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DAB at Your Haters

“DAB at your haters!!”

These wise words were shared with me recently by my daughter. My 7 year-old just gets it.

 

So maybe I was channeling her vibe when I “dabbed at my haters” on Facebook earlier this week. Who knows?  What I do know is that it feels hella good to take one’s power back.

I’m fine, y’all. (Relatively speaking.) It wasn’t a cry for help and I wasn’t particularly upset when I wrote that thing that I wrote. Sometimes a girl just really needs to tell people to FUCK OFF and mean it.

I don’t feel bad about the person that I am or what I do. I’m fucking amazing. There. I said it. And I know that my solid sense of self is a big reason why I have something that so many others lack —-> Empathy.

I can’t fix that for people, but I can decide what I want taking up space in my life.

End of story. It wasn’t even a very interesting one.

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That Time I Thought About My Mortality – A Throwback

When I logged back into my WordPress account after my hiatus ended, I found this long-forgotten blog entry that I never published almost 2 years ago. Though, I posted something on Facebook about the incident at the time, this moment in my life would eventually just become buried somewhere in my brain and my Facebook memories to not be thought of very often again.

“At the forefront of my recent thoughts has been the issue of mortality. And not in that vague acknowledgment we all have that, of course, one day we will die, but it isn’t really something I need to worry about facing today. More of the… in your face… there could be something potentially really wrong with you… so maybe you should start fucking processing that.

At the end of August I found a good sized lump in my right breast, which I promptly tried to denial out of existence. After a little over a month I gave up on that strategy, especially since it was pretty ineffective, and went in for a breast exam. This then lead to an ultrasound and mammogram, and today my very last appointment with a breast specialist. And I’m FINE! Everything is fine. Although, I won’t lie and say there isn’t an ultra paranoid part of myself that worries… What if they are fucking wrong???!! But I’ll keep burying that paranoid little beast.

I cried today from relief. I cried last week from relief when the radiologist told me everything looked clear. But the weeks before that I cried from fear. The kind of gut deep fear that leaves you thinking… I’m just not ready. And if I were to die soon… would I be happy with the way I’ve lived my life? With the relationships I’ve formed? With how I treat my children? What would I change?

And I just don’t know. But I think that it’s time to start exploring them.

FYI: Things that aren’t comforting to someone as they wait to have their breast screened for cancer… a HUGE wall memorial to a woman that died at the age of 32 from breast cancer, including a picture of her with her 3 year old daughter. Just. No.”

I didn’t actually spend any time re-evaluating my life. Go figure.

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A Story Where I Fly

I had a dream that I was at an event for my work, which seems trivial enough, only in this dream we are running behind on our set-up. BIG no-no. I’m walking around the event space trying find our hostess. She has answers to my questions. I NEED HER.  But then I realize that all the women in this room look too similar to each other, and I can’t remember what she looks like. I can’t remember her name.

I step outside to find my mom (and business partner). Hopefully she REMEMBERS her name, but I can’t find her. I look around and realize that I’m in a huge serious of buildings that look like stores, maybe a mall, and there are people EVERYWHERE. Where is she??!! I can’t find her. We need to hurry. We are running out of time.

I turn around and I can’t see the way back. My heart rate is spazzing. I start hectically rushing in the direction that I THINK will get me back to my event, pushing through the crowds and then down an empty, dark hallway with a series of heavy doors. I rush out the final doors and listen to it close with a click behind me. I’m outside.

This isn’t where I’m supposed to be!! I need to get back in!! I’m sure the door will be locked and I will have to find a new way to get back inside, but I’m a lucky girl. The door opens up for me, and I back track through the doors and head in a new direction. Too much time has passed. OMG. I have no idea where I am. We don’t have enough time for set up before the event starts. I still don’t know her fucking name.

I run outside into brightness, and when my eyes adjust, I realize I’ve somehow found my way into a stadium – at the very top. My view is fabulous, and I can see the buildings where I need to be. I start rushing down the stadium stairs. I gain momentum – I’m flying. As I get to the bottom I can’t possibly stop, so of course I become air-bound. I’m flying (slow-motion style) through the air towards… a pool. Told you I’m a lucky girl.

As I’m flying through the air I have the forethought to remember that my phone is in my back pocket. I grab it and then fully extend my arm out as high into the air as I can get it before I land. My fucking phone shall not get wet! And it doesn’t! The pool is shallow enough that I manage to keep it above the water.

The crowd goes crazy cheering for me. I mean… of course they were really excited I didn’t destroy my phone. But in my triumph I drop my arm, and my fucking phone goes under.

*End Dream Sequence*

My panicked breathing woke me up. Apparently, that was all my brain could take.

I’m pretty sure this dream explains so much about me.

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THIS or the OTHER

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I’m hardly surprised to find myself in bad brain space this morning. You know when this all first started (too many years ago) it wasn’t at all the same as it is now. This heaviness didn’t play a factor in my struggles. It took me a while to even realize what THIS is, even though I’d been with the OTHER for so long. They sometimes feel like polar opposites of each other, even despite how intricately they are linked.

I have trouble deciding which one I hate more. Which is worse… To feel ALL the things?? To think ALL the thoughts? To the point that my body vibrates from the energy of it all and I just want to crawl out of my skin? I lash out. I cry more. Or is it this void?? The deep, deep heaviness that sometimes feels like nothingness most days, and profound sadness on better days. I can’t think. I can’t focus. My brain thinks but doesn’t – all at the same time. How is that even possible? I can’t connect with myself or anyone else in my life.

I hate it all.

Yesterday started out so well for me. Someone asked me how I was doing and I answered “good” and it didn’t feel like a lie this time. I had conversations and it felt like ME, not the fake version of myself I use in public situations to get me through. I really miss ME. I was kinda hoping for a longer window of reprieve. I guess not.

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My Blog – Version 3.0??

I’m BAACCCKKK!!! Probably. I mean… I don’t want to really commit myself because then I’d start to feel pressured about this whole thing and that never leads to any kind of good place for me. So tentatively, I’m going to give this whole blogging thing another try for the third time.

This blog has seen many transitions and versions of Crystal. There was the “Perfect Mom Crystal” from back in my Blogger days before we shifted over to WordPress. She was the ultimate mom and homeschooler. Welp. At pretending anyways. Actually… not much has really changed. There was the “Nervous Breakdown Crystal” when shit was hitting the fan. She’s still here hanging out strong these days. There was “Going Back to School Crystal.” She totally quit. “Politically Aware Crystal.” She’s currently living a hole because the world freaks her the fuck out right now. Then the “I’m feeling flaky, so bye blog Crystal.”

Crystal is a fickle fickle girl. Still totes true.

The reboot of this blog shall start with ” Sarcastic, Bitter and Struggling Crystal.” Let’s see how long she sticks around.

Side Note: I’m not really feeling the name Explore. Dream. Discover. anymore. Nope, nope, nope. That sounds entirely too hopeful. Who was that person that gave this blog such a ludicrous name??!! Ugh. Many changes are coming cause this baby needs a complete design overhaul and with it a new name. But what will it be…. I’ll get back to you.

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A Little Push

It has been far too long since my last post. Honestly, I don’t know what my deal is, because I can’t really say I’ve been too busy to find the time to write. Maybe it has become like exercising. Since I’ve lost my momentum it has become hard to get back into it? Who knows. Maybe giving myself a little push, I can find my way back…

Since I am here and writing I feel like I should give you an update on life, so this feels like a good place to insert that I am quitting school. Yeah, I bet everyone is totally shocked. Cause I seemed so committed and all. I really can’t think of any good reason to be doing it, and my lack of overall goal makes my motivation almost nothing. Since I can’t seem to justify the increased stress levels, and the whole eating away of my time thing, I figured I needed to live by one of my new-ish life rules – to only be doing shit that I want to do. So school is out for now. Maybe when my kids are older, I might figure out what I want to do when I grow up and all that jazz, and I can revisit that option.

So, I’m officially unschooling myself again. 🙂

In other news I have been participating in a book club with some friends from our homeschool co-op, reading the book Daring Greatly. Brene Brown’s work is amazing, and even if you read the synopsis for the book and don’t think it is a book you want to read – do it anyways. Best advice I have ever given you. Her chapter on shame was excruciating to read, eye-opening and more than a little heart-breaking. It is the kind of thing that breaks you down, but at the end you are thankful for it. Truthfully, it is hard fior me to put into words and make any sense, so just read it.

I posted her Ted talk Listening to Shame below, which gives you a little insight into what her book is about. Watch it.

Anywho, things in the land of homeschooling have been fun and interesting… you know between the crying, whining, and fits (mostly from me). Plus, bribing Addison with TV to give me 20 minutes of peace to actually work with her brother… 🙂 I have a lot of homeschooling topics I’d like to blog about, but I just need to sit down and do them.

Goo

Bed Time

Growing

Exploring

[box] Did I mention Addison turns 3 in two weeks???!!!![/box]

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Immigration Detention: The People Along the Way

As you know this weekend was our much-anticipated immigration movie screening event, and trip to visit immigrant detainees at the Stewart Detention Center. Along with the hospitality house, El Refugio in Lumpkin, GA, which houses families coming to visit loved ones.

Through my endeavor to learn more about immigration, I can officially say from the other side that I was successful. Possibly more successful than I expected.

I learned that Stewart Detention Center is the largest detention center in the country, detaining about 1,800 immigrants at any given time. I’ve learned that it is one of MANY detention centers scattered across the U.S. that are for-profit, owned and run by corporations, such as Corrections Corporation of America, which is the owner of Stewart. I’ve learned that the CCA makes $100 a day per detainee that resides in their facility, which offers great incentive to keep detainee numbers high, and that money is paid to them from our government straight out of your tax paying pockets.

Stewart Detention Center falls in the top 10 worst detention centers in the U.S. Detention centers have ongoing issues and complaints for inadequate medical care, sexual and physical abuse, insufficient food, and high costs for communication to those outside of the facility, making contact with family members hard. I’ve learned that breaking immigration law is considered a civil offense, and not a criminal one, so detainees are denied the right to government provided legal defense.

Detention centers are primarily built in impoverished areas, away from major cities to make it difficult for families to travel to visit their loved ones. In Lumpkin there are no hotels, or public transportation options, not even a regular grocery store.

I’ve learned that our immigration policies and our high rates of deportation have destroyed many families. Thousands. Nearly 45,000 immigrant parents were deported in the first half of 2012 alone, separating them from their U.S born children. It is estimated that at least 5,000 of those children (in 22 states) now reside in our foster care system, which doesn’t account for the number of children in foster care in states unaccounted for, or those that have been orphaned by these policies that now reside with other family members living in the U.S. Husbands separated from their wives, mothers from their children, and fathers from their children.

These are just a few factoids though. Stats. Just a few, since there are so many more I could be throwing out there. And while they are disturbing and sad, they don’t put a real face to what is really happening here.

So, more important than what I’ve learned here, is what I saw.

I saw how difficult it is to navigate the detention system without guidance, and you can wholeheartedly expect to get little to no help from those running or those employed by these bureaucracies. We can mince words all we want about how detention centers aren’t prisons, but only those that haven’t been there would ever make that assumption. Or those that have a monetary or philosophical interest in them. They are very much prisons.

Stewart Detention Center is completely surrounded by high fencing topped with barbed wire. Not only one fence, but two. You can’t walk into Stewart without being buzzed into their two-gate system. You enter the first gated door, and it closes you in before allowing you to enter through the second. Detainees are only allowed one visitor per week, and families sit for hours waiting for the opportunity to visit (I waited 2 ½ hours.) Each visit is one hour long, and only 5 visits can take place at one time. These visits allow no actual contact with the detainee and take place over phone, while being separated by glass. When you go through to visit they require that you remove your shoes, empty your pockets, remove you belt, and place all belongings in a bucket so that they can be scanned. After you walk through metal detectors you are allowed your shoes back, but must replace all belongings inside a locker for the duration of your visit.

However, it wasn’t the inner workings of Stewart that made the biggest impression on me. It was the people along the way.

It was the story I heard of one man’s personal experience in hiring a coyote to take him to the border to get here. About how his group was lied to about how long it would take, so they were inadequately prepared with food and water. About how merciless coyotes can be, and that they were not allowed to rest, even the children. He described the fear of stopping, because their guide would leave them behind with no way to find their way forward or back. He described the experience as a nightmare that still haunts him today, I could hear his pain, and I cried for them. All of them. In my lifetime I will surely never understand the fear or necessity that drives so many to make that trek, or the level of bravery that it takes to make that choice.

Most of us, those “lucky” American born folks never will.

It was the people who traveled from all over to visit their loved ones. Mothers. Fathers. Wives. Children. Sisters. Brothers. Friends. The woman I spoke with who was trying to visit her husband, but was turned away after 40 minutes of waiting because they realized that he had been visited earlier in the week, so was not allowed to see him. The woman that was almost denied visitation access due to her shirt baring too much skin. The woman I met that travels every Saturday from Buford to see her husband, who has been at Stewart for the past 8 months.

And it was the man that I had the privilege, along with my husband, to spend an hour talking with that I gained the most insight from. The man who has been fighting his case and residing in Stewart since Sept. 2011. The one whose mother died from cancer shortly after his visitation request was denied to go see her. The one whose wife suffers from a heart condition, who has been without insurance since his detention began, and can no longer afford the expensive medications she needs. I listened as he expressed his fear for her, as she has been in and out of the hospital. His fear that he may never see her again, and his fear that she will die before he ever has the chance. I listened as he told us the story of how they met, and fell in love. I watched him as he cried for his life being denied him, the loss of his mother, for his wife, and I cried with him. He is scared (like so many others), and he has every reason to be.

So, those are the faces. The people behind all the stats and facts and articles. And it makes me angry. And so so sad. And scared too.

Because as my new friend, Jose described to me – the American Dream has become a nightmare.

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2013!!! Here’s to getting it right!

I’m running a little behind on getting this post out. As usual, although I intended to be a blog writing machine during my break from school that hasn’t really panned out in reality. Oh, well.

2012 was a really good year for us. SO I really want more of that.

I wrote these goals out over the summer in preparation for the new school year, but since I haven’t really given them much thought since then it seems like a good time to actively start trying to actually focus on them.

My focus going into 2013:

  • Keep letting go. This year my anxiety levels have been pretty minimal. I don’t want to back track. I just have to remember to not get so caught up in the day to day crap, notice how I am feeling about life and do what I need to stay happy. Let go of other people’s expectations for me, but probably more importantly the expectations I place on myself.
  • Fight less. I really want to minimize the amount of time we (my family) spend being snappy with each other or having full out brawls, so I’m trying to pay attention to our triggers for negative behavior.
  • Remember, I don’t have to do everything! Less is sometimes more. And sometimes less is all I have energy for so it will just have to do.

These are more centrally focused on our homeschool:

  • Be more open to on-the-fly learning. I have to be less focused on trying to plan everything out, and being MORE available to the needs of always curious children.
  • Support more independent, student-led projects and learning, which is why I’ve completely cut Fridays out of our regularly scheduled school so that they have a free day where I can stop focusing on the stuff I feel like they need to be learning and can ask, “What would YOU like to learn about today? What do you want to explore?”
  • Foster entire family participation in activities. I would really like to find ways to get Michael more comfortably involved in our homeschool.

Today, we had one of those rather perfect homeschooling moments. While we were cooking dinner, my kids were in the back yard doing this…

Later, I told Haden that what they did on the seesaw was Math, and he just looked at me all confused-like. 😛

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Year 2012: A Round-up on the Blog

Another year has gone by, and while I didn’t blog nearly as much as I hoped, I still managed to write a WHOPPING 93 posts in 2012. Yeah, I was surprised by that number too. I thought it would be fun to look at some of the highlights from the year.

My NUMBER 1 most visited blog from this year was…..!!!!

Stand Strong and Loud: My contribution to Blog for International Women’s Day that was hosted by Gender Across Borders and CARE. This year’s theme was “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

Following behind (in order) were…

Our Next School Year: The Plan: My post on this years curriculum plan, which I should probably just write a complete update post on considering we have completely ditched Time4Learning, and are now using How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, ClickNKids, living math ideas, and Pintrest to replace it. Oh, and we ditched our Road Trip USA curriculum too. I have really been reevaluating our approach to school recently, especially since we’ve been on our Winter break. This one was originally posted on a Homeschool Blog Hop.

Rethinking Education: A persuasive essay on homeschooling, outlining benefits and considerations.

Our Homeschool Space: The title is pretty self-explanatory. 😛 Another one that I did on the above mentioned Homeschool Blog Hop, which is what contributed to its popularity.

This is me… throwing down: My response post to the whole Chickfila controversy BULLSHIT over the summer. It is probably my favorite post from the past year.

Now, I figured that I would add in a couple of honorable mentions, because even though they might not have made the top five traffic-wise on my blog, they were in MY favorites when I wrote them. And really that is more freakin’ important.

Warning Snark Ahead – with a fair amount of cussing: From just last month – 5 things that I learned after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Homeschooling: An Interview with My Kids: It was just so darn cute.

Tit Terrorists?: My thoughts on how we (lactavists) talk about breastfeeding and approach our activism.

 

Get to reading the ones you missed! 😉

 

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Warning: Snark Ahead – with a fair amount of cussing

After spending most of my weekend reading articles, researching, and watching social media posts and comments about Friday’s shooting, I’ve come away with new wisdom that I feel the need to share. In no particular order of importance…

1. When trying to learn more about the ACTUAL effectiveness of gun control laws, avoid sources that have a liberal or conservative slant – and those are hard to find BTW. You will likely encounter some potentially compelling insights mixed in with some half-truths and outright lies. I’ve spent HOURS trying to wade my way through the easiest to find crap out there, and I honestly don’t much feel like getting into what I learned from those endeavors statistically speaking, but I will say that it isn’t nearly as clear cut as most people seem to think, which brings me to #2…

2. Apparently, a good majority of Americans already have this whole thing figured out. They know exactly what we need to do to reduce violent crimes. They know why Adam Lanza committed the act that he did. He was either mentally ill, not mentally ill, or just a “fucking crazy ass pyscho” who is currently burning in hell. (This is considered NOT mentally ill too, just so you know. Apparently, we seem to have some interesting ideals of what does and does not qualify as mentally ill.) Everyone seems to KNOW that it was his mothers fault (if he was mentally ill) for having guns in the house to begin with (under the assumption that she knew he was mentally ill. I mean, IF he was.) Or that it was his fault for not seeking help for his deranged mind. Or lets take it BACK to his mother. It is still her fault for raising such a fucked up kid, regardless if he was or was not mentally ill. Maybe he was just one of those “bad seeds,” whatever the fuck that means – which is still his mothers fault.

I feel a bit behind the curve here because my mind has been spinning all weekend as I have tried to make sense of the multitudes of opinions being splashed around the internet, and even after a whole weekend of being buried in reading and research, I don’t feel like I have ANYTHING figured out.

3. People seem to react on emotion, and jump to conclusions based on their predisposed biases. This seems problematic, because problems such as the ones we are facing in America are NEVER one-dimensional.

4. Apparently, “things like this” happen because we have removed God from our schools (according to Mike Huckabee and other asshats like him), but more importantly because we as a culture are losing god. We are becoming godless, and without God to drive our morals and invoke fear into our being, us godless folk are just going to keep destroying people with our violent behaviors (more presumptions, since we have ZERO idea what Adam Lanza’s religious beliefs were). You know – because religious folk have NEVER been known for violent behaviors. Nope. Not at all.

Personally, I am thankful this was pointed out to me, so that in my future endeavors I can try to be conscious  of the negative effects of my godlessness, so as not to let my violent nature get too out of hand.

5. This may be by far the most important thing that I have learned… That as much as the idea of people that commit violent crimes (like Adam Lanza) scare me, I’m almost just as afraid of some of the people that think of themselves as being “better” than Adam Lanza.