Saturday, March 08, 2014

I Like That

In Hawaii I learned the expression no shame. It can be used sarcastically... a ribbing when someone maybe should could have a little shame. But it can also carry the laid back, Island tone that says, Hey, this is what I do, what I like, and I am not embarrassed... I'm going in! No shame.

My friend, Jennifer, posted a link to an article about guilty pleasures on her FB page. The gist of it is (I skimmed it: No shame.)... the gist of it is that we live in a culture that is so tied to guilt and apology, so burdened by should and should not, that we are missing our pleasures. Are guilt and pleasure inherently entwined?

Okay, so I probably should read the entire article before I quote it or promote it, but all I really want to do is open a discussion on what I took away, and I will be superficial and brief, because I really ought to be excavating the kitchen, starting another load of laundry.

When Jennifer's friends saw her link, a thread began in which everyone listed their guilty pleasures. You know those secret, embarrassing, humbling admissions about what you enjoy watching, eating, wearing, doing, when you hope no one is watching? Morsels and pastimes that either feel low-brow, or high-fat, or they're linked to the decline of modern civilization. Pleasures that in an otherwise intelligent conversation you would be loath to defend your choice of, so you don't 'fess up, or you load guilt onto your admission. Why? Yes, sometimes it's good and necessary to be critical, to act with sound convictions, but in the area of harmless fun, stress relief, and simple happiness, why must we always blot our joy with guilt, and shame?

I went back to the post and re-read some of those guilt-free pleasures, their true confessions! Soap operas, reality TV, Dinty Moore Beef Stew, Thin Mints, McDonald's Meal #3, old hymns, Pringles, Bonanza... and more. Honestly, some of them made me think eew, and that made me feel guilty, because THIN MINTS and BONANZA! My secret indulgences, the little things I turn to when the house is empty, or I want to taste my nostalgia for childhood, came to me and I felt embarrassed, and embarrassingly: Hungry! I could really go for corn chips and the little can of cold, spicy bean dip. I don't want to apologize or explain why chips and bean dip are delicious and remind me of trips with my brothers, and being on the back roads of Southern California, oak trees, and mining towns, hiking, fishing, feeding ducks. And don't I want to think eew, because someone loves them some Real Housewives of Nowhere In Particular. It's a knee-jerk reaction, something we're programmed to do when we smell weakness, this notion of deciding a moral hierarchy for amusements. (about the sixth paragraph). I don't need to construct criticism of everything I don't like, acting like my taste in cookies is superior! Thin Mints are delicious and I eat them. Bonanza was a favorite show when I was about nine or ten, and I always loved any episode that featured Adam, the handsomest Cartwright son.

Now, before I list even more of the indulgences that I cannot deny, I want to touch on one more kind of guilt that has been tearing me down. I've been disappointing myself: I make a commitment, or hope to be somewhere for someone, and then I cannot keep the promise, or at least I cannot keep it in a timely manner, and I feel this tremendous guilt and shame, a heavy burden of regret, embarrassment. It's debilitating. I know, this is a different kind of guilt, and the sense of responsibility can be necessary. What I want to do is learn to say, "Life is throwing plot twists at me and I cannot be there-do that because flat tire, sick kid, conflicting obligations, exhaustion, etc... I am sorry." And hope whoever is being let down will understand. I don't need to make excuses, because real issues manage to crop up in life all. the. time, but being sick, or having a flakey car, or needing to help one of my children, as the reason(s) I haven't done a favor or met an obligation makes me feel really, really bad.

I want to let go of that bad feeling and keep moving forward. In the interest of not being a let down to others, I have learned to not overcommit. I am not the room mom, or a board member. But I show up and pitch-in when I can, where I can. Moving forward, I need to bite my tongue, be a realist, and not make offers until I am sure, and even then I will include an addendum: If I can. If I can... I will be there, go there, help there, fix that, make those, bake them, and if I cannot, then I will let go of my shame and guilt, explain, apologize, and start anew. No shame.

Yeah. That's some of what's bouncing around in my head. Do you get bogged down by the things left undone, the commitments you cannot commit to? How do you cope?

Okay... just for fun, no one is looking, the house is empty, it's the end of a long day... and you might find me:

1. Watching a pre-recorded episode of Grey's Anatomy. Medical drama, I love you so!

2. Eating pop-corn covered in nutritional yeast, with a spoon. (Okay, my children will laugh at this and say That's no secret!)

3. Playing Christmas music. In March. July. Early November.

4. In-n-Out: Hamburger, no tomatoes or onions. French fries. 7-Up with a lemon slice.

5. Hoarding fabric.

6. Jane Austen movies.

7. Hoarding greeting cards.

8. Watching an hour's worth of movie trailers.

9. Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest.

10. Taking all of the BuzzFeed Who-What Are You Quizzes!

11. Oh, and the El Pato cans??... just another thing I cannot live without!

No shame, right?

"You’ve got your own boat, too. Now go float it."

Friday, March 07, 2014

Chickens and Blogs and ChickenBlog and Chicken Blogs

In May, this blog, ChickenBlog, will be twelve years old. Time for some deep thoughts, navel gazing, and scratching the surface… on 2,678 occasions I could not resist the compulsion to post something to this blog. I shared What I Think 595 times, but I suppose every post is a bit of what I think, or at least what I thought about. And, happily, there were 541 occasions of feeling, and sharing, my Gratitude. It doesn't surprise me that there aren't more posts about Chickens. I never intended for this blog to be about chickens, not exclusively. In fact, I went six years without even having chickens. I didn't have the foggiest idea what a blog was when Geoff first dragged me whining and ignorant helped me start this blog, and since I had just acquired my very first chickens, (a dream come true) chickens were on my brain all the time! So "ChickenBlog" it was.

In the beginning, my intention in having a blog was to keep in touch with family and friends, to write and write and write, becoming confident and proficient enough to be published, and to secure my place among accomplished adults.

Last week I was asked about ad revenue from ChickenBlog?

Uh. Well. That grand total would be zero dollars and zero cents. Total.

Long pause.

I know. Not exactly stellar for twelve years of writing and writing and writing.

Then I was asked about the book reviews I've done, any income from those?

Uh. Well. No. Nobody's paid me for promoting dirt, books, plastic mold making compounds, toys, or their singing careers. But I have received dirt, books, and plastic mold making compounds.

Longer pause.

I know. In terms of outreach and followers, in terms of Bloggies, and big-lucrative sponsorships, this blogging venture has been something of a failure. In fact, the times when I really went out on a limb, and broke out of my comfort zone, for something I love, turned out to be the lowest point in blog traffic history. Objectively, truthfully, ChickenBlog is like a B movie of blogs. I don't run with the shiny bloggers, I can't get into the blog clubs. It's embarrassing. Frustrating. Humbling.

My voice, my focus, my subjects have changed, evolved. I've covered a lot of ground. Sometimes, I was perhaps too honest. Other times, too pitiful, too lazy, too weird. And as for my original intentions, like keeping in touch with family, I suspect they might say I've been way too much!

Why do it then? Why open up, leaving a personal journal on the coffee table, for anyone to browse through? Is it "narcism," "obsession?" (I've been asked those questions, and so I check myself, often, and I hope I am better than that. ) Am I close to finishing a novel, or have publishers been asking for my manuscripts? Am I, finally, an accomplished adult? Whatever my intentions were, whatever I had hoped to accomplish, I would be remiss in saying ChickenBlog has been a failure. ChickenBlog has been successful in ways I had not expected. I've made friends around the world. I have met friends from around the world! I've learned how to write some HTML, make links, format images, and tinker with templates. I discovered that photography is, and always has been, a great love and interest for me, and I've enjoyed building a unique family photo album. Nice people have opened up to me, and shared their hopes, their concerns their wisdom and compassion. Nice people have sent me gifts... lovely handmade gifts, thoughtful tokens, generous words and kindnesses. Maria reads ChickenBlog, and William has expressed an interest in keeping ChickenBlog going, if I should ever step away... that's a lovely kind of, unexpected, success.

These days, I like to think ChickenBlog is a personal reminder of good things, so that I can find confidence, navigate the tricky, sometimes treacherous bits, and enjoy the gratitude I feel for what I see and know. ChickenBlog is a place where I can connect with friends, and share ideas, ask for help, be silly, play, and celebrate. It is a glimpse... not the whole picture, not everything that's happening, or matters most. Focusing on the brighter moments, the tidier scenes, is not to imply I am doing fantastic, or highly accomplished, but to give myself courage, to overcome fear, and doubt. Sharing dirty laundry, and letting it all hang out, is so I can laugh, and cope, and remember that life is messy, and worthwhile. Maybe, too, my children, or a friend, or a stranger, will find hope in their own messes, and courage to keep moving forward, because of my honesty. ChickenBlog is a place where I can offer a shout-out for artists, engineers, farmers, makers, tinkerers, students, and dreamers, because I cannot suppress my desire to facilitate support, embolden learning, make connections between the gifted people I meet, encourage entrepreneurship and the following of their STEAM passions.

Around here, a chicken blog is also the mess the chickens leave on the porch. Watch your step! Those stink.

Yes. I suppose, if I am going to write, and write, and write, and ask people to see what I am writing about, and hope they will engage with me, hope that I can make a difference and feel something like an accomplished adult, then this is a narcissistic, obsessive endeavor. Blogging is weird, and I think it can be superficial and pointless, and I am okay with that. I feel embarrassed, humbled, frustrated, and pointless, but maybe that's a good thing, too... at least I am trying, and trying anything is a risk. Blogging can also be sincere, and earnest, and I hope that I have conveyed more of that than anything. I am trying.

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

A Sticky Chicken Star

This is Sticky. She is a Cochin, and she is a star! Not just a Chickenblog star, but an actual star of the silver screen!

A while back I got the idea to meet new hens, and roosters, any chickens, that were special. We know, all chickens are special, but sometimes our flocks have standouts, and they deserve time in the spotlight. When I asked to meet your extra special birds, we were introduced to Hector, the rooster at Mucky Boots Farm. Then, we got to enjoy the domesticated darling, Annie, from Little Egg Flock.

Tammie blogs at Loves Chickens, and she also chronicles life at C Spots Farm. Here is what Tammie shared with me about her pretty little mottled Cochin..."Sticky is a bantam Cochin Hen that is 5 years old. She was my daughters 4-H project and she went to many libraries to give exhibits to the public. She used to entertain the kids by sitting on my daughter's knee and letting the kids come up and pat her. Sticky's most recent venture was to be in a movie that came out last summer called "Here Comes the Boom" with Henry Winkler and Kevin James. It was fun to meet them behind the scenes and they admired and patted Sticky. So if you see the movie keep an eye out for a little black mottled chicken in the warehouse scene before Kevin James' character's first fight."

I should have asked, Why "Sticky?" Don't you wonder how she got her name? She sure is a cute little hen. I always perk-up when I see chickens in movies! It's pretty cool meeting a real life chicken star!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Five Good Things

William's birthday wish? A rainy day in the Zoo, or walking around Balboa Park. Not only were we happy to oblige, but nature was more than generous with the rain. We spent half the day walking all over the park, and Geoff was able to join us too, before going into work. We saw the Pirate exhibition in the Natural History Museum, ate lunch in the Prado, visited art studios, and the Gem and Mineral Society's gallery. Because of the NAT's Real Pirate exhibition the park was full of head-to-toes pirate cosplayers… that was fun to see. Back at home, William made dinner, and had ice cream and toppings on hand for making sundaes. Friends came by, we watched Galaxy Quest. That movie never gets old! There was no great hoopla, nothing too elaborate, but the simplicity and pleasure of it was rich, satisfying. We were able to connect and engage and enjoy the day, contentedly celebrating William, his interests, his happy birthday.

Good Things…

1. Boots, umbrellas, and puddles.

2. Over the weekend we saw, and got to have hugs from, Hans, Gretchen, Aunt Becky, Grandma Eunice, Grandma Delia, James, Suki, Janece, Paul, & Amira.

3. Geoff and I walked this morning, and we saw… drum roll: The Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher!

4. Cleaning out the muck and the mud from the storms, with Geoff's help and company… I enjoyed it so much, I told him it counts as a date.

5. All of the welcome and thrilling business of having four days of rain.

I hope you will share some of the good things you are enjoying.