Tag Archives: i kinda rule


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you my great and secret shame:


Shown with small enthusiastic ferocious terrier and larger loving but ultimately pretty useless Border Collie mutt for size comparison:

"When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?"

“When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?”

That, gang is a bag of t-shirts. A big bag of t-shirts, which has been sitting in the closet/Moon Man’s office/the basement for…lordy, two years now? Three? Long enough that I no longer have any idea what t-shirts are in there, and had completely forgotten he ever even had the red dino one on the top.

Now hold on to my Great and Secret Shame for a minute; we’re gonna circle back around to it.

Yesterday I was talking with a Very Dear Friend; she’d checked in to see how the Smoking Cessation Plan of 2015 was coming along (for which she gets 10 billion karma points, as she was the first non-Buffalo Moon Ranch resident to do so), and we were chitchatting about how one of the most challenging bits for me is figuring out what to do with myself. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction, y’know; it’s about the habit, the repetitive action, the thing you do to fill gaps in the day. What do you do when you’re a nonsmoker who gets to the restaurant before your friend does? What does a nonsmoker do when she has 10 minutes before her next meeting, since that’s really not enough time to, say, watch an episode of Friends? These are roughly 10-12 5-minute increments through the day, y’all, nearly an hour of time; what do nonsmokers do with that hour?

Very Dear Friend suggested blocking out that hour as “Time Formerly Known As Smoking Time Which You May Not Claim And Which I Shall Use For My Own Nefarious Purposes” (I may have changed the suggested title a bit there), but the problem is that a lot of smoking time was spent in the gaps between other things–having a meeting scheduled at 1:00 meant that I would pop out for 5 minutes around 12:45. Showing up to the movies early so we could get tickets and popcorn meant taking 5 minutes to grab a quick smoke before going inside. Et cetera. And since most of those things aren’t really movable times–they’re not going to agree to push all my meetings up to be back-to-back so I can spend a free hour in the afternoon, and they’re not going to just start the movie 5 minutes early because I’m ready before they are–those gaps still exist, still need filled with some small thing.

Enter the t-shirt bag.

While we were talking, it occurred to me that perhaps what I needed was a “fidget”, a little thing I could do with my hands that would mostly leave my mind free to wander/plan blogs/try to remember whatever it is I’m forgetting at the moment, that would take about 5 minutes or could be done in 5-minute increments. I thought about dusting–I always think about dusting–and added that to the Possible Options list, along with “tidying a small corner of the world”, “lovebombing someone out of the blue”, and “some small sort of exercise”…but then I remembered the t-shirt bag.

That bag, which has been sitting forlorn and forgotten, was originally destined to become a t-shirt quilt. Not that I know how to make a t-shirt quilt or anything ridiculous like that–there are a lot of tutorials online, and a lot of instructions, and goodness knows I have a lot of friends who quilt, but I’ve never personally made one and have only the dimmest idea where/how to start. (And no, that’s not a request for help or advice; one of the things I’m giving myself permission to do in 2015 is Trying Things Without Having to Get Them Right on the First Try. This could end up beautifully, or it may end with a pile of scrap fabric and me in tears. Who knows? We’ll see when we get there. And I’ll get to do some on-the-fly problem-solving, which is never a terrible thing to do.)

So I’ve dragged the bag up from the basement, where I found it after 10 minutes of playing “where was the last place I saw that dang thing?” around the house. I’ve gathered a bin to put the cut-up pieces in, and my fabric-only scissors. There’s a reasonable chance that I’ll set up a folding card table in my office so I can work between calls, and failing that, I’ve already picked a nice spot on the living room floor where it can sit and be an eyesore and probably eventually get peed on by one of the dogs or torn up by one of the cats.

And I reckon I can use my 5-minute increments to make babystep progress with the thing: cutting the shirts apart; trimming the pieces to…the right shapes? squares maybe? still pretty fuzzy on this step; stitching them together in a meaningful way TBD. Heck, for all I know I might be about to embark on an adventure of making the world’s saddest collection of potholders, dust cloths, and trivets. We might end up with 8 patchwork pillowcases that don’t actually fit any of our pillows. There’s a very real chance we’ll end up with a garbage bag of cut-apart t-shirts and half-formed quilt blocks that ends up going back in the basement for another two or three years.

But one thing I do know is that I’ll have a way to fill those 12, 5-minute gaps each day. With something that isn’t a cigarette, and which might just turn out to be productive and lovely.

I’ll take it.



Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

I Kinda Rule: Holiday Edition

I have been working on this post since Sunday afternoon.

So far what has tended to happen is that I think for a few minutes about what I want to say and how I want to say it, then I stride purposefully toward my office so that I can sit down and start writing, and somewhere around the 10-steps-from-the-office-door mark 35 years of training leap up and bash me over the head with a giant mallet labeled “HUMILITY”. If that doesn’t slow my roll, it breaks out “SHAME”, and if all else fails, it falls back on “SELF-ABASEMENT” which, as trump cards go, is pretty much always effective.

Which is how I’ve come to spend three days not writing this post. In the meantime, I’ve done some laundry, cooked some food, had I don’t even know how many frivolous conversations with people, wrapped some presents, and watched some television. Heck, yesterday afternoon I took about a 20-minute nap. That is how hard I’ve been avoiding writing this post.

And that’s why it’s extra-important that I write it: because it’s about how I was actually kind of a rock star this weekend. And if anyone else I care about had been a rock star, I’d be all about bragging on ’em. I’d post about ’em on Facebook. I’d write blogs in their honor. I’d take and post pictures, and talk about them on the phone with my mother. But when I’m the one who broke out a little extra awesomeness? Somehow that’s taboo, and my internal filters clamp down like I’m about to share some state secret I don’t even have the clearance to know–let alone to share with the world.

And that’s not ok, when it comes right down to it. “Humility”, they say (where “they” = C. S. Lewis), “is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”…and I agree with that, but I’d hasten to point out that nowhere in there does it say anything about refusing to think of yourself at all. We are permitted to brag on anyone who does something awesome–and that includes ourselves. I am permitted to brag on anyone who does something awesome–and that includes myself.

I’ve written 363 words now and I’m still elbow-deep in caveat. To heck with this; I’m goin’ in.

This weekend was Moon Man’s Fancypants Holiday Office Shindig. and I looked like this:

Fancypants Holiday Office Shindig 2013

Some of you may recall the saga of The Dress from last week, when I came to grips with the idea that my nieces and nephews deserve to grow up with an Auntie BW who is confident enough to post a picture of the nice model wearing the dress she herself is planning to wear, even knowing full well that she and the model will look different in it.

And y’know what? I rocked that dress. Yes, the model and I looked different, which is probably just as well because it would be very confusing if everyone on earth looked alike. No, I did not have a team of hair- or makeup stylists. And yes, I totally had backup flats in my purse, because my Mama didn’t raise no fool. But it deserves to be said: I looked cute. I wore the heck outta that dress, and I will probably wear it again for future shindigs (there’s a charity dinner we attended for the first time last year, and I betcha we go again this year, and the dress would be perfectly appropriate for that event). Shee-yoot, I might wear that dress to the grocery store. I felt great, very confident, very stylish, very with-it, and it showed.

And–and and and–I got all the way through the fancypants shindig without throwing, dropping, or catapulting any food! I did not belch or sneeze on anyone, I used my napkin like a grownup lady, I picked the right fork on the first try, and I meandered graciously with a glass of wine and didn’t spill a single drop. I am a total rock star, kids, and don’t you (or I) forget it.

The face of a total rock star.

The face of a total rock star.

And then the next morning we came home and did the final preparations for the Buffalo Stampede Adopt-a-Family 2013 holiday party. We started this last year, this business of adopting a family through a local children’s charity and having everyone in our group (the “Buffalo Stampede”) either select one family member to buy for or just bring cash to donate to the grocery store gift card we commit to including. Then we pick a date and throw a party, and everyone brings their gifts to show off and wrap together while enjoying warm beverages and snacks and good, festive company.

It all sounds pretty straightforward, reduced to a few sentences like that, but the reality is that there’s a not-insignificant amount of coordination and work involved. For context, I started working on this in October. We had roughly 20 families participate in this year’s Stampede; so for the last 60 days or so, I’ve done Facebook postings, shopping, replied to emails/text messages/instant messages/Facebook messages/calls, fielded last-minute questions about sizes and/or color preferences and/or ages and/or preferred stores, and made sure each person in our assigned family had at least one designated Primary Shopper. I’ve counted cash. I’ve filed gift receipts. I’ve selected and gathered coordinating gift wrap, tissue paper, and gift tags, and picked up garment boxes and gift card holders.

And then there’s the party itself, which needed coordinating plates, bowls, and napkins (I may have gotten slightly OCD with it all). I made sure the snack spread included an actual entree (in this case, a big pot of chili) in case people needed a meal option. I had an entire table of arts’n’crafts supplies for the kiddos, including–wait for it–a planned project (superhero snow globes).

See? Snowglobes.

See? Snowglobes.

Hilariously, all the families with kiddos had to bow out of the party because of illness or other crises, so we grownups made the snow globes ourselves, and had a blast. Heck, I even made personalized party favors–and wrapped them individually in gift bags with (you had to know this was coming) coordinated gift bags, tissue paper, and a charming candy cane.

I made a  bunting, people. With inspirational quotes about generosity and taking care of your fellow humans.

See? Bunting. Pay no attention to the cat.

See? Bunting. Pay no attention to the cat.

And it paid off like mad–the turnout was pretty good at the party, the insane flu bug running rampant through our friends group notwithstanding. Our goal was to have at least one present per person in our 6-person adopted family and $75 to put toward a grocery store gift card, and at last count, the total haul was somewhere around 50-55 presents and $160 for the grocery card. Which, and let me be very clear on this point, is an awesome and amazing testament to how generous and loving the Stampede folks can be. I’m deeply honored to know these folks, and deeply proud to be counted among their friends.

The gifts for the family. That's pretty much the exact opposite of an empty stocking on Christmas morning.

The gifts for the family. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of an empty stocking on Christmas morning.

So y’know what, 35 years of training with your mallets and your inner demons? Out you go. If asked, I would say that What I Most Want to Accomplish With My Life is “make a positive difference in people’s lives”, and my unofficial answer is “…and look cute doing it”.

And that, objectively and honestly speaking, is exactly what I did this last weekend.

In other words, I kinda rule. And I deserve to celebrate that fact.

So this one’s for me. Congratulations, Self, on being a total rock star and an all-around swell gal, and double congratulations for doing so in a photogenic way. High-fives all ’round and a nice shot of victory whiskey for me. Attagirl. Et cetera.

Maybe I should make myself a medal.

P.S.–To everyone who participated in this year’s Stampede, Thank you. Without y’all, I’d just be a madwoman with a Facebook account and insufficient supervision. You are generous and incredible people, and … and I’m about to get sniffly again, so I’m stopping here. Love you hooligans.


Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely, Share the Toys

The Dress

So. Tomorrow is Moon Man’s Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig. Having survived the holiday office party last year (and even kinda enjoyed it! Tell no one.), I’m actually going into this one feeling fairly confident and prepared–I know the rules, know the layout, know more-or-less what to expect and how I’m meant to behave–and whether I’d ever officially admit this or not, I’m pretty jazzed about the thing. I mean, c’mon, I get to dress up and go to a fancy place to do fancy things with completely normal people who just happen to also be doing fancy things in a fancy place. How chic and cosmopolitan are we?!?

Besides, Moon Man was on the planning committee this year, so I get to know in advance what we’re having during the Wee Foods on Sticks hour and the Plated Dinner With Treacherous Sauces, and it all sounds terribly tasty. But I digress.

Since I knew the party was a-comin’ (’cause, y’know, it’s an annual thing. I can say with a high degree of confidence that there’ll be another party next year too), and since, regardless of any shenanigans my friends may be trying to encourage, I cannot actually attend this thing wearing either my pajamas or nothing but Chanel No. 5 and a smile, I started the dress pre-shopping process months ago. I spent ages poring over various sites, bookmarking favorites and doing price comparisons and reading reviews. And then about a month ago, It Was Time and the shopping started in earnest…at which point I discovered that the clothing industry is a fickle place (no, really?) and about 70% of the dresses I’d bookmarked were no longer available. So I set a budget, picked new dresses, and settled in to watch for sales….

During which time most of the remaining dresses I’d bookmarked vanished into the ether, to be replaced with the Season’s Hottest New Looks. At increased prices, because holidays = price gouging. Or maybe fancier, more expensive material. Whatevs.

So I panicked, picked a Dress of Last Resort (lovely, if not what I was dreaming of, but available in a nice flattering forest green color), checked the calendar, and waited for payday.

And on payday, I went to order the dress, and discovered that the forest green had sold out in my size. The remaining color options were an unsettling gold, a startling silver, and (heaven help me) baby pink. There are many colors I can successfully wear, which I find both aesthetically pleasing and complimentary to my skin tone. Unsettling gold, startling silver, and baby pink are not among those colors.

Of course, there was also funereal black, which is my usual go-to color, but this is a Cheerful and Festive Cocktail Event we’re talkin’ about here, and the dress was a floor-length slip dress with a lace overlay. Totally acceptable in a cheerful and festive color; but in black, it would’ve been a bit…much.

So I panicked again, and spent the better part of two days looking (and re-looking, and re-re-looking) at every single dress, pantsuit, skirt/top combo, slacks/top combo, and festive pajama set available on the interwebs, because I am an extra-curvy gal and they almost never carry my size in stores. Even the plus-size stores–my size sells out first, so shopping online is my best bet.

And glory of glories, joy of joys, happy Saturnalia and merry Christmas to all, I found a dress. A good dress. A dress I like. And–further proof that this season works miracles–it was on sale. I ran it past Moon Man and past my BFF for a quick “Am I crazy from excessive shopping, or is this actually as adorable as I think it is?” check, and got thumbs-up from both parties…and I bought the hell outta that dress. I pounced on it like…well, me, on a cake. Lion on a gazelle. Desperate panicked dressless woman on a dress that’s on sale. I gave them my credit card faster than I used to give out my phone number when I was still single.

And because that’s how I roll, I posted about this on Facebook as the story unfolded, and people laughed and “liked” my posts and demanded pictures of the dress, and I promised them that yes, yes, all in due time, my dears, your pictures shall be forthcoming.

And then the dress arrived, and I tried it on, and it fit, so I knew for sure this was what I’d be wearing…and I didn’t post any pictures.

I’ve been telling myself that this is because I wanted it to be a surprise, that I’d post pictures once I was actually all gussied up and wearing the dress. But the truth, if we’re gonna be real darned honest here for a second, is that I’ve been wanting to post pictures of it this whole time. It’s my Triumph dress. My I Snatched Victory From the Evil Clutches of Looming Defeat dress. My Have a Little Faith and All Will Be Well dress.

It’s not actually as cute as all that, but it’s kind of a big deal to me.

But I hadn’t posted any pictures of it because–back to the honesty part–I do not look like the model who is wearing the dress in the picture. We are not the same size. We do not have the same stylists (hers is a team of pros. Mine is…well, me). Nobody will be following me around at the Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig, airbrushing and Photoshopping me in realtime. 


But y’know what? Screw that. I have nieces who deserve to have a confident Auntie BW. They deserve to see that I know that I don’t look like a supermodel but that I believe that that’s ok. They deserve to have someone show them that two people can wear the same dress, look radically different in it, and both still be drop-dead head-turning neck-snapping somebody-call-the-law gorgeous in it in completely different ways.

deserve to have that behavior modeled for me, and since neither the dogs nor the cats are volunteering and lord knows the media ain’t helping, I’ll just have to do it myself.

So without further ado, here, kids, is the dress:



…and I promise to post pictures of myself in said dress once the Fancypants Party happens and pictures actually exist. Right now it’s hanging in my closet, where nobody is allowed to touch it, breathe on it, or look at it very hard.

Because while I’m all for modeling self-confidence and self-acceptance, I’m also all for not strolling into the party with a giant wrinkle across my butt. Especially not when it’s my Victory dress. My Delicious Gazelle on the Savanna dress. My Shut Up and Take My Money dress.

My Fancypants Dress for Fancy People dress.

The dress.


Filed under Play Nicely

The Sharpest Knife in the Knife Block

It’s Thanksgiving, and you know what that means: a Facebook feed full of people waxing poetic about friends and family and blessings and family and jobs and friends and food and friends and family. And don’t get me wrong–all that stuff is really nice, and I’m sure it’s all completely heartfelt and yes, I too am grateful for friends and family and blessings and jobs and stuff.

But you know what I’m most thankful for today?

Today I am most thankful for all those boneheaded, dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks, foolish, ill-conceived, badly planned, poorly thought out, ultra-doofus choices that I’ve made since I hit the age when I was legally allowed to make all those herpaderp decisions and have to clean them up myself. Because sure, they usually made things exceedingly complicated and awful at the time; but today, when there’s bread rising in the kitchen and an amazing hubby sorting CDs in the dining room and a couple of dogs and a couple of cats snoozing in various sunbeams and life generally has that rosy glow about it, today I realize how easy and comfortable and  lovely my life has become as a result of those dunderheaded moments, and I have to honor them.

There was the day at the daycare center when I said “Ok, I’ll trust that the director submitted all the paperwork correctly for this employee, and I’ll process payroll for her without double-checking, because why would the director lie?”. That’s when I learned what it feels like to lose a job you love, and what it feels like to take a Job of Last Resort at the Call Center of Doom…which is what enabled me to arrange my schedule so that I could go back and finish the college program I’d quit halfway through.

And speaking of the college program, there was that day during my sophomore year of college when I met a guy and fell sooooo in looooove and moved him into my apartment six weeks later even though he had no job, no job prospects, and no money with which to support himself; so eventually I quit school to take a full-time minimum-wage job at a daycare center to support him–er, us–and learned that I loved teaching and met some awesome families but didn’t have a degree so I couldn’t advance very far, and then I lost that job anyway (see previous) and, because such is the way of things, the guy eventually ran off with a 19-year-old voice major, but that’s pretty ok because…

While we were together, he started spending an alarming amount of time with a gal he worked with (he did have some jobs, just not consistently or frequently), including ditching Thanksgiving with my family to spend it with her, and after several months of my being increasingly sure that he was cheating on me with her and wanting her head on a platter, I met her…and her boyfriend, whom my guy had just forgotten to mention all this time. I lost the guy (see previous), but she and I became BFFs, and she was the maid of honor at my wedding…

To a guy I met after having dated a string of progressively…um…well, I mean, I’m sure most of them are very nice people and will make someone else blissfully happy. However, that person was really, really, really not ever gonna be me, ’cause ohsweetbabyjesus were some of those relationships disastrous. Hoo boy. So one day I sat down on the sofa, said “Ok, Lord, I am sick of this malarkey. You want me to be in a relationship? You find the person and send ’em at me, because obviously I am not so whippy at finding ’em myself”…and the next day I got an email from Moon Man, via a dating website we were both on.

And he’d made his share of dunderheaded choices too–marrying That Woman comes to mind, but without that choice he would’ve ended up Chicago and we probably would never have met, so while she’s not really the first person I think of when I name folks who are invited to Thanksgiving dinner, I’m nonetheless grateful for her, because she brought him back to Kansas. And she made him buy this house which I don’t necessarily love, but lord lord is it ever a far sight better than the roach-infested apartment where I was living when we met, and it’s nice and roomy for hosting parties and we even have a guest room, which makes me feel terribly swanky and grown-up.

So there it is: this Thanksgiving I’m most grateful for all those moments when I was not, in fact, the sharpest knife in the knife block. The brightest crayon in the box. The quickest brown fox in a room full of lazy dogs. Because when you think about it, those slow, dull, drab fox moments are the ones that dragged me inevitably toward a life that I’m actually really proud of. They’re the choices that got me to a place where I’m safe, happy, stable, sane, and (honestly) rather too well-fed. They brought me my dearest friends (Moon Man introduced me to about 150 of the people on my friends list), my lovable heathen critters, my home, my college degree, and my husband. And I wouldn’t change ’em for…

Yeah, no, that’s a lie. There are some that I’d totally undo if I had half a chance. ‘Cause seriously now, let’s not be hasty. But I’d keep most of ’em…

And I’d totally keep all of you. Happy Thanksgiving, ‘Tracters. I love you each, and I love you all. Even when you’re not being the shiniest jewel in the crown.


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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings


Mama Buffalowmn

Buffalo Moon Ranch, KS

Objective: Find like-minded folks. Build my tribe. Spread love. Alternately, win the lottery and retire to a hammock someplace where people will bring me fruity drinks in half a coconut.


  • There was that one time in high school when I burned my hands because a pot holder slipped and I dropped the 400-degree muffin pan and then tried to bat it up onto the stove with my other hand so it wouldn’t melt the linoleum floor and ended up grabbing it bare-handed instead; I learned that linoleum preservation isn’t that important.
  • And there was that time when I met the guy and moved him in after 6 weeks and he wouldn’t hold down a job so I quit college to work full-time to support us and he ended up running off with someone else anyway; I learned that sometimes your parents are right, and I also learned that you can absolutely go back to school but this time it’s gonna cost you out the nose.
  • In related news, I learned a lot about student loan repayment, both through this experience and through a job I held–and hated–later, where I also learned that they weren’t kidding when they said that when push comes to shove, you’ll take any job you can get that keeps you afloat…and then stick with it way longer than you ever imagined, because it’s either that or going to live under the overpass.


That One Daycare Center

  • As a teacher, was charged with the care and education of groups of kids ranging in age from six weeks to twelve years. Accomplishments include training them never to use the word “hate” in my presence; teaching them the word “disappointed”, as in “You’re not a bad kid; I’m just disappointed in your decision”; and cleaning a whole lot of poop off a whole lot of surfaces. Zero casualties.
  • As a member of management, was charged with overseeing daily operations of the center, including convincing parents to pay us ludicrous amounts of money, convincing teachers to work for ridiculously low pay, and being The Voice of God to kids who didn’t think the teachers really meant it. Zero casualties, except the folks I had to fire, and they had it comin’.

The Call Center of Doom

  • As a representative, took calls from people profoundly in debt to the government. Explained their options (usually “pay up”), explained where the debts came from in the first place (pro tip: Bubba Joe’s School of Truckin’ And Hair Design is not a reputable college, kids, and will not, in fact, secure you a great-paying job after you finish their certification program. Also, “certification” does not equal “degree”), and explained the difference between grants (aka “that thing you did not get”) and loans (aka “that thing you did sign for and have to pay back”). Zero casualties.
  • As a supervisor, trained new staff members, then oversaw their daily productivity. Did, in fact, use gold stars as an incentive. Did, in fact, keep candy on my desk as an incentive. Did not, in fact, think it was a “great place to work”, but was paid to say it was, and it was either that or the aforementioned life under the overpass. Sorry, gang. Zero casualties, except for the folks who washed out of training; in retrospect, maybe covering Dealing With the Suicidal Caller on the first day wasn’t such a great plan.

Homemaker/Domestic Goddess/Cat Wrangler

  • Currently charged with providing care and maintenance of one husband, two dogs, and two cats. Accomplishments include perfecting my chili recipe (Dad would be so proud), making all sorts of stuff from scratch (including laundry detergent, both bread and butter, and wrapping paper), and making laundry sound like the sort of thing that takes one’s whole day (no it doesn’t. There are lots of long gaps when there’s a load in the washer and a load in the dryer and nothing to do in the interim. I like to use that time for catching up on novels). Zero casualties…so far.
  • Also holding down a part-time job as a Virtual Assistant. This always feels like it’s taking more time than it actually does, at least according to my timesheets, but it provides some income to send to Mom to help out.

Awards, Accomplishments, and Volunteerism:

  • Assorted company-specific awards at various jobs, including some “…of the Year” awards that seemed like a really big deal at the time and now just collect dust on the shelf. Whatevs.
  • I organize food drives for the local food pantry, Gas Card drives for the local women’s shelter, and Adopt-a-Family drives for the holiday season. Participate in worldwide Love Letters campaign. Maintain weight-loss/exercise/healthy choices Mutual Motivation group online. Attempt to spread positivity (or at least a chuckle) via blog. Post frequent love bombs, People Being Nice to Each Other stories, and uplifting images on Facebook in attempt to accomplish same. Tell funny stories, because laughter makes things better.
  • Have beaten Budget Tetris on the hardest levels.
  • Can feed a village if given access to flour, water, and fat.
  • Zero casualties.


…I’ve often said that people should have a “real” resume, one that discusses their actual skills that may or may not have anything to do with getting a job, because our “official” resume tends to sell us very, very short. Yes, I can type at insane speeds; but I can also get just about any infant to fall asleep–and when Junior has been screaming for 45 minutes, nobody cares how fast you can type. I can sound unbelievably professional on the phone, sure; but I can also go from “oh crap, everything is still frozen” to “dinner is served” in less than an hour. I can make a crying person laugh. I can bring people together, and get them to accomplish the miraculous. I can find the exact gift that will make a loved one cry tears of joy, and I can improvise and think quickly on my feet. I’ve got skills, in other words, that never show up on paper, but which make me unique and valuable. Skills that make me a better person. Skills that make me a good friend.

Skills that (apparently) make you keep coming back to this blog.

So if you’ve got some time today, ‘Tracters, allow me to suggest that you take some time and think about what your “real” resume would look like. What have you really learned? What have you really done as a result of your jobs? What have you really accomplished? Why should you be in the Zombie Apocalypse fort? Why do people love you?

‘Cause y’know, I think the answers might surprise even you.

Rock on with your bad self,

Mama BW

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

Dancin’ Buffalo

First, you need to read (or re-read) William Morris’s beautiful blog post, “She Dances“. Trust me. You have five minutes to spare for that. Grab a tissue.


…/hands out hankies

Are we all back? Have we dabbed our eyes and are ready to continue?

Now here’s why I had you read that (“I told you that story so I could tell you this one…”): that school that he talks about, the Driscoll School of Irish Dance? Well, they recently moved to a location close to my home; and since the Morrises are in our neck of the woods three times a week for classes, we’ve been trying to have a more-or-less weekly Extended Honorary Family Pizza Dinner with them on Fridays. And a couple of weeks ago, over pizza and bruschetta, Michelle–the Mom–mentioned that DSID was starting an adult class for ultra-beginners, and she’d signed up. She showed me the new shoes she’d gotten, and was excited if a little nervous, and I thought it was all terribly nifty and was appropriately excited for her.

And then I went home and thought about it. “I’ve never had a dance class,” I thought; “maybe I should consider signing up”.

‘Cause, y’know, what the world really needs is a buffalo hopping around like she thinks floors are sturdy enough for all that.

But the more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea seemed. I mean, really, what’s the worst-case scenario here–that I hate it? That I’m terrible at it? That I break my damnfool neck? It’s not like it’s a “dance flawlessly or the entire world gets nuked” situation; if it turned out not to be for me, then I could just, y’know, not do it anymore. No harm, no foul. So I signed up.

The first class was last night at 7:00, and because I’ve got some significant Trust issues and Change issues and “OMG NEW THING IN A NEW PLACE WITH NEW PEOPLE EVERYBODY PANIC” issues, I spent most of the afternoon in an increasing state of fear; by the time class actually rolled around, and I was there in my workout pants and my oh-god-it’s-too-bright-almost-lurid-isn’t-it turquoise t-shirt and my sneakers-but-oh-god-everyone-else-is-wearing-ghillies-and-I-am-the-weirdo-already, I was frankly considering running away and joining the circus while there was still time.

Michelle was gracious and enthusiastic (if also a bit nervous), and she introduced me to some of the other folks in the class, which helped–and Michelle, if you’re reading this, thank you. But you know what also helped? When I walked into the dance studio, Katie (the dancer from the blog post above) smiled and did a little finger-wave. And it reminded me of “She Dances”, and it all kinda settled in for me at once: this is a school that was completely and totally ok with having a student sit under the table for three weeks. The teacher wants you to learn and have fun, because she’s teaching something she loves and wants to spread that love around, and she is not even a little bit interested in being judgmental. Heck, she told us several times during the course of the first class that as long as your feet end up in more or less the right place at more or less the right time, you get to say you’re doing it right. Which is good, because that was about all that most of us could realistically muster.

So last night I went to my first-ever-in-life dance class. I did not die, I did not puke on anyone, I did not fall over or cause others to fall over, and I did not get all the steps right. I did not break through the floor, I did not shatter any mirrors, and I did not discover that I am immediately competition-ready with a bit of minor tweaking. I was a completely ordinary student–one wearing a larger shirt size than everyone else in the room, but otherwise ordinary in every way.

And y’know what? It was so much fun. Like, hordes of flocks of scads of fun. Like, I’m already looking forward to next week (my knee would like to express its dissent with that statement, but my knee can go jump in a lake).

And aside from a (very) basic knowledge of a few basic dance steps, I also came away from class with a renewed understanding that while I can’t deny the cattiness of Society at Large, when you shrink down and examine the microcosm the vast majority of the judgment you encounter comes entirely from within your own head. I talked with one of the other dancers about this after class; she said that she hoped nobody was watching her because she also was not an instant dance prodigy, and I told her that while I hoped it wasn’t offensive to hear this, during the class she completely fell off my radar except as a cylinder moving through space that I probably should try not to hit, kick, or otherwise damage. I was focused on myself, the teacher, and the mirror…and that was it. I didn’t have time to judge anyone else, because I was busy trying to hop-two-three and what-was-that-crap-crap-something-two-three-four in time with the music.

So today my plan is to hunt around online and see if I can find some good dance shoes, and maybe see if I can’t find some videos so I can practice during the week, and spend some quality time trying to really let the non-judgment lesson take hold.

‘Cause, y’know, really–if the teacher, who has been at this for a very long time, says I can do it, who am I to argue? Ain’t nobody judging me but me–and my inner demons can go jump in the lake with my knee.

In my head, I was all Riverdance all the time. The reality was probably something more like this. Which is totally ok--lookit how cute he is!

In my head, I was all Riverdance all the time. The reality was probably something more like this. Which is totally ok–lookit how cute he is!


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Radical Imperfection: Holiday Edition

I have just come from the kitchen, where I might–might–have had a minor breakdown, mostly revolving around the theme, “…and so that, kids, is how your Auntie BW came to ruin Christmas FOREVER”.

I should start at the beginning of this story.

Once upon a time, I joined Pinterest and found a million billion kazillion recipes, gardening tips, makeup tutorials (for all the good those did me), and craft project ideas. I opted out of anything involving “upcycling” an old t-shirt (pro tip: nobody believes that the floppy cotton rosette you sewed onto the shoulder of your $5 megamart shirt means that it’s a designer piece that costs hundreds of dollars. Just sayin’), and I opted out of making my own cosmetics from household items, but I found this nifty tutorial for making Binder Barbie Dollhouses, and couldn’t resist.

…Ok, to be honest, I didn’t try very hard to resist. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the scrapbook supplies aisle.

So a few weeks ago, I hit some sales and gathered scrapbooking paper in our two older nieces’ favorite colors, and picked up some stickers that reflected their favorite activities–soccer and art for Bean, martial arts and being a princess for the Warrior Princess. And while we had some binders in a box in the garage, I needed a few more, so I grabbed those too.

Then I came home and set to crafting, using the tutorial as a jumping-off place: Mod Podge scrapbook papers to the interior of the binders for “wallpaper”, then embellish as desired. And since I’m sort of a “go big or go home” person, I decided to personalize them.

Here's Bean's classroom set, for instance. Notice that she's "Student of the Week". And if we zoom in on the "bulletin board"....

Here’s Bean’s Classroom set, for instance. Notice that she’s “Student of the Week”. And if we zoom in on the “bulletin board”….

...we find that the art displayed are all shrunk-down printouts of art she's made (which her school and her Mommy very helpfully posted online).

…we find that the art displayed there are all shrunk-down printouts of art she’s made (which her school and her Mommy very helpfully posted online).

For the Warrior Princess's Karate Studio set, I included her school's motto (in the frame there), and matched the "wallpaper" to the color of the school's walls (again, thanks to her parents for posting pictures on Facebook. Bwahaha!)

For the Warrior Princess’s Karate Studio set, I included her school’s motto (in the frame there), and matched the “wallpaper” to the color of the school’s walls (again, thanks to her parents for posting pictures on Facebook. Bwahaha!)

And if I take a second and step back and think about all of this–the research, the materials-gathering, the 90-minutes-to-4-hours each binder took (the kitchen sets were the longest, but they include refrigerators that open and close and are fully stocked–Warrior Princess’s fridge is even mostly Paleo, since her family has adopted that eating plan–plus decorated with “magnets” holding up the kids’ art, pictures, and achievements)–I start feeling pretty cute about it all. I mean, really, they’re kinda adorable. And very thoughtful, if I do say so myself.

But today I went to the kitchen–I’d taken over the dining table as Crafts Central–and opened one of the binders, and the paper pulled away from the binder. A bit of superglue later, and that seemed to be solved. And then I went back to refill my coffee, and checked another binder, and two of the stickers fell out. And that’s when I wigged out.

In my head, see, this was going to be perfect and lovely. I knew academically and objectively that that wasn’t the case–these are made by hand from binders and paper, fer cryin’ out loud, so imperfections are inevitable–but I was sure, thanks to ’80s movies and encouraging covers of crafting magazines, that I Could Absolutely Do This and the Power of Love Would Make It All Beautiful.

For the record, the Power of Love works on a subjective level.

So I stood for a moment with the binder in my hands and the stickers on the table, and I looked at my handiwork, and I saw the rough edges, and I saw the little spot where the paper had bubbled during the decoupaging process, and I saw the little marker smear, and I noticed that my lettering wasn’t precise and even and perfectly straight, and I just flipped all the way out. I’d ruined it, I reckoned; I’d ruined it all, because none of the binders is perfect, and everyone will notice that they’re not perfect, and Santa and Baby Jesus and Martha Stewart will be profoundly ashamed of me, and the kids will hate me forever because I ruined Christmas, and…

…And that’s when the light bulb came on. I’d had this fleeting thought before, but this time it reared up and punched me in the head: Martha Stewart will not be attending our Christmas get-together this year.

Hang on just a second…

/checks email

/checks voicemail

Nope, no messages from President Obama asking me to consider letting him take these as representative pieces of American art and culture, to be presented to the children of foreign heads-of-state.

In other words, you know who I have to impress with these? A five-year-old. On Christmas morning.

And then the following week, when we return from visiting Moon’s family and do Christmas with my family, I’ll be using the second set to impress a seven-year-old…with bonus Christmas presents after Christmas is technically over.

Frankly, it’s almost impossible for me to fail with that setup. These kids are getting highly personalized portable dollhouses with their own names and pictures and artwork all over ’em. The people who are most likely to notice the flaws are either a) grownups who won’t even be attending the get-togethers in the first place, or b) family members, who are by definition required to forgive me.

So maybe I can cut myself a little slack. Maybe I can decide that this is a good chance to re-embrace my radical imperfection, and to start writing a little mental speech about how our flaws are what make us beautiful, just in case either of the nieces calls me on that little glue smear I couldn’t quite rub out. Maybe I can allow myself yet again to be human, to be accessible, to be a really good example of someone who made a really good effort and didn’t really make it to the mountaintop but people really loved her anyway.

And failing all of that, maybe I can distract ’em with the Barbies that they’re also getting.



(p.s.–if you ever find yourself in the midst of a Pinterest-related breakdown because your project didn’t entirely live up to the pictures helpfully provided online, allow me to recommend Pinterest Fail, a hilarious user-submitted collection of people who totally share your pain.)

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