Someone’s Been Sleeping in My Bed

Over the last 6 months, we have started renting out our house, our primary residence that is, on Airbnb.com (as a marketing professional, I feel obligated to tell you how much I abhor their name, although I do recommend their services). We started because we happen to live in a town that has quite a few huge events (SxSW, ACL & the inaugural year of Formula 1) and some smaller events (usually UT related) and not nearly the hotel capacity to meet the demand during these times. We also happen to live centrally, an attractive proposition for renters. Due to the supply-demand ratio mentioned above, this has turned out to be quite a lucrative opportunity. In addition, we love to travel and love that our travels or weekend away ‘splurges’ are no longer splurges because they are paid for. Since we started this, I’ve been asked lots of questions by people who are rental-curious and also by those that think we are absolutely nuts to allow perfect strangers into our home. So I thought it might be helpful to create the definitive resource of “things to consider if you think you want to rent your home out to perfect, or not-so- perfect or you-want-to-believe-are-perfect-but-really-aren’t strangers.” Here’s what I’ve learned in the first 6 months of this adventure:

  1. You are probably more attached to your things than you think you are.

It is true that I do not feel particularly attached to my things. The first question people ask me when I say we are renting our house is “where do you put your valuables?” and my first question back to them is “like what?” I do not possess family heirlooms, I do not buy unique one-of-a-kind antique furniture pieces and I do not own fine china. I can hardly think of anything that the $1,000 deposit we require wouldn’t cover to replace or fix. While I have refrained from making circles with my thumbs and pointer fingers and staring into the distance with a meditation-induced trance, what I usually say next is, “I’m not very attached to my things.”

Well, upon arriving back to our home this last time, I opened a drawer and noticed a piece of my pottery was gone – a bowl I picked up at an Iranian pottery market in Kuwait during a trip in my 20’s. I rarely use the piece, but I do like it. More than I realized, in fact, because the moment it wasn’t there, my brain went a little frantic –   What happened to my bowl? That is a UNIQUE piece….I bought that in Kuwait! I can’t replace THAT! How inconsiderate – breaking my pottery without letting me know?? What a shame! My pottery! Woe is me…my beautiful, forever lost bowl! Until I opened the dishwasher and found it in there. I’ve never put it in the dishwasher, assuming it not dishwasher safe, so that was risky, but there it was. It was fine. I was fine. I had to blush, even just to myself, thinking back to the “I’m not attached to my things” comments. OK, so I AM attached to my things. One just doesn’t realize until they are gone. So, you’ve got to be good with this. One day, my bowl from Kuwait may disappear or get broken by someone other than myself or someone I love. Now I’m at acceptance (yes, I am making circles with my thumbs and pointer fingers and staring into the distance with a meditation-induced trance), but this is part of letting others use your space.

After the ‘valuables’ questions, more often than not, the next question is, “what about artwork?” which frankly, I find an odd question. Fair enough – we have a couple pieces that couldn’t be replaced by the $1,000 deposit, but really, I can’t imagine this being the ploy for an art thief to disguise himself as a UT parent attending graduation on the off-chance the Miro he saw in the house picture is real and he plans to replicate/replace each item exactly, during the weekend he’s here. And a piece of art is actually something even I, the notoriously unobservant, would notice if it was gone. That seems awfully nervy for anyone to try to pull off. So this might be where some of my naiveté comes in handy because,

2. People do inexplicable things, and more than likely, you will never get an explanation.

We let a friend/babysitter stay in our house once while we traveled for the summer. We came back to some strange goop in one of the showers we never used that clogged up the drain. It was fairly easily cleaned up, but when we asked about it, she claimed to have no idea. That was someone we knew and trusted, so left it at that. But when it’s not someone you know or trust, you also have to be fine with leaving it at that. One of our renters left a door to the outside open – not just unlocked, but open, and also claimed to have no idea how that happened. Four of our forks and 2 steak knives (separate occasions) have gone missing. I’ve lived in my home for 6 years and never managed to lose any silverware or cutlery – how someone does this in a weekend is perplexing. These are things you don’t notice right away, and by far, the profits made from these ventures allow for the replacement of forks and knives, but it does make you wonder what people are doing. Which brings me to my third point.

3. You must have the stomach for never being fully informed of the goings on in your home

One of my pro-renting arguments was that you have conversations with the people. They contact you, you call them, they tell you about their plans, who they are visiting, who is staying in the house, their family history including which relatives came over on the Mayflower, etc. etc. One of our future renters just e-mailed us a picture of their family after discoving how much we have in common. With some, by the time they show up, you feel you’ve forged some sort of friendship, especially because you are letting them stay in your home! Yes, BUT, they do not necessarily feel the same about you. They may just see you as a home they want to stay in. So, one of my “friends,” while she shared details about her life (3rd and final daughter graduating from UT), what they were going to be doing at the house (small get-together of family to celebrate), she never did mention that they were going to have a band in the backyard. Now, there is no problem with this, exactly. We have ‘house rules’ set up that say no entertaining or noise after 10:00pm and they followed this rule. But when a neighbor told me about the sound check coming from our yard over the weekend, I felt embarrassed and frankly, betrayed that Renee never mentioned the band. Clearly, she didn’t want that idea of hers shot down so she just failed to mention it. I felt odd that a concert was held in my backyard and I didn’t know anything about it.

The other part of stomaching strangers in your home is just to know that every time something is misplaced, temporarily (or not) missing or broken, you will find yourself immediately damning the renters. Even if you live with small children that easily could break things and not tell you. Even if your husband puts the blender behind the cereal boxes on the opposite side of the kitchen. Even if you forgot that you lent that copy of Hunger Games to your mother-in-law. It’s all the renters fault. And this isn’t the best of feelings because, even for just one moment, you feel a little betrayed that someone didn’t tell you they broke something, that they didn’t care enough to put things back where they found them, that they didn’t respect your stuff enough not to take it. Until you realize the truth. Or not. At the very least, consider these little reminders that strangers have been in your home, so just make sure you really are OK with that. It’s kind of an emotional roller coaster that is not that big of a deal if you’ve got the stomach for it. If you think these things would upset you greatly, or even a bit more than a little, renting may not be for you.

For us, for me, I’m actually OK with all of the above. Otherwise, we would stop doing it. Like a scene from a Brady Bunch episode, my son once threw a ball in the house and it broke an antique vase that I bought on one of my travels to China. I was really sad about the broken vase, but I got over it. I was mad at him for throwing the ball, but I got over that too. Stuff happens – you just have to decide how much ‘stuff’ you can tolerate and by whom you can tolerate it. In short, Know Thyself.

To answer the very first question, we put all of our ‘valuables’ in our master closet, which is then locked. Everyone we know that rents has a locked space where they put the belongings that they don’t want people to have access to or to see. For us, more often than not, these items are training toilets and other kid accessories that our non-kid renters may not appreciate having around. Perhaps my list of items I put in that closet will grow as we continue to rent our home. Perhaps we’ll get the art-thief in disguise renter who ‘teaches us our lesson’ and we stop forever. In the meantime, and until Austin’s hotel supply increases (doing so as we speak) I’ll be enjoying our paid-for vacations and lump sums to put towards our mortgage. If you’ve been on the fence, I hope this helps. If you choose to do so, from one to another, happy renting!

The Gift of (Alone) Time

This is my last evening without kids. And now, without husband (snafu with contractor/ ripped out bathroom), so I am trying to absorb the alone. Absorb the silence. Absorb the absolute freedom. This is silly, of course. It can’t be absorbed and saved for later, though it would be so great if it could. In the middle of a tantrum, either mine or the kids, whip into my messy handbag, rifle through the old receipts and pamphlets from the last museum visit to find the container, hidden in the far depths of the bag, further than I knew it to go. Then to open the container..drink it in. Slather it on. And then this incredible calm could sweep over and through me and give me the clarity I need in that moment to ride it through the storm with a little less debris left behind. Maybe one less apology to make.

This ridiculous amount of alone-time (5 days totally alone + 7 days with hubbie road tripping out here to Park City and settling in), was a gift out of nowhere. While I was a part of the plan-making…grandparents wanted to have the kids for 2 weeks, Mark flying them over, him deciding to stay…I never even really asked or DREAMED that I could ask for so much. It’s been heavenly. It helps that I know that my children are having so much fun that they have refused my daily phone calls. I hate to gloat, knowing us mothers rarely/ever see this much freedom, but I’m not really gloating, just sharing. Example: it was day 3 when I was home alone. I woke up and I felt…get this…a little lonely. It was superb. When was the last time you actually felt a lonely? When did the silence feel like a bit too much? That day, I went about my day and it was never sad. It was just a forgotten sensation, remembered. Appreciated.

The connections with the hubbie have been wonderful. Talking in the car. Not talking in the car. Holding hands. Laughing. Remembering. Kissing. Kissing. Kissing. Hiking. Snuggling. Sleeping  in. And tomorrow the two wee ones that were produced out of the love we have for each other will be welcomed back in, where the connection is stronger to hold them in. A big, long deep breath has been taken in. A long languid exhale has been released. And my heart and arms are open.

Despite my romantic rhapsodies, I know that our transition may not be all as smooth and easy as it sounds. The children will re-adjust to the ways of Mom and Dad instead of Oma and Opa. Mom and Dad will re-adjust to the sounds, the early mornings, the negotiations over food, TV and ‘what we’ll do next’.  I will adjust to being needed. A lot. Quickly it will seem like this period of calm was a long time ago. But I like to think that somewhere, perhaps not in my handbag, but maybe in my heart, I’ll keep a little pool of this place…the silence. The time of reflection. And I’ll remember that every moment of life is a choice. And I’ll take a quick dip in that calm, take a deep breath, and I will happily dive back in to where I’m needed. A lot. 

Trophies & Standing Ovations for All!

We are Americans. While we might be capitalists, who don’t have the best reputation, we are, generally, a very nice people. We say ‘hello’ to strangers, we say ‘I’m sorry’ for ever getting in someone’s way, we give “only” a 10% tip for crappy service and ALL of our kids get trophies, just for trying. I, an American, am a very nice person. But I am also sad that this overly congratulatory culture has demeaned a long-standing (oh, the puns are going to be fun in this one) tradition, dating back to Ancient Roman times, of the standing ovation. I attended two events recently that, while wonderful, were not standing-ovation-worthy in my opinion, and it has made me wonder what we do, in a culture such as ours, when we start giving everyone a standing ovation, how we display our gratitude when something is truly exceptional, as the definition says.

The WIKI definition is this: A standing ovation is a form of applause where members of a seated audience stand up while applauding after extraordinary performances of particularly high acclaim.

I would like to highlight the EXTRAORDINARY performance of PARTICULARLY HIGH ACCLAIM part of that definition. I have absolutely nothing against the standing ovation – I am simply frustrated by the over-use of it. It has devalued it both for those giving it and those receiving it. WIKI actually goes on to touch on this very subject, but in a very specific context – that “Some might say that the standing ovation has come to be devalued, such as in the field of politics, in which on some occasions standing ovations may be given to political leaders as a matter of course, rather than as a special honor in unusual circumstances.” But I will even give it to politics – if they want to use the standing ovation in their own rituals, I’ll let that go. Its roots are actually political in nature from the Ancient Romans, who used this gesture to welcome back military leaders who may not have won their battles, but who were still praiseworthy. I’m speaking about public performances where, due to the ovation over-use, there are no options to distinguish the great from the good. What shall we do now? Climb on to the backs of our theatre chairs? Somehow, I don’t think management would approve.

Just so you don’t think I am a total anti-standingovite, I would like to report that I have been part of / given a standing ovation at exactly two performances in my life. That seems like a pretty good ratio for a well-traveled, but maybe not SO cultured 40-year old with two small children (i.e. haven’t been to a lot of cultural events lately). In both of these instances, there wasn’t a moments hesitation, no reluctant standers. The first was a performance in Paris that was a combination Ballet and Opera. The music, dancing, costumes, singing…all of it was moving beyond expression. When it was over, there was a microsecond of silence, perhaps of awe, and then the audience was thrust to their feet by some inexplicable force – a creative energy that lifted people up in inspiration without an ounce of obligation. The other was a performance off Broadway, in New York, that traced the history of African Americans in America through dance. It was unexpectedly exceptional (I think much of the audience was there because it was what was available at the half-price ticket booth), and the entire theatre jumped from their seats, celebrating that we had just been part of something exceptional.

But now, evidently, we stand at the end of most live performances. Part of this, I think, may have to do with the fact that, as a society, we don’t see a lot of live performances. I’m going to exclude most big music concerts here because usually we are already standing at most of these venues. Concerts have their own rhythm and ending – I’m all for the Encore. But my point is that as our society has moved from one that relies on live entertainment in the days when the standing ovation started (plays, poetry readings, magician acts, etc.) to today, where we are mostly entertained by film and television (and live/reality entertainment on TV is not the same). So when we DO see actual people in front of us, we are compelled to, almost literally, throw ourselves at their feet in gratitude. I fully agree that there is something innately more pleasurable in “cultural” events such as plays and live events than watching them through our television sets, albeit our television sets are delivering images in larger and larger format. Perhaps one day watching television will be like going to play in that the figures in front of us will, in fact, be life-size. But in the meantime, we are not used to having actors and actresses, or speech-givers or dancers so close to us, and we want to ensure they know how much we appreciate them putting themselves out there for us – making themselves vulnerable to our otherwise judgmental ways (ultimately WHY reality TV is so successful). And this is nice.

There was another part of the WIKI description that I found interesting and that is historically, a performance may have been measured by the percentage of the audience that rose. Now, here’s an idea that I think has fully escaped us and actually fully redeems the frequent standing ovation for me. Perhaps there are some people who are ‘in the know’ who fully appreciate a performance for what it is worth (a performance in San Francisco of “Waiting for Godot” was torture for me, but I understood that more culturally literate people than myself probably fully enjoyed the rendition – it’s supposed to be torture. I don’t know if they got a standing ovation because I couldn’t wait any longer and left before the end), or people who are just very easily pleased, or very grateful sorts, then by all means, stand away. But what I’ve noticed is that it seems unacceptable, anymore, to stay seated during a standing ovation, such the whole room ends up standing. People look at each other in their seats, asking with their eyes, “are you going to get up? I know…I don’t really want to either, but…” and then you both reluctantly stand. I mean, really, who wants to be the last man/woman sitting? That’s just not nice.

So, I guess this means I need to be the change I want to see – I can’t stand for this any longer. I will have to be the stick in the, um, seat (sorry, I’ll stop). Will I be doing it alone? Here’s what I propose: if it’s not truly inspired, then just clap louder, clap longer, hoop and holler, but please, let’s reserve the standing ovation for, as the definition says, the truly extraordinary. 

A Perfect Mother

It took me a long time to become a mother. Well, I guess it depends on the moment that you want to start that clock. Perhaps it only took a matter of seconds at the moment of conception when two cells become one. Perhaps we become mothers when the baby actually arrives, in which case, it took me ~ 9 hours. For me, motherhood has felt like more like a slow metamorphosis. Skins have been shed. New life has occurred.

A few days after my first was born, my mother-in-law came to help. That first evening, after he had been fed and she was blissfully holding him, she suggested I go out for a walk, “just around the block,” she said, “it will do you good.” By myself?  I thought.  It seemed impossible to leave him for even a minute.  But she convinced me and when I stepped outside I knew she was right. The chilly San Francisco air awakened my senses and I started to walk around our block. We lived in a commercial area, so three quarters of the way around the block, I walked by one of my favorite card shops. I remembered that my first wedding anniversary was in just a couple of days. I had brought my purse because, of course, I had my phone with me, and I was pleased that I was going to have a card for the occasion.  I went in and before I knew it got lost in the shop, finding just the right one. As I neared the exit of the store, my phone rang. It was my mother-in-law and Max was wailing in the background. I was mortified when I realized that I had not had phone service in the store and I had been gone for 25 minutes! A part of me couldn’t believe that I let the time get away with a brand new baby at home. Another part of me was in shock that 25 minutes were no longer my own. There began my first struggle with motherhood:  the loss of independence.  This struggle seemed at odds with the perfect mother I had planned to be.

I slowly adjusted, but I also went back to work, albeit from home and part-time, when he was 3 months old. I hired my first babysitter. I loved my time to myself as much as I loved the work. It was something I needed, though I felt too guilty to admit that at the time. My in-laws continued to be very involved, so that provided another avenue of freedom. When Max was 10 months old, I had a 6-day trip to Germany for work, so they gladly flew in to take care of him. I fretted like any mother would…but the fact that I was even going was controversial amongst my new-mom friends. “I couldn’t do it” some said. But I was doing it. I was even looking forward to it in a fretful sort of way– I have always loved to travel.  From the airport I called my own mother. I broke down on the phone, wondering if I wasn’t the worst mother on the planet. Once I got onto the plane, however, I was fine for the rest of the trip. My independent-self still stood strong.

When Max was 2 1/2, his baby sister was born. I wanted to have two children, but it wasn’t that I was “ready” to have the second; it was more that I was 36 and knew the clock was ticking. I was worried. I didn’t understand how life, already hectic with a 2 year old, was going to work adding a newborn into the mix. As it turns out, I had reason to be nervous. After the initial stage when she slept most of the time, things got crazy. Then when we tried to introduce the bottle, she wouldn’t take it. That began a 6-month adventure of trying every tactic you can find on the internet and every bottle on the market to get her to use one. She never did. So the universe sent me, Miss Independent, a child that would not allow me to leave for more than 3-4 hours at a time for a year. Perfect.

By the time she was 9 months old I felt myself often wondering why I had ever decided to become a mother. And the guilt I had for ever feeling that way was killing me. It was either clarity or desperation that led me to my therapist. Therapist and parent-coach, she provided me a non-judging ear and some words that were the sweetest I had ever heard.  She confirmed that it really was hard; it wasn’t just hard for me. We narrowed a lot of our work on one notion that I was struggling with: being the perfect mother. I felt very far from that with regular crying and temper-tantrums of my own.  I worked with her for the next year and as my children grew, so did I.

I recently turned 40 and have been doing a lot of self-reflection. My kids are now 6 and 3 and one thing that struck me is how much I finally feel like a mother. Something has become clear. For a long time I was trying to make me into the perfect mom instead of realizing that who I am is already the perfect mom for my kids.

My son has recently internalized the idea (whether from school or from us) that “nothing is perfect.” I threw him for a loop recently when I told him that we are all, in fact, perfect. “But nothing is perfect” he reiterated to me, getting increasingly annoyed. “I know,” I said, “and that IS perfect. Everything is perfect, imperfections and all.” I don’t think he was convinced, but maybe for the first time, I was. 

The One

This was written for the prompt,“When did you first understand the meaning of love?” It was an essay contest that I didn’t win (Real Simple) and I had to agree with the judges on their pick for the winner…it’s beatuiful. here

We’ve all heard the saying and probably found ourselves, at one time or another, stuck between a rock and a hard place. This was how I felt about my situation even though the reality was that I was stuck between two great guys. No, this is not a story of sexual fantasies, but of being surrounded by love, or at least potential love.

I was new to San Francisco. It was my dream-city except that I had just left Paris and was not entirely thrilled about the move. I left behind my French boyfriend (consistent with my love of all things foreign) of 4+ years and dreams of living in Europe indefinitely. Living in Paris is dreamy, but it was a stressful situation. I was 30 years old and had graduated the year prior with my MBA from London. My boyfriend and I had officially “moved in together” while I searched…and searched for a job. While my student loan funds dwindled, the 1-year grace period for pay-back was quickly ticking by. It was challenging. My mantra had become “relationships are hard” but still, our informal union held strong during this tumultuous time. One thing that bound us was our spiritual path into Buddhism, which we had gone down together. Coupled with a romantic view that “love conquers all,” we practiced cultivating calm and happiness despite life’s challenges.

Finally, I had to accept that I wasn’t going to launch my career in foreign territory. I visited San Francisco, my favorite US city, and miraculously landed a dream position in fashion retail. While gathering my possessions in Paris, the question hung in the air… “Are you coming?” His answer: A loving “désolé” (sorry) – he had too much at stake in Paris to leave. I put into practice all the Buddhist theory and enjoyed my final week in Paris, despite the impending end of our relationship. I frequented my favorite cafes and perused my favorite neighborhoods, drinking in the charm and beauty that Paris so generously pours.  Feeling torn apart by circumstance, Giles and I also savored each other.

I was surprised by the relative agility with which I let go, but San Francisco and a new job opened a new chapter in my life. Dating was the absolute last thing on my mind, but I seemed to be attracting men at every turn, and this was in a city with a notoriously difficult dating scene! I was suddenly the ‘interesting’ one, having just returned from three years abroad. However, while I felt I had successfully ‘let go’ of my prior relationship, I was not yet ready to ‘move on’. Then I met John.

We had a connection that could not be denied. “John?” my family questioned, “from Oklahoma?” They were confused, because the last eight years were spent with men of foreign origin with names they could not spell. John was funny, smart, and attentive, but thirty days out of my long-term relationship, we were both a little shocked by the intensity of our feelings for each other. On our first date I was up-front about coming off of a 4-year relationship. “So, I am rebound man,” he disappointingly stated. “I don’t think so,” I said sincerely, “I’m in a really good space with all of this.” We quickly sanctioned the relationship exclusive and I even asked my married sister, “How do you know when it’s ‘the one’?” This felt insanely different than anything before.

And then “the” call came – the one that most girls dream of. Giles and I were still friends, but I had not mentioned John – we weren’t that good of friends. This was the, “I realize my mistake” call. The “I want to move to the U.S.”, the “we should get married” call. I suspect he anticipated tears of joy or for me to run into his arms (metaphorically speaking of course, as we were across continents). Instead, there was silence…and a story about a guy named John. I confessed, although it seemed unlikely, that in three short months, I had moved on. “Désolé” I uttered.

He lived up to romantic French ideals and did not give up. He called regularly, pleading his case. He tried to set up meetings in neutral territory so I could be reminded of the love we shared. I declined all offers, but it proved perplexing. Part of me DID want to return to his arms – his arguments were valid – we DID share something remarkable –for over 4 years! The internal strife escalated to regular crying: on the cable car (true – I got to ride the cable car to work!), AT work and every evening. If I took Giles back, John would be hurt. If I stayed with John, Giles would be. I am a very nice person. I don’t like to hurt people. I knew I was going to hurt one of them. I had hurt people before –other boyfriends, other break-ups, but this felt different – it felt like I was between that rock and that hard place.

Of course, with hindsight and telling the story – it’s blaringly obvious. A life lesson was being learned – to make decisions based on my own feelings, despite what others want. It’s a little unnerving to look back and realize how torn I was, choosing what I wanted. Even after long hours of meditation, I was unable to see the writing on my internal wall -the inside of my very own heart.  I had muffled my internal voice for so long, that I couldn’t hear it. For someone who proclaimed self-awareness, I now think that that may have been the reason I cried for all of those weeks. In case you are wondering, John was playing the supportive, “I’m here when you need me” role, but I knew it wasn’t fair to cry on his shoulder over my struggle between him and another man.

While out shopping (so cliché-retail therapy), yet another call came – one I had sort of been waiting for. Giles had just arrived to the San Francisco airport. He had flown from Paris and was determined in to win back my heart. I had approximately one hour to cancel my date with John, get home and prepare to be swooped up in a grand romantic feat. This could have been the fairy tale story for our wedding album! He rang my apartment from the call-box outside. I slowly descended the stairs and our eyes met through the pains of the thick front door glass. He smiled and waved with his boyish charm that I always found endearing. His eyes were teasing me – he was riding a wave, euphoric from this amorous drama. And that’s when I heard it. I heard her – the voice that spoke to me from within. She wasn’t crying, or even sad. She was no-nonsense and loving at the same time. Suddenly, I knew this wasn’t the relationship I wanted for the rest of my life. I realized that I had known that all along, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of letting someone get away who promised to love me forever. This voice inside of me told me that I didn’t need Giles or John or anyone else to love me, because what was most important was that I loved me. With years of hindsight I also understand that I wouldn’t have been able to truly love another without recognizing and nurturing love for myself. All of my Buddhist ideals of love and compassion were for naught, if I couldn’t cultivate those things for me.

Twenty-four hours later, after a lot of talking, crying and very little sleep, Giles boarded a return flight to Paris. It was strange – I felt sad and relieved simultaneously. It felt so good to have listened to that voice! My explanation was a bit cryptic, “I can’t explain it, but I just can not get back together with you.” How do you explain the voice that tells you something against all logic – a loving four year relationship, unforgettable experiences, and promises for the future? I guess, that’s the funny and wonderful thing about it – love has nothing to do with logic. Love resides in the heart, logic in the mind. I had been trying to make a decision using the wrong part of my anatomy!

As it turns out, John was rebound man. Shortly after my revelation, our connection fizzled and we amicably parted ways. He was clearly sent into my life to teach me the lesson of my own heart. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the next man I dated, a few months later, eventually became my husband. For the first time, a relationship was born from a space of love that I already held for myself. I no longer felt that “relationships are hard,” and I didn’t have to ask my sister what it felt like to find ‘the one’. I knew how to listen to the one that mattered most. Me.

What A Journey

I wrote this last year for an event where it was to be read out loud…so, while reading, you can just picture that. I kind of forgot about it….but decided to publish it now… it’s kind of an odd follow up to ‘Bacon, please move over’, but then I can be kind of odd.

 

Motherhood, oh ye, Motherhood!

Who KNOWS what you are getting yourself into when you enter this realm, this state, this unknown territory? Certainly I did not.

I wasn’t going to have children…”Motherhood” was not for me. I insightfully stated that I had ‘given the matter a good deal of consideration and concluded that my personality was not suitable’.

Then I met the father of my children – and I saw a fantastic partnership. Children…this was an experience we should have! Motherhood! Fatherhood!

How had I not known the difference then?

But Motherhood, you fooled me, just a bit. I thought that you would step in to show me what to do. What did I know about having children? Certainly a better version of me was needed to bring a tiny being into our world. And while you brought me a deep love, a wonderment for life, an enthrallment for this one little life, in particular, you also left me – little ‘ole me – to figure it out!

I studied my subject diligently. I read books. Many, many books. More importantly, I studied my subject – his tiny fingers and toes. I knew every inch of his body and noted every time something changed. I marveled and celebrated those changes. And I did the thing that came the most easily…I loved him with all that I had. But it was not all celebrations and smiles.

Motherhood, now I didn’t know much, but there were a few things I did know. I knew that mothers were not to yell at their babies. They are only babies! And yet, I yelled. I cried when he would not sleep. I cried when I could not. I didn’t always handle him as gently as you, Motherhood, were supposed to allow. So often I felt I might be losing my mind. Motherhood?  Where were you?

Five years and another child later, I I am beginning to understand. I am an introspective person. A spiritual person. An always trying to be a better person, person. Little did I know that this same trait that makes me a great mother is the same trait that would judge me the hardest. I thought it was you, Motherhood.

With two small children and very little sleep, I was holding onto the shreds of what I thought I had entered this journey for – “The experience.” Like a new roller-coaster ride at the local six-flags, rightfully named, “Motherhood!”, tagline, “the experience.” I thought I wanted off. But you can’t get off the ride once it’s started. And you know what that means – trapped. I was trapped by all of those that I trusted: my husband, the other one who wanted “the experience” but it turned out, Fatherhood was a different ride. I was trapped by you, Motherhood. You betrayed me too.

And then I turned to these small, beautiful people – their shining eyes, their angelic faces. My heart gushed with more love than I knew what to do with, but somehow, I wasn’t sure that the love was enough. And then I heard a voice say, “I told you that you should not have become a mother. How can you feel trapped in such a beautiful life, with two such beautiful gifts?” I retreated under these words and fell into a hole. A black hole that I thought maybe was you, Motherhood?

When my husband asked, “what standard of perfection are you trying to achieve?” I could not answer. Motherhood was supposed to know. His words gave me some solace, but still, I found myself yelling at my beautiful babies, screaming into pillows, kicking walls. This, I knew, was not the standard I was going for. It was scary for me, for them. Where were you, Motherhood?

I finally knew I needed help to climb out of my hole. Motherhood clearly was not doing her job. So I summoned the help of an expert, aka, a shrink. If Motherhood was not already working for me, then certainly she could give me the pass code, the bugle call, the summoning light to beckon “Motherhood” to me.

The first thing she did was to tell me how many mothers sat in her chair, guilt ridden for yelling at their babies. “Motherhood had failed them too?” I thought. I was in disbelief that anyone else could have such foul feelings towards Motherhood, towards their children, no, really, towards themselves.

And that is what I saw. After a few weeks of talking and crying, confessing and swirling, out of it all, I came to understand. I was introduced to Motherhood.

She looks very different than I was expecting her. She looks remarkably like, no, exactly like, me. Me…. huh…. Motherhood. And as it turns out, I need to care for her in all the same ways I need to care for me. Loving her, loving me.

I still struggle on some days that I don’t always look like the mother I would like my children to have. I wish for that “Motherhood” who could step in and save the day. Who would be as present with them as I would always like to be. Who would have the patience with them that I would always like to have. Who has a limitless amount to give without “needing a break.”

Motherhood, oh, ye, Motherhood, what a journey we have endured. What a journey we have before us.

Bacon, will you please move over?

I’m generally a ‘to each one’s own’ type of person, but there is something going on right now…some sort of bizarre movement….towards something that I just can’t support. I don’t think I’ve been anti-anything before, other than anti-hate, anti-war or any other anti that makes you roll your eyes and go, ‘yeah, you and most of humanity.’ But here it goes. I am (deep breath), I am, (oh the bravery I muster), I am anti-bacon. This obsession that this country suddenly has with the fatty, thin slice of pork people so lovingly call bacon must end. I have but one word in retaliation: eww. 

OK, so I’m not really anti-bacon, I am more anti-bacon obsession. My personal history with meat, in general, has been spotty at best. I’ve gone in and out of different forms of vegetarianism and I didn’t eat red meat for a solid 15 years. In case you are wondering, I always counted pork, despite it’s marketing claim of being ‘the other white meat’ as red. I currently eat meat, but generally not bacon, which is suddenly useful, in my cry out against it.

I am not imposing meat-loving on the U.S, by any means. I lived abroad (Europe) for several years and was equally if not MORE disgusted there, not only by meat, but by all of the other parts that people were very willing to eat. I get it – historically, there has been argument for using EVERY part of the animal. And the Buddhist in me likes the idea of using every part to honor the animal that gave it’s life (though I can’t stomach that, myself). But I guess I just think that as societies evolve, some of those things could be left behind…kind of like, as we now all have indoor plumbing, we got rid of the outhouses.  Anyway, I’ve traveled to a good number of continents and the meat obsession is a popular one – Brazil and the Churrascarias, Argentinian steaks, the Middle East and the lamb. Meat signals prosperity and for many / most…it tastes good. My reasons for multi versions of vegetarianism have always been health and taste related, not animal rights related (HOWEVER, with the advent of factory farms, this has started to creep in too). But this obsession with bacon? I don’t get it.

The first time I really realized that bacon was taking a strange place in American’s hearts was when I was  at a high-end restaurant here in Austin. When we got to the dessert choices, one of them – a fruit crumble (always a favorite of mine) – was paired with a home-made ice cream flavor of bacon.  Excuse me??? As an ice-cream aficionado, I struggled for words through my horror and gag reflex. You want to take something sweet and creamy and melty and smooth and pair it with swine? With the general revolt I’ve often felt for pork, I’ve often said I must have been either Jewish or Muslim in my last life. I felt, then, that a line had been crossed and bacon was officially out of control.

Then my colleague sent me this: Not for the weak hearted . So, this was it – the nail in the coffin. Hipsters in San Francisco. Design folks. Those that are supposed to have and define taste for the rest of us – have gone off the deep end.  This is so unappealing to me, I cannot fathom using it as a home-page image. Clearly, I am not their target market (they are an agency, so they are SUPPOSED to know stuff like that). OR they might argue that it did make me remember them, but it’s kind of like how I remember the time my son ate too many grapes and….anyway. Or there’s the Train-Wreck theory – so horrible, it’s impossible to look away. Most likely, they jumped on the bacon band wagon (between you and me, I otherwise love their site). AND then when I was google-searching for this site again (for this piece), I actually found this one: http://www.consultbacon.com/. These guys are in the U.K -  it’s spreading!  From one marketing consultancy to another…guys, bacon and the words Fresh>Think? They Just. Don’t. Go. And the URL – consultbacon.com? I will not, thank you very much. Since when does bacon get characteristics like creativity and fresh? Since when has bacon come to represent anything but a heavy, greasy provision that even devout lovers know it is only good in small quantities? Since when does it evoke anything but laziness, gluttony and food comas?*

Alas, I have finally spoken my piece, but I am definitely losing this battle. Who am I to compete with rich fattiness that goes straight to the brain’s pleasure centers? Barley and Swine & Noble Pig Sandwiches are but two Austin sites with rave reviews. Even if I turn to the food Mecca, San Francisco, I find things such as the Bacon Bacon truck and the Bacon Dog Cart. But really, it was aready lost at the bacon ice cream.  If anyone else cares to join me in this bold stance AGAINST bacon, I’ve doctored up one of Bacon Bacon’s shirts here for us anti-bacon-culturites (below). And I’ll be seeing you in produce.

*author notes the irony that I am advertising for both firms, thus promoting the usage of bacon.

you lost me at bacon

It’s All About Me

I finally signed up for a writing workshop….I have to do this periodically when I am just not making any time for writing. I haven’t been for a few months now, so it was time. It’s a great free-form workshop with lots of prompts and inspiration, with the focus on just getting us writing. By hand even. There’s something nice about that. So, I’m hoping at least for the next few weeks, I’ll be able to at least post on Wed mornings using something from the night before.  The first one was just a prompt to introduce ourselves to the class. While most of you reading this blog already know me, I’m posting it here anyway, because in addition to ‘just getting me writing’, I want to get back into the habit of ‘just posting’!

 

Who I am seems like much too complex of a question, but here’s a bit about me. I am married to a brilliant, beautiful man with whom I am a little bit ridiculously in love with. We’ve been married for 7 years. We have 2 beautiful, if I do say so myself, children – Max (6) and Eliana (almost 4) – and I feel so blessed to have these to beings under my watch. They are healthy and spirited and challenging and lively and they make life (or me)really really crazy, yet, they are also a grounding force, in their own crazy ways.

I am a kind, compassionate, smart sometimes funny feminist who enjoys being a woman, fighting for women and hanging out with my women friends. I get a LOT of energy from my female homies. Wait, can a homie be female? Anyway, I am also a marketing consultant – I started my own Marketing Boutique two years ago with two dear, dear friends who have become even more dear to me through our business adventure together.

I have tons of issues with money, which will probably come out in an essay or two, just like it did here – out of nowhere – jumping out wherever it can because it has been on my mind. In my space. And not – because that’s my issue with it – that I have trouble letting it flow – but you know what? The universe took care of me and sent me a brilliant business man to go ahead and fall in love with. But having money doesn’t actually keep me from having issues with it, if you know what I mean.

I am also a writer – I have a blog at frombumpkintobuddhist.com and that is very much the reason I am here tonight. I love to write. It soothes me on so many levels and inspires me on so many more. I know there is a very creative me in here somewhere that I didn’t tap into for a lot of years of my life and for the past few, I’ve realized how important it is to nurture her. YET (capital Y, Capital E, capital T) I don’t always make time for writing. My blog is an attestation to this with months of unsung posts, i.e. nothing. I always intend to write – it’s always on the list, but I rarely, after work, running (I heart running), kids, family, singing (my other creative outlet – I’ve been taking lessons now for a couple of years just so I can finally do karaoke, which is oh-my-god so much fun), friends, husband, laundry, home, etc. etc. leave time for writing.

I sometimes wonder…do I need to pay $100 just to make time for this (note money issues from earlier)?  And then I finally say, “yes, I do!” 

More about the class, if any of you locals are interested (Dean Lofton is just a lovely person to get to know, beside):

Alright alright already…Letting Go

Sometimes the universe sends me messages. Sometimes it’s not very subtle. I find when something comes through for a third time, I finally get it. Just before March, a message came through 3 times within a 5 day period: Let go! First, I was attempting to write an essay for the Listen To Your Mother event this year in Austin. It’s a wonderful event and I would love to be a part. But I was struggling a little. On an emotional level, I was feeling blocked because last year I wrote an essay, was chosen for an audition, but didn’t make it into the show. While I was truly honored to even have been chosen for a reading, particularly after going to the show and hearing how great everyone’s essays were, there was some little part of me, and when I say little part I mean, like a little girl part of me that was very very sad she didn’t get chosen. So when it came to writing one again this year, I just couldn’t come up with anything. In addition, the deadline for the essay was Feb 29 and the screening event for Miss Representation that I had been planning for months was happening on March 1. Work has been wonderfully busy –  SO – bandwidth for writing sentimental yet humorous essays was not large, and evidently non-existent. But I did try. Two nights in a row, while my head bobbed in front of my computer, I continued to plunk words on the page..determined to write my way into two mothers’ hearts. I tried all kinds of meditative exercises to get me to a place of calm where I could block out my fear of rejection. I tried facing my fear and imagining the worst that could happen, which was not so bad – simply not to be chosen. I finally got out one essay. It wasn’t my best or nearly submit-able, but I thought it might be a start. When I had first saved the essay, I was about to title it, “letting go”, but it didn’t seem right.  I wasn’t sure if that was the right title for it or if that was coming to me because I was working so hard on letting go of my fear of rejection. So I named it ListenToYourMother2012, finished the essay, and went to bed slightly unfulfilled, knowing I had not knocked that one out of the park, but patting myself on the back for staying up (sort of) to do it.

The next day I was having lunch with a friend who is one of the most creative people in my life and a great inspiration on many levels. I posed the question to her, “how do I get over my fear of rejection so that I can actually write something? I know the fear is there…I think that’s what’s stopping me, but dealing with it rationally isn’t going to help,” I explained. Instead of going to some creative woo-woo spot, she went practical on me. “Maybe you just can’t do it right now – maybe you have too much going on.” “Yes, maybe.” Not really the answer I was looking for. You know your best friends because they are always pointing out the truth about things. The exact truth you were trying to avoid. We discussed my current schedule, my lack of sleep. I explained that I wrote something the night before, but I did it between head bobs and that it wasn’t great work. “What’s it about?” she asked. She had helped me prepare for my reading for LTYM the year before. I told her the opening line, which was “The longer I am a mother, the less I care” and that it was how, as the kids get older, I realize that many of the things I’ve been worrying about since they were born  – their diets, their sleep…it doesn’t matter as much as I thought it did. In the big picture of things, they are going to turn out to be whoever they are, no matter what. She sat for a second and let it sink in, nodding. “You should call it Letting Go”.  I was slightly stunned that she picked out the same name for it that I had hearing only the first line and the overall theme. I took that as the second “letting go”. While “Letting Go” might have been a somewhat obvious title, one of the reasons I chose not to go with it, it was still striking to have someone state back to me something that I had thought of for myself, but had passed over. It was like the universe picked it up off the floor and said, “here, you dropped this.” Thanks.

During this time, I had started to become a bit stressed, worrying if anyone was going to show up to the Miss Representation event and simply wanting everything to go off without a hitch. The added stress of this did not help my ability, or my inability, to write.I then had a singing lesson. I’ve been taking these lessons for a couple years now – on and off again – and all of the coaching is done over the phone. My coach is part singing coach part life coach and I get a lot out of every lesson, even if my voice doesn’t improve. During our half hour, we were talking about not holding back, not worrying about sounding perfect. At one stage she said, “OK, we have it! We have a theme for you for March…it’s Letting Go!” I took pause. And then I explained to her that that was very odd. “I am also a writer,” I said, ‘and just the other day I wrote an essay and I called it Letting Go. It was about parenting, but that’s exactly what I was calling it.” This was not exactly true, as I mentioned, I had named it ListenToYourMother2012, but when my friend had plucked the same “Letting Go” title out of nowhere, I had decided in my head that that is probably what it needed to be called. There was a thoughtful silence on the phone and she got a little emotional. She went from emphatic “Letting go!” to somber. She said that really moved her. Me too. I was a little stunned that for the third time the message was coming through and this time it was being shouted by someone I listen to very closely. Let Go!

Now, one could pretty easily argue that the sum of the whole religion of Buddhism could, perhaps, be summed up in those two words. Let go. Letting go. Letting go of concepts and beliefs. Letting go of Ego. The only way to be ‘one with the universe’ (though no one says this in Buddhism, BTW) is to let go of the notion that you are separate from it. So having the universe tell me to “let go” was not such a different message than I’ve gotten over the last 13 years as a Buddhist, but this was definitely the most direct. But let go of what, specifically? Let go of being a part of the show? Let go of the fear of not being a part of the show? Let go of my desire to always look good, which was holding me back in my singing and probably, I figured, in my writing? So perhaps it wasn’t a message about a specific event, but a general message about my way of being?

Either way…letting go. I’ve been trying it on. I ultimately decided to let go of LTYM. I was truly too tapped to pull that one off. I decided to submit the same essay as last year – it felt better than not attempting at all. The essay, “Letting Go,” I feel, has it’s time coming, but it’s not right now. The Miss Representation screening was great. Even with all of my passion for the issues that surround that film, I had forgotten how powerful it is. It felt really good to see how bringing it to 70 more people inspired others. 

I think the point is not to figure out exactly what I’m supposed to be letting go of, but to hold this sentiment with me and use it when it makes sense. After the screening, I was moderating a panel discussing raising children in the context of a media-frenzied world, and I did my fair share of fumbling on my words or asking questions that weren’t clear and having 3 panelists and a room full of people blankly staring at me. Letting go of worrying about looking bad was coming in pretty handy there, so I used it. My essay wasn’t chosen for the LTYM event, but I let go of that meaning anything at all and I really just look forward to attending again this year. I also recently got over one of my biggest fears and I did karaoke, first in a room full of friends, and then recently in a bar, in front of my husband. “Letting go” was necessary for both of those things to happen. I guess I’ll just keep my “letting go” theme in my pocket, like a lucky rabbit’s foot, sometimes just touching it as a reminder, and sometimes using it like a charm. And I’ll let go of needing to know what it’s for.

Miss Representation: A Review

Miss Representation, a documentary film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom

(note –there is a cool-ass Austin event at the end of this posting. check it out!)

Summary: Women’s portrayal in the media generally, um, sucks. OK, so it’s not a very literary word, but that sums it up so nicely. It stinks on several fronts: crazy as this sounds, we women INTERNALIZE this crap and end up not liking ourselves for it, and it pits us against one another (which the media would have us believe is just our nature). It’s also not good because women who are in roles of power  (e.g. Hilary Clinton et al), get dogged in the media,  so that women leader role-models become fewer and further between. And, finally, it is cruddy for all because it drains us as a culture – it hurts boys and men too when one-half of a productive society is objectified and not represented in that same society.

I should start out by saying that this ‘women’s portrayal in the media’ has been a hot button of mine for quite some time. Pretty much since college when I discovered my feminist voice through the Women’s Studies program at my liberal university, where I took lots of my electives outside of the business school (I have since decided that if one takes all electives outside of the school in which your major resides, perhaps you should be looking at that. Although, what would I have done with a Women’s Studies major? Perhaps I would have gone on to have babies, write a blog from home and do reviews on documentaries covering feminist issues?). Anyway, I saw the movie a few months back on OWN (Oprah’s Network), and my head has been spinning a bit since, but let me make some sense of things. Before I begin perhaps I should declare some of my credentials that make me qualified to write a review on this film: ummmmm, hmmmm, let’s see… I am a woman. I am a feminist.  I have a daughter. My aforementioned Womens Studies classes? I am 40 now so I’m very wise. I love movies. I love to write. In the end, I guess my credentials for writing this review are pretty much the same as the woman who created the film: primarily, that I care. And I am deeply bothered by the issues that the film outlines. I want to be part of the solution. One of the biggest parts of the solution, that I see, is just to TALK about it. Among  women. Among men. With our DAUGHTERS and SONS. Before we can talk about it, however, we need to be made aware. 

The film was created by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and her credentials, despite what I wrote above, are plenty. During her MBA program at Stanford, she worked overseas working with a global environmental organization, where her primary focus was providing micro-enterprise opportunities to women. After business school she moved to Los Angeles where she performed in numerous films and TV shows, so she knows a bit about “the media” as she was a part of it. She went on to found Girls Club Entertainment to develop and produce independent films that empower women. She opens the film with any mother’s story – about having a baby. She had a baby girl, just like I did. She worried about the state of our world and the implications it had for her daughter. Yep, me too. But she, unlike myself, made an award-winning documentary film to raise awareness and to start a big conversation. She is the Founder and CEO of MissRepresentation.org – a call-to-action campaign centered on the themes the film. I simply took the pledge – it was the least I could do. And I’m organizing a screening here in Austin (details at the end of this post). 

First, allow me the grand conjecture that I believe the film to be well done – it tells a good story. It is chillingly convincing. Some of the statistics seem a  bit over-blown – the number of hours teenagers watch TV, read magazines, on the internet, etc, for example, added up to a staggering 10.5 hours of media exposure a day. Really? Don’t they go to school or something? These statistics all clearly come from other sources and the film maker simply reports them, so this isn’t really a diss on the film. I chalk this up to the statistics amp factor – all statistics are a little over-blown for one big reason: our world is crowded with messages, and every organization out there has to make their issue seem like the most pressing one so they can earn grants and attract donations. Everyone’s stats get a bit amped, within justifiable reason, of course, because most of the statistics are estimates to some degree. Who am I to say the stats are inaccurate, I’m just saying, if you are like me, you might have a skeptical moment around some of them in the film. And that’s fine, as long as you watch on because… 

This movie is really important. It’s important to women, it’s important to girls, but it’s equally important to men and boys who are as damaged by women’s portrayal in the media. There is a cost to society when half of it is not empowered, one way or another. There is also a very direct cost to the male’s psyche that a) also ends up trying to live up to some media-make-believe ideal and b) never quite finds satisfaction in relationships that do not involve a supermodel, or to be even more accurate, an air-brushed, computer image of a super model. 

In terms of watching the film- it’s pretty riveting. I found it a little frustrating at times when a big  statistic was shown (some involving rape, for example) and as my brain was trying to grasp that number, the film moved on to it’s next equally shocking statistic. I was left a little like I had been in a boxing match: here’s a  right and then a left… and now we are on to Gavin Newsom (California’s Lieutenant Governor, ex-Mayor of San Francisco AND he’s married to the film-maker, in case this felt a little random),one of several male voices in the film.

This was the other part of the movie that I had a little trouble following. It’s more a challenge with watching this type of film (lots of interviewees) than a commentary on this particular one, but there are a lot of very intelligent, very articulate people making GREAT points, but my friend and I found ourselves asking each other a lot, “wait, who is that again?” The film introduces them, of course, but there are a LOT of great participants in the film – from all kinds of industries, including academics who study the effect that this crap actually has on our own self-worth to people who come from the media. Many are highly recognizable – Katie Couric and Condoleezza Rice (and I MUST shamefully admit here I have always dismissed her due to her close affiliation with a certain G.W. Bush, whom I’ve never cared for, but I pretty much love her now – more articulate, powerful women like her please!) to name just two. One of my favorite moments was just after some negative clips about Nancy Polosi, then who should show up, but Nancy Polosi herself. It was with nice effect. And though I’ve left them for last to mention, they really are the best for last – the movie features some really articulate, AMAZING high school girls who see a light and are speaking out for girls of their and every generation. Like Rosie O’Donell said in the discussion after the film, it’s these girls that give the rest of us hope.

I’m not going to say that the issues this film raises are easy and this film allows you to walk away feeling like there are all kinds of solutions under way. Quite the opposite. The issues raised are complicated and in some ways, it seems like there are no solutions. This film will set your mind thinking, and it may not stop, so there, you’ve been warned. Part of me was sad about the making of this film because, like I said, this has been a hot button for me for nearly 20 years and after this long, of course there is some, “Really? We are still talking about this?” and some “Really? It’s even worse now?” But after the film, during the Rosie O’Donnel hosted panel-discussion, where one of the panelists was Gloria Steinem (I just did a prostration), this lovely, lovely woman who has been working through this STUFF her entire adult life, was the beacon of positive reminders on how far women HAVE come since the 50’s, the 60’s, the 70’s…to now. Rosie raised a question early on, “WHY is it so bad right now?” This was one of the questions that I was left with after the film. Gloria (we are on a first name basis now) gracefully answered with a “because we have been successful. With change in one direction, there is always back-lash.” Ahhhh. That actually really calmed the ulcer I had brewing by the end of the 90 minute film. Either from the subject-matter or the 2 pieces of chocolate cake I indulged in while watching. 

One point that the film makes and is a beautiful reminder of is that media is not a portrayal of real life, although it likes to present itself as such. It is actually a sensationalized, un-real world created for our entertainment. But we are so bombarded by it – our children are so bombarded by it (and they may not have the facilities to constantly make this distinction) that we all end up forgetting that IT’S NOT REAL. The images are real and I think they do real damage. But where this gives me an enormous amount of hope is that it’s not about changing the behemoth we call “media” (which, by the way, this film and OWN, the network that was showing this film are part of “media”, so there’s the glimmer of hope right there, which Gloria also mentions), but just reminding ourselves and educating our children what “media” is and what it’s not. These images are created to get attention, and often, to sell products. It’s our CHOICE to pay attention or to buy the products. You’ve heard it before and it shows up in this movie too: Be the change you want to see. Or in the case, that you don’t want to see.

So there you have it. And now you (for those local you’s) can SEE it too AND, just because you are you, we are throwing in a kick-ass panel discussion afterwards that will focus on kids, the effect this stuff can have on them, and how to best parent through it. Come one. Come ALL. I can’t wait to see you there.



MissRepresentation Screening

ACE Academy
3901 Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin, TX 78756 
(Congregation Beth Israel)

Buy Tickets here. Scroll down to 2nd event.

March 1st. 6:30 p.m.

Followed by panel discussion 8:30-9:30

Panelists

Lisa Wellons Rothfus, LCSW, MSW, BeD. 
Licensed Psychotherapist with 23 years of experience working with individuals, families, groups, and schools. About KidKonnect: the only program in Austin that combines the disciplines of neuroscience, psychology, biology, and gender difference research to help parents and educators more effectively connect with and teach kids.

Julia Cuba, Executive Director of GENAustin (Girls Empowerment Network) A career of working in not-for-profit programs with women and at-risk girls, including Girls Scouts of Central TX. GENAustin works with girls to teach critical thinking, assisting girls to think independent of peers and the media.

Mark White, LCSW, LMFT 
Mark White is a social worker and licensed psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in children, adolescents, parent consultation, families, and group therapy.

Audience

Parents and high school age children (but anyone welcome at parents own discretion). The film is not rated, but this is what Common Sense Media has to say.

Net proceeds to benefit ACE Academy

Sponsored by ThreeDefined
Call Carmen Sutherland, 415.531.6765 with questions