Thursday, February 4, 2016

In Need of Rest I wrestle with the idea of success

When your computer freezes and then dies at 3:16am it's nice to have a phone to vent through, to take a moment to take stock of how effective you've been able to be over the past few hours/days...

In the past two days, while feeling woefully inadequate, I have managed to feed my kids. And play with them. And they made a volcano in our kitchen and then experimented with various substances to see how they would effect it - acid? Base? Solid? Liquid?...and then they baked mini vanilla cupcakes, doing all the math and measuring and mixing...
I took them to a trampoline class, four jiujitsu classes (and assisted in two), I saw two doctors, taught an acting workshop (and had so many kids thank me and hug me I thought my heart might explode), arranged meetings between three different organizations and reached out to connect an additional two, discussed logistics involving multiple countries and zero budget, cuddled with my husband and cats while watching parks & rec, cuddled with my kids and cats, discussed puberty and civics and  politics with my kiddos, listened to so many stories and worked on developing my first (recent) guerrilla art piece, finally connected with other parents for play dates, coaxed a shy child into participation and fun, saw a few friends, counseled a few friends through crises of differing sizes, thought seriously about how to find paying work to keep us out of debt and feared for so so so many things. 
I fear I am forgetting something...

But am I doing ok? It takes everything I have not to list off the things I HAVENT done yet- I need new headshots to even get in to any auditions Which I need to search for and find, and I really want to be creating anyway and it's so hard to start with nothing but I want all my effort to go towards people who have nothing, not even homes, sometimes not even each I do my best as a down to earth stateside support system...and hope that maybe, perhaps, dayenu, that is enough for the world, even when it doesn't feel like it was for me.

Carmen Kitty helps me with my existential angst...and my work.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ultimate Fighters!

In honor of his big win yesterday - and to offset the rather sad tone I've been stuck in of late - I thought I'd make a little post about that time my three silly kiddos took on Coach Ryan...AKA The winner of this season's The Ultimate Fighter.  Wooooooo whoooooo!!

TUF 22 Champ Ryan Hall with three vicious opponents
...Actually I don't even really have anything to say about it, I am just super happy for Ryan -and his fabulous wife Jen, an accomplished marital artist herself, who runs the business and supported him through this journey- and wanted an excuse to publicly congratulate them on this exciting development.  Yesterday Ryan dominated Artem "The Russian Hammer" Lobov to win a UFC contract, in addition to the championship accolades inherent to this show/fight.  We are all so thrilled, and proud, of our friends and teachers!

I am extremely grateful that we get to train with such high caliber athletes - and PEOPLE! Seriously, you don't find hearts this big and open all that often.  (They have even made their gym - Fifty/50 Marital Arts Academy - a drop off point for Carry The Future!) They maintain a fun, supportive, warm atmosphere at their studio which makes the high level training they provide like candy...we spend hours there every time we go, because we love being there, and consider the people there good friends at this point.  They're good folks.

So, Ryan and Jen - CONGRATULATIONS!!! We are beyond thrilled for you.  And while I'm waxing gushy anyway, let me just say - you guys have done so much for our family, and we do not at all take for granted how incredibly lucky we are to have you in our lives. Here's to new adventures!!

Calliope springs to action in a shadowboxing match with Ryan while her sisters & Jen look on...

Ryan gets a taste of his own medicine as Cadence refuses to get off of him. :-P

Hazel smiles with glee as she takes Ryan's back...kinda. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Finding a Purpose

Today would have been my Mom's 60th birthday.  Initially tempted to spend the day wishing she was still around for us to tease about getting old (and being proved decidedly wrong), I have found a far, far better use of this special day.

I spent a significant chunk of my adolescence and young adulthood working on educating people about the importance of empathy and the dangers of dissociating individuals from the overwhelming statistics that make up their circumstances.  As such, I have spent more than the usual amount of time questioning: "What would I do, if this was happening today?"  Obviously, we all like to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and assume that we would stand up and do the right thing...but no one ever knows for sure until they are actually in the unfathomable reality of crisis. For so many Americans, Europeans, and relatively safe peoples around the world, it is all too easy to sit back in complacency and feel too removed to be effected...including myself.  

Ever since the current "refugee crisis" first made itself known, I have felt a deep, nagging, urgent sense that I absolutely HAD to do something tangible to help.  To practice what I have so often preached, and taken the risk of daring to reach out to people caught up in the overwhelming displacement.  But...what could I do?  I'm a full time, homeschooling mom, a freelance performer, a stuttered blogger, an amateur photographer...and I'm no where near the epicenter of what's going on and no one was going to come to me for help, and without a buttload of cash, there is nothing I can do to help the poor souls washing up on foreign shores, so far away, anyhow.  So I sat back and relegated that nagging need to do something to the bin of misguided dreams, and hid it under a thin veil of justification.

But that didn't last.  I am a mom, and that's a visceral reality that I can never truly turn off.  Seeing images of these families with young children arriving, soaked, scared, exhausted; watching videos of volunteers wrap tiny children in emergency blankets, and thinking about the long, dangerous journey most of them still have ahead of them, one of my frequent thoughts among the obvious heartbreak is:  how are they going to get those kids to continue to travel so far?  On limited food and next to no resources, carrying a baby or a toddler on such long travails - often over treacherous terrain - becomes a seriously perilous undertaking.  Any rocky slope would necessitate using your hands for stability or to catch yourself...which is next to impossible with an infant in tow.  I never used a stroller, for any of my three children, and am therefore very familiar with the comfort, sense of security (for both parent and child), warmth, and safety a baby carrier can provide - not to mention the ease of mobility and having your hands free!  I found myself thinking; "If only they had carriers, this would still be hard but it would be so much more doable."  But, still, nothing clicked, and I noted that my need to help was growing a healthy layer of guilt around it, but I left it in that discard bin, the veil of justification stubbornly insisting that I have no power.

Until yesterday.  Yesterday, I came across a news article about a mom in California, who - just as I had - saw the need for carriers for these families, but unlike me, she didn't let herself rest within that uncomfortable complacency.  She grabbed the bull by the horns and said "ok, let's do this."  And she asked people to donate carriers, then packed them up, flew to Greece, and personally strapped these babies in safely by fitting each one onto a struggling caretaker.  I was in AWE.  I cried.  In that moment, my hands shaking and my whole being rattled; that need to help threw off that veil, burst out of the discard bin, and manifested in a full, unshakeable form:  I had to join her.  I have to do this, and not just donate carriers and spread the word...All the work I've done over the years, all the effort I have put in to rallying people, it was all culminating in this moment.  This was something I could viscerally relate to, something that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, will help these families in a simple, tangible, and potentially even life saving way, and with the skills I have honed in my years of production and management, it is something actually within my means to do. I absolutely must go there and do this.

So, I am.  I have joined her organization, Carry the Future, as a volunteer.  Over the coming weeks I will be collecting new or gently used baby carriers* and plan to fly to the Greek Isles (or wherever we are needed) and assist with the direct distribution of these carriers to the families that need them. Not an easy undertaking, I know, but I felt called to do this, and committing to it brought on an enormous wave of relief. I can't be true to myself - or to anything that I aspire to - if I don't get out there and get my hands dirty in an effort to do just a spot of good. And in the end, I will be coming home to a warm, safe, happy home filled with family, support, food, and security...who am I to deny even the tiniest relief to these families who deserve no less, and yet have been caught up in circumstances beyond their control, leaving them with virtually none of it. Regardless of politics, I am sure we can all agree that the children do not deserve any of this.  So please, help me to help them.

If you would like to donate a carrier, please let me know.  I am working to establish easily accessible drop off points around the area (and have partnered with many other wonderful volunteers to coordinate efforts across the DC metro region, spanning north to Baltimore and south to Richmond), and will be collecting donated carriers at my home and at local meet ups.  I may even be able to do some local pickups.    
Alternatively, anyone can ship new carriers directly to the organization’s headquarters in California. 
I will be doing this in honor of these families, as well as my mom, and of course of my dear friend Zoë, who I know would be right there beside me on this one if she were still around.  We lost her last year and never did get to go with her to her family home in Lesbos as she so often said she wanted.  I may well see those shores soon, Zoë, and I wish you could be there with me.

For further information about Carry the Future and what we do, please see our website:
Your help in spreading the word would be greatly appreciated! 

Carry The Future founder Cristal Munoz-Logothetis with one of the many recipients of her efforts.
Love and peace, all.
*soft structured baby and child carriers only. No car seats, no metal frames, no strollers, no wraps, no slings. Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs) are basically any carrier that has clasps or harnesses, and Mei Teis (square cloth with four ties). A few examples are Baby Bjorn, Kolcraft, MobyGo and Ergo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The paralysis of being 2 years out

Because words don't seem to be today's thing:


I love you. I miss you. My heart feels clogged and stuffy when I allow myself to notice that you are no longer here.

I feel your presence in the very core of my being; you are in everything, you are here and present even as time marches farther from your physical manifestation.
And so I feel supported and loved as though nothing has changed, until I stop for a half a second.

Until I think of something perfect I just know you'd love to hear.

Until I find news that may help you somehow.

And I can't reach out to share.
I can't call, or text, or talk your ear off as I always did.
I can't hug, or tease, or comfort you and I can't subject you to my latest culinary experimentation...
In those moments, in those moments my heart breaks.

Part of me doesn't want to thrive anymore. Part of me wants to just stop and go find mom. Part of me thinks it's unfair for you to miss the best parts of my life, so I shouldn't strive for more than the wonderful things I have now.

But I also know that the part of you that refused to die because "Kate won't be Ok" would be hurt beyond belief if I gave up. That the part of you that gave up so much in the name of motherhood and giving your kids the best life had to offer would be offended, that your determination to do everything well would feel betrayed, were the child you raised to stop striving for her own goals and dreams, didn't jump at opportunity...

And really, I don't want to stop, I don't want to settle or lose my connection to my own children, even if they are harnessed to the breakneck speed of life and there is no looking back. 

But I miss you something fierce, mama, and I wish I could still have you here with me, and we could get to see the kooky old lady you were always supposed to become.

Mom & Hazel

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What the...

I am currently on a bus en route to a two week immersive intensive retreat. I am so excited...except that every fiber of my being is screaming out to just turn around and go scoop up my babies. 

I know they will be more than fine, and I know this is good for all of us, but man does this feel like an inability to breathe! I have not been away from an of my kids for even as much as 24 hours. For the last 8 years (9 if your count pregnancy) I have spent no more than a few hours at a time away from my children. And now, all of a sudden, I will be away from them for more than two solid weeks. 
I have no doubt that this will be weird and bizarre for them, too, but I trust that they will also have fun - they have each other, and James, and the kitties, and Kelly is in town to hang out with them in my stead, and this weekend my dad and Pepper are even here...they will be fine.
As for me, I know this will be fun and beneficial, but I have been on my own since just before 10am and this already marks more solid, unbroken, uninterrupted solitary time than I have had in something like a decade and I'm not sure how to handle it!
It's so weird to have only me to focus on, I feel like so much attention and awareness is suddenly just on me that it's like I'm living in my face. I know that is a weird statement, but watching out this bus window I feel like I see and hear and feel so much just for myself that it has become sensory overload and it feels like my face is buzzing, or something.  THIS IS SO WEIRD. Where are my kids? I need to give them big hugs.

The very full house I left behind. I love you all so much! Miss you already!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Year 8 complete

This kidlet-o-mine celebrates 8 whole years today...I cannot believe it. I am so proud of and inspired by you, Cadence Ann.  I can already feel you growing away from the tiny creature you once were, beginning to sprout your wings and move on to becoming an independent being, off in the world.  I'm gonna hang on to these amazing days we have now, where I still get the occasional cuddle and constant companionship from you. To say I'm going to miss you when you are grown is a massive understatement; but I adore watching you flourish and expand your horizons and take those leaps; you are doing splendidly, my dear. I love who you are, who you are becoming, seeing you realize your deserve so much more than I can give you, so go ahead and create a life worthy of YOU. You're off to a great start.

Happy Birthday, my Cadiebug!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Historic Day of Love

I cried when I got to tell my children that they and their friends will be free to marry whoever they want to when they are grown. My heart soars knowing that, whatever social prejudices may linger, a basic respect for love is now on the side of the law, and I cried when I realized that their own kids, should they have any, will grow up thinking that those prejudices are so weird and retro. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who worked towards this.

This doesn't feel like victory, it feels like the lifting of a heavy weight, like regaining the ability to breathe, like relief.

Celebrating in style

So happy today.