Archive for August, 2010

“Kinda Hippy, Hippy”

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

This summer our family was invited as guests to discuss unschooling on a new CBS pilot, “The Mom Project”, a daytime talk show similar to “The View” with celebrity hosts, Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, Holly Robinson-Peet and Leah Remini.  Entertainment Weekly writes, “This panel is not a bashful bunch; they are outspoken on any issue you put on the table.  It promises to be an hour of television with timely discussions, unfiltered opinions and a lot of personality.”  They are not kidding.  Imagine five women sitting around a table with lights, cameras, audience, and make-up crew attempting to intelligently discuss a controversial issue in 5 minutes time.  Yikes!  You get crazy. 

Similar to our experience as guests on the Dr. Phil show, it is all about entertainment.   First was the shock and awe.  Second, sit politely and wait my turn to speak as they all say their peace.  Third, Julie Chen asks an intelligent question and I have an opportunity to speak.  Fourth, I’m interrupted.  Next, some interesting conversation amongst the panel.  Sixth, interrupted again.  After the interruption, Sharon asks me if I am “kinda hippy, hippy”.  Then, interview with my kids and husband. Finally, Oohs and Aahhh’s from the audience but it was like pulling teeth.

The moment I remember best is the “kinda hippy, hippy” comment made by Sharon Osbourne.  Unschooling may have a few similarities to certain ideas and philosophies from the progressive school movement during the 60’s, but just because it was experimented with during this era does not mean that unschooling is hippy hippy.  It’s like saying sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll are all “kinda hippy hippy”. I don’t think Sharon’s husband, Ozzy, would consider himself “kinda hippy, hippy”.  I’m just saying.

The interesting thing is that this type of education, unschooling, has been around since the beginning of time, way before the 60’s movement.   School was only made compulsory in the states beginning in the 1850’s after Horace Mann went to Prussia and brought back a new model of education based on the Prussian system.  Prussia had been devastated by Napoleon a few years earlier, so the country set up a new militaristic education system to raise soldiers to ensure that it would never happen again.  The Prussian militaristic system is the current educational system used today in the United States and it was Mann’s intention to use this system to “equalize the conditions of men”.  You can be the judge of that one.

Now, back to the show.  As I walked off the stage, Leah Remini from “King of Queens” gave me a huge sweet hug as if to say thank you for being a good sport while we lambasted you for the sake of entertainment.  She then walked over to my family and hugged each of them as well.  I got to speak to Sharon for a bit after the show and she gave me a hug and Holly Robinson-Peet from “21 Jumpstreet” could not have been nicer. 

What did I learn from all of this?  These women are human just like me.  They have soft skin, warm bodies, smell sweet, wear too much make-up and I am sure eat and poop just like the rest of us.  They are not extra smart (although Sara Gilbert did go to Yale) or perfect moms  just because they are sitting on a panel of women to discuss mom stuff on T.V.  Both Sharon’s kids were in rehab at one point in their lives.  They are simply T.V. personalities, entertainers, and good ones at that.

Did I get across the idea of unschooling? Maybe a little.  Does it matter?  Probably not.  Do I really care if Sharon Osbourne thinks I’m “kinda hippy, hippy?  No, not really.  Was it fun?  Yes!  That’s Entertainment!!!

Interested in more blogging from another guest on this show, check out Tracey Jackson and her blog, “And She Called Mother Theresa the C Word???

Love’s Battlefield

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

My 14 year old son Casey is starting high school next week.  He was accepted into the Creative Writing Conservatory for the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCSHA).  1700 kid’s auditioned and only 400 kids were accepted.  The amazing part of this story is that Casey hasn’t set foot inside a school since Kindergarten.  He has never taken a spelling test, a vocabulary quiz or written a five paragraph persuasive essay.  So, how in the world did Casey get into a school that is listed in the top three best schools in Orange County?  He reads, a lot.  Fiction, non-fiction, comic books, newspaper, magazines, cereal boxes, you name it.  He has a passion for reading and he turned this passion into writing.  This is unschooling at its best.    

He agreed to let me share one of his poems with you, “Love’s Battlefield”.  This is one of the pieces he submitted to OCSHA in his application portfolio.  Enjoy!!!

Love’s Battlefield

By Casey Brown

Your defenses stand in front of me, the fiery look of victory in your eye

I am alone; a dark void of red and grey surrounds me

My attempts to persuade you all end in an awkward after battle silence

But it is time for my next attempt

First, I use the Recoilless Rifle of Love to penetrate your bunker of cold indifference

The resulting explosion of blood dirt and tears opens the path to your ranks of deception and ignorance

I charge, flailing the Mace of Accommodation to bash aside the deceptive and ignorant forces of your heart

Then, I hear the traitorous helicopters that were once the belly of my now Jell-Oey mass

I fire the Predator Missile of Courage to slow the assault of the traitorous machines

But that is only the beginning

Your counter assault of fleeting turn offs, quickly melds into one big blob of atrociousness which I burn away with the Flamethrower of Truth

Next I am beckoned by my last friend with soul left in him to fight and he leads me to a trove of the Jets of Camaraderie

We hop into the jets and he announces that he will just be an escort

I take off over your fields of unknowing infantry, those of which that have no knowledge of the battle soaring around them

I see that with this surprising turn of events you have retreated to your loud wall of guards that keep nothing from you.

My wingman goes full speed at the wall while I urge him not to, he slams in full force with a flurry of inappropriate missiles and rude cannon he distracts your wall, but crashes and burns as a result

Now it’s just you and me

I realize you have already prepared your SAM sites but I have prepared for the worst, the instant one of your SAM’s hits the Jet of Camaraderie, I eject from the flying machine with the Seat of Defiance

I pull the Chute of Life, surprising you with my quick response to your assault of SAM’s of Deviance

As my feet touch down on the ground I call upon the Great Sword of Emotions, to finally battle you one on one

You reach behind your back and unsheathe the Dagger of No Regrets and the battle begins

Your quick twisting and turning motions of discomfort of having someone this close to you, my devastating blows attempting to end the awkwardness of first meeting place.

We battle on for an hour more, a respect for each other as each draws more and more losses and blood, the battle is coming to a close, and you are drawing ever closer, victory in your hands, when it all ends with a swing of my sword and the howl of delight from my lips

As I finally get your number

Casey

Disturbing the Peace

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The police have come to my house so many times I have lost count.  They came again the other day.  Why?  Our band was practicing and one of my neighbors complained about the noise.  Apparently we were disturbing the peace.  All of my other neighbors love our band.  In fact, some have asked me to keep the garage door open so they could hear us play.  But this one particular neighbor does not appreciate us.  She doesn’t seem to hear the music.  It is just noise to her.  She is that person Megan Fox is referring to on her tattoo, “Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”

I have chosen to dance and so have my fellow band mates, Raundi, Isis, Diana, Amy and Debi. 

The police seem to get a kick out of us.  Once they see who we are, they laugh and shake their head.  Sometimes they even stay to listen.  I suppose they expected a bunch of young gnarly pot smoking teenagers rocking out in the garage, not six women all over the age of 40 wearing high heels, guitars and ear plugs.  I suspect we are an anomaly of sort.  A bit strange, definitely unique, absolutely a deviation from what one would expect. 

I’m used to it, living life on the fringe, stretching the limit, “Disturbing the Peace”, hence the name of our band. 

How did this all get started?  Several years ago, a group of my friends decided it would be a blast to put a rock band together.  We wanted to rock out and share our passion with the world, or at least Orange County.   Our kids were our inspiration.  Most of our kids were already playing in a band.  We thought if they could do it, we surely could do it.        

There was only one glitch.  Not one of us could play an instrument.  In fact, most of us did not even own an instrument.  We were not the only band in history that went into it backwards.  U2 did it.  The Go Go’s did it.  We believed we could do it too.  We had passion, the desire to try something new, and we were willing to make complete idiots of ourselves, a definite recipe for success (or at least some fun).

Soon, we found ourselves practicing a couple of times a week in my garage.  We hired our own Jack Black, a young talented musician (and eye candy to boot) to teach us.  I practiced every day until my fingers turned to blisters and the blisters turned to calluses.

Now I am the lead singer by default.  Secretly, I always wanted to be a singer but was scared to death.  When the opportunity arose, I said “yes” of course.  What else would you expect from the Yes Mom?  When I first attempted to sing into a microphone, I pulled a Jim Morrison.  I literally had to turn my back to the crowd.  Now, I never want to get off stage.  It is one of my happy places.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads music is the language of the soul.  I bought it at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.  It’s an amazing place.  There are exhibits of instruments and music videos from countries all over the world.  As you walk around, you see all kinds of people playing music, men, women, children, white, black, purple, young and old.  That is the beauty of music.  It is for everyone that chooses to dance! We are living proof!

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Almost one year ago, my husband was laid off from his job.  The company’s stocks dropped dramatically and reorganization was in effect.  I will never forget the phone call, the shock and disbelief in his voice, his apologetic tone.  It felt very surreal, similar to the moments when you are being tousled in a wave and you are not sure if you are going to come out of it alive.  Your entire life passes before your eyes. 

I am generally a very happy optimistic glass is half full kinda girl.  But this was a hard one.  And my husband was hit even harder.  We had become a casualty of the economic recession.  No income.  Nada.  Zilch!  I felt sick.  We were faced with so many uncertainties.  Not to mention the identity crisis Kevin went through.  Do I need to get a job?  Can we continue to unschool?  How much is in our savings?  Can we keep the house?  What will become of us?  Who am I?

As a mother of three, I could not go back to bed, crawl into a hole or drown my sorrows in chocolate and tequila.  I had a family to take care of.  As I began to get over the shock and think clearly, a little ditty popped into my head.  Do you remember this one?

Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking across the floor.  Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.  You never will get where you’re going if you never get up on your feet.  Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing, a fast walking man is hard to beat.”

This song is from “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”.  I grew up in the 70’s.  Anyone that grew up during this time and had a television, watched these tacky but sweet holiday specials year after year.  Little did I know back then, when I was just a little girl, that this song would be my saving grace some day.    

I took Winter Warlocks advice and got up on my feet and put one foot in front of the other. This became my motto.  Every day I would tell myself, “put one foot in front of the other.”  As I gained strength, and began to walk across the floor, I started to make some drastic changes.  We simplified our lives, did for ourselves what we used to pay people to do and learned to live in a cloud of uncertainty.  As time passed, we actually began to feel very grateful for the roof over our head, the food on our table and our warm beds.  We learned to be thankful for what we had and not overly focus on what we didn’t have.  When one is faced with losing everything, you begin to truly see and appreciate the most important things.      

One year later, not only are we still standing, we are walking out the door!  Kevin starts his new job tomorrow morning.  Thank you Winter Warlock!!!

To see a remake of this song from “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” check out this link:   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9jeh4mA5us

The “Yes Mom” Revolution (Because I said So)

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

While shopping at the grocery store the other day, I overheard a mother say to her son, “Why, because I said so, that’s why.”  The little boy asked very innocently again, “But, why?”  He seemed to truly want an answer.  She repeated, “Because I said so.”  Then he pleaded with her, “Why can’t you just tell me why?”  Of course, by this time his mother was fed up and angry and she answered, “Because I’m the mother.”  She left the little boy looking so frustrated, confused and defeated.  She never did explain why. 

So I have decided that I am starting a revolution! Not the kind with guns and guillotines.  No blood, lost limbs or rolling heads.  No burning of vehicles, flags or bras.  The only casualty will be those left behind.  I am starting a parenting revolution.   A revolution that will not only free the world from the dictator type of parent but it will free them from themselves. 

I am revolting against the so called tried and true, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  I am rising above the old adages, “Just wait until your father get’s home.”  I am a mutineer of mommisms, “Clean your plate, there are starving children in Africa.”  I am a dissenter of corporal punishment, “Stop jumping on the bed or you will get a spanking.”    I am going for the jugular.  I am aiming at the heart of America, declaring my independence from arbitrary rules, expectations and the injustice of saying “no” just because you can.

My Declaration of Independence:  I hold this truth to be self evident. That all children are created equal; that they are endowed by their parents, school and society with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the right to ask why, not eat spinach if they don’t want to, and to jump on the bed.   

If I you think I’m off my rocker or if I have offended you, you may want to consider what American writer Peter Stone has to say, “This is a revolution, damn it! We’re going to have to offend somebody!” 

Actually, the parent I am mostly concerned about will probably never read this blog.  But for most of us, I am certain that you have questioned some of the words that came flying out of your mouths.  I know I have.  I admit that I have been guilty of some of the old adages myself.  We have all done it.  It’s like there are moments when we are on automatic pilot repeating what our parents said.  I remember once yelling, “This place is a pigsty.  If I have asked you once, I have asked you a thousand times to clean your room.  Just wait till you have kids of your own someday.”

The problem is these adages, mommisms, and negative outbursts do cause harm to our children.  It teaches them that they are small and powerless and the world is big and scary.  It teaches them to comply to arbitrary rules, to follow authority without question, to let someone else do their thinking for them and avoid thinking for themselves.  And, it is simply not respectful.  Kids are people too and deserve respect. 

So, the next time my daughter asks me why the sky is blue, why she should wear sunscreen at the beach or why does she have to go the grocery store with me, I will take the time to explain.  And if I don’t know the answer, I will look it up or come up with something but I will never leave her feeling defeated like the mom in the grocery store left her little boy!  Viva la Revolution.

Where is Your Happy Place?

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Last Friday night, I went to Derrick Brown’s Living Room Show at a cute swanky loft in Santa Ana.  Derrick, a poet with the ability to turn your insides to mushy grits simply with words, gave the audience a chance to ask him anything we want.  Dangerous territory if you ask me.  My friend Raundi asked him, “Where is your happy place?”  Derrick went on to tell us about the time his buddy pulled him behind his boat on his surfboard, a bit like water skiing but one hundred times more difficult.  Apparently, he had to precariously back onto his surfboard from the stern while avoiding the engines and then push off.  Once up on his board, he held on for dear life while combating the wakes, the line, and the unknown below (laughing all the while).  

I loved Derrick’s happy place, simple, real, and passionate.  I get it!

Of course, it got me thinking.  Where is my happy place?  I am glad to say that I have several.  Currently, it is in my backyard jumping on my trampoline.  Several mornings a week, I put on my double duty bra, hook up my iPod to my speakers, and proceed to jump, dance, boogie, twist, spin, soar, wiggle and gyrate to Sublime, Cake, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and any other pop star that comes up on shuffle.   I jump until sweat pours from my body and every beer, Kit Kat bar, and negative thought seeps from my pores.  Jumping on the trampoline is to me like a dose of Prozac is to the Housewives of Orange County. It is my happy pill. 

I heard a statistic recently (I love statistics), Orange County has the second highest rate of people taking anti-depressants in the country.  It makes you wonder…  Fancy houses, Mercedes and BMW’s galore, beautiful tan, fit people, abundance everywhere.  Why so many unhappy people? 

One of my most favorite authors James Hollis, Ph.D. explains,

“We are the most affluent culture in history, the most gifted with material abundance, and we are starving.  He then goes on to say, “…satisfaction and meaning only come when we identify what feeds our soul, and find also the courage and the where-withal to make it happen.”

Dr. Hollis is right on.  We are so hungry that we reach for the things we think will feed us; a house, a car, that big contract or fitting into size 2 jeans!!!”  It is the American way.  Stuff! Beauty!  Youth!  We want a quick fix from that empty feeling that plagues us all from time to time.  We reach for a bowl of cake batter ice cream, a Martini, a Louille Vuitton purse or a Porche 911 hoping to feel full but only left with wanting more.  We are tempted by stuff, distractions and sometimes we just want to escape from it all.  I know I am guilty of this at times as well.  It seems to me that many of us are looking for our “happy place” in the wrong place. 

But when I am jumping on my trampoline, I get it.  When I am playing “Monopoly” with my family, I get it.  When I am in the throes of passion, I get it.   When I hit that perfect note when singing, I get it.  When I am sitting at Starbuck’s with my best girlfriends chatting, I get it.  When I catch that perfect wave, I get it.  When you respond to my blog enthusiastically, I get it.  These are my “happy places”.  Each time I visit my happy place, I am full.  I GET IT! 

The Poetry of Derrick Brown Link:  http://www.brownpoetry.com/

My First Blog Ever

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

This is my first blog ever.  I have decided the best place to start is to explain myself.  I have this burning desire to live my life as fully as possible.  I also want my children to do the same.  Let’s face it, we only have one life to live, and it goes by so gosh darn fast.  As my musical hero Dave Matthews sings, “Life is short but sweet for certain.”  I want to experience as much sweetness as I can during my short stay on this planet.   

I know many of you feel the same way.  We all want to live a life worth living.  A life filled with joy, love and adventures.  A life with no regrets.  A life sweet for certain.  Ask yourself, when you are on your death bed, will you regret that your carpet wasn’t clean enough or that that you didn’t spend enough time at the office?  I doubt it.  If you answered yes to either of these questions, then maybe this blog isn’t for you.  For the rest of you, you are in the right place.    

 Maya Angelou has great advice for those of us that truly want to live a full life.  She says, “… go out and grab the world by the lapels.  Life’s a bitch.  You’ve got to go out and kick ass”. 

And the only way to grab the world by the lapels and kick some ass is to go out on a limb, take a risk and say “yes”.  Thus, the birth of the “Yes Mom”.  A philosophy and a blog designed to inspire, encourage, arouse, motivate, tickle, entertain, consider and awaken each of us to a sweeter life. 

As a “Yes Mom” I say “yes” to my kids.  “Yes Maggie, you can play in the rain, wait for me while I grab my rain boots.”  “Yes, Casey, you can set up your drum kit in the middle of the living room.  Maybe you can teach me a fill?”  “Yes, Riley, you can go to the Foo Fighter’s concert in L.A. with Ashley, do you need a ride?”  

As a “Yes Mom” I say “yes” to new experiences.  Like dining on Peruvian food, singing in a rock band, boogie boarding with my kids, biking, hiking, and paddle boarding, taking my kids out of school to unschool, appearing on the Dr. Phil show, and starting a new blog about all of our crazy and sometimes unconventional adventures.  

It is vital that we are not a road block to ourselves or to our children. I know that sometime we all fall into the trap of automatically saying “no” to our kids or to the world and choose comfort and security over taking risks or trying new things.  But saying “no” too often will keep us from the sweet nectar of life.  Yes, life can be scary, but a life driven by fear is no life.  Like Albert Einstein said, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”   I will admit that there are times I had to step out of my box, take a deep breath and say “yes” with all my fingers and toes crossed but the risk was well worth it. 

Today our family went to the beach.  It would have been easy for me to stay in my beach chair and “people watch” which I did for a while and I enjoyed it.  But, that desire to live fully began to burn deep inside me so I squeezed into my wetsuit, grabbed my boogie board and jumped in.  So so sweet.  No regrets!