Friday, April 27, 2012

Fertalizers Don't Have to be Chemical Stews

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Whitney Farms for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

       I think we all know that I'm not big on chemicals in my garden.  I wouldn't eat chemical fertalizers, so why would I ever put them in my food?  We create an excellent compost on our own with kitchen scraps, worms, and chickens.  That said, the soil where we live is aweful.  Really, just pathetic, and after three years of cultivating it, there are still areas where the nutrient profiles are just off.

       I have been saddened by the prospect of having to resort to chemical fertalizers to try to get our broccoli to grow properly or prevent our cabbages from bolting, but companies like Whitney Farms® give me hope.  Now, to be honest, I haven't done a full battery of research on this company, but the things I do know about them certainly but them head and shoulders above chemical fertalizer companies.

Whitney-Farms-Logo_Banner_New_C.jpg (6 documents, 6 total pages)

      Products like their organic soil and organic plant food are free of additive and artificial ingredients, and - most imortantly in my mind - contain beneficial microbes.  This is essential.  This is what sets these sorts of fertalizers above chemical ones.  The very best possible soil for any plantlife is living soil.  And Whitney Farms® will help you get just that.  They even have more specifically tailored products like Tomato and Vegetable Food and Plant Food.109103_1.jpg (6 documents, 6 total pages)


      I mean really, with a beautiful garden like this, and, more importantly, beautiful gardners, why would I ever put chemicals down? 

      They are also offering a great $3 off cupon - more incentive to give it a try!Advertisement

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Diva, Luna, Mama

      . . . as in Diva Cups, Luna Pads, and Mama Cloth.  Yes, this is a post about menstruation.  You have been warned.  If you can't handle it, don't like it, or simply aren't interested, please check out some of my less scary posts about flowers and growing veggies from food scraps.  However, if you're a big girl, or a particularly secure and daring big boy, and recognize that menstruation is just another part of life, please read on.  I promise this post really isn't at all graphic.  Actually, given what a routine part of life this is, it's a little silly that I feel the need to include a disclaimer at all...

      This was not going to be my next blog post, but it is a post I've been thinking about for a while, was thinking about even more earlier today, and then, coincidentally, someone recently searched the blog for "Diva Cup."  So I thought I should jump this one up in line.

      It seems to me that a large portion of women discover mama cloth and menstrual cups (both explained in greater detail later in this post) through research on cloth diapering.  That wasn't at all how I discovered them.  As a matter of fact, I wasn't even sure I would ever have kids when I first found out about them.  I was introduced to reusable menstrual products like menstrual cups and cloth pads by the wonderful women of the POWER - the Purdue Organization for Women's Equality and Rights

      Mama cloth and menstrual cups are re-usable menstrual hygene products, and they are wonderful.  Mama cloth is any re-usable, cloth variation of maxi-pads.  They come in all sorts of fabrics, designs, and absorbancies.  You can get regular pads or full underwear with the pads built in (and/or with optional inserts).



      Menstrual cups are an excellent substitute for tampons.  They do not absorb like tampons, but rather collect, and can be emptied and re-used. 

      There are also natrual, re-usable sponges that can also be substituted for tampons, but I have no experience with these and can't really speak much about them other than to say I have one friend who swears by them in the same way I swear by my DivaCup (as you'll see).

      It doesn't really matter from what perspective you look at it, these products just make sense.  Whether you're concerned about your own health, the environment, or your finances, these products are a good thing.

      Women, on average, experience a lifetime menstruation span of 41 years (11-52). From use of disposable feminine hygiene, an estimated 12 billion sanitary pads and 7 billion tampons are dumped into the North American environment each year (1998). More than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 1999.  If a woman is using about 20 pads and/or tampons per cycle, that one woman is throwing away over 10,000 pads/tampons in her lifetime.  Switching to re-usable products is a BIG change, and can have a massive positive effect on our environment.

      Add to that the fact that most women in the US spend an average of $200 on disposable feminine hygiene products a year, for a total of about $8,200 in a lifetime (before inflation!), and you have some pretty head turning statistics.  A menstrual cup and some cloth pads will cost a little more at the outset (I started with a Diva cup, two LunaPads, and a wash/storage bags for each for just under $60.00), but then you won’t have to spend another cent on this stuff for years.  And as far as the pads go, many women make them themselves.

      If the money and the environment aren’t enough to convince you, there’s also your own health to take into account.  The DivaCup is made from healthcare grade silicone free of BPA and other harmful chemicals that may leach into your body.  Tampons and pads often contain a laundry list of undesirable chemicals such as chlorine and dioxin that can be absorbed into your body and damage your skin (not to mention the environment when you throw them away!).  High quality menstrual cups are extremely safe to use, do not in any way disrupt your body’s natural balances, and present a significantly lower risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome than typical disposable products. 

      Menstrual cups are easy to clean and disinfect since they do not absorb anything, and they can be left in for up to 12 hours!  There are always a few caveats and warnings, for which you should check with the distributer, but the most common concern is for IUD users.  There are warnings against the possibility of dislodging the IUD.  I have an IUD (which I also LOVE), and have used a DivaCup the whole time I’ve had an IUD with no problems.  I’m careful to break any seal that may have been created before removing the cup, as per the detailed directions it came with.  I have had two IUDs, one before I chose to have Flintstone, and another inserted after, and I’ve had the same DivaCup for both with no complaints or concerns.  Every situation is different, so check with your own doc, but that’s my story.

      Ultimately, I think most people who have issues or concerns about re-usable menstrual products are focused on one thing: the ick factor.

      Well first let me tell you I understand.  I had the same concern.  I mean, changing pads and tampons is gross.  The thought of having actual contact with them and having to wash them – and washing pads with my laundry?  I wasn’t thrilled with the idea.  Honestly, though, as soon as I made the switch I was surprised by just how little ick there was to it, especially with the cloth pads.  Most of them come with their own little bag to put them in so they don’t come into contact with the other laundry in your hamper (or washer/dryer since you can wash them in the bag), so there’s really not much more to changing them than a regular pad – and, trust me on this, they look MUCH LESS GROSS than a saturated white cotton pad.  You can even carry the little bag in your purse to change pad on the go.

       Now, I’ll be honest, the cup takes a little more getting used to in this department – in the same way that tampons take more getting used to than pads.  There is a technique to inserting a cup (as shown in drawings here) that is a little more complicated than using a tampon applicator, and you will have to wash your hands afterward, but it’s really, really not a big deal.  And it is so worth it.

      I know some women who gave up on their menstrual cups after just one cycle because they couldn't get the hang of insertion.  It wasn't any sort of "ick" factor, it was just figuring out the best method for them.  It took me a while, but one day it just clicked for me, and I'm very glad I didn't give up.

      If you're a woman with cycles, I really, really encourage you to check these products out.  They are a great decision for both yourself and the world around you.  Plus, you can help out self-employed women by purchasing mama cloth from Etsy.

      Have you ever tried any of these?  What were your experiences like?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Remember Spring Break?

     I am such a slacker blogger.  At least I can take comfort in the fact that my slacking is a direct result of increases in work, family time, and even a little bit of leisure reading.

      Plus, I think waiting until it's almost May to post our Spring Vacation pictures makes them stand out more.  Yeah.  That's it...

The drive to Michigan is a LONG one, and times like this are the most enjoyable parts.

I don't know why I can't get this picture to stay rotated the right way.  I would delete it, but it's one of only a couple that I'm actually in - even if my hair did look horrible since we had gone out hardcore the night before.
Find egg; open egg; remove candy; throw egg back on ground.  Repeat.
       I have two of the most truely beautiful children on the planet, and Flinstone just excudes cute all over the place all the time.  As such, I am on a constant mission to try to capture that on film.  Sadly, it is a mission I usually feel as though I fail at.  This has to do, largely, with how very many very skilled photographers I am friends with - including my old roommate who I've been trying to wrangle into doing some photos to us forever.  Sadly, her job working for rock star Amanda Palmer has so far interfered with that.

       I was determined to get some great pictures of Flinstone's first Easter egg hunt.  I did not count on Flintstone not being the slightest bit interested in hunting for eggs.  Even after watching Punky hunt eggs, after being lead straight to some eggs, AND after being shown that the eggs contain candy, still all he wanted to do was to run in the grass and try to hurl himself into the creek.

      Still, I at least got some pictures to make it look like he participated in the egg hunt.

       We spent some time visiting family.  My youngest cousin had her first baby the day we got to Michigan, so we spent some time visiting the baby, my aunt and uncle, my grandma, and the children of some of my other cousins.  Punky loves her cousins (or once removed, 2nd cousins, or whatever.  Cousins).
Cousins, or more accurately, the children of cousins - my kids and the kids of three of my cousins.

This is seriously the best picture we could manage of the kids with their Great-Grandma, my grandma.
       We also went to the zoo.  The kids loved it.  Flintstone was thrilled beyond belief.  Sadly, I don't think we'll be going back because McGyver and I found the conditions of the animals for the most part deplorable.

      Flintstone especially loved the fish.  There was a fish pond near the entrance that I think he could have spent the whole day at.  We had to stop back at the fish pond on the way out, and he laid to watch the fish and signed to us that he wanted to take a nap there.  So sweet.  We are currently working on putting an aquarium in his room.  Kid totally takes after his dad in his love of fish.

       He may not have been into the egg hunt, but he was totally into his first chocolate bunny:

    Happy Belated Spring, All!

      If you want to see more pictures from our trip, please check them out on the Facebook page.  And if you haven't "Liked" Cheap Wine and Cookies on Facebook or friended me, Colleen Timothy, please do!  Especially with my drop in blogging, I would love to stay in touch with all my bloggy buddies on Facebook!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Personality and The Other Boleyn Girl

     Please check out this and many other posts about the books we are all reading over at the Reading Blog.

      Especially lately, but to some degree all my life, when I read a book, my brain is constantly humming in the background with reflections of my own life and lessons to be applied or taken away.  I feel like reading The Other Boleyn Girl gave me an interesting insight into ways my personality has changed over the years.

       First, a little about the book:  SPOILER ALERT!  If you know NOTHING about history and don't know who Anne Boleyn was, or her fate, this might ruin the surprise.  More important than that, this will give away a lot about the character development throughout the book.  You've been warned.

      I wasn't really thrilled with this book in the beginning, but it came highly recommended by a friend with similar tastes to mine, so I stuck with it.  It is told from the perspective of Mary Cary (nee' Boleyn), Anne Boleyn's younger sister.  When the book opens, Mary is 12 years old, and I found her character rather naive and vapid.  I also found the rivalry between the two sisters downright obnoxious.  I'm glad I persisted, though, because Philippa Gregory is a very talented author and as the character aged, her increasing maturity was excellently reflected in the storytelling.

      I think there are many overall themes and takeaways one could get from this story.  There is a conflicted relationship between sisters who are at once rivals and teammates and confidants being used as pawns in a greater game.  There are themes pride, jealousy, greed, and lust for power.  My feminist mind was aflutter through the whole book with the sad situation women found themselves in and also with the strength of women joining together behind the scenes and exploiting what little powers they did have to their maximum potential.

      The historical themes were masterful.  Before I read the book, I found out that Philipa Gregory is well known for doing excellent historical research on her subjects before undertaking a project. That really enriched my experience reading the book - especially after watching the horrifyingly inaccurate Tudors.  I felt like a came away from the book with a little better grasp of the realities of Tudor England.

      Ultimately, though, throughout the whole book, what my mind kept coming back to was the personalities of the two main characters.  I saw them almost as alternatives of my own personality.  There was the ambitious striver (Anne Boleyn) and the mother figure (Mary Carey).

      This is a simplification, but the general categories work.  First, I'll touch on Anne because the thoughts evoked by her character were a little simpler than those evoked by Mary.

      The Anne Boleyn character in this book (and in all likelyhood in real life) was a person who knew what she wanted from a very young age.  She was primed for it, raised for it: power and prestige.  Of course, it was the tempered power of a woman, a power earned by high marriage and not necessarily anything else.  But it was the most power she could ever hope to acheive and she was groomed to see the corresponding prestige as "the goal" in the same way that some women and girls today see other things as "the goal" - getting married and having children, having a particular career, having "it all," or marrying a successful man, depending on the upbringing and environment.

      Anne latched onto this goal and carried forward with it with determination boardering on the manical.  At points in the book, she has driven herself to complete exhaustion keeping up the persona she has chosen to wear.  She sacrificed happiness, love, friendship, even - it could be argued - her own humanity, all in unrelenting pursuit of "the goal." 

      I have been similar to this in my life, though not quite to the extreme.  I have pushed toward certain goals (always career goals, as far as I can tell; I've never seen marriage as much of a goal to pursue so much as something that should happen on it's own) with a passion that other people don't posess.  I've pushed through circumstances that would have easily averted others.  I have even put on the blinders and went straight ahead, ignoring other goings on in life in pursuit of my goal.  And in many cases, I've succeeded.

       But, I have also changed and become a lot less goal oriented - or maybe my goals have just changed, become more amorphous.  Changes that never occured for Anne, that, in some ways couldn't change once she reached a certain point.  Forward was all she had left.

      I have also been known to toy with the emotions of men.  But that was never for prestige.  It was for my own childish amusement and I have since given that up, though I did take a little bit of titillating nostalgic joy in reading some of Anne's exploits in that arena.

      And because I have changed, I felt more akin to the Mary Carey character.  Mary starts out with the same "goal" orientation as Anne.  And she acheives her goal, though more through a series of random events then through sheer determination.  For a while, she is pretty devoted to the goal.  Then she has children.  This brings about a change in her.  The experience of loving her children, and subsequently missing them, leads her to a drastic rethinking of her priorities.  The goal is still there, but she no longer sees it as her goal.  She sees that it is a goal that was chosen for her, and eventually, it is no longer her goal at all.  Mary wants nothing more than to live peacefully in the country with her children.

      Well, I can sure as heck relate to that!  Rarely a week goes by that I don't spend at least a little time fantasizing about running off to a subsistance from out in the woods and playing with my kids all day long. 

      Of course, I also know I would never last in that life.  There is also a little law office attached to our subsistance farm.  The career goal is still there, but it is more focused on helping people than on any sort of prestige.  Obviously.

      Like Mary, my children have completely changed my outlook on my life, my career, society, and myself.  I want different things than I ever thought I would when I first set out toward my goals many years ago.  In a month or two, I will be the MOJO - a powerful, high profile, prestigious position.  A position that, 4 years ago, I really wanted to attain.  Today, I'm not looking forward to filling it.  I appreciate that it is still a good thing for me, that it will still allow me to help people (one of my new goals), but it is mostly a great stepping stone toward the life I now know I really want to live - complete with the farm in the country/woods.

     I am neither Mary Carey nor Anne Boleyn.  As usual, I want the best of both worlds.  But reading this book was a really interesting self insight into the changes I have made as well as fodder for some very interesting thoughts about what might have happened if I had remained more an Anne, pressing forward relentlessly to my goal of power.  I honestly think I may have ended up rather high in politics.  I don't think I really have any desire to do something like that anymore.

      When you read, do you find yourself being lead into self examination?  What books gave you unusual insights into yourself?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Compassionate Life: Step 3, Part 2

Please don't hesitate to click over to the Compassion Blog itself and leave a comment there!

      So, my first post for Step 3 went off on a bit of a tangent.  Given my recent time connstraints, I've decided that one post per step, once I've moved on to the next step, should suffice to keep me aware of and accountable to my journey.  That is, of course, unless I go off on tangents.

     Step 3 really was an interestingly challenging step.  At first glance the title of this step, "Compassion for Yourself," sounded like a touchy-feely "you can't love others if you can't love yourself; when was the last time you had a manicure?" sort of things.  Of course, I know this book, so I knew better.

      Compassion for yourself is not the same as unconditional love for yourself, in the same way that Compassion for all people isn't the same as unconditional love for all people.  You can have Compassion for someone while still holding them accountable for their actions.  Having Compassion for yourself does not excuse your flaws.  It does, however, start with love.

      The first part of this step was to list out or ruminate on all the positive things about yourself.  Sounds like fun!  Erg, turned out to be a bit of a chore.  Turns out that, even inside my own head, there are certain things I feel guilty about giving myself credit for or being positive about.  I actually found myself making caveats inside my head, sort of like this:

     Hmmmm....  my good traits....  Well, I'm very fit.  I work out a lot and really love the way my body looks.  Not that my body is perfect - or any better than anyone else's.  I mean, I obviously have flaws.  My top abdominal muscles are a lot more defined than the lower ones, and some people don't even like defined abs.  But I like the way my body looks, which is really the point.  But it's ok if other people look different.  Lots of people with much different bodies than me have very beautiful bodies ....

     And on it would go.  Ridiculous.  It's one thing if I come out on my blog and say "I love the way my body looks!"  I might, in that case, want to point out that just because I love my body doesn't mean I in anyway dislike other bodies.  Actually, the fact that I find most human bodies beautiful in some way is part of my problem here, ha.  But I shouldn't be going back and forth in my head.  Part of my learning process with this step was being able to internally compliment myself and just stop there and take joy in it.

      I would also like to say that my physical traits were not the first traits I found myself thinking about, but the ridiculousness that occured inside my head when I tried to compliment myself on more important or deeper traits resulted in ridiculousness I couldn't even begin to capture here.

     But I recognized the issue, the harsh judgement I was using on myself, the wierd societal effects that had seeped into my brain, programming me to believe that 1) I should feel guilty for complimenting myself because that meant I was concieted and 2.) I should not compliment myself because that amounted to insulting others who are different.  Both of these are soundly untrue.  If I tell a co-worker she is really eloquent, that doesn't mean no one else in my office is.  If I tell myself I'm smart, that is not the same as saying I'm smarter than anyone else.

      Being concieted means (to me), complimenting yourself too much, for traits you don't have; valuing traits you do have too highly; discounting your own flaws; and, most importantly, believing that your positive qualities are the best, better than others, and entitle you to certain things.  Acknowledging the postitive about myself does none of those things.  So, here it is, in short, a few of the good things about myself:

     (I wasn't going to do this because I still find it really embarassing, even though I have occasionally complimented myself on this blog before)
  • I am rather intelligent.
  • I learn things quickly.
  • I am kind and understanding, and am becoming more so.
  • I am a loyal and caring friend.
  • I am a devoted wife and mother.
  • I am hard-working.
  • I perservere.
  • I deal with major stressors well and typically remain calm under pressure.
  • I try to make the world a better place, if even on a small scale.
  • I have a certain degree of courage.
  • I am fit.
  • I try to live ethically and morally.
  • I'm good at a whole bunch of stuff.
      I'm also bored of the list, so I'm going to stop there since I think that last one demonstrates why "I have a good attention span" was not on this list. ;-)  I notice that I still included some indefinite language, hedged a little here and there, and even included one qualifying statement (because making the world a better place is a pretty major compliment), but it's a start.

      Like I said, though, this step isn't just a whole bunch of hugging yourself in the mirror stuff.  Compassion isn't just about recognizing good qualities, but also about accepting people's faults.  And your own.

      The practice of looking over your own faults is a little different than that of looking at your positive traits.  The author warns at this stage that one should not become mired in self-pity or disapproval.  The point of this excersize is not bring yourself down.  It is to recognize that you are human.  You have flaws just like anyone else.  Your flaws to not make you better or worse than anyone else.  If you can look at your own flaws and see them clearly, two things happen.  First, you recognize that you are not better than other people; you see your own humanity.  Second, you become better able to accept the flaws of others, even if they are different flaws then your own.  Different people have different strengths and different flaws.  The goal is to accept all of these without judgement.

      I have lots of flaws.  In a way, recognizing my own flaws was easier than recognizing my positive traits.  There was no guilt.  Well, maybe guilt about the flaws themselves, but with every flaw there is the possibility of remedy or improvement.  I think the bigger changes for me with this step were in working toward accepting the flaws and moving on.  Leaving it at that.  I might improve upon my flaws, but I won't linger on them, and I must not linger on the flaws of others.

      You want a list of my flaws?  After all, I gave you a list of my positive traits.  Well, I'm not going to lay it out quite the same way.  You see, just because I recognize my flaws, doesn't mean I have to waive them around the internet.  Plus, as sad as it is to say, I suspect that there are a couple people reading who might take more pleasure in reading my flaws than I'm comfortable with.

      I wil say this, my flaws are many and myriad.  I struggle with a lot of failings.  I procrastinate badly.  I still catch myself being judgemental from time to time.  I speak without thinking.  I am a crap housekeeper.  I thrive amidst clutter.  These are the easiest and most concise ones to list.

     Lastly, (and I'm running out of time to post today), this chapter touched on our Western perogative to be positive about things.  The drive to, as the author puts it, "think positively, brace up, stiffen our upper lip, and look determinedly on the bright side of life."  Sometimes, this is a good thing.  Sometimes, it helps people push on.  But it also sometimes amounts to a denial of our humanity and emotions.  Maybe someone wants to share their grief.  Sympathy can be a very helpful and soothing reaction to offer someone.  Sometimes people are hurt more or feel like their pain is being discounted by the persistant positivity.

       This is a big topic that I could go into more, but it also comes into play in Step 4, so I'll try to remember to touch on it there.

      Overall, this looking at myself, and the daily meditation excersize the book assigns with it has been a big eye opener, as have all the steps.  I can feel the changes taking place, and I am grateful.  Another way of looking at myself.

Step 3: Compassion for Yourself

      The "mission" for March was "Compassion for Yourself."  It was an interesting journey.  I realized a lot; I questioned a lot; and, ultimately, I remain questioning a few things.

      The goal, so to speak, of my Compassion endeavor and the book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, is to live your life by the Golden Rule as wholely as possible - to do unto others as you would have them do unto you and to not do to others what you would not like done to you.  But I had never really thought about the fact that the basis of that rule is how you treat yourself.

       I tend to judge myself pretty harshly.  My biggest struggle with the Compassion project has been to try to refrain from judging others.  Yet, somehow, I never really looked at those two things as connected.  Probably because the majority of the time, I don't see holding myself to a strict standard as a bad thing.

        And in some ways, it's not.  But it is a really interesting thought.  I expect a lot from myself, and that is my motivation for accomplishing as much as I do.  Generally, if someone doesn't have the same education as I do, work out the way I do, eat the way I do, I don't judge them for that.  People are different.  Ok, so I judge a little on the eating thing.  A little.  I'm working on it ;-).  But if I fail to do something I meant to do; if I fall behind on my cases; if I go a week without running, I can be pretty hard on myself.

       This isn't coming out clearly.  I feel like I've already contradicted myself.  Let me try to simplify my problem here:  I don't generally come down, in my mind, on others for failing to do things I would come down on myself for failing to do in any area where I recognize that I have unusually high standards for myself.  BUT, I do tend to judge people when they do things I would not do, or violate what I consider to be low standards.

      For instance my unabashed disapproval of aldulterers.  For as long as I can remember having any real opinions on relationships, since I was a teenager at least, I have had a very deep seated disdain for people who committ adultery.  I've run on about it here on the blog a few times.  You can click on Adultery or Cheating over in my cloud at the right to read some of my vitriole on it.  I just always saw adultery as a base and obvious demonstration of extreme ego-centrism as well as the worst kind of betrayal - one committed only for the gratification of the betrayer.  I also saw it as a cowerdly way to avoid one's own inner demons.

       Judgy, right?

      Obviously.  And, in all honesty, I still feel that way.  But I also own up to the fact that I have done things in my life that some adulterers would consider far worse.  I don't know what off hand, but people are different, and what one person considers a mortal sin, so to speak, others might see as a minor character flaw.  Perhaps someone I might judge for adultery may think I am the worst kind of person because I am adamantly pro-choice?

       I also recognize that while I disapprove of adultery and hold my beliefs about it, that doesn't mean my take on it is correct in all cases.  No one wakes up in the morning intending to make "bad" decisions.  Even people who do horrible, aweful things are coming from a place where they feel like what they are doing is right.  Does it make the things they're doing ok?  No, not always.  I still think adultery is wrong even if the person who did it doesn't think they were wrong.  But that person did what they felt was right for their life at the time. 

       It hasn't taken me much to stop instinctually judging in most cases.  My immediate reactions to people and situations really have changed A LOT in the few months I have been following this path.  But there remain a few areas in which I struggle:  Abusers of animals and people, and people who are themselves lacking compassion.

       I think it's pretty easy to identify why it's hard to refrain from judging abusers.  It horrifies and sickens me to see anyone inflicting suffering on another.  In the case of human on human abuse, I'm getting better and remembering that the abuser is usually acting out of some very deep and horrifying pain of their own.  That doesn't mean the abuse is ok.  It's not.  It needs to be stopped immediately.  But I feel that both the victim and the abuser deserve healing.  I'm not saying punishment is out of the question, but I do think healing is a more effective long term fix.  And something all people deserve.

      I'm not totally there on animal abusers.  I'm not sure why.  It's harder to identify a pain there, for me.  It sickens me, and really makes me jump in the punishment direction.  I'm working on it.  And donating money to the ASPCA.

      Then there are people lacking in Compassion.  It is the wierdest side effect to my Compassion project:  The more I become able to refrain from judging, to feel empathy and compassion and give people the benefit of the doubt, the shorter my patience becomes for those who can't.

      I am having the greatest struggle with a current client.  She came to me seeking a divorce.  He husband has recently begun suffering from a very extreme mental disorder.  She told me her story, and my heart immediately went out to her husband.  His suffering is obvious and very, very sad.  Living with him, though, has been very hard for her (I keep reminding myself).  She doesn't want to put up with it.  She wants out, and she wants to know "what she can get from him."  She feels it is her due (not an uncommon issue in my office).

       My problem with this:  She seems very entitled.  She seems not to care one tiny little bit about the obvious pain and suffering of her husband.  They haven't been married very long. She seems to have believed that marrying a Marine meant she would get to stop working and spend all her time riding horses.  That seems to be her biggest problem with the divorce.  She seems to be a heartless, conceited, self indulgent bitch.

      See how well my not judging people is coming?  HA!

      I promise, this is a very special case.  I have MOUNTAINS of clients right now, and this is the only one I can't seem to find a decent scrap of empathy for.  I know that she must have had a hard time living with him.  I've been close to mental illness in my life and I've been in horrible relationships.  I know that my view of her actions and opinions and marriage is my outside view tempered by my own feelings.  I remind myself every time I speak to her (which is a LOT because she also seems to think that as her attorney, I'm at her beck and call to do all sorts of tasks that have nothing to do with the case, ahem...). 

     It's wierd.  Someone says something mean to me; I'm able to stop and think about why they said it, where they're coming from, that maybe they're having a bad day.  But this client, whose only "sin" is her seeming failure to care about anyone other than herself, continues to be the trickling hole in my non-judging dam.

      This is definitely something I will need to explore further in my meditations on myself and on Compassion.  I'm sure it is some sort of mirroring or projection issue.

      Well, this post didn't really go where I expected it to.  I thought this would be the only post on Step 3, but since I barely hit on a fraction of the Step 3 topics, it looks like there will be at least 2 posts on Step 3.

Monday, April 9, 2012


     We are back from an absolutely wonderful trip.  I'm going to wait to do a full post on it until I have some of the photos uploaded (so who knows when that will get done!), but we are back safe and sound.

       I knocked out tons of work right before I left and took my caseload down to only a couple of cases, so with any luck I'll have a couple of days to ease back into the swing of things.  Of course, I ususally don't have any luck, so that probably won't happen.

      Things are about to start picking up around here, I think.  Yes, I said "start picking up" like things haven't already been mad busy for the last month or two.  The thing is, I had finally gotten used to the pace and adapted to the schedule.  Last night MacGyver and I were settling in to have a glass of wine after we put the kids to bed - after driving straight through the night Saturday night and only a couple hour nap for me when we got home - and MacGyver commented that he didn't know how I was doing it. 

        "I suppose I'm just used to it," was the best answer I could come up with.  Really, I'm sure it has to do with the fact that MacGyver drove the whole way, so while I was awake the vast majority of the trip, I wasn't driving, which is a lot more draining.  And I am just used to it.  If Flintstone's up, I have to be up whether I've had enough sleep or not.  I can't just take a day off work or mommy-ing to catch up on sleep.  And dragging myself around wallowing in how tired I am doesn't help anything. 

       Of course, now that I'm accustomed to things, everything is going to pick up again.  I'm starting to expect that this will continue to be the way things go until either a) I retire; b) I finally give up and go off grid, or c) I die.

      My surgery is looming (and I'm rather terrified and secretly convinced that I'm going to die).  After my surgery, I'll come back to the new job as the MOJO.  I'll also be getting a new boss, who I'm told is a total hard-ass, hyper-Christian*, and not a fan of women.  Whoopee.  And then, in a year, I'm supposed to be moving on to the next phase of my life and career - a different job in a different city.  So in the midst of being MOJO, I'll also have to do that whole resume' writing, job hunting, life considering thing.  And I still really want to have another baby as soon as possible, though waiting until after next year might be the most mature thing to do.  We'll see.  I'd rather not wait.

       So that's where we stand now.  Lots of stuff lining up just ahead of me.  But for today, I'm taking my time getting settled in, and looking forward to catching up on all your blogs!


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