Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Feel (too much)

This tree is the reason I am writing this little post. That was the tree in front of my home as it stood yesterday. This morning it is gone.

And I cried. A lot. I've cried now and then since they put the fucking orange ribbon of death around it. I cried this morning as the tree cutting dudes were hanging outside my front window, revving up their chainsaws and taking this tree down.

The property owners of this complex are very money-oriented. Not people-oriented. They have gone on a tree chopping spree this week, stating that trees are dangerous. This is a very wooded property, a fact that they use as a selling point in their adverts. They have removed 50% of their tree population since I moved here 5 years ago. They do not care about resident input. They don't care. They have not replanted a single tree, despite promises over the years. But, this isn't about them. It's about me.

How many of you read the words above, where I stated that I cried? Do you think I'm nuts for crying over trees? It's okay, I'm totally used to it. I have a strong connection to nature and I get upset when it's harmed. Personally, I wish I wasn't this way.

I have always been very sensitive to other people, animals, and nature. I tend to take on a lot of feelings. I think they call that being an empath....but I don't know much about that. All I know is that I have been like this since I was a tiny child. I have a boatload of compassion in my heart. I want to fix all the things. I want to save people in trouble, save animals in danger, save trees, save land. And it hurts me - HARD - when I cannot do it. I dislike feeling powerless when I cannot help.

In the case of animals and nature, I have just always loved and respected them. I grew up being taught to respect nature, especially by my dad. He always told me it is extremely important to take care of and respect the planet and all of her creatures. So, I have. When I see trees bulldozed for a development or an animal squashed on the side of the road, I feel pretty sad. Sometimes, I have an overwhelming sense of doom when I think about all the development going on, all of the habitat loss and environmental damage done on a daily basis. While I find great joy in nature, I also feel great sadness when it's harmed.

There are many times I wish I didn't care. It would be a nice weight off my shoulders.

I wish I could pump my fists in the air and yell, "YAY DEVELOPMENT!!!" I wish I could chant, "drill, baby, drill." I wish I could feel zero when I see trees plowed down. I wish I could have watched them chop down my tree, shrugging my shoulders, and going about my day like it didn't make a difference. I wish I could pass by a dead or injured animal and not even think about it for a moment. I wish I could hear stories of people suffering or living in poverty and just move along, focusing on just my own needs and not worrying about theirs. There are so many people who are disconnected, who couldn't give a shit if a tree gets cut down or a family goes without food or a herd of deer just lost their habitat. They don't care if we frack and drill the shit out of this continent. They don't care if 2,000 acres of forest becomes yet another strip mall with a nail salon, UPS store, and GameStop. It must be so nice to be disconnected from the world, unfeeling. It must be nice to keep dries eyes and a hard heart. You don't have to worry about reality being in your face and challenging your compassion. I would like to take my compassion and flush it down the toilet.

Feeling connected, feeling like we are all here for one another and should take care of each other and this planet is hard on my heart. I have so much love and that love brings great sadness when I see pain in another person or destruction in nature. Compassion means "to suffer with," and I wish I could shut that off and freeze my heart, thinking only of myself. Compassion means you can give great love, but you are also capable of feeling great sadness and pain for others. I want to disconnect. How easy it would be!


Is it truly easier to disconnect yourself from humanity and nature? As much as I wish I could simply not care, I cannot imagine NOT caring. It's a constant battle within myself. While I'm known among my friends for being like this, they do not know that I struggle with it. They don't know there are many days where I wish I could just flip a switch and not give a shit. I won't give a shit if you call me names. I won't give a shit if you judge me. I won't give a shit if you make fun of my shoes or my shirt. See? I have plenty of practice with not giving a shit about certain things. I will give a shit if you chop down my tree. I'll give a shit if you dislike poor people. I'll give a shit if you intentionally harm animals.

I can't imagine myself any other way. What would I be like? Would it truly be easier to not care? Would I like myself as a person....would that even matter?

In the end, as much as it hurts me to give a shit, I still choose to give a shit about these things that are important to me and the world. I wish it didn't hurt as much, but I wouldn't wish to be anyone else, no matter how simple being aloof seems to be.

For now, all I can do to ease the pain is to be the the change I want to see in the world. I have no choice, but to be the good, spread that goodness, and hopefully have others follow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Frozen Toes, Warm Hearts. Or Something Like That

Copyright 2014 JSH
The frozen white stuff that falls from the sky, oh we have so much of it. So much fucking snow.

I live in Pennsylvania. It's Winter. Winter in Pennsylvania brings cold temperatures, gloomy skies, frozen white stuff, winds, cold rain. It's expected. Every few years, sometimes several in a row, we get hammered in the Winter. We get storm after storm bringing us snow, sleet, freezing rain, and any other type of frozen precipitation. And brutal cold. This is one of those years. Mama Nature has gone all dramatic with the Winter weather. We've had a constant stream of storms dumping this frozen white shit all over our lawns and streets. We even had an ice storm, which brought down many trees and power lines in this area - the worst natural disaster here since Hurricane Sandy. There are many reasons for this extreme active weather pattern, which also included the Polar Vortex drooping down over half the country like a big saggy frozen boob - there are pressure systems off the East Coast that keep other pressure systems close to the coast, allowing cold air to travel down to us and naughty storms to keep following the same pattern. There's the Jet Stream, which is pretty much just on "lather, rinse, repeat" this year. We've got Climate Change. It's really a thing. Generally, there is a typical interplay of all these systems and atmospheric streams on this planet that control which way storms go, how low temps go, and how fucking batshit crazy we'll go after we've been locked in our frozen homes for the 5th consecutive week. Also, because Obama. Just kidding.

We've had so much damn snow that I, a lover of my gentle Mother Earth, am about to shake my fist at the heavens and scream, "bitch, we ain't the cast of Frozen! Knock this shit off." My son has missed a ton of school. I have lost count of all of the snow days they've had, not to mention the early dismissals and late openings. They have a lot of days to make up. Our last storm, just a few days ago, dumped a foot of snow on us and resulted in two days off from school. Even my 7 year old son rolled his eyes at the forecast, stating that he is sick and tired of snow days. You know it's bad when the kids are complaining. There are only so many crafts, baking activities, and snowman building outings that you can do. Worse, this snow has resulted in about two months worth of rent lost in income. That is bad for a family like mine. While I respect the forces of nature, I'm also ready to get this frozen shit show on the road and get on with some which point I'll be hiding under my bed because of thunderstorms.

My kids have gone out and built so many snowmen and little igloos. We've sledded down the hill hundreds of times. We've thrown snowballs. We've run inside for hot chocolate and tea to warm up our frozen fingers. With the first few snowfalls, you bundle up merrily and run outside with your kids, snapping a billion pictures of every sled trip down the hill and every stage of building a snowman. By the 17th snow storm, complete with 18 inches of snow and ice layered on the ground, you drag yourself out in your pajama pants and boots, and tell your husband to grab a pic from the window with his phone. Snow is so love/hate for me. It's pretty to look at. I love the fact that my kids have such a blast in it. I'm just over it this year. I also believe that I suffer from SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have noticed it for the past few Winters. My mood and my energy level can get quite low during the Winter. I need sun. I am solar powered. Even on the coldest day, if that sunshine comes out, I'm running outside of my front door and spinning around in those golden rays of warmth - until I realize I'm only wearing a sports bra and my yoga pants with the hole in the crotch and that my nipples are indeed frozen solid.

I want to tell you that I spend every snow day curled up with a cozy blanket by the fire, book in one hand and piping hot cup of coffee in the other, warm fuzzy socks peeking out from under the blanket, and a cat on my lap. Such an Instagram moment. I want to tell you that my kids and I spend hours on those days creating all different kinds of crafts out of ecru cardstock, neon sharpies, and organic rose petals, while the aroma of various baked goods filled our home with warmth and sugary love. It's just not the reality. We've got cabin fever, yo, and we all out for blood.

Sure, we've done some crafts. I've got plenty of $1.00 sticky foam craft packs from A.C. Moore to entertain two kids for at least 6 minutes. My son is super artistic and can spend hours at a time working on a drawing or creating something out of things he found in the recycling bin. However, there is a two year old involved and, though she fancies herself an artist, crayons, paper, and stickers will only hold her attention for so long before someone melts down. While I have picked up a book this season, I only read for 5 minute spurts before someone is screaming, "mmmmaaaaaaaaaammmmmaaaaaaaa!!!!" or my two year old  runs in without her pants to inform me that her poop missed the bowl and she stepped in it. We've definitely baked a bit this Winter, so I guess that gets me a nod from Pinterest.

I won't lie - my kids have watched more T.V. than any self-respecting member of Mothering would approve of. I could probably act out quite a few episodes of Curious George or Barney in my sleep. And I sit there, feeling guilty, because nothing that we are doing would be worthy of a white-washed and over saturated Instagram photo or a Pin to someone's "Comfy, Cozy, Family Snow Day" board. I worry that I'm not doing enough for my kids while they're stuck home for another snow day. We're not doing enough crafts. We're not baking enough muffins. I'm not making enough soup in my crock pot (because I don't own one). My house isn't as clean as everyone says it should be when you're spending so much time indoors. In fact, it's trashed....because my kids are wild savages. The guilt seeps in. Dear God, I'm not a good enough mom because I didn't do an ice particle home study with my kids and we didn't create snowman crafts out of organic cotton balls picked by sparkle fairies. Fuck that shit. My cure for mom guilt - getting the hell outside, getting into nature, even if it's a vast gloomy frozen fuckhole at the moment.

Being outside always heals me. To be completely cliché, nature is my Church. I find so much spiritual fulfillment outside in nature. Even in the Winter, when everything is frozen over, half-dead, and gray, I still find beauty. There are birds and other critters who only visit in Winter. Some are here year round, but are more active in the Winter. Winter brings owl humping season, and we occasionally hear the love calls of Great Horned owls. The foxes around here are very active in Winter and their ...ummm.... unique calls are frequent this time of year. Getting outdoors allows me to calm my brain a little bit, focus on simple things such as the color of the sky, clouds, little signs of Spring in the scenery around me. It just helps to ground me.

This Winter, when I have those crappy guilt feelings and I'm out of craft ideas and tolerance for Barney tunes, I grab the winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and boots and pack the kids up in the car and drive to one of our favorite parks. We're typically among very few at the park during this time of year, especially when there in snow on the ground. We walk on some paved trails, which are never plowed or shoveled after snow, and then we veer off onto the regular dirt trails. My kids love being out there. They love he change of snow scenery. Instead of snowmen, forts, snowballs and all of the things you do when playing in your yard, they just walk through the snow, taking in all the sites, noticing how the snow changes the landscape and the shape of trees and bushes. They are fascinated by frozen streams, ponds, and lakes. A bonus with snow is animal tracks - it's so much easier to see them, even on a frozen lake. They enjoy trying to figure out which critter made which tracks. I make it a learning experience, but not forcefully so. I let them wander and walk ahead of me (always safely in sight), exploring, and I occasionally remark about something - a sign of spring, a bird we only see in Winter (Junco), vegetation that stays green all year, different berries, etc. They learn, but with ease and without pressure. The wintertime scene in the woods is different than Summer - obviously - as it's quieter, sometimes more serene, not as full of people. You can listen to the sounds of the various birds, or of water cracking the icy surface of a stream, without trying to filter through tons of human voices. It's nice. Peaceful.

So even though it's the same frozen white shit that we have at home, my kids get a change of scenery, I get to refresh myself and clear my brain, and we all get some exercise. Bonus, the 2 year old usually passes out for a good nap on the car ride home.

Outside: You should go there.

Copyright 2014 JSH I will cut you

Friday, February 14, 2014

365 Feminist Selfie: Week 6 of Embracing My Selfie

Happy Valentine's Day!

What a treat for you. I just did a selfie catch up post yesterday and now you get a brand new one today. Come on, admit that you're happy to see so much about my face.

The apparent theme this week is nail polish. I think there's a shot of polish in the majority of the pictures. You see it in the pictures and I wrote about it - I fucking love nail polish. Totally not crunchy. Bright, obnoxious colors make me happy. Painting my nails in bright obnoxious colors makes me super happy. In fact, when I'm done writing this, I'm going to paint my nails again. Okay, that's a lie. I have to drag my kids out to play in the snow and then I'll do my nails.

I joined a Facebook group for the #365feministselfie challenge. I now feel less alone.

This pic on the left. I only did that to show you my nails. Love that color.

Nails again! And a ring. I also LOVE big obnoxious rings. I have many. That right there is my favorite glass filled with my favorite beverage, water. That glass was part of a set of four. Sadly, this is the last one standing. They all had cute little pictures and happy sayings on theme. I am actually quite sad that they have been broken and wish I could find them again. I got them at Target back when we got married...almost 10 years ago, so the hopes of seeing them out in some thrift shop are pretty low.


This one says, "Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you'll land among the stars."


One of 9578795738573985398457347237464387590584906349763475 times in a day when I will have a conversation on my daughter's toy phone.

Also, crow's feet. Because I am wise.

It doesn't matter if I'm not ready to wake up yet. A certain someone will make sure I keep my eyes open, even if she has to smoosh her feet into my face.

No matter what, I have not been able to become a morning person.

My second favorite beverage in the world - coffee. Dear God, I love coffee.

Coffee is actually prescribed to me by my cardiologist. I have a condition known as Neurocardiogenic Syncope. It's a fancy way of saying I am prone to passing out when I stand for too long because my brain and heart don't communicate. My blood pressure it always low. My doc said a cup of coffee a day can keep the faints away by boosting my blood pressure just a wee bit. We want to keep me off meds.

The travel mug is a love. It's stainless steel on the inside. I won't use plastic. However, I actually hate the look of stainless steel. It's so cold and blah. Purple is my favorite color and this mug makes me happy.

Also - nail polish and sexy glasses and eyebrows that are desperate for a waxing.

As I said, I joined a Facebook group for participants in the #365feministselfie challenge. There was a suggested theme of highlighting your favorite activity along with a mini theme of duck lips.

Y'all, I make such ridiculous duck lips.

One of my most favorite activities is Tribal Belly Dance. ITS, if you want to get specific. Here I am, playing with my zills. I never ever thought I would "get" zills. The first time we tried them in class, I was certain I was doomed. My teacher said they become part of muscle memory and, before you know it, you end up playing them without thinking, changing the rhythms with certain moves. She was right. These are my only pair so far - Nefertiti by Saroyan.

The Muppets poster belongs to my son. Who doesn't love the Muppets? Said poster is - oh I forget the word for it - you know, that hologrammy, 3-D stuff - so the reflection of my camera flash on it makes it look like lightening is shooting out of my ears.

I have a home management binder. I just put it together a few days ago. I am attempting to be just a wee bit more organized, especially since it benefits my son, who has OCD.

The binder itself was a gift - it's super cute and you can find it and other matching stationary items at Target. I have an office supply fetish. No shame. I was also given a pencil case, which I use for crochet hooks, and an eyeglass case, which now holds those sexy beasts a few photos above this.

I found printables online and on Pinterest to fill my binder.

I just noticed that this is the only picture this week that features my hair down. I do ponytails way too often. My hair is so super fine and thin and does not hold styles well. I just failed at sock buns the other day. It's also wavystraightcurly. We have a love/hate relationship.

That's it for this week! Hope you all are feeling the love on this Valentine's Day.

If you want to read my previous #365feministselfie posts, check here:

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Weeks Four and Five Combined

The post from Viva La Feminista that inspired me can be found RIGHT HERE.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

365 Feminist Selfie: Weeks 4 and 5 of Embracing My Selfie

Here we are again. Okay, we're here kinda late. I am way late on updating my selfie posts. I had some technical trouble on the blogspot end. It was having a heart attack when I tried to upload photos and move them around. It wouldn't save. It was a mess. And then I was busy. So, I skipped to weeks.

Have no fear! I still took a selfie everyday and I'll be sharing them in this post. I won't post all of the ones from those two weeks, just because I don't want to blow up your computer with an image heavy post. So, these are the highlights.

These selfies have been sad because I'm realizing I don't like many of my pictures due to my skin. I had been doing so well when I had the money to mix my own concoctions, eat well, and remain a little less stressed. Life has been very hard lately, money is not existent. Between the stress, the inability to make my homemade stuff, and the inability to eat a clean diet, my skin and my overall health has been a complete wreck. But......I'm honest. The pics you see of me are me. No filters. No play.

Smiling and happy because the sun was out. Me and Winter, while I respect the change of the seasons, do not mix well. I am a Leo. The Sun is mine. I am solar-powered. Countless days of cold and gloom really get to me. I'm sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. This Winter has been particularly difficult because it's been constant snow storms. I like the snow somewhat. It's pretty. It's fun to play in. I love that my kids love it and have fun in it. We're often the only ones in our neighborhood that are actually outside playing and sledding, which I find sorta sad. Still, the snow is overkill this Winter and has had a negative effect on our already dismal financial situation as it disrupts my husband's jobs. We've lost over $1,000 - probably close to $2,000 due to snow. So, fuck snow.

Additionally, this is one of my favorite sweaters. I was given a NY&Co gift certificate this Christmas and got this sweater on super duper sale.

You'll notice that I'm almost always wearing the same things. I tend to rotate between three shirts for lounging around the house.

It's hard to tell in this photo, but I'm finishing up a book. Behind me are my super awesome curtains. I love color. Lots of color makes me very happy.

Waiting for my husband while he runs into the grocery store. My reflection on my car window.

There is zero reason for this other than I thought it looked cool.

And now blogspot is being an asshole again and will not let me type this next to my photo. Asshole. Anyway, just pretty me. My super fine and thin hair, right there.

This is really annoying that it will no longer let me format in my way. Smudging away! That was for Imbolc. I smudge my house on all important dates of the year. All the Sabbats, all season changes, whenever I feel the need, and when I do a big cleaning or decluttering. Since I'm in the midst of another decluttering spree and it was Imbolc, a nice sage smudging was in order. 

Since I have been over-stressed and not eating as well, I have suspected that my thyroid has been feeling like shit. I monitor my basal temps throughout the day. They are shitty. Generally, sitting under 97.60 can indicate thyroid stress. I've typically been in the 96.00 range. This temp, 97.2somthing was one of my highest. 

Thus wraps up another post for the #365feministselfie challenge. If you'd like to see my other posts on the subject, check out these links.

And for the original post by Viva La Feminista that inspired it, check here:

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