Them’s Fightin’ Words

Minding my own business on Twitter, as I do, I came across an article that I could have written.

Although I rarely post anything on Facebook beyond the occasional Sandra Boynton drawing, I decided to post a link to the article. A few minutes later I deleted it. For me to post something as potentially divisive as this went way against the grain of what I normally post, which is to say, nothing. It would be the equivalent of disagreeing with your husband one night whether to get pizza or wings and the next morning greeting him with I want a divorce. In other words, while it could be true, this is called going nuclear.

Instead I decided to write this article that has been noodling around in my brain since Sunday.

In their book, Getting the Love you Want, Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt do a MASTERFUL job of explaining how in marriage we make choices when choosing a mate that are directly related to trying to fix a childhood wound.

After the honeymoon period, couples enter into a power struggle because we each continue to try to get that childhood need met and resolved. Because we are aiming for different results, we sustain the power struggle. Do you have one or a few arguments that simply cannot be resolved? That’s the power struggle because each partner has their most logical position and is deeply committed to that position.

Greg and I practiced our power struggle so long and so vociferously, we just about perfected it before we finally heard of the book and more importantly, the imago dialogue. While the concept is simple, the results are phenomenal. Instead of partner one saying the Same Old Thing and partner two responding the Same Old Way, in the dialogue, partner two simply listens and mirrors what partner one says. Gone are the earnest machinations to change partner one’s mind. In place is partner two being willing to listen to what’s in partner one’s mind and inner world.

Sounds simple, right? There’s a little more to it, namely some empathy and some validation but until you actually use the dialogue yourself your conversation slash argument will go the very same unsatisfying way it always does.

We hadn’t gone as far as talking about divorce but we were both beside ourselves with frustration and wondering if we would ever find a way to be on the same page about our power struggle topics. With the imago dialogue we have found a way to truly listen and hear each other. We don’t try to correct the other person’s thinking. We don’t try to defend ourselves. We don’t try to explain why the speaker is wrong. We listen. We mirror. We empathize. We validate.

So it occurred to me that in our current political landscape we are locked to the death in a power struggle. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t try to change anyone’s mind who is on the other side of the aisle because I believe they are as entrenched in their position as I am in mine. And there is no good to come of simply engaging in the power struggle once again.

I might be the most compassionate champion of the underdogs in our society (well, no, I’m probably way down on the list) but for people who believe that underdogs just need to do a better job of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, that if the underdogs would simply take personal responsibility for their lives, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish, being compassionate is mystifying or at the very least, beside the point. So when I ask the Individual Responsibility people to have compassion they hear me saying that people don’t need to take individual responsibility, that a victim mentality can’t be overcome

You can see that this conversation will go nowhere and will never find common ground because each side is starting from an irreconcilable position and is locked in a power struggle which boils down to “I’m right,” and also, “No, I’M right.” It’s a power struggle with no resolution.

So if I post an article wherein the outgoing president is called demonic, not only is that term going to trigger people who believe he is somehow appointed by god, there will be a deeper and wider chasm as the power struggle intensifies.

Just imagine if you will though if a democrat listened and mirrored what a republican said, or vice versa. Or call it a conservative and a liberal.

I got the idea for this application by listening to an 18-minute you tube video posted by one of my Facebook friends with whom I differ completely politically. It’s pretty good but the bottom line I got from it is that conservatives think America is good and liberals think America is bad, and the core issue is slavery. This speaker praises Donald Trump because he feels no guilt for the past events in our country. The speaker tells us that to be liberal means you must believe our country is bad but to be conservative means you freely believe our country is good.

That’s the power struggle right there. There are multiple ways in which liberals and conservatives disagree but I can’t think of anything more timely than whether or not we have a problem with systemic racism in our country. If you think we don’t that means you have a certain understanding of demonstrations where protesters have had enough of the treatment black people have received at the hand of the police. “The black person shouldn’t have done x, y, or z and there wouldn’t have been a problem,” we want to believe. And of course, people who are sympathetic to the demonstrators see innumerable situations when driving while black or walking while black or shopping while black end up with completely different outcomes than driving while white.

I certainly never worry about getting pulled over or followed in a store or questioned because I’m standing with a group of friends. I know that if I ever get stopped, my papers are in order and I look like anything but a criminal no matter who is looking at me and I never worry. But for African-Americans, it may very well be a different experience, where suspicion is present simply because of skin color.

But can you imagine if instead of the conversation going like this:

Black person: I hate being followed in a store like they suspect I’m about to steal something.

White person: I’m sure you’re imagining things.

Black person: no I’m not. I see the glances and the casual movements of the clerk standing near me, watching me without seeming to watch me.

White person: well maybe you’re doing something suspicious.

The conversation goes like this:

Black person (BP): I hate being followed in a store like they think I’m about to steal something.

White person (WP): You hate being followed as if they expect you to steal. Is there more?

BP: Yes. When I’m just shopping like everyone else in the store, it feels awful to think that the clerk is paying extra attention to me for no reason other than that I am black.

WP: So when you’re shopping it’s really uncomfortable and feels awful to think you’re being extra scrutinized because you’re black.

BP: Yes. I’m not a thief or a shoplifter and I’d like to be able to shop without the extra scrutiny. When I get questioned about potential theft that makes it a hundred times worse.

WP: You don’t like the extra scrutiny and you certainly don’t like being questioned about potential theft as that makes the experience so much worse.

BP: It reminds me of my cousins and uncles and friends who have all experienced something similar without any justification. What conclusion is there to draw other than than people see us as a threat simply because of the color of our skin?

WP: So it’s not only you who has experienced this but your relatives and your friends and the only consistency is that this happens to black people so it seems like the most logical reason why you are under suspicion.

BP: Yes you are hearing me.

WP: So you have had the experience of being followed in a store for seemingly no reason that you can discern, as have your friends and relatives. It feels crummy to be a person of suspicion when you are simply shopping, browsing, picking up things to try on, normal shopping behavior. I can see where that would get old and feel bad and I understand why you might conclude it is an issue of your skin color since it happens to your friends and relatives. Did I get you?

BP: Yes you heard what I said.

WP: So I would guess you maybe feel unfairly singled out? Ashamed? Angry? Discriminated against?

BP: Yep all those things. Also despairing and depressed. And sick to death of being treated differently.

WP: So yeah I can definitely see how it would get old to be watched really closely when you are just going about your business as though because you have black skin it means there’s a high chance you’re a criminal. I can only imagine how painful that must be.

BP: I feel like you got what I’m saying. Thank you.

WP: Thanks for telling me what it’s like for you. I understand more of where you’re coming from and I can see how painful it is to be looked at differently because of the color of your skin.

Nowhere in this conversation did the WP try to justify the behavior of the clerk; or try to convince the speaker they’re imagining things, or worst of all, explaining that “more black people shoplift so the clerk is justified.” What kind of connection do you think is made in the second conversation compared to the first one?

What would happen if we started listening to people without trying to change their mind or correct them or convince them? If the experience Greg and I have had in our relationship is any indication, there could be some major healing in our country. But it takes willing to truly immerse oneself into the experience as expressed by another person. Listening, mirroring, empathizing, validating. Maybe then we would come away from a conversation having learning something rather than simply restated our portion of the power struggle again and again. I for one would be excited to experiment. How about you? We might end up with something more like the squirrels below instead of the one at the top of the page.

The Lady With the Kohl’s Cash

Do you know what Kohl’s cash is? It’s one of Kohl’s clever ways to get you to come back and spend more money. When they are doling it out, spend $50, get $10 in Kohl’s cash to spend later.

Your more disorganized types set the Kohl’s cash on the desk where it then gets buried and ultimately unearthed two days after it expired. So it’s literal money on the table that goes unused.

Your more organized shopper manages to keep the Kohl’s cash WITH the relevant receipt WITH the 25% off coupon for dropping off an Amazon return. Your more organized shopper (MOS) manages to put the packet in the car *and* make a stop at Kohl’s to utilize the 25% coupon *and* the second bit of Kohl’s cash *and* come home with the measuring cups and spoons the MOS has been eyeing. All for nearly free.

Your MOS has a calculator app on her phone and is busily running different scenarios while striding purposefully forth through the store and has the brain space to figure out the best combination of savings.

in case you didn’t guess, yes, I was the more organized shopper yesterday. It feels good to use coupons before they expire. Coupons and vegetables in my crisper often have a similar fate, and it was nice to have a different, more satisfying outcome yesterday. That’s what I get for getting more organized!

Deep thoughts on decluttering

3 lbs 11 oz I don’t have to shuffle anymore
An important alternate shot of the discarded papers
The quiet order of IEP and related paperwork

 

Raise your hand if you were there in 2008 when I started ye olde blog, known then as SiouxsiesMusings. My first post was bright and shiny with enthusiasm about the decluttering process I was going to undertake. Haha back then I thought it was a “one and done” kind of deal. I crack myself up.

I think some of my pre-baby nesting instincts got a little sidetracked because there really wasn’t time once the children train gathered speed. So I’m getting around to it now.

Kepler has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for school and has had one each year since he started preschool in January 2009. The first IEP was about eight pages long and the documents increased in size each year so by now I have a couple thousand pages of these documents. Or maybe a thousand. Five hundred. A bunch. Today it was “get the IEPs organized” day.

Julie Morgenstern, in her book Organizing from the Inside Out, says that Americans spend a mind-blowing 9,000,000 hours every day looking for misplaced items. How she came up with that number I do not know, but that’s a big number!

And at the end of the day, the pages are in order, the other supplemental documents are in order and all are divided with labeled dividers. I now have a bag full of pages that were duplicates for one reason or another and are no longer clogging up the files.

So yay me. But it occurred to me that the decluttering and the resulting satisfaction are mostly a solitary experience. I know what a huge difference I made today but no one else does! I’m sharing the pictures of the pile I got rid of and the happy end result.

Best part of the accomplishment is I now have this year’s IEP and this year’s ETR (Evaluation Team Report) at my fingertips so I can stay abreast of the goals we are working on, instead of looking at them several years later and musing, “Huh.”

Wishing you this kind of order in your life,

Siouxs

 

Cleaning Sadie

[Sorry just let me moan a second here. WordPress has changed their editor. So, now I’m searching around trying to find the button to add an image. But no! Now you can add image compare, slideshow, tiled gallery, masonry, collage, offset, stacked, gallery, audio, cover, file, media and text, video, and OH THERE IT IS, image.]

And she shall be called Sadie.

Because I’m not aiming to be a world/current events blog, my post today is about my vacuum cleaner. Oh, not just any vacuum cleaner, but a SPECIAL vacuum cleaner. A Rainbow Rexair vacuum utilizes a basin of water on the base of the machine to catch the dirt and dust. This company has been around since 1936 and I got my machine around 2003.

I remember a tall thin man with a tall thin suit and a tall thin tie walking up our driveway when I was a kid. He was inexplicably carrying our vacuum cleaner. I didn’t know it was gone! Or that it would ever need to be fixed. But this type of vacuum cleaning system is top drawer and worth fixing.

Tall thin man was carrying one that looked like this one.



Seems owners both love them for superb cleaning power and don’t love them for their complicated nature. Not complicated like today’s tv remotes like how in THE WORLD do I turn this thing on. More complicated like where are the attachments, have I cleaned the separator lately and dang this thing is heavy. Ah, but you can vacuum floors! and furniture! and stairs! and the interior of cars! and concrete floors! and corners! edges! grooves!

Shiny upright vacuums usually play a role somewhere in the life of a Rainbow Rexair owner as one eventually tires of the extra weight and work and decides to just take ‘er easy for awhile with an upright one can just zip in and zip out of the closet. Soon enough, though, the upright gives up the ghost or the RR owner realizes the upright gives more of a lick and a promise than thorough cleaning.

These days though with cordless vacuums that just weigh a few ounces and have fancy attachments that can curl up and over high spots, one really has to be a RR aficionado to hang in there. Even my own mother, a RR owner since 1960, has finally eschewed her RR for a Dyson that she loves almost as much as she loves me.

Mom has given me leave to use her Dyson anytime and since we are next-door neighbors it would be easy to take her up on it. But. Even if it’s lighter (lovely) and cordless (dreamy), CAN IT DO THE JOB OF MY WORKHORSE SADIE? That remains to be seen.

The impetus for this post was actually The Woman Who Never Cleaned. (raises hand). Cleaning at many points along the journey has been an arduous, exhausting task that I found easier to leave undone. Who wants to clean over and over, especially when the youngsters inevitably track mud onto the freshly mopped floor?

Turns out, NOW I do. There’s not so much tracking anymore with fewer feet in the house. Plus I have learned to place rugs strategically and have grown to appreciate the habit of removing shoes upon entering.

The other impetus for the post was that this vacuum cleaner needs to itself be cleaned, dusted, scrubbed, etc. It works fine without such cleaning but how nice to have it zippy and zesty.

I looked online because there is nothing new under the sun and I was sure someone had made a video about cleaning their RR. But amazingly, no. So I will have to figure it out on my own! I’ll have to use my noggin! Problem-solve! Do trial and error! Maybe make mistake! Very exciting times we live in.

So while we all look westward (from my POV) and wish the people well who have to deal with the fires, and we all look heavenward for some relief from the political exhaustion, I’m going to also be looking sinkward as I take on cleaning Sadie. Wish me well.

PS [NB: Have cleaned and shined it since I started this post. Bye-bye, dusty dust.]

A Little of This, A Little of That

Punxsutawney Phil Makes Annual Groundhog Day Appearance

Recent self-portrait when i came out of my den to check which way the wind’s blowing.

Ok, so I’m not currently completely drowning and indeed have had a couple of productive days, so I’m going to quick document them for future reference on the days when there’s (theoretically) nowhere to go but up.

I can’t find my three-hole punch right now and that’s frustrating because I have made Kepler a “Daily Learning Notebook” that I found on a homeschooling blog and so I’m hole-punching papers one at a time with one of the old-timey punches that break your hand and stick in the papers so you have to force the handles apart. I still have lots of stuff that hasn’t found a permanent home from our move last year and apparently my three-hole punch is one of those things.

I was always secretly critical and judgmental of my dad for buying another widget when he couldn’t find the one he already had, but nowadays I can definitely see the wisdom in that. I love the idea of “a place for everything and everything in its place,” but I definitely have not been able to achieve that with any consistency. So I shall continue to hand punch until the three-holer shows its face again. (Haha unless I find myself in an office supply store in the hole-punch aisle!)

Some kids like visual schedules, but Kepler prefers LISTS. Lists that he can complete and check off. Here’s tomorrow’s list:

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Sometimes Kepler struggles with doing a task he doesn’t want to do. He can be pretty stubborn and hard to talk into something. Sometimes bribery works. Sometimes “first this, then that” will motivate him. I decided to create something to help him get through those rough times. I modified the “serenity prayer” and then added some “I can” statements, with the culmination “I can and I will.” He uses this tool pretty often, and it’s neat to see him taking responsibility for himself. He took it upon himself to write the tips down in his own handwriting.

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Kepler is a hard worker and is definitely being a trouper during this crazy time. If I weren’t such a grump bunny so often, we would probably just laugh and giggle our way through the days, but as it is, we do a lot of smiling. Until next time, take good care and I wish you well!

 

 

When We Last Spoke

Our heroine was in the dark of the tunnel, the dark before the dawn, lost in the forest. I suppose you’ve all been wondering what happened next.

Yes, finding out the password and being able to log in was the best thing that happened this week because our heroine suddenly remembered that she is a natural teacher, and has the best student ever.

There is a small problem with pizza here. As in, I’m going to be Jabba the Hutt when this quarantine is over. But I’m trying to take things one day at a time. And as far as homeschooling Kepler goes, we are doing ok now.

We even had Saturday school today and it was a pleasure. So I have at least adjusted to the fact that we probably will not have school for the remainder of the year. School is only closed until May 4 right now, but I anticipate that will be extended through the remainder of the year.

That’s all for now. Still sighing, but not about school and passwords anymore.

Love, Siouxsie

Just Wow

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I haven’t blogged in forever. There is so much content out there; I’ve decided my blogs aren’t adding much value to the world, but I am writing today because I need to.

So, like the rest of the world, we are schooling from home. I’m an old hand at homeschooling, aren’t I, then? I homeschooled pretty much non-stop from January 27, 1993 until around 2012, 2014? Something like that. I tried and used many different curricula, schools of thought, and original creative ideas on educating my kiddos.

With Kepler, I believed (rightly so) that the public school system would be the best set-up for him. So, the day after he turned 3, he started pre-school. That was 11 years ago. He has been lovingly guided by capable teachers now for many years. These are people who love what they do, love the kids, and do an amazing job with them.

My issue with the schools is that I have not been able to be hands-on with what he was learning and doing, which makes it quite difficult for me to reinforce what they are doing, let alone supplement it in a one-on-one context. Of course, there have been plenty of other issues which have impacted my ability to do more than the bare bones of living, chief of which has been long bouts with depression.

Well, now it’s time for me to step up and guide his learning at home, whether or not I want to.

And OMG this is complicated. The main complication is that all the assignments are online, but one aspect of the login information I was given has not yet worked. That’s the first issue. Secondly, the information is listed in Place A and Place B, and you can also access it through Place C, but make sure you click the icon in the address bar (I didn’t find that out for several days).

Kepler is actually quite adept at using his Chromebook. He can really navigate to email and google classroom and knows how to join google hangouts, etc. But he doesn’t have the executive functioning to be able to put everything together — plan what to do today, what to do next, etc.

All I can say is this is stretching my ability to cope. Do you know what it’s like to try to login to something and be told you have the wrong password? Of course you do. It’s a part of life for every single one of us who must navigate a thousand passwords. But add onto that the responsibility of overseeing a child’s education and this situation is asking for way more patience than I seem to have.

Finally, today, after many attempts, I was able to contact the correct person who was able to unlock something so I could do the fix. When did we start this schooling from home thing? I guess it’s technically only the second week, but I spent time the first two weeks seeing if I could acquaint myself with the system, so I’ve been at this for nearly four weeks.

Add into this the unique learning style, and pace of learning with Kepler, both of which are relatively foreign to me, as my experience with my older four was quite different, and didn’t include forty thousand different logins and passwords and terms and apps I was unfamiliar with. I need things simple and I’m not getting to have that.

So, I’m feeling sad. And angry. And frustrated. I’m attempting to give myself compassion but boy oh boy this is hard. I listened to a Brene Brown podcast yesterday and she said this isn’t a time for comparing how hard things are with how hard they are for anyone else. And I have been doing that. Yeah, maybe I have some difficulties, but what about the people who …. [fill in the blank]. And I appreciate what Brene said, because whatever anyone else is going through, this situation for me is difficult.

I can also see that it is an opportunity, but I have to first feel all the emotions that come with the challenge. I just can’t do anything perfectly, or even close to really well these days. So, I guess I’ll just do the best I can with the information I have and remember that there is such a thing as good enough even when something isn’t perfect.

Sigh. Love, Siouxsie

July 2019

I heard my heart whisperIMG_3814

“Go back to Colorado.

See the mountains.

Feel the sky.

Let me be free.”

 

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Go see John Prine sing while you still can.

That troubadour who sings from his heart.

Hello in there, hello.

Come on home.

His songs called me. I listened.

Red Rocks Amphitheater in 4 days.

 

Off to our lodging for the next three days.

But alas.

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The reality did not match the advertisement.

We spent most of the evening convincing Kepler it would be ok and he would be safe. He insisted he was not going to stay there.

Before the end of the evening, Greg decided we would find alternate arrangements, for the good of us all.

My hero.

Next morning, a text from my mom, “Did you hear about John Prine?” I found this on Twitter and I cried:

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But this is why I came. Now what?

Meditation. That’s what. Becoming centered regardless of the story my mind was creating. The next few days were spent seeing places like this:

Photo Jul 25, 11 52 39 AM

Up the mountain to the top of Mt. Evans.

No guardrails.

Bighorn sheep strolling by.

An entire weather system visible ahead.

Kepler insisting he was NOT going to the top.

A short hike to a mountain lake on the way.

Photo Jul 25, 12 15 42 PM

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A brief visit to Garden of the Gods the morning we left for home.

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A happy, happy hiker in the Garden of the Gods.

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I’ve Got to Tell You about Kyle Cease

Kyle is a former stand-up comedian who now does transformational events and speaking and I love him!

A couple weeks ago, my sister sent me a video about him and invited me to join her in watching a video series she had purchased. I’d never heard of the guy but I was in a bit of a stagnant place and knew I was ripe to hear some good input.

Well, it changed my life. Yeah. Really. I had struggled for many years being in an ongoing war with my brain, and Kyle’s teaching helped me befriend my little brain by understanding that it is going to create a story about everything and I am not the story!

I am not the story.

I am the space where the story happens.

And that’s about the most exciting thing I have learned in quite some time. The video series is called “The Limitation Game.” It can be found here. I spent $40 on lunch today. The video series costs $20. I own it and am enjoying watching it via Skype with one of my daughters. There are exercises and interaction that happen which continue to inspire me to living from my heart.

Kyle Cease on YouTube. This is a little snippet of the things he teaches. It’s about five minutes long. I dare you to watch it and see what moves in you.

The other day I was in the grocery store and I was craving this one thing that I often crave. Ok, it was a fried chicken breast from the deli. I really like chicken. Reallllly like it. And I eat it often in many different ways, but boy do I love those fried chicken breasts. However, this day I was aware of the craving and I decided to go inward to see what would happen.

My story was that I HAD to have a fried chicken breast or I would die. It was just a story. But then I remembered: I am not the story. I am the space where the story happens. When I realized I am the space, the tension and the tightness and the craving all released. Spoiler alert: I didn’t eat and chicken and I didn’t die.

Kyle is sharing what he shares because his calling is to inspire others to help change our world by stepping out of our stories and living from our hearts. I’m in. Join us!