entice you with such a title? Just what did you come here to read anyway? What 2 questions could be so worthy of making a post title to announce them? What makes them dangerous? (don't worry - I'll stop now - I'm not going for 21 questions)

Here they are, and in no particular order, I might add:
1. What do you do?
2. Do you have children?

Have you experienced this? You must have. Universally human conversational questions if you live in a country where the majority of women work and you are over the age of 25, in my humble opinion.

Silence enducing, possibly.

The proverbial eggshell scenario, most definitely, depending on the company.

You don't know you are on eggshells until you utter the words in the question and face the wall of awkward silence. Once you hit that wall, there is no going back. Tap dance shoes may be essential items to carry in your bag or you will wish you had them. Perhaps belting out a few show tunes would help and cause such a distraction the words you previously uttered will disappear into the vastness of the universe of unanswered questions - hopefully before you reach the second verse of that showtune... maybe even the second line if your voice is like some I have heard (wink).

Why are they so loaded? What strikes an instant nerve and immediately offends? Why is it women that are offended and if you asked men they simply answer and shrug or shrug and answer and move on? Sigh. Women.

These complicated creatures that society - Western Society really - has allowed to become talented and contribute in all ways to the world of work, are still hard wired to carry the basic human desires women are born with (most) and still equip them with the power of choice to default to traditional roles, if that is what her heart desires and economics allow. Was that a PC (politically correct) sentence or WHAT!?! whew! (throw a few more eggshells on the ground so you can hear me stomping on them while you continue to read) I mean... women are still hardwired genetically to have kids, and hardwired to be caretakers. Something about the original cave man who set out to conquer the furry beast and bring home dinner set that tone. Honey - you stay here. I want to make sure your body remains soft and beautiful, unscared and uncalloused for my purposes later. If you help me hunt the furry beast you might be harmed. When I come back, we'll have some snuggle time together by that fire I made earlier - keep it going, would ya? Etc Etc... eons later concepts are still the same... except rather than asking about the slaying of the furry beast dinner is expected to come from a fridge and be simmering on the stove, right?


"What do you do?"
If you are a woman, and you DO have a job or a career, that dinner scenario can be totally foreign. You may catch bad guys for a living, teach small children, conduct multi-million dollar transactions, design beautiful fine fabrics or furnishings, or argue legal issues in a court. The list really is endless. Women can do whatever they want these days. Ok... they don't necessarily get paid what a man does for the same job... but THAT is a whole 'nother blog entry for another time :)

"What do you do?"
If you are a woman, and you DON'T currently have a job or a career, and these words are put out there for the good of the order... simply to make small talk or keep a conversation going... be prepared to hear those eggshells or hear the breaks of the conversation come to a SCREECHING hault! (sorry to mix metaphors) Some women shrug it off and say - "Oh, I don't work right now" or "Oh, I work overtime, I'm a stay at home mom." Some women meet your question with another - "What do you mean?" That kind of question - answering my question with a question is a sign. Most often it is a sign that there are issues. Tread lightly. Don't go there. STOP. Change subject. Immediate U-Turn. Honestly, in this fine 21st Century we all now inhabit, it really shouldn't offend. Women have had more opportunity than ever before. And, if they choose a traditional route - more power to them. And, if they choose to do multiple things - like work and have kids - that should most definitely be ok. Hey have you tried to pay for a mortgage and fill your tank with gas on a single income these days? OUCH!

Moving on before I lose you...
"Do you have kids?"
This time of year... this weekend in particular... that question can be more sensitive than you realize (em em, Mother's Day?). Those with kids respond enthusiastically or exhaustedly and most will begin to share all sorts of details you never realized you asked for. Careful... you might have opened flood gates. Proud mamas are hardly ever shy when it comes to sharing the bestest qualities of their sweet babies - of whatever age they might be. Those without kids may respond in a variety of ways. "Nope" "A dog" or "I'm an Aunt". Quick short answers are normally a sign (to me anyway) that this woman is confident in who she is and is fine with the question. If you start to hear the eggshells again or the screeching of breaks? Be prepared. You have entered dangerous territory. Perhaps she couldn't have children. Perhaps something horrible happened effecting the fate of her children. Perhaps she just never had the chance and wanted to. Never assume (I think I reviewed what that stands for a few posts ago). Either way. Make it right. This question, if met with awkward silence, deserves an apology. I didn't mean to ask you something so personal is often what I say. I try to never ask this question in a large group, having learned from this mistake in the past. Backpeddling in a group setting to save yourself from this question can be brutal.

"Do you have kids?"
It is important to remember in our amazing 21st Century that women, just like they can choose to have a job or a career or not, can also choose to have children, or not. And the choice, whatever it is, is ok. Is it any of my business? Nope. Is it worthy of small talk? Probably not. I tend to view small talk as reserved for people I don't know and I'm trying to fill some silence for some reason.

This Mother's Day, make sure you pause to thank your mother. Everyone of you has one. THAT is a safe bet. Even if she is no longer alive, you can still thank her. Say a prayer. She is most likely now a guardian angel unless you were so horrid she wrote you off decades earlier (joke -please laugh). Be thankful that your mom did whatever she did to make life good enough for you to get you to a place where you are reading this. Moms tow a tough load.

My mom and my sweet baby girl.
Thank you mom for letting me be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up :)
Sweet baby girl - be whatever you want to be. Hoo!

But for women overall... people PLEASE be careful. Prepare yourself. Tread lightly with those dangerous questions... or remember I told you so. And, be glad we live in a time in the world, and a place in our society, where it is OK for there to be more than one right answer to both those questions.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Its 8 pm SLT - Does your RL spouse know where you are?

I have had some very interesting experiences over the past almost year in SL. I have learned alot about myself. I have learned things about myself that I thought I knew - but not as well. I have been reminded of old friends and traits I loved and some I didn't.

SL amplifies who you are in RL. It amplifies the good, the bad and the ugly. If you prefer to see yourself as a victim... then SL turns up that volume. You can wallow to your heart's content. You can soak up feelings of little or no self-worth and look for validation by taking yourself down a highway to self-destruction. Is it what you would do in RL? Perhaps, perhaps unconsciously.. and perhaps over a slow, winding ride.

If you prefer to see yourself as someone who enjoys life, enjoys people, and hopes to learn all you can... then SL can amplify that too... over and over. It can open doors to new passions. It can open new doors to old friends - like music and dancing and good conversations. You may wonder why all that - if I find it so rewarding - isn't it in my RL? Well, my 4 small friends whom I love dearly dictate that. SL allows for me to enjoy those things, and enjoy them. Multitask and do homework. Dance and hoo and snuggle on the couch with them. Have conversations with people I would never necessarily meet in RL and grow as a person. Can I do that in RL? Sure - part of my career allows me to do that. But socially, rarely.. right now... RL needs me to be here - holding my little girl's hand and enjoying the Disney channel for the 100th time. Yes Hanna Montana can co-exist with Stone Temple Pilots blaring at the Glamshack or the Beehive :) Hoo!

So... at 8 pm SLT... does your spouse know where you are? Does he or she care enough to be online and exploring and enjoying what you also find so fun? Does he or she take the time to get to know your online friends and enjoy them as well? Or - do you keep your RL and SL so separate that the two will never meet? Do you choose to keep them separate and throw stones at those who allow themselves to be vulnerable and enjoy all SL has to offer? I know many from my time in SL who have moved into glass houses. They have been very brave stone throwers. Sadly, they don't realize the glass they are shattering with their stones are part of their own homes.

I dearly love my spouse for being a part of all the growing pains SL can bring. We are a good team. Those who make my SL so full are one's I would never hope to do without.

Move on? Sure. Grow and learn? Always. Keep an open heart and an open mind? But of course!

Non-Verbals, Assumptions, and Sensitivity

One of the things that has sent me on journeys of self-reflection centers on non-verbal behavior. Naturally, in RL, my face has a tendency to smile. Even when I'm sad, I end up with a smile on my face. It isn't purposeful - it just happens. My mouth turns up instead of down. I have noticed since I have had kids that it must be genetic. My oldest is the same way. He gets in trouble and he gets a nervous smile on his face. It makes his dad angry to say the least - because of course it is a human instant reaction to become more angry when someone is slyly smiling?

It got me thinking about how I am affected by non-verbals - in RL and in SL. Believe it or not -they are alive and well in both places. I have always been told I am overly sensitive. Big surprise to some of you reading this - I know! LOL I try to take that as a compliment. I have sensitive hearing and smell too. Now I am probably totally misplaced vocationally but I must say my heightened senses served me well as a classroom teacher. I could hear those mutterings under students' breath and I could smell those fragrant extra curricular lunch time activities that would waft in on their clothes and breath. I also had eyes in the back of my head. I was a veritable force to be reckoned with if I do say so myself.

Now that I am no longer in the classroom, I find those skills are still handy. My son was looking for his little brothers shoes yesterday a.m. and I was in the kitchen and I suggested he look near the coffee table in the living room. He was impressed at that point I could see through walls. Should I admit to him, it is just my super amazing memory power (almost Rainman like for some things - and others unfortunately not much)?

But what does this have to do with non-verbals? I think some - ME especially - are totally more clued in to non-verbals. When someone has a weird look on their face, I pick up on it. When someone has a hunch or a shuffle to their walk that is out of the ordinary, I notice. I don't always say things because then I'm accused of being overly sensitive and imagining things - but I do notice. I often have a hard time not assuming it is about me and I need to fix something. I'm a fixer. My husband calls me a problem solver. My dad calls me a solution seeker. Under any of those titles, when I sense something is not right, I end up trying to fix it.

So now that I have rambled I suppose I should share my deep insights into what this means :) If - I were to have a solution or a fix for all this. But before I do, I want to share my observations in SL with regards to non-verbals. I had an interesting experience last night with a friend/colleague in RL that couldn't turn off her AO (animation override). Actually she didn't even know she had one on. All she knew was her butt was swaying from side to side and she was afraid she was going to take someone out in the process if she didn't get it stopped. Being relatively new to SL she thought it might have been her skin or something. We got it fixed and she was much happier with her default SL avitar stance, hands on hips. She is that way too. She takes charge, she solves problems, she tells you what she thinks - she is PERFECT standing there silent with hands on hips.

I prefer my AO where I lean on one foot, sometimes with my hands behind my back, sometimes with one hand to my head. It is somewhat of an open stance, and a thinking stance. As I thought more about it on my way in, I thought about how it fits who I want to be in SL and who I am in RL. I hope people see me as that. Aside from AOs, SL leaves you with either text chat, IM chat, silence, or gestures. It is so funny to be somewhere when it gets quiet - all of a sudden there is a lull in chat. A gesture or a hoo always seems to clear the air - but people aren't always ok with the silence. (Much like RL I suppose thinking of the big talkers in my life - myself included).

I think text in SL is so abundant because it fills the void of non-verbals that we need as human beings. We work to find ways to describe our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions by articulating them in 1 dimensional letters on the screen. I have read other bloggers who write about SL share this phenomenon as why it makes for such an immediate means to connect so deeply with others we meet on SL. We are forced in SL to not rely on our normal means of behavior -but rather over articulate who we are and what we want others to know about us.

In my never-ending search to solve my over-sensitive nature and develop "thick skin," I found a super validating website. "Are you too sensitive?" had my name written all over it. For those of you "thicker skin" insensitive and uncaring individuals, please take a gander (JUST KIDDING). For those of you who wonder why others feel too much or over think, please take a look.

Most importantly, my solution for myself, is to do a better job of just being direct. Coming right out and just asking people what is on their mind. I have spent years of energy worrying about what looks or reactions meant and probably recreated situations 100 times over to no avail. My challenge to myself in the coming days and weeks will be to practice doing a better job of asking and checking in - rather than assuming.

OH Yeah.. my students also hated the word "ASSUME" - I always taught them to take the letters apart and ponder it that way - "ASS" "U" "ME". Don't worry... I'm taking my own advice. I'll ask. And I'll do my best to give you the appropriate non-verbals, even if my silly face always cracks a smile inadvertently at inopportune times.

Pretty deep thoughts for a Friday, huh? And that's all on a SMALL cup of coffee. Yikes!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Even when you are down...

The best part about Matchbox 20 is they write upbeat tunes to sad lyrics. Rob Thomas told the audience at the live show in March in Phoenix, if you are mad, or upset, why do you need the music to do that to you too? Let the lyrics say what you want to - but let the music uplift you.

Perfect for today!

Everywhere someone's getting over
Everybody cries
And sometimes you can still lose
even if you really try
Talking about the dream
Like the dream is over
Talk like that
Won't get you nowhere
Everybody's trusting in the heart
Like the heart don't lie

And that's all that I need, yeah
Someone else to cling to, yeah
Someone I can lean on
Until I don't need to
Just stay all through the night
In the morning let me down
Cause that's all that I need right now

Everywhere someone's getting over
Everybodys life is someone
People still use other people
with a crooked smile
And all around the world
there's a sinking feeling
Out there right now someone's feeling
Down on themselves and don't know why
Every night

And that's all that I need, yeah
Someone else to cling to, yeah
Someone I can lean on
Until I don't need to
Just stay all through the night, yeah
In the morning let me down
Cause that's all that I need right now

And life ain't no beauty show
We don't know where tomorrow ends
And when we're sad
It's kind of a drag

Just stay all through the night
In the morning let me down
Yeah, cause that's all that I need
Yeah, that's all that I need
Yeah, that's all that I need
That's all that I need right now
Right now

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Which is it?

Is the glass half empty or half full? is a common expression, used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty); or as a general litmus test to simply determine if an individual is an optimist or a pessimist. The purpose of the question is to demonstrate that the situation may be seen in different ways depending on one's point of view and that there may be opportunity in the situation as well as trouble.

Thank you Wikipedia :)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rambling Reflections...

I wondered the last couple of days what my horoscope has said. I haven't taken the time to look, and don't always believe what they say, but they can be an interesting reflection of what life is at times.

I reconnected yesterday with an organization that first brought me to Second Life. An educational technology organization I had once been immersed in. It was nice yesterday to be involved from the sidelines - not one of the conference organizers but rather just an exhibitor and a presenter. With all the changes at work that have happened this past year, it was great to flex our muscles again and show people we are still around and headed in even better directions than before. Some of those who wished we would have slinked away are also represented in this organization - so it was surprisingly nice to see a little squirming on their parts.

AzTEA, an ISTE affiliate

I was affirmed to see that free things still make people happier than anything. Free chocolate, free Sesame Street characters, even free magnetic clips. Free pen anyone? Free doesn't always have to mean something of no value :)

At my session, I had a friend and colleague from a school district who has recently found me on Second Life - or I have found her - ask why I didn't have Second Life on my account. (I was showing educators how to create accounts and then collect resources for their classrooms from PBS.) But anyway, up until now really, Second Life was something I discussed as fun, and entertaining, and even full of educational resources, but I never really publicly in RL shared my interest in it with those who weren't close to me. Probably because those who are close to me think I'm NUTS! And still refer to all my SL friends as imaginary :) (Thank you SL friends for sticking with me anyway - heehee!)

Some of the conversation turned to SL. A leading educator consultant has purchased 4 SIMs and will begin construction on underwater classrooms and other things for working with educators in this you-can-be-and-do-anything online world. We joked about how I had gotten her going on updating her hair. I KNOW I have created a shopping monster with sending her off for new hair. She bought some do called Carol. I thought I might have that hair. I only have about 20 in my toppling 15K inventory.

I spoke with another colleague who had come on to SL only briefly to check out the Relay for Life events Blissie and I hosted last week. She had been horrified she didn't have anything to wear and worse yet didn't have anything other than newb hair and skin. Blissie came to the rescue with prim hair that was transferrable (Yea!!) and I shared my skin and shape with her. She ended up looking like a combination of Blissie and I. Someone at the time commented that she was officially our "love child." LOL! I shared that with her yesterday when I saw her. She thought it was hilarious but still admitted she couldn't bring herself to log in until she knew she could update her avitar. She is like that in RL too. She is a classy dresser and takes great pride in her hair too - with a do that takes a team of experts to make it just so. (I think she would laugh and agree).

I invited them to come to my first ever hostess event last night at Savoy but they continued to affirm they were going to be drinking in RL, not hanging out on SL. Ok. I would enjoy that too, but logically, my RL doesn't allow for that much these days. So, for now, I'll stick to my Saturday nights on SL as the norm when babysitters are still required and bank accounts need to be left untapped. Plus - I got to wear a fancy formal gown and an amazing diamond neckless? Would I have done that last night in RL? Doubtful :) No proms to chaperone or weddings to crash.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Good Friday Song... knowing tomorrow is a work day

"Hand In My Pocket" by Alanis Morissette

I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah
I'm high but I'm grounded
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine fine fine
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid
I'm tired but I'm working, yeah
I care but I'm restless
I'm here but I'm really gone
I'm wrong and I'm sorry baby

What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite alright
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And what it all comes down to
And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign
I'm free but I'm focused
I'm green but I'm wise
I'm hard but I'm friendly baby
I'm sad but I'm laughing
I'm brave but I'm chickenshit
I'm sick but I'm pretty baby

And what it all boils down to
Is that no one's really got it figured out just yet
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing the piano
And what it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything's just fine fine fine
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxi cab