Ugg…my brain…

I keep thinking, “Oh! Wait! I’ll write about that today!” Then I open the word doc and lose the thought or think it’s just too negative to write about. It’s one of those days!

Here’s what I’m going with today. It’s a comment I made on Facebook to a friend. We were talking about the new bill in California to do away with bail.

I’m not sure about this. Bail is also set on your circumstances, higher bail for higher flight risk and financial ability. I don’t think this bill will really help anyone. All it does is put bail bonds people out of work. That’s a lot of money out of the economy, bail money doesn’t go to the court unless you skip it. But the bill does help poor people not have to pay a bail bondsman to be out of jail while waiting for trial.

My experience? I was accused of a violent crime and my bail was set at $50K. I had three choices: stay in jail until trial (which would have been one year away from my babies and without working my job), get the bail money and get it back when I get to court, or take a bail loan from a bondsman and lose 10% of that money when I go to court.

$5K is a lot of money to lose along with paying for a lawyer. We were lucky enough to have family that could loan us the bail and not charge interest.

So, I can see why eliminating monetary bail would be a positive…but…this bill is so vague about how they will keep people from skipping court instead of having to return for their money. Like I said, they already set a bail amount by judging your flight risk and the accusations against you, whether or not you might hurt someone else while waiting for trial or influence the case against you.

And then later on in the conversation, this thought came to me.

The easier you make it to for the police and courts to convict a criminal, the harder you make it for the innocent to acquit themselves of the accusations made against them. That’s when you have people with more money getting a better deal than the poor. AND the court only counts an arrest as good if someone is convicted, not if the crime stops or is solved. It doesn’t matter who goes to jail, just that someone does.

It’s not that police and the justice system are evil, it’s that we’ve lost sight of their purpose and that they are fallible. And we’ve lost sight of the reasons for our rights.

I’d rather see a criminal go free than an innocent in jail. It’s hard but it’s the way she goes.

Research?

What if your whole life is just one big research project for someone else? You don’t know who they are or what they are looking for. You just need to gather information as you go and be ready to pass it along at any moment. It’d probably be a good idea to take notes, journal, photos, etc. as you go.

Would you live differently? Would you have different expectations? I know I’d probably keep better records of my experience. Maybe I’d consider every interaction a possible “ah-ha” moment for someone out there.

Makes me look at my day in a totally different light.

Mile Markers

The past few days have been weird for me. I feel a little lost, a little worried about the future. Talking to my son this morning, who’s having the same feelings thousands of miles away, I told him it’s just a transition time. He has a set date for something to happen and beyond that is the unknown, like graduation. Strangely enough, it seems to be that time of year as well. The summer is slowly shifting into fall. That’s when I realized that my son and I are sitting in the same boat with lines on the other side.

Transitions come often in life and only end when we’re dead. I believe that’s the ultimate transition! We’re all gradually changing in small ways every day. Our lives transform from child to teen to young adult, suddenly we’re married, a parent, and then a grandparent. It’ll happen that fast if you don’t take the time and space to be aware of it.

It’s one thing to sit with your current life and think, yes, this is nice, or no, things need to change. But there are times in our lives when we’re hyper-award of the coming changes and that’s where we get stuck in anxiety and fear of the future. The first time I remember that happening to me was around my high school graduation. Up until that point, every day was planned for me. I had little choice but to go to school each day but soon that would all change. I’d be in control of my own life from then on. I’d have to choose whether to find work and an apartment of my own or remain with my parents, to choose college classes or work more hours at my job. It all was set to begin on that last day of high school.

That day loomed ahead of me like a mile marker in time. It seemed to cause my life to slow down to a crawl. That day would never come! I was bored and exhausted with my current high school life. I wanted to start my something new now, to jump headlong into my future! And then suddenly that mile marker would rush forward and be just within reach. I would panic, and a flood of worries would wash over me. Would I make the right choices? Would I find work? Would I screw it all up irreversibly and ruin my life? Isn’t there some way to extend childhood, to have the security of parents and still have the freedom of being an adult? I’d spend every moment that I wasn’t at work or school in my bed, sleeping the stress off.

The transition came in time. I don’t know how it happened. It just did. Time has a funny way of marching on, nothing seems to be able to stop it. Some days I was on top of the world and some I felt like the world was rolling over me.

I tried college and work. I tried new relationships, friends and lovers. I got fired. I found a new job. I left college. I moved in with my grandparents. I found my own place. I considered big moves and changed my mind. I tried new careers. I got hungry. I got my heart broken. I broke people’s hearts.

And then…a new transition. I met my husband. And the whole thing started over again. Twenty years later, I’m looking at the mile marker ahead again. It’s like looking out the window of your car and seeing a billboard up ahead. It’s too far away to read it, the print is too small. You wait and watch for it to get closer and then just as the words come into focus it zooms past and it behind you. Damn. What’s that one up ahead?

Words

I’m having a hard time putting all these whirling thoughts into words this week. Ideas keep spinning around me and I feel they are linked together somehow in a bigger picture, yet I can’t seem to organize them into a coherent thought. I think I’ll just sit with them for now and watch them dance.

Joy. Awareness. Connection. Jesus. Love. Peace. Liberty. Acceptance. Thought. Study. Rest. Nationalism. Pride. Self-Respect. Confidence. Old friends. Music. Sex. Conversation.

Still sitting with them. Feeling distracted and unfocused.

There’s No Time!

What gets in the way of writing? Or really anything that we feel really want to or should do to better ourselves? It seems we all have that thing, that project that we really think would be a great service to the world if we just got it done but then, for some reason, don’t find the time to do. “Life gets in the way!” we say. Facebook posts, a tv show, or in my case, blank staring out into space, takes up the little time we have to pursue those goals, no matter how lofty our ambitions.

Yesterday, I decided to give up getting any physical work done. I was exhausted from the previous days outdoor activities and just needed to rest. Of course, I chose to start a new book! I started a little “light reading”, “Utopia” by Sir Thomas More. Written in 1520 in LATIN and translated into English in 1550, this book is not an easy read, but the subject matter interests me and I’ve heard it’s a great book. This is going to be one that takes my full concentration to interpret due to the old language. Within a few pages, I have already received a gift from 500 years in the past!

Read this passage! It’s difficult but you’ll get the gist, I promise!

“Howbeit, to the dispatching of this so little business my other cares and troubles did leave almost less than no leisure. Whiles I do daily bestow my time about law matters, some to plead, some to hear, some as an arbitrator with mine award to determine, some as an umpire or a judge with my sentence to discuss; whiles I go one way to see and visit my friend, another way about my own private affairs; whiles I spend almost all the day abroad among others and the residue at home among mine own, I leave to myself, I mean to my book, no time. For when I am home, I must common with my wife, chat with my children, and talk with my servants, all the which things I reckon and account among business, for as much as they must of necessity be done, and done must they needs be, unless a man will be a stranger in his own house.”

Did you get that? Once again, I’m reminded that there is nothing new under the sun. Seriously. Reaching back into the distant past, I pull up “I’m so busy with work and family, that I have no time for myself!” You just have to love that.

He did finish the book though. I know that because I’m reading it! How many other people didn’t finish their book though? How many finished it and never had it published? How many had them published and we’ve forgotten all about them? But this one made it through the time machine. This one has come through to say to us, “Peace, brothers. All is as it always has been. Take a breath and keep trying.”

I’m off to put at least few minutes into my book today!

It’s Over?

I don’t usually post in the evening, especially on the weekends, but while making dinner and listening to my husband and son play guitars together, I stopped. I listened. Just for a moment I let the music, music from people I love dearly wash over me. I longed for the members of the family missing; those that are gone from this world, those living outside our sight for the time being, and those I know would love to listen in amazement. I remembered a paragraph of my book that I really wanted to blog about. I made a note on my computer to write about it on Monday morning, but here it is again. Someone must need to hear it.

It seems that “awareness” is a buzz word these days and I’m completely on board. I love seeing t-shirts with “WOKE AF” on them. I want one. It’s something I think we all take for granted, being aware. We come to an end of a week, season, or year and think “Wow! What happened?” “It’s Christmas again? Already?” “Wasn’t your son just a baby last week? And now he’s running after girls?” We hear it every day. It’s hard in the constant spin in this world to keep track of what’s happening around us. It’s hard to even watch a movie or eat a meal without attempting to multitask, to get more done in that hour or two. I watch my sons worry about their future, trying to make a plan, and I tell them to stop and enjoy today. It’ll all change soon.

Can we slow down time by being aware of its passing? Probably not, but we can certainly try. We can draw out specific moments, maybe write them down to savor. I feel like I should have taken time to write more down. At least I took more pictures. I wish more of them had me in them. Most of my pictures, my children will be able to say “Mom took this one. That’s why she’s not in it.” It makes me appreciate selfies. They bring us all in the photo.

I finished “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” this morning. I wanted to slow down and savor each page, but I just couldn’t stop myself from rushing to the end. Part of me wanted to read a chapter a day and move on to something else, maybe I will with the next book. Maybe, instead of reading for an hour from one book, I’ll have several books and read one chapter from each. Same time spent, same number of books read, but I can make the story last longer.

Towards the end of the book, this paragraph struck me. I stopped and read it twice. I cried, and I put the book down to get another cup of coffee to think. I read it to my son when he woke up. I want to print it out and post in on my fridge to remind me.

“Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me gay; let me be sad. Let me cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

Touching isn’t it? God, let me live every minute as if it is all I have, because it is. Let me taste my breakfast, let me feel the pain, let me revel in joy. Let me remember the dreams of my subconscious. Let me really live, not just trudge through to the end and on my deathbed think, “It’s over? Already?”

Homeschooled!

We homeschooled all the way through high school! Yep. We did it.

I’m not surprised that we continued to homeschool through high school. It was the plan from the start really. I was open to changes along the way and we did make some adjustments over the years, but whether the road was rough or smooth, whenever we looked at another road, the road that formal school was on, just didn’t seem to fit. What has really struck me is how early and quickly my sons have moved toward independence.

Let me start by saying we have used an eclectic style that started with “attachment parenting” and moved into a leadership education model. The leadership education model was really for me. It’s what I’ve been doing for myself the last twelve years and my children benefitted from my personal education journey by getting to hear my stories, hear me read books aloud, and knowing first hand what a love of learning looked like. I didn’t “teach” them when they were younger. We decided to delay any academics and allow them to be children. We helped them with the projects they took on, took them places that looked interesting, spent lots of days exploring the world. It was a magical time and I only wish I was aware of how short that time would be while I was in it.

As they grew, we took more of a “radical unschooling” approach. Our home had no hard and fast rules. We used no formal curriculum. We spent our days much like we would if the kids were on vacation. We went places like zoos, museums, and camping trips. We read books, watched tv, went to the movies, and played video games. We met with other homeschool friends and had parties.

The traditional “school subjects” were “offered” as required by our state, but we offered them in very different ways and they weren’t required to study them. Language Arts was offered through books and games. Science through museums, experiments, and videos. History through movies, tv, and historical sites. Math through cooking, games, and other adventures that needed basic math skills. It was often hard to tell the difference between on subject and another.  Many project encompassed all the school subjects at the same time. Once my sons hit their teens they took on a new sport, motocross. They bought old bikes, fixed them up, found out about race tracks, and we’ve been supporting them through that for the last four years. Most of their “education” has been centered on that sport since then.

All of this has been pretty expected and a slow and steady progression for all of us. And then they turned sixteen!

At fifteen and half they were chomping at the bit to get a driver’s license. They took the online class and the behind the wheel through a private company in town, made an appointment one day after their sixteenth birthday and came home with a license. That was the first test they ever took.

At sixteen they began looking for work. The oldest lucked out when a restaurant opened in town and they had a mass hire. He worked there for about six months and saved most of the money. He had a plan to visit Europe when he turned seventeen and nothing was going to stop him. Both the boys learned German and French through free online apps. The week before his seventeenth birthday he took off for a two-week trip on his own. I’ve never been so terrified. The boy had never spent the night away from home! But he had the whole thing planned out, the ticket, a place to stay, a cell phone that would work. Long story short, he ended up volunteering on a farm, deciding to stay a year, and going through immigration for a work permit. I made him a diploma from our own high school and emailed a “permission slip” for his immigration papers. At the time I write this, he’s not yet eighteen. He’ll be back in a few months with his new girlfriend and they’ll be finding ways to start their lives together here.

The youngest has a different path so far. He’s still looking for work. It’s no small task in a small town. He’s been doing odd jobs for a neighbor for cash. He’s taken up reading, guitar, and 3D modeling. He enrolled in the community college and will start classes in a couple weeks. When he took the assessment tests for the college, he tested into college English and almost into college Algebra. Not bad at all. He’s still considered a high school student for this semester because I was under the impression that high school “dual enrollment” students could take some classes for free, but it turns out that’s only at the big city schools. That’s ok though. He enrolled as a private high school student with no trouble. I made him traditional transcripts and he’s taken on the responsibility just fine.

So here I am. One kid graduated and out in the world. One almost so with one foot in college. They seem happy and well adjusted, almost normal. I say almost because they are very different from kids their age and they are very much “nerds” by any standard. Homeschooling works. You don’t need a curriculum. You don’t need oversight. You don’t need to fight and argue with your kids. You can just live with them, support their dreams, treat them like roommates, and they will eventually just take off.