Sunday, April 09, 2017

Hamilton, 40, & Not Shushing.

Hamilton is real and happens, y'all.

Also, I turned 40 this past year and all of my edges got softer and most of my clothes shrunk.
During the same period, there were some shifts in leadership and government and a presidential election.  Then I realized that I could not watch or read the news for days and my day-to-day life would not change.
Another weird.
My brain was soft...and it needed more edges.
Body soft, mind sharp.

So I looked up my State Reps and Senators. Then my D.C. ones. I looked for a huddle. I attended a meeting about How To Talk With Those With Whom I Disagree. I tried to figure out what I really believe. About each issue. (Still working on it).

AT THE SAME TIME, I fell in love with the smash Broadway hit Alexander Hamilton. Suddenly, this story in American History became accessible to my brain and understanding through rap, hip hop and rhyme (THANK YOU LIN MANUEL MIRANDA).
Then Svea and I got tickets to Hamilton (thank you dear friends) and we saw it over Spring Break. I had studied; I was ready.
We were in the balcony. Svea had the binoculars.
First Act, I did not sing out loud (just mouthed the words) but I used some hand and arm motions for emphasis.
Second Act, the guy behind me SHUSHED ME. He asked me to "tone down the choreography." I was horrified. I had ruined his experience! I had annoyed him and his people around him! We were 4,000 feet up from the stage, but I had been Too Much! I kept my elbows glued to my sides and my lips sealed the whole Act II.
After several days of breathing and grief, I realized I SHOULD NOT BE SHUSHED. My choreography was relevant and full of joy! Hamilton himself (as well as Eliza and Angelica) would not stand for shushing. I cannot Tone It Down.

My soft brain freaked as I connected the boldness of our Founding Fathers with our current political climate along with my new-ish challenge to sharpen my brain, and I committed to Less Shushing, More Listening, More Engagement, Deeper Understanding.

Y'all. Figure out what you believe. Call your Reps and Senators. Be nice to your neighbor. Stop talking and listen. Do not be shushed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Why practice yoga to the soundtrack from the smash Broadway Hit Alexander Hamilton?
Why not trade all original thoughts to Hamilton lyrics?

In Hamilton, there are 23 songs in Act I and 23 songs in Act II. There are 23 pairs (half from mom and half from dad) of chromosomes in our body; the DNA in the chromosomes acts as a source for our bodies.
Here is our chance to literally bring the Hamilton story into our bodies!

Lin Manuel Miranda (LMM) states in the book Hamilton: The Revolution, "'I know how deep in the DNA musicals get because they're deep in my DNA'...he evoked Les Miserables, the first Broadway musical he ever saw: 'I know that show like I know my family tree.'" (160)

On page 196 LMM "felt, when he wrote Hamilton, that it could legitimize hip-hop in musical theater...If you look at half the scores on Broadway today, they use rock - it's just in the DNA now. And this was my injection of hip-hop into the DNA."

Y'all, it's in our "dunnah" (shout out to Zootopia).


Five Themes:
I. Hamilton's Relationships (piloted at The DF on 9/6/16; We Will Repeat!!)

II. A. Ham v. A. Burr, sir. (Tuesday, 9/27/16 at Hwd Parks and Rec)

III. Alexander Hamilton: War and Politics (about to announce date and time!!)

IV. Hamilton's Ambition...Beware: It Goeth Before the Fall... (Set for October!)


LMM, the scribe and creative genius behind the Broadway Hit, is a cultural icon. I send him immense gratitude. He took a load of facts and dates and names and places and made the story - Our Story - accessible to those who learn in different ways. He used motion and music and puns and rhymes to invite ALL people to fall in love with the story of the beginning of our nation - with all of its flaws and mishaps and rule-making and rule-breaking. My 10th grade American History curriculum came ALIVE through this narrative.

So THANK YOU, LMM, for the story, but even more - THANK YOU for reminding me that I love learning.

Now I want to LEARN.

Come learn with us on the mat. You can rest and sing. You can sleep. You can engage in asana and connect your pose with the story's themes. You can quit, you can achieve.
Just show up.

*Disclaimer: We are bringing Lin Manuel Miranda's artistic representation of the Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow into our yoga practice, understanding that creative license allows Miranda to translate history into story using rap and hip-hop as tools for teaching and learning. I do not claim to be a historian. I will happily engage in conversation with you about the Truth and the truth in history, biography, music and yoga. LMK.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dear Henry, XC

Dear Henry,

You just completed your first Cross Country (XC) meet.

When we (your family) pulled up to the meet, I hid behind your sisters and my camera and sunglasses. I KNOW = SO EMBARRASSING.

Then my Eyes burst into tears! My Brain and Heart were all like, "What is wrong with you????" but my Eyes kept spewing.

Then my Heart started racing, and my Eyes and Brain were all like, "Dude, for real?"

Then my Brain started calculating distance and times and elevation and traffic and nutrition and digestion and my Eyes and Heart were all like, "Not important, MOM. That's what Henry and the coaches DO, like for their JOBS."

So I was a mess.
And you were amazing.
And I hope you get to do races like that which bring you joy and challenge all in a messy bundle and remind you what it feels like to be ALIVE.

Choose life, buddy.
Run hard.
You got this.
Even off the trail and track.

We love you, Boo,

Svea's Baptism

Tonight, Svea went to Confirmation which is a class some 6th graders in some Methodist (hopefully most) churches spend some months learning Why Be All Methodist.

I found this blog post from Svea's baptism and I was all verclempt. (Spelling is hard.)

Then I remembered I had to write her a letter about her baptism (not really my department in the parenting gig). But I tried and then I sealed the letter. Then she lost it. True to character. I'm glad I took a picture of it.

That girl teaches me and amazes me every single day. And on THIS day I am so very grateful to have so much community surrounding baptism promises...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Thistle: Where I'm From.

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride,
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)

George Ella Lyon wrote those words in her poem "Where I'm From."
Jan Richardson unpacks the power of the poem in a chapter of her book In the Sanctuary of Women and then writes her own version of where she is from, who she is, what "holds her roots."

I love the image of things, people, places and experiences that hold our roots, like how these trees are doing:

My backyard happens to be full of thistles. The root system of the thistle weed is winding and complex, longing to connect.
The top part of the thistle is prickly and the stem, thorny. But if you dig your fingers into the dirt around the base of the stem and grab the first part of the root, there are no thorns. You can pinch the root and pull the whole thing out, and if you're lucky, the root will lead you to the next thistle.

Becca Stevens suggests that women are like these thistles...and no matter how thorny you get on the outside, on the inside we are smooth. We are winding and complex, longing to connect.

Becca founded the Magdalene House in Nashville (which inspired sister houses in other states), as well as Thistle Farms and Thistle Stop Cafe and Shared Trade. Her books Snake Oil and The Way of Tea and Justice are life changing. I can't get over it.

I ordered some of Thistle Farms' natural bug spray - which smells AWESOME - and took it with me to my Women's Group on Tuesday morning. We passed around the spray before we did our breathing time, and maybe because there are bugs in our meeting room, and we talked about the thistle weed.

We talked about feeling thorny on the outside, when our insides are smooth. Some of us in Group live on the street, some live indoors, some have extra lake houses. Some of us are battling addictions, some domestic violence situations, some sit in long lines at carpool. All of us are familiar with a System that doesn't always Serve. We get together once a week to remember that we are the same and say the word LOVE as much as possible within the hour. For that little bit of time, we can be smooth and connected. We are the Thistle, winding and complex, longing to connect.

Later this summer we hope to paint a mural around our meeting room walls with thistle leaves intertwined, like our very roots are hugging. Along with George Ella Lyon and Jan Richardson, we will hold each others' roots, remembering where we are from, holding hands as we get ready to see what we will become...because Love Heals Every Body, even if you are a Thistle, winding and complex, longing to connect.

I Have a Pouch Fairy

I have a pouch fairy who leaves empty, sticky CapriSun drink pouches and empty GoGo Squeeze pouches (with or without tops) on my mailbox. 
I love her.

I add her flattened pouches to my own and store them in empty bulk snack containers until they are full.
Then I bag them, put them in an envelope or box, print out a free shipping label from Terracycle and drop them by UPS.

You can do this too!
Or I will do it for you!  

Be a Pouch Fairy and drop your empty pouches on my mailbox or in my driveway!
(CapriSun, Honest Kid, GoGo Squeeze, Ella's Kitchen and Earth's Best are currently the pouches Terracycle is recycling - AMONG OTHER "WASTE". Check it out!!!)

Love the earth, y'all. Teach your kids.

One Hour

One hour, 60 minutes, 3,600 seconds.

Nathan Foster, of Renovare and The Making of an Ordinary Saint, was confused by the act of "submission" and so, decided to study it. He asked his 9yo daughter and 5yo son, if they could have an afternoon with him, what would they want to do?
He asked himself, can I truly turn myself "off" and do what my kids want to do for a certain amount of time, within a reasonable budget? Like, NOT check his phone, double up on errands that serve him too, add in a treat that would ease his submission-ing discomfort, etc.
He did it. It was hard. (His afternoon involved a trip to Chuck E Cheese, among other things. Bless...)

So I thought, what about an hour???

Could I do an hour with each child, ONLY what they wanted, within a budget?
I asked all three of them if they could have an hour with me, what would they want to do? Then I asked them to think about it for a day.

Corinne wanted to go first. I set a timer on my phone and Henry and Svea pulled up a chair to watch.
Corinne wanted me to get IN the pool with her and not only STAY in the pool but PLAY at whatever she said.
Henry was delighted and grabbed my phone to take pictures. Mom was going to PLAY! Svea got in the pool with us.
The only time I got out of the pool was to make her some orange juice (it was past 10am so she had already had a Fanta).

Henry eventually got in too, and Corinne forgot that she was only allowed to be in charge of what she and I did, not what Henry and Svea were doing. Her siblings may or may not have mentioned that "she was trying to boss everyone in the world like Donald Trump." Ha.

Svea had pity on me and checked the timer several times as I engaged in jump-off-the-pool-wall-dance-routines, bounced, splashed and swam back and forth in the shallow end.
The hour ended. I survived. It was hard. (There was no Chuck E Cheese even mentioned.)

Svea was next.
She wanted me and her to go to Hobby Lobby and buy materials to create something! With styrofoam heads! And paint! And feather boas! All for under $20!
So we did. We listened to the radio and sang loudly (maybe with hand motions) with the windows down.
The hour ended. I survived. It was hard. (Wouldn't you know that Chuck E Cheese is next door to Hobby Lobby??)

I had to lie down on the couch for a few minutes before Henry's turn.

Then we went to another store to hunt out Superhero items (costumes, posters, accessories, sheets, cups - there are no rules, people.)

In under $20, we found two posters for his room, a blank poster, 3 canvas boards, paint and brushes. The superhero hour was full. There was no radio played in the car and we used the air conditioner. Quiet and cool, y'all. Room for all his thoughts...
The hour ended. I survived. It was hard. (There are no superheroes at Chuck E Cheese.)

I was disappointed how hard it was for me to focus that long on one child. I'm surprised at how quickly I wanted to check my messages or double up an errand (since we are right here by Whole Foods, let's just run in and grab some essential oils, eh?)

I want to work on this, though. I don't want it to be so intentional and hard. WHAT IF I naturally spent time with them, individually and together?  Is that what you call parenting?
I'll keep working on it. Promise, guys.