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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Children's Books that Honor Diversity

Recently I saw a video and article about Christine O'Donnell being slighted for once claiming on a comedy show how she "dabbled in Witchcraft". As a Witch and Pagan, it upset me. Plain and simple, twisted my insides that once again Witches were going to be deemed as evil and ugly. Granted, this is an age old issue, no different than the years I have endured being called various names because I am Chinese. I have learned to roll my eyes and walk away; and I have learned to empower others to see beyond stereotypes and honor the cultures of others. Paganism and Witchcraft is a culture and community of it's own, no different than a Christian community or Italian community, or American neighborhood community. No matter which way we look at it, it's a group of people who are like-minded and bond together to survive through hard times and celebrate life together. 

I found a variety of books that honors the Pagan community and depicts Witches as Earth loving people, not some green thing that has flying monkeys. (Although, I do admit, I love flying monkeys.) I also have books that share Earth based spirituality. Enjoy!

      















         















      















      

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Tribute to Toni Morrison

Yes, the literature geek is at it again....

One of my all time favorite authors, Toni Morrison, was born in 1931. She has written a number of amazing books depicting the depth of human relations under unbelievable conditions. I recently watched "Beloved", which was incredibly constructed by Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. I was completely blown away by Thandie Newton performance of Beloved. I read the book a few times many years ago, and I am inspired to read it again after seeing the movie.




Of course, as any other book that is made into a movie, I highly recommend reading the book first. The movie is well done, which is a hard one for me to say because rarely are movies as good as the book.











Other excellent work by Toni Morrison.



















Her books are intricate and deep. They aren't long novels, and you can very well read them in one sitting. Prepare yourself though. She has an incredible way of moving and stirring your thoughts in a way that is a bit flustering at first.

These are all the ones I have read and all of them were excellent.



Here are more! I haven't read these yet, but undoubtedly they are as amazing as the rest.

  














   

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Catharsis

My daughter and I are moving into a very small space. It's a one bedroom bungalow, very zen-like, with an outdoor tub, 8x15 living room, kitchen, bathroom and 8x6 bedroom. We have a small yard, just enough for our 85 pound wolfdog and a bbq (I have to have my bbq). Currently, we have enough stuff for a two bedroom house. We have a 5x10 storage unit that I don't want to have to pay for after the term is up in October. In the last month, we have lived off of a handful of clothes in one small armoire, our kitchenware, and our bed. I figure if we can do that, and have not needed the stuff we have in storage, we're ready to do some serious off-loading. There will be a nice 2 bedroom house yard sale. Instead of sorting, we're going to go through our things and keep the stuff that is absolutely essential. Of course, there will be sentimental items and I have an upright storage unit that will be kept outside along with my sewing stuff.

A dear friend of mine has offered to build my daughter a loft bed, and I may see about doing the same for me in order to have more space. Then she can can have the bedroom, and I can sleep in the living area. We have a bookshelf, three dressers, and a couch set. Something needs to go even in those few things.

One of my best girlfriends is calling this a catharsis, which indeed it is. In the past year, I have had back surgery and a huge load of Murphy's Law swirling around in my world. Even in the last month I have had bouts of anger and resentment because of the stressful pile up to the point where I felt toxicity coming out of my pores. I was beginning to think I smelled bad along with it. Somewhere along the way, the energy shifted and I feel myself morphing, letting go, and freed. Along with this experience, I want to be free of these unnecessary material things. My goal, starting on Samhain, is to spend the upcoming year freeing myself from debt and cutting away at what is not necessary. I'm pretty good at living within a pretty low income, given I was formerly an Early Childhood Educator. Now, I want to take it to the next level.

I was poking around looking for articles on downsizing your life. The Good Human published a great article "Downsizing your Life to Live in 100 Square Feet. Could You do It?". I was completely intrigued by Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. While as I don't think my daughter and I could live in 100 sq. ft without having a mother-daughter explosion, they do have slightly larger options. The B-53 looks like the perfect house for us. My ultimate goal is for my daughter and I to own our home.

Yes. Catharsis. We are unloading a heap of material things that is clogging up the energy pipe, and a heap of negative energy clogging up the prosperity pipe. One step at a time, and we'll be debt free, downsized, and owning our own home.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ways to Save Money

I'm always looking for ways to save money. I don't bring home a large income, and I'm raising my daughter by myself, so it gets tricky. It's not impossible though. One of my ways is to save all of my change. I have a five gallon alhambra bottle where I put all of my change, sometime even dollar bills at the end of the week. One year, we managed to save over $650.

I found this article on Yahoo this morning. It had some interesting tips. One of my goals is to clear all of my credit cards by Spring Equinox. So far, I have paid off two of my credit cards in the past two years and I closed those accounts. These things take time, but I'm on the right road. Here is another article regarding social security... which is something I haven't thought about, but certainly is something I want to explore and pursue. Of course, that is if Social Security is going to continue to exist.

A long time ago, I read Susie Orman's 9 Steps to Financial Freedom.


I've seen her speak on TV, and she has some good advice. I think I may have to pick up her book again to get back on track. It's easy to lose track of financial goals with eating out, movies, and trips to Mexico.

We're in the midst of downsizing, so there will be a lot of selling of things in the next few months. Certainly one of the things advised in "10 Tips to Help You Save". Time to let go of stuff we don't need.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Parenting your way

Everyone has their own way to parent and they should. People around us always have advice or criticism. I remember being bombarded by family, friends, and even strangers when I was pregnant with my daughter, and even moreso after her birth. Everyone has an opinion, and it's okay... you can weed out what is useful and what is not and move on.

The bottom line is that as long as you are not abusing your child, you should be able to raise your child in the way you choose. How do we do this because there are so many books, experts, advice columns, grandparents, and parent groups to choose from. One important piece of parenting that needs to be remembered is that you have the right to honor your family culture. Family culture doesn't mean parenting from your ethnicity's culture per se, it means all the aspects that creates your own family culture. It ranges from the type of music you prefer to your morals and values.

An excellent book by local Santa Cruz authors, Janis Keyser and Laura Davis, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, is a sourcebook with Early Childhood Education strategies.





The most important piece of parenting is going easy on yourself and being real with your children. Parents are human beings too. We all make mistakes. We trip over words or yell when we're overwhelmed. As long as our kids can see that we can come back, apologize and take responsibility for our actions, we provide a healthy model for their own development.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Some of my favorite children's books...

There are amazing books to teach children how to live compassionately in our society. Here are some excellent choices for preschool aged children:


All of us come from different family cultures; ethnicities; and individual beliefs.















This one will bring tears to your eyes. Children are not born with prejudice. It is a learned behavior. The Teddy Bear teaches us how to look lovingly upon all walks of life.












We all have special needs.














Two Mrs. Gibsons is a delightful story about a bi-racial child loving the two most important women in her life - her mom and grandmother.













The photography in this book is amazing. It depicts how we are all connected by one great necessary life source - water.














I truly respect Barbara Kerley's work. This is another book filled with beautiful photos of children and families around the world.