Ordinary Magic


This past weekend was an amazing whirlwind of awesome for our family. Being able to take both of the boys to do things that were on their dream lists was epic. Seeing both of them stretch beyond their comfort zones to do these things was pure magic. Being able to witness it all is what this journey is made of. It was all super duper happy making, life affirming awesome all over the place. One of the biggest lesson that came out of it was a text exchange with a friend.

I was sending the sorts of snapchats a mom likes to share with her friends. The sort where you show your kids being all brave and awesome in the world. My dear friend Helen was replying back with huge enthusiasm for what we were up to. She was reminding me how life affirming this all was (this was the weekend of my Father’s Death day nine years earlier and it all seemed so fitting). And then she was sharing her own feelings as big as mine while simply being at home present will her own family.

It can be easy for me to feel the gratitude for the big out in the world moments that have all my senses on high alert. I remember we are alive and being in the world. It can be harder with dishes in the sink and the other sorts of everyday business that threaten to pull me away from gratitude. Yet, it’s still always there, the magic I mean. It’s not just there when we are at Harry Potter world (pun intended) it’s with me all of the days with these human beings who are my children. It’s all about choosing to notice.

It’s that little everyday reminder that parenting is not my job, it is at the heart of who I am. When I live that story I see what is before me as an opportunity to be my fullest most complete self and not as task that needs to be checked off a to do list. I have the opportunity to ground into my value system and interact and react from that place. When being a mother is who I am and not what I do, I operate from words like kind, loving, attentive. I show up for them with an attitude of gratitude for the chance to be who they need me to be.  Which has got to be the key to taking the big magic and winding it’s way through the fibers of the everyday living together. What magic will you uncover in this ordinary day.

For the love of the band


This ride of being my children’s mother never stops blowing my mind. It was never my job to teach them only to show up and witness what they had in store for me.

Standing on the floor of the Hollywood Palladium squished on all sides by people I had never met, my neighbo’rs beer pouring down my leg, my left foot stuck to something on the floor, my nasal passage assaulted by other people’s body odor, sweat in all the places, I was farther outside of my comfort zone than I would ever choose for myself. My mind looked for exit routes. I could flee and find a better place, with less people and meet up with him once the show was over. I could suggest, gently that maybe we had seen enough and step away to the fresh air of the outside world. Somewhere in me though I heard this tiny voice reminding me “this worry is not his” and “this fear is not his” mostly, “this discomfort is not his.” I focussed my attention on what was truthfully in front of me. My son. Fully present to the moment, experiencing a dream come true. Yes, he would bend in the way that indicates the fatigue of standing on a concrete floor for hours but only for a second before he was swept up in the music again, bouncing off the floor, singing out the lyrics.

Pausing to get comfortable with my own discomfort brought me clear into the moment. Yes, all my senses were alive standing at full attention. There was music literally pulsing through my entire body. The band just started playing their new title “Still Breathing” and I felt as though it was the first time I had really heard the lyrics. I was doing just that I was still breathing through the wreckage of my own fears, I was standing their still breathing and it was a small miracle. Tears stung my eyes as the lyrics carried on. Without pause the music moved into the song “Minority” upending any sense of control I had been holding onto. With snot and tears joining the sweat pouring out of me,  my mind  saw it all in a flash. The four year old him in his one piece blue pajamas with a badminton jacket in his hands singing this very song everywhere he went. My brother arriving with a bass in hand on his fifth birthday because being Mike Dirnt was the most important thing for my son that year. The bands that were formed over and over again to showcase his talents. His first attempts at making music on his own. His now skill at listening to and recreating all the songs the band put out. Each moment that had lead up until now to make this a possibility. I knew then, that it will always be the depths of my gratitude at being his mother that will carry me through the places that threaten to break me.



The art of feeding

When I was growing up my mom would get up early every morning to make my dad his breakfast and his lunch for the day. She would also make our lunches and dinner for everyone. She took on the roll of being the feeder of us all. This is how I learned it was my “job” to feed my family. It was what good moms and wives did to ensure the health of their family. So this is how I started out with my own family. But overtime I needed to step back and take a look at a few things to make sure I was feeding the people in front of me and not the stories running behind the scenes.

I did not get up to make my husband breakfast because I was feeding babies all night long and if they were sleeping I was sleeping. Plus this was not an expectation he had come into our marriage having of me, it was a arbitrary rule I had placed upon myself.

When my husband worked outside of the home, I did make his lunch for him on a pretty regular basis. Then I would have fights with him when he didn’t eat it. “What do you mean you went out for lunch? I took time out of my day to make this for you and you didn’t even eat it.” We had that fight many many times before I caught up and realized he didn’t expect me to make his lunch. He was fully capable of feeding himself. So I stopped making his lunch in the name of peace and a viable marriage.

My husband is great at many things. Cooking is not one of them. He has tried a number of times to prepare meals for the family. The tirade of frustration,cursing and declaration that dinner was inedible, stopped us from trying to strike the sort of balance where we take turns with that job. Because the truth is, most of the time, I love to cook for my family.  I didn’t always know this about myself because I had been stuck under a rock of obligation for while.

I was at a conference once and I believe the speaker was Sandra Dodd. There was a mom in the audience who was adamant that she had things she had to do that meant her child had to be otherwise entertained so she the mom could be left to do what had to be done.  “I have to make dinner,” she said. Sandra turned to her and said “No you don’t. Order a pizza or put a frozen one in the oven.” That was a cold hard truth there that lead me to uncover my own feelings of obligation and shine a new light on my role of feeder of the family. To see if it was true I had to or if there was room for a shift to find a place of want to in all of that.

It is super easy for me as a mom to get all caught up in “have tos” and the even nastier “should”. When I can take a wider look at things I can see, that in fact, it is a story I am telling myself and not a truth. I find my choice in being able to rewrite the story from “I have to make dinner” to “I look forward to making dinner,”  or “there are other ways to feed my family tonight.”

It is with this re-writing and a little bit of out of the box thinking that I have a beautiful opportunity to help feed my youngest son. We are sleeping at quite different times right now which can be challenging. He has from as young as I can remember asked for what he calls “surprise snacks” which means a collection of foods he likes showing up on a plate without him knowing what it will be. This is pretty hard to pull off when you are the only guy awake. When you are the one feeding yourself. He was sharing with me how he misses his surprise snacks when he is awake alone.

He also remembers loving lunchables back when he was still eating gluten. There are not a lot of gluten free nut free pre-made lunch kits out in the world that meet his specific needs. With these two nuggets of information and his pleas for food that was not just chips for him to grab and eat, I found the perfect containers. Added a little creativity cause likely service is my love language. And filled the fridge with these grab and go individual surprise snacks. I tell you the joy the boy has over all of this pays me for every last second I spend making them with a little extra for the love bank. I mean look at these beauties.


I share these stories as a reminder, that food is meant to nourish. It is what we all need to sustain life. I as the self assigned feeder of the family, have a lot of choice around how I do that. I can drop the parts that don’t resonate with me. I can re-write the stories I have been telling for years. I can feed my family fast food meals as regularly as needed to keep the peace. I can think outside of the box to find unique solutions to the feeding of all the belies and hearts in the family, mine included.

When I create food from a place of choice and serve it with that same attitude, it tastes a lot better than the bitter taste of obligation with a side of resentment. Because for me, the important ingredients in nourishing my family are connection, joy, choice and buckets full of unconditional love. All of that is at my finger tips when I am rooted in my own truth, telling stories I have written and mothering from a place of intention.

Love Must Win

For as long as I can remember I have been genuinely confused by how any one person can think another is worth less then they themselves are. As I child I wanted to know what it was the grown ups had that I didn’t, that gave them power over me. I think I see it now and it has to do with all the people who held power over them when they were younger. And I did try it out when I reached that imaginary age that gave me power to use against those younger than me but it never felt right in my heart of hearts. I could recognize in them that same feeling I felt of being powerless.

I am a white girl so I never experienced having the color of my skin held against. Except for the brief moments in Japan when locals would point at me and exclaim “gaijin” which some believed to mean foreigner with some negativity. Also there were the humbling moments of standing in the street as the only one with white skin who couldn’t understand a lick of the langue around me. It gave me a much deeper understanding of the line some folks like to toss to those struggling with a new language “if you’re gonna live her learn the language.” Trust me, it’s not that easy to learn a language even when you are living immersed in it. Sometimes you find yourself moved somewhere quickly just trying to find a way to get a loaf of bread without the language skills to communicate that.

Growing up my dad would always say, “I’m not a racist, expect when it comes to those damn Indians.” Which confused me. I didn’t know what they had done wrong. My dad did come around in his later years to the error of his thinking with new found wisdom, an opening of his heart. He understand one uncomfortable feeling can not be used to explain or judge or treat differently an entire race of people. That his uncomfortable feelings were his to figure out and not something to be used against another human being.

I am also heterosexual so haven’t ever had to explain or combat my right to love who I wanted to because it tucked nicely into the mainstream idea of who I as a woman “should” love. Growing up I had an Uncle who’s lack of wife was explained away by a story of being left at the alter. Though there were quiet whispers and hushed conversations about his potential relationship with a man. I never understood why I we couldn’t just ask him and talk about it all out in the open.

My dad stood up in his newly adopted church against marriage equality. His argument was taken out at the knees. And I will never forget that Sunday when he called tears in his throat and said “Shan, it’s about love. How could I have ever been against something that was about love. He gave me hope, at 60 years old, for a world where closed minds could be cracked open when infused with the reality of loves power.

I am also a woman. And have carried some scars from being a gender that in our history has been seen both less than and weaker. I have had to speak louder. I’ve been propositioned at work by a person of power. Encouraged to where mini skirts even though shorts were not allowed. Been touched against my will. Hooted and hollered at. All because I was born with a vagina. I still don’t understand how that makes me less than.

None of what I have written here is evidence of anything horrific to overcome. Yet, still there were these moment when fear could have turned a piece of my heart cold. I think of the people, in my community, who have faced, on a daily basis, hatred for being who they are that still wake up every morning and choose love. Who have all the reasons in the world to walk around hurting others for the pain that has been their’s to carry for a lifetime, but still choose love. And I see how easy my work is.

Because now I am a mother. In a position of power, some could say,  over two young minds and the only thing I can think to do is to keep them as wide open, curious and accepting as they were the day they arrived in my arms, knowing nothing but unconditional love. It’s that raw beauty, pure freshness that I am in charge of protecting against fear and the confused messages that a hurting world might want them to believe. To carry forward their grandfather’s words “It’s about the love.” This whole entire business of living is about love. Choosing love. Letting love win. Showing up with love even when hate and fear threatens to beat you down. Rising up again on the strength of love when you would rather curl up in despair. Giving love to the wounded souls around you who need it the most. Being the helpers on the sidelines that rush in with love when the rest of the bystanders can’t find the courage to do so. Because I’ve promised to do better by these precious souls and handing them a world broken by fear and hatred breaks that promise.

Because I’m raising boys in a rape culture.

I stood on a street corner with both my boys returning from a routine trip to Starbucks. I had turned my body toward them and away from the man leering out his car window at me. My youngest son said “Mom that guy is totally checking you out. I gave him the stare down.”

Because I am raising boys in a rape culture I couldn’t sink in to my own shame and have the concrete swallow me up as I had wanted. I had to explain to them that some boys are raised to believe that women are objects for their pleasure. They are raised to believe that women ask for sex by how they dress or the volume of alcohol and drugs they consume. They are raised to believe their very own bodies are driven by sexual desires that they have no control over.

At this point the boys think this is ridiculous, stupid and what kind of idiot teaches boys this stuff. I am grateful that they so vehemently reject these ideas. It shows me I’ve done something correct along the way. And as much as I would like to rest here knowing they are not having similar ideas I have to carry on.

I explain to them that because they live in the same world as these ridiculous idiots they have to be on the look out. They have to speak up and step in because not only are these boys and their parents broken in their thinking so is the judicial system. It puts the onus on the victims to prove the crime happened. It takes a woman and rakes her entire life over the coals, revealing her sexual history, questioning her character as a human being, destroying any fiber of worth she might be clinging to. While at the same time raising up the rapist on swim scores and honorary achievements, (Unless of course they are of color but we’ve already broken your hearts with that disgusting truth.).  And that because of this system, rapists walk out the door free and are in the world around you.

I explain more. Now since you are one of the ones who knows the only cause of rape is a rapists and that the judicial system does nothing to protect woman, you have to be fierce protectors of the girls and woman you encounter in the world. Team up with them, have their back, watch their drinks, escort them safely home and step in whenever a man forces any part of himself on a woman.

I don’t want this heavy burden for you. I wish I didn’t have to shatter your innocent beliefs about this world we live in. That I could release you into the world with out knowing these horrible things happen. But I simply cannot because we currently live in a rape culture and educating you is the only thing I know how to do to make a difference.


Yesterday at the grocery store I heard the young man about to bag my groceries exclaim “I hate it when you do that.” He was visibly upset as a female cashier walked away laughing.

The male cashier running my groceries through turned to him and said “what’s that all about?”

The exasperated young fellow said “they grab my side fat all the time. I already know it’s there I don’t need them to tell me.”

The cashier overcome said “I hate that shit,” quickly turning to me to apologize for his language.

I said “You know they aren’t allowed to touch you right? Just like you can’t put your hands on their bodies.”

Both men were quiet for a moment. Then the cashier turned to me and said ” but can a man say something about that?” He was ernest and sincere in his question.

I miss heard him and thought he was asking me if I could say something to management about the incident. I replied in the affirmative. “Really we can?” he asked.

I may have then slipped into a bit of a rant. Explaining to both of these men that it was not okay for anyone to put hands on their bodies without their permission. Just as they were well aware they could not touch the female staff. Consent, I explained, works both ways and is for EVERY BODY! I quickly ended my rant explaining I was raising two young boys and consent was a topic we covered a great deal.

The young bagger was replaced so he could take his break. He walked away and then turned back to thank me and wish me a good evening. I could feel his gratitude for this new information and I was hopeful it would make his work environment a little less hostile in the future.

All of this reminded me quickly why from the very beginning we have worked to keep our boys in charge of who can touch their bodies. This covers every thing from well meaning relatives, hugs from us, to kisses and tickling.  They have known for years what consent is and that it is required by anyone who wants to touch their body.  As well, that they must gain consent before touching a body that is not their own. And they now, remind me, when I reach in for a tickle, forgetting my own intentions, by saying “consent mom!”

I did not grow up with this strong message. I could tell tales of the how and the why because I’ve been working to untangle all the stuff so I don’t pass it along to my boys but I’m not looking to toss around any blame here. I am healing through giving something different to my own children. Because I do have scars and regrets for the moments when I was silenced by fear or didn’t believe I had the right to or  know how to say no. I want that voice to be strong in my boys as they step out into the wider world, for their own protection as well as the protection of those they may encounter.

So we have all sorts of uncomfortable conversations as different ages and stages pass through our journey together. We cover the what if’s and the how to’s so they are prepared in the heat of the moment with some partial rehearsed scripts that can help them speak their truth.  So they know the sound of their own voice and how to use it to protect themselves, their friends and even strangers being treated wrongfully. I ask what would you do if the …… and off I go to the bar where a girl’s had too much to drink, or the friend of color being harassed by the police, the man trying to lure them into a vehicle etc. We talk about the their white skin, their gender and how it comes with advantages and privileges other folks have to fight for. And how to be an ally over and over and over again to anyone who is being treated unfairly. But wider than that, at this stage in their life , we do the hard work of healing our own wounds so the boys can witness us out in the world standing up for others who are trying to find their own voice, those being mistreated constantly seeking out the shared humanity with in each one of us. Because, we have to start somewhere, in healing this broken world, with allies instead of enemies, with similarities instead of differences.

Mama’s heart is open and ready to listen!


I remember back to the beginning of this parenting journey coming across QTIP, which stands for quick taking it personally. This little reminder was used to gently nudge me away from some of the struggles I was having with my children and I have to say it is so important for me to remember these days. As my boys are getting older they are trying out new ideas, new concepts and even new ways of being in the world and since I have the trusted role of mom, I get to be by their side for the good the bad and the ugly. And if I wish to remain a trusted confidant I need to practice QTIP on the regular.

Where I find this particular piece most challenging is when the boys find the courage to point out the moments when I am stepping away from the intention of how I want to parent and falling in to reactions to circumstance. I can easily, when these comments are made, slip into my knee jerk patterned response of defensiveness. However, I have witnessed, more than once, how this reaction lands on my child. The shoulders shrink, the body closes up and I can almost see the wounds of my words on their inside worlds, the trust between us dissolving. Yep, I can apologize but this doesn’t take the words away. It begins to build the bridge back to trust but I really do prefer when I can take that extra second to breath deeply, QTIP and react from a place of unconditional love, to keep our trust and closeness intact.

The reminder for me, again and agin, is the best thing I can do in the moment when I feel that defensive protective self come out is to see the child before me and come toward them with a reaction that is held in love, respect and connection. To take the extra moment to breath in the breath that takes me out of whatever story I am running and puts me into the unconditional love that is my child’s birth right.

Our children are human beings doing the best they can with the resources available to them to get their needs met. I am the safest most trust worthy resource and so I get gifted with the chance to witness all of their unfolding. I am also human and flawed and when my child notices me slipping out of intention and into circumstance the only true reaction is, “thank you of noticing and bringing me back to my right mind.” Because really what my child is saying, in the best way they know how in that moment is, “hey mom I’ve been paying attention all along and I know who you really want to be.” Imagine that for a moment. All these years of paying attention to who my children are, witnessing and showing up for them, has lead them to have the confidence to do the very same for me. This is the foundation for years, beyond childhood of connection, truth, respect and love, oh so much love. And that friends is all this mama could ever dream of. So bring on your observations you beautiful human beings, mama’s heart is open and ready to listen.

Let’s Be Vulnerable Together


My sister in law has given me some serious gifts over the years. Beginning on Mother’s Day, about eight years ago now, when after a few sort introductions she jumped off the back deck and started playing with my boys. She didn’t know it at that time but the quickest way to my heart is through wanting to know my children.

Then she gave me the gift of committing to love my brother for the rest of her years. My brother has been one of the heroes in my life and I wanted nothing more than for someone to see his giant heart and commit to tending to it.

Then there was 2012 when she birthed her first son and again in June of 2015 when she brought another little dude into our family. Lately, though the gift she has been given me is bigger than I think she knows. She has been handing me the most vulnerable parts of her mothering journey and trusting me to witness her there.

In this world of mommy wars, tiger moms, helicopter parents and whatever trendy terms I have missed listing, mothering takes on this sort of competitive edge. Where one can end up building a wall of “I got this” all around themselves and quietly struggling through the days that challenge our own sense of value in this important role. It can lead to the sort of isolation that make us feel unworthy of the title mom, incapable of doing it well and lost in our heartbreak as our hearts walking on the outside of our bodies take us to places we never even knew we hurt. And I know these places exists because I have been to all of them, more than once.

When my sister in law picks up the phone and calls to talk to me from that place, she creates a space for both of us to be real and raw about the struggles that come alongside the celebrations.  I get to remember back to what it was like to be in the dark places, admit to her that they still show up even 14 years in and together we support each other. With the sorts of reminders that say “You are a good mom because you care enough to notice when things feel a little side ways.” And “it’s okay to have a bad day, in fact it’s probably modeling some stellar coping skills to your children.” But wider and bigger than that we get to witness one another heart to heart in our most vulnerable places and walk away better human beings. The more often we are willing to choose vulnerability over shame, as mothers, the stronger we come out for our children.

So let’s all decide today, just around the corner from Mother’s Day, to stand side by side in all the hard places and the celebratory places and hold each other up instead of tearing each other down. To set the course for more confident, compassionate caring human beings, both in ourselves and our children.

Trust and food choices

My son ate egg whites and raisin bran for breakfast this morning. And it is really tempting for my to use this as an example of how children who are left to make their own food choices end up making “healthy” choices eventually. But the cautionary tale here is that that statement is coming from my diet mind that still wants to label foods good and bad and has nothing to do with my son.

He chose egg whites because he has never liked the yolk part. And raisin bran tastes good to him and dad loves it and sometimes loving what your dad loves is a way to find connection. His younger brother will be happy to wake up and discover their are extra yolks for him to add to his egg plate. Because for as long as they have been eating eggs one eats around the yolks and the other the whites. I have tried to get them to share an egg before but they have preferred the whole egg eat around method. Lucky me that now their is not any egg left on the plates to clean up.

By providing a pantry full of a variety of foods throughout their growing up I have created opportunities for the boys to explore plenty of foods. By biting my tongue, most of the time, when they made the choices they did I have created a judgement free zone for them to find those foods that nourish their individual bodies. But greater than that I have facilitated an environment where the boys have been able to listen to and trust their own bodies. I am not living in those bodies. I can not know what does or does not feel good inside of them. This sort of autonomy over their bodies begins with me trusting them, to trust their bodies. I don’t have the ability to truly hear my body most of the time. Witnessing my boys use language that explains how they are feeling inside of their bodies is healing for me and a celebratory for them.

My youngest son has food allergies. I suspected early on what foods were the culprit. I offered my insights. And then I stood back and supported my son as he made food choices. I did not police what he ate. I did not claim to know more than he did about what was going on inside his body. I watched as he discovered on his own. He ate the offending foods and I held his hand while he was uncomfortable. One day, July 21st 2013 to be exact, he made the mind body connection and decided to stop eating all of the offending foods. He has been temped at birthday parties, favorite restaurants and potluck gatherings, every time he has chosen to keep his body feeling good and avoid the offending foods. Because he wants to feel good inside of his body and has discovered through is own trial and error just how to do this.

Supporting our children in exploring all of their food desires while simultaneously untangling our own hang ups around food is a beautiful gift we hand our children. It goes a long way in supporting a trusting, connected relationship while also helping them to discover how to care for their own bodies. Because the truth is one day they are going to be out in the world without me and I want them to know how to have full authority over all the parts of their bodies.

Memory Makers


When it gets hot we always head for the ocean. My most favorite part of our trips to the beach has got to be how all the ages and stages fall away and my boys simple exist. It’s hard to put the magic into words but it’s like seeing them stripped down of everything but their true essence. It may be that it’s a place where I let down all my defenses as well  and we can just be side by side appreciating what’s in front of us. Whatever the reason, I love it there, at the beach where time simply disappears.

This time it was hot and we had the intention of jumping in the ocean. The thing is with us once our minds are set on getting into the ocean it takes a lot to change directions. We have on more than one occasion driven the forty minutes to the ocean to simply jump in, turn around and drive all the way back into the city. Once we get called out by the ocean we have to go in. Today when we got there and it wasn’t as warm as it had been inland. So we were going to need a little time to warm up.


Play unfolds naturally outdoors for both of my boys. Whatever is happening in their minds spills out on the objects around them and before I know it I am seeing their inner world spilled out across the sand. This time driftwood has washed ashore the most perfect swords and another beach lover and built that perfect fort.

The other thing about the beach and it’s magic timelessness for us, is the conversations. I was privy to hearing the ins and outs of the game they are both completely loving right now. I wasn’t in the conversation, I was on the sidelines witnessing to brothers in complete connection. They were sharing opinions, debating ideas and designing strategies for future implementation. The outside world falling apart as their minds met and wound around one another. As a mom, this sibling relationship that they have tugged at year after year unfolding with such mutual respect and adoration sends more than one tear down my cheek. Being home together learning side by side for all these years has had it’s challenges for the boys, I also believe whole heartedly it’s been the place where their relationship has strengthened


We did get warm enough and decide the three of us, to forge out into the frigid ocean water. The waves were calmer at some point and we discussed the best ways to get past the stronger waves. Growing up on the shores of the ocean we have a healthy respect for who has the power when we enter her world. We use the line “never turn your back on the ocean, ” to keep each other safe. Always listening to our own instincts and respecting when someone reaches the place in the water that feels far enough. We got several waves on our boards, each ducked under the waves and decided to head in when a few waves crashed a little harder around us than felt comfortable. Trusting the boys to know their own boundaries when it comes to their own safety is a cornerstone of building this trusting relationship we are building.

Back on share the boys dried off, changed, cause for as long as I can remember these guys don’t love being in anything wet for longer then necessary.  And then they fell onto the towels to share again. Now it was the world of YouTube and the hilarity that it brings into their lives. Side by side on the shore of the ocean laughing over and over again at moments they have both found on line. Giving me the chance to wander the shores with my camera, in hopes of using my own passion to capture a moment or two.


These are the days when I step back and truly appreciate the gift that this life has given me, the chance to be home full-time with my children. Their childhoods are already passing at warp speed and will inevitably end before I am ready for them to. So, I count it my greatest blessing that I have as many days as I want to build up their childhood on timeless ocean jumping memories. I truly believe this is what will launch all of us into the world beyond childhood tightly wound in our relationship looking backwards with fondness.