Friday, February 26, 2010

Just Stuff

I bought a special journal for my dad journal. It has a soft blue leather cover. I haven't bought a journal in so long, it was fun to go through the selection... I picked up so many and felt them. I have been toying with the idea of leather wrapped journals. That dream is getting closer and I think I will be learning how to do that soon.

I also ordered some supplies yesterday for new products for my shop, and will replenish the journal supply shortly after the move. However, in the meantime, check out the new photos I've added... many have a soft, feminine touch.

That reminds me. I'm still debating on whether or not to put my shop on vacation mode while I move. I've heard pros and cons. Any thoughts?

The past two nights, I've been unable to sleep well. Lots of weird dreams, tossing and turning. Waking several times throughout the night. So tonight, with no early alarm tomorrow, I'm taking melatonin and getting back on track with my sleep.

Sunday's the day we get our keys!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Easing out

I'm going to list an edited version of this photo today. One where I made it look softer, older, more muted. I was just sitting here thinking about photography, and I have not been very friendly with my cameras lately. Hopefully Saturday I can change that. If not, then next week.

I get my keys to the new apartment on Sunday! And we will start moving stuff in. I am thrilled at starting this new part of my life. I do wish Dad was here to talk to about it. But I'll continue to write in my Dad journal. Last night was one of those nights. A night where exhaustion hit me, and I had reached for the phone to call Dad a little earlier in the evening. And I allowed the tears to come. It was ok.

I entered that travel photography contest. The grand prize is a trip for 2 to Hawaii for 5 days. The other prizes are pretty high dollar gift certificates to local camera shops. We watched "couples retreat" last night and it was filmed in Bora Bora. It is worth it to watch for the scenery alone. And though I've never had any desire to go to Hawaii, or Bora Bora, or such places, now I yearn to have that type of beauty around me.

We will see what the future holds. I am noticing a definite shift already, as I get closer to moving out of the home where guilt and manipulation are served for dinner.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Moving Forward

I was talking to some friends online yesterday about my grief. I told them I felt like I had concrete boots on and I was just exhausted from trying to move forward. I was resigned to feeling that way for a long time.

But. I have 2 deadlines this week. One for a photo contest, and one for that photography-only show (the show I had talked to Dad about and he had encouraged me like mad). So, I made a list. A very small list, but it got the basics done. I asked for help, and my submissions are being taken in.

That one small move lifted my spirits. It made me realize many things. One, that my grieving won't be done for a very long time, and some days I will cry buckets. Two, that Dad knew me as a very purpose-filled person. He would not want his death to rob me of that.

I did start a Dad journal. With a conversation of sorts... things I want Dad to know, things I'm feeling, dreams I have. I'm getting by, with a little help from my friends.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

At a Loss

I am at a loss. And here's why. What I want to do: stay in bed, cry, feel all the pain that's coming my way. What I don't want to do: go to work, take photos, call family members to check on them, list things in my etsy shop, do this week of The Artist's Way, take care of myself.

I have never been in this position before. I've always known what's best and done it. And not only that, but I have always guided others. Perhaps I still do know what's best, but I don't feel compelled at all.

A friend suggested yesterday writing a letter to dad and maybe tying it to a balloon to release. Perhaps I might do that, I don't know. I don't feel equipped to cope with all this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to the regular Schedule

This is last weeks picture of the barn. I have the 6 or 7 weeks so far in a file on my desktop and I need to upload them to flickr for my group I'm planning to call "Back to the Earth".

I'm trying to jump back on the horse today with blogging. It's a bit difficult, as Dad had been a very loyal reader of the blog. The last thing he said to me besides "I love you" was "You've got to stay away from them crazymakers!" I do believe that's the best advice I've ever received.

So, slowly, I'm trying to ease back into my routines. I did realize yesterday why it's taken me so long to just assume all the old routines. When I do that, I go on autopilot. Full autopilot. And I pick up my phone to call Dad.

So, back to routine with some revisions. I'll get there. Oh yeah... what have I learned? I learned from Dad to be the best person I can. I learned from his death to pursue my dreams while I have time. I will be listing and prioritizing!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Sad Day

The world lost an amazing man today. My father passed in the early hours of the morning. I am extremely raw and tender still and I can't say much. My heart hurts. I will say that I think he was this blog's biggest fan, and I am thankful for every single memory I have.

If you're a new reader, type 'Dad' into the blog search bar at the top left. You'll see what my dad means to me.

I will be absent for a time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Favorite Job

I was talking to one of our drivers at work the other day. We were talking about how we'd like to go through life making things a little better as we go. It made me remember my most rewarding job. Ok, parenting has been my *most* rewarding, but I am talking about jobs with a tangible paycheck.

In another life, I was a job developer for Developmentally Disabled adults. I would go out into the community, find jobs for them, train them, and follow through. However, my favorite story doesn't involve community employment.

I had a client named Ron. Ron had cerebral palsy and mental retardation. He was about 40, drove an electric wheelchair and only had use of his right arm and hand enough to feed himself and control his chair. Ron had never worked a day in his life.

I got a contract for my clients to shred confidential documents. Ron could not read, so there was no need to worry about him reading what he was shredding, so staff signed the confidentiality agreements, sorted and weighed the paper and Ron got to work. Ron was slow to start, but he caught on. His first check was something like $0.48 and he was thrilled!!! It was the first time, like I said, that he had earned anything.

A few paychecks later, and he was earning $10-30 each paycheck. Ron bought me a hamburger, he was so happy!

So... that was my favorite job. I made the world a little better with that one.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Looking forward

I woke up exhausted this morning. Major drama. And I've been here long enough to know it's going to get worse before it gets better. So, knowing that, I really don't want to write about that any more.

I want to write about the future, the amazing things right around the bend. I have an all photographer show coming up. I will be hanging my photography in 2 establisments (so far) this year. I will be tap-tap-tapping away at the keyboard to work on my novel. I will have a new home. New space.

I got my smudge sticks yesterday for my new apartment. I am so excited about getting the keys at the end of the month and moving stuff over. I will post pictures when I am all done setting everything up. It may be awhile.

I am also looking forward to Spring Break, and spending some extra time with my boys in my new home. Life is looking up!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Manipulation. It's What's For Dinner.

I have a few weeks left. 18 days til I get my keys. 4 1/2 weeks til this apartment has to be turned back in. At some point during that 2 week period, I will become closer to freedom.

I will start a new diet. I will start new habits. My current diet consists of manipulation. Games. Guilt. Control. I will toss that very lousy diet out the window and start fresh. My new diet will consist of meditation, conversation, peace, and understanding.

I will try to keep this as universal as possible, but there will be times, like today, when it's all about me. However, I only put it on here because I know I'm not the only one going through this type of situation.

My husband and I reached a conclusion MONTHS ago to divorce. It was absolutely mutual, though he was the one to finally voice it (I will share the reasons for that someday...). And, due to a lease, we chose to live together for about 5 more months. One would think any control issues would be done with.

Honestly, though, he still feels that his time off work should be filled with my presence. If he goes anywhere, he tries to include me, and if I go anywhere, he expects to be included. I have no idea any more how to get things through his head. I stopped eating the game playing diet awhile back, though he still tries to serve it to me nightly. Have any of you been there? Do any of you have any advice?

In a few weeks, I will be all moved. I don't even plan on telling him exactly where I'm moving to, truthfully. My home will be full of peace, with no room for the games. But until then... do I grin and bear it?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I could have very easily lost a friend this week due to guilt. I did lose a sister for 7 years due to guilt. Guilt is a powerful force in our lives. We feel guilt if we work too much, we feel guilt if we don't work enough. We feel guilt if dinner isn't ready exactly at a specified time. We feel guilt if that special shirt isn't clean (even if it was never put in the hamper).

What is the deal??? Why does guilt have such a hold on us? I have one very good friend who feels very little guilt. Well, I mean, all the unnecessary crap we all feel. If one of my shirts hadn't been laundered and I tried to make him feel guilty of that (he was the last to do the laundry), he'd put it right back in my lap and not feel a twinge of guilt.

So... um... maybe I hit on something there. He refused to own the guilt that I tried to put on him. So many games out there, so many "guilt trips" as people say. I don't want to exclude men today, but honestly, as women, we seem to own a lot of extra guilt. Other women lay it on us, men sometimes lay it on us, our children definitely do, as do our parents. Out of fairness to my dad, he has NEVER tried to guilt me about a thing. But I've heard a lot of stories about parents laying on the guilt.

But why do we so readily own it. If we have a child who acts out, we own the guilt for that automatically. We wonder what we did wrong, or how we could have prevented it. If we have a spouse who is depressed, angry, withdrawn, we wonder what we did to cause that.

As long as we own all this guilt, every one of these people has immense control over us and our own happiness. You can't go skipping through the tulips if you are hunkered down with all the guilt people have been piling on top of you.

I have started imagining a shield in my hands. You know, like in midievel times. I see my loved ones fling that guilt my way and I deflect it. It gets tossed onto the floor where it will just be vacuumed up later. But if I discover that I am actually feeling it, I have a talk with myself to see why. If I need to change something in my day to day, or need to make a note of, I do so. You can acknowledge a transgression and fix the problem without then carrying around all the guilt.

I wish that we could wage a revolt. A war against all these guilt trips. A battle against emotional manipulation. What we can do is start with ourselves. Start by making a conscious choice to NOT toss any guilt at anyone. And we can start by not owning guilt thrown our way.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Groundhog Day

I woke up tired today. And I have the feeling like I am living that movie Groundhog Day. Every week day feels the same. Every weekend feels the same. And not necessarily in a good way.

About the weekdays... I'm in a pretty non-challenging job. But that's ok, I am extremely thankful to have a job! I have a lot of spare time while there, and am challenging myself to keep busy. Boredom is not my friend.

The weekends will change very soon, with a few of them concentrated on moving. Then on decorating. Then, hopefully traveling and writing will fill the voids after that.

I will concentrate today on making my day-to-day stuff better. So I will have less of a Groundhog Day feel. I am willing to try suggestions...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Seeking Balance

I noticed yesterday that I'm an all-in kinda girl. Lately my thoughts have been on freelance writing, and writing my Round Table Discussions. I haven't taken a photo in at least a week, or even edited one.

When I took the above photo, we were at Multnomah Falls. I have photos from the same area from over a year ago. I've been struggling lately with seeing the same sights all the time. They are breathtaking and majestic. But I have captured them in the past. I think that's why I'm drawn to be a travel photographer and writer. I ache for the new. I plan on many new trips this summer, and hopefully it will be the start of something.

I don't want to stop doing photography. Yet I've shoved it to the back. I have had many people contact me about doing Round Table Discussions, but nothing concrete has been set up yet. Still, no photos.

I tried editing some photos last night, and probably would have been more successful, but other things came up and took precedence (mainly a lot of cleaning since we were just told our annual apartment inspection is today). This weekend I hope to find more time for editing and listing photos.

And more time to dream of places to photo. I am moving next month, it's only one town over, but there are new sites. Lots of discovery will occur, and I will take my camera.

Balance will not always elude me. I will find a way to make all of my dreams fit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Online Communication.

So... there's some turmoil in my life. Some family crap going on. I reacted to a comment, and now I'm being told that comment meant something completely different. My reaction was to delete it. So now... I'm the bad guy. I love family. In the end, this disagreement won't matter. One among many in a lifetime.

It does bring up one thing though. It's very difficult to know exactly how someone means anything they say. Same with text messages. You cannot really convey inflections. How many times have you emailed, IM'd, or texted someone, only to get back the most bizarre response because they didn't understand your original message?

That happened with me a couple weeks ago. A work friend sent a text to me. I responded, but apparently he didn't think my response was... excited enough, real, non-sarcastic, whatever. So then I got a barrage of messages and I was left sitting there thinking WTH.

Anyway... I will try to do better with my online (or text) correspondences. Or I will use voice communication more often. I will wait to discuss the current situation though because it's way too inflamed right now.

As you communicate today... try to be clear.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Round Table Discussion, Part 2 Walking the Cultural Line

Aisha: First of all I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me about this. There are not that many people out there, in my opinion that are brave enough to broach this subject, much less do a collaborative blog post about it.

Me: It's absolutely my pleasure! Let's expose things as they really are... we all see them, let's just bring them to the forefront!

Aisha: ok so my parents are both immigrants from Pakistan. My dad came over in 1975 and then my mom came to Canada in 1978. They met for the first time at their wedding!

Me: wow... have they told you how that was?

Aisha: Yeah I've asked them over the years, but to be honest, when I was younger I wasn't that interested in it. As I grew older, I realized how difficult that must have been for them. my dad, I think there was an element of excitement, you know getting out to a new country. Back in those days, and even now, anywhere outside of Pakistan was a dreamland, where you could get rich and do anything that you wanted! For my mom, I think it was much harder. She and my dad talked on the phone and wrote letters once they got engaged (over the phone!) but I am sure that it was really hard for her to leave her family and go to a new country to meet this guy that basically she didn't really know. So they got married and I was born in 1979. They quickly found other Pakistani immigrants to socialize with, some of whom they already knew, so I know that that made things easier.

Me: And to this day, you have a Pakistani community that you are involved in?

Aisha: Yes, they still talk to the people that they hung around with in their younger days :) But this was in Canada, and soon after, they ended up moving to first Kansas and then Oklahoma, for my dad's business. That's where they still live, where I grew up, and where my younger sister was born.

Me: How was growing up in Oklahoma as a Pakistani?

Aisha: I know that Oklahoma is a big part of the Bible belt, but I really never experienced any type of prejudice when I went to school or went shopping or whatever.

Me: So, you never felt different at all?

Aisha: Not when I was younger, no. I never really grasped that there were any differences between me and my friends. We all had the same amount of freedom at that age, (this is elementary school) and even when Christmas came around, I really didn't feel left out because I participated at school in all the festivities, like singing carols and exchanging gifts.

Me: Were you raised Muslim? If so, what does it mean to be raised Muslim?

Aisha: Yes most definitely! From the time that we are very young, we are taught that we pray five time a day, that we should read the Holy Quran daily and that we should never lie...just basic teachings that young kids can understand. The more in-depth stuff came later on. I remember that as I got older, I wasn't able to wear short dresses anymore. I really didnt mind to be honest. And my mom would always tell me not to talk to boys :) She even came to my class one time, I think this was in third grade to ask my teacher to make sure that I wasn't seated next to a boy! We were taught that we had arranged marriages...but my parents really stressed the importance of education.

Me: Wow. Did you have an arranged marriage?

Aisha: I did! Well, kind of arranged, we both liked each other, but we were really young when we got engaged, I was 16 (!) and he was 24...needless to say, my friends were impressed :D

Me: So you had met previously, but basically your parents picked for you?

Aisha: Exactly, and in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that he is also my cousin, and cousin marriages are still a widespread norm in the Muslim community. My first cousin, my mom's sister's son. He grew up in Pakistan, so we didn't really see each other growing up. But I was always told that in our culture, we do marry our cousins, so it just wasn't weird for me

Me: So, you were raised to pray 5 times a day, to read the Holy Quran, and had arranged marriages. When did it occur to you that you were any bit different from your friends in school?

Aisha: would say about 7th grade, when most kids are getting more freedom to go out to friends' houses and the movies or wherever. I would get asked by friends to come over or go out to see a movie and I would ask my mom and she would say no. After a while, I stopped asking her and just told my friends that I couldn't go.

Me: Let's hop forward a bit. You married, and had children. Do you primarily "hang out" with Pakistani's? Are you raising your children with Muslim values?

Aisha: yes we are raising our children as Muslims. I would say that most of my social group is made up of other Pakistani-American girls like me, who grew up here. A lot of them went through the same stuff that I did. However, I do have some really good American friends as well. I would say that it's about 70/30. whereas when I was growing up, I had more non-Muslim friends...some of whom I still am friends with.

Me: I met you online, through your Etsy shop, and prior to some in depth conversations, I had no idea that you were Muslim, Pakistani, etc. Then we talked, and I discovered more about you. Have you had any bad reactions when people discovered your background?

Aisha: I am one of the fortunate ones I think. I really haven't had anyone recoil from me once they find out that I am a Muslim, which is good.

Me: I am glad for that! This year, on the anniversary of 9/11, one of my facebook contacts referred to Muslims as 'ragheads'. I wept when I saw that. How has life changed for you since 9/11?

Aisha: It's sad that there are people out there who use derogatory terms like that. I still remember on 9/11, I was scared to go out in my native Pakistani clothes. I don't wear a headscarf and I do wear jeans and stuff, but I think that the Pakistani dress is beautiful and I have a lot of them, so I do wear them regularly. I usually get compliments and inquiries of where to get them. But that day I was scared and we were told not to wear them when we went out, for our own safety. Our mosque here in New Jersey was vandalized, but as I said before, I was fortunate, and I wasn't the direct target of anything vicious. Day to day wise, I think that my job to promote Islam as a peaceful religion has gotten that much harder. Growing up in OK, not many people knew that much about Islam, but now they are subjected to a lot of misinformation which unfortunately they believe to be true.

So now when I talk to people, I first have to try to correct any misunderstanding that they have, and believe me, that is hard. There are people who just have made up their minds and there is no changing them.

Me: So, you have been affected more since 9/11, but not directly?

Aisha: exactly right. I have had friends who were attacked, a good friend of mine who does wear hijab (the headscarf) was attacked outside her dorm building and they ripped off her scarf and hurt her really badly. I wonder if things for me would have been different if I did wear hijab,and I am sure that would have been. I mean I look different, you know dark hair and all that, but I have no accent when I speak English, so I think that sometimes throws people off. A lot of people get impressed and tell me, "Wow, your English is really good!" :D

Me: My heart hurts for the innocents harmed. I don't understand. I don't understand hating an entire people because of the action of a few.

Aisha: You are so right! It IS just a few, compared to the millions of peaceful Muslims. I guess that that is just the way of the world.

Me: Do you have any fear of your children being targeting in our post-9/11 United States?

Aisha: I have had my fears of course, I am very careful with them, but I dont want to be so overprotective that I smother them. I just hope that if I raise them to be loving and respectful, and strong at the same time, that they will be able to stand up for themselves if ever they face anything like that.

Me: I think all parents face the same fears... protection verses over-protection. How much is the right amount?

Aisha: Exactly! And that is how EVERY parent is reagardless or race, religion, creed, or nationality. Why can't we focus on those similarities instead of exacerbating our differences?

Me: I totally agree! Our original topic was "Walking the Cultural Line". Have we addressed that? What more would you like to add?

Aisha: Another thing I just wanted to touch on was my jewelry. In our culture, crafting is a hobby, not really a way of life or a means of income, unless you are poor. When I started telling people in my community that I was designing, making, and selling jewelry, I can see on their faces that they are surprised. To their way of thinking, they think that perhaps something is wrong in my marriage, or that my husband is not supporting me anymore, for what other reason would I have to make and sell stuff? That is how the vast majority of people in our culture, that I have encountered at least and have had to deal with, view what I do. It really gets me down sometimes, and for that reason, I don't feel like an artist. Now, if I had a huge corporation and was making millions from my jewelry, yeah, then they would be impressed. I'm not saying that the main focus here is money. They just don't understand the concept of being fulfilled through creating. They think that if you are stable and are able to pay bills and educate your children, that should be enough for one to be fulfilled. I am not doing my art for money. I just happen to love creating, I always have. It's like your round table discussion with Mich, I have to whack those weeds away!

I have to add here that even though my husband grew up in Pakistan, he has been incredibly supportive of my jewelry business. Without that support, I would not be able to operate at this leverl...and in the end, that is really all the support I need :)


I've gotten an amazing response from my first round table discussion! The next one will be coming tomorrow. And if you'd like to be part of a future one, please let me know!

I remember that as a teenager, I was very meek and mild, for the most part. Then in my first marriage, I wanted to be superwife and supermom. So, for the first half at least, I bent over backwards to try to please my husband, but I fought like a bear for my kids sake at the same time. Yin and Yang perhaps. When I met my current husband, the boys were all in school, my delusions of marriage were shattered. I was damaged. And, quite honestly, he used that.

I don't even know that it was intentional, but it's true. He came to me disguised as a wounded bird and I set out to fix him. Before I knew it we were married, though my psyche never accepted it (never once remembered our anniversary on the date). We floated through on a co-dependant cloud. I would often question 'how did I get here?'. I wonder if he did as well.

And now, at the very end, he shoves, then he pulls. I keep my arms out so he has to keep his distance (all metaphorically, of course). It's just like a crazymaker with your inner artist. They see you growing, moving on your own, they need to attack in some way to break you a little to bring you crawling back.

I'm done, and I've moved on. And now that I can see clearly, I hope to be more aware in any future relationships.

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