Tuesday, February 22, 2011


We all have our priorities...they vary from home to home. 

At the moment, I'm trying to focus on what it is my priorities are actually all about.  And, to be honest, they are really pretty simple.  I want my children to be healthy, happy and well adjusted. I would prefer for my children not be to harmed permanently or killed ever again.  I would like my husband to be able to enjoy a life of contentment with work that is fulfilling and compensated well, with friends that nourish and support him.  I'd like to know my home is not only safe and cozy but also functional.  I'd like more time to brush my sweet Ferdinand.  I'd like time to walk and talk each day with my best friend and lover; and I'd like to live a nice long life with him, preferably into our 90's as healthy and mentally in tact elders.  I need wholesome food, and the time to create dishes that are economical and tasty. I'd love to be able to pay my bills, and maybe even save a little from time to time... I'd also like to finish my degree. 

It's that last one that is bugging me today.  Finishing my degree.

What does that entail?  Well...I used to think that it simply meant that I would jump from hoop to hoop, easily passing courses, as I usually do, and that effort would one day result in a silly little piece of paper that proclaimed I had successfully jumped through all the collegiate hoops required to be a professional someone.

However...there is one hoop that is tripping me up.

One hoop that may prevent me from achieving my goal.

One hoop that threatens all my educational plans and mocks the amount of loan money I've taken out thinking I would be able to pay it back once I had my degree.

One hoop....called Linear Algebra.

As I write the word...I shudder.  Linear Algebra.  It sounds like a weird disease you wouldn't want to catch.  Linear Algebra.

I have a math disability.  This means that while I score in the 98th percentile for all other subjects, (a genius I tell you!)  I also happen to score in the 3rd percentile for math ability.  Not the 30th.  The 3rd.  This doesn't mean I can't do simple equations.  It doesn't mean I don't understand concepts.  It means that I can not compete with normal brains in the realm of upper level math.  Even lower level math is hard for me.  It's not a matter of practice.  I practice  and practice.  I always have.  It doesn't stick.  I can't keep it.  Not with a hundred problems...not with a million.  I've been tested on this.  I am an anomaly.  It's not just that "math is hard for me".  It's that my brain will NOT absorb math in a linear (or any other) way.  It will not KEEP math within it's neuronal boundaries.  I understand what I read, and can perform instructions.  I can not remember formulas, or applications, or....anything really...with numbers.

or letters posing as numbers. 

So.  As I write, which comes easily to me, I am stewing over the past four hours wherein an exam I took which allowed double time due to my disability was still, even with my most dedicated efforts, not passed.  I got a D.  Better than an F perhaps.  But not better enough. 

If I don't pass the class.  They will have me take it again.  The problem with that is this.  I won't remember anything I've learned in this semester, so it will be as if I am doing it all over again having never seen it before.   I. do. not. learn. math. 

And yet...it is required.

In spite of the fact that I am missing the limb required to perform the function.

It is required.

In spite of the fact that I will never...and I MEAN never...use math for anything other than my calculator buttons. 

It is required.  Even though it has nothing to do with anything I will ever do. 

And so...even though I am an honor student boasting A's and B's in every subject...I may not be able to get my degree. 

And so, I am brought to my knees.  Questioning priorities. 

I am two (math) classes away from my degree.  Two (math) classes I may be unable to pass.  Two (math) classes away from being able to work for a wage that would carry my family above poverty level.  Two (math) classes away from showing my kids you can do anything if you try hard enough.

And...I'm failing.


There really are more important things in life....

Things like smiling children...healthy babies...loving partners...good food....good health....quality of life.

Things like rainbows...flocks of birds...ocean waves...mountain peaks....ice cream.

Things like healing from loss...

Things like protecting the future...

Things like love.





In the history of the world, my having a degree is but a spot--less than a spot--in the cosmos.  It means nothing. 

And yet....

I cried this afternoon when I got my grade back. 

Because...it did mean something.  To me.  It meant that no matter how hard I try...some things will never change.  Some things are exactly as they are.  math disabilities.  dead babies.  brain injuries.  loss.  It's all permanent.  It never goes away.  I can reroute my life...I can heal from loss, and find a new normal.  I can try to have another baby and love the children I have with all my heart...looking away from the pain...trying to find the mom who believed in joy.  I could keep trying to remember math equations that will not stick...like a dog trying to chase a stubby tail.  I could keep trying.  and trying.  and trying.

But...there is a thing called learned helplessness.  And...in all honesty...when you try and try...and your efforts all fail, you learn that no matter what you do...you can not succeed.  Depression lies there. 

In any case...I will keep trying.  Because I have to.  Because I want to pass.  Because I need to pass.

I will keep trying.  Blind in an obstacle course with no instruction, I expect I will fall a lot.  I may never even find the way out.

I suppose I can smile about one thing though....my boys do not appear to suffer with the same disability I have.  They are as brilliant in math as they are every other subject.  So, when I smile at them and say "Sweetheart...you can be whatever you want to be.  You can succeed if you put in the effort."  I am not feeding them a falsehood.  They really can.  Nothing like a silly class will stop them.  The hoops will not be covered in spikes and fire.  They will be able to decide "hey...I'm interested in this...I think I'll learn it".  I've always had to ask..."What will have the least math?"  Not because I'm lazy.  Or stupid.

But...because I have a certain kind of brain. 


It's just math....

Just math.

My priorities are not calculated in an equation or ratio of importance.
They are more real than that.  More real...than numbers.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Take a Deep Breath with the Newest Issue of Exhale!

Hey everyone...it's finally out!  Exhale magazine is up and running once more, with a beautiful and inspiring new issue for your enjoyment, introspection and ponderings... you can find it  here   and...if you like, you can check out my article in particular, Adrenaline Overrated  at this spot.

Exhale was created for people who have lost a child to miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss, and is also for those who deal with infertility.  A cathartic, literary jaunt into the worlds of  amazing artists, photographers and writers who have walked this road, Exhale strives to offer a place of healing with an intelligent look at what is, might be, and has been.

As an editor and writer for Exhale...I hope you will enjoy this beautiful issue as much as I have and encourage you to consider contributing your own pieces for future issues. 


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sugar and Spice is a Boy thing too...

What are little boys made of?  What are little boys made of?  Snips and Snails and Puppy dog tails...that's what little boys are made of.  

What are little girls made of?  What are little girls made of?  Sugar and Spice and All that is Nice...that's what little girls are made of.

I recently read this poem to my 7 year old.

He frowned at me and told me he thought it wasn't fair that girls got to have all the nice stuff.

I agree.

As the mother of sons...I agree.

Boys, in my experience, are tender.  They are the most huggable little loves...if you let them be that way.
I've witnessed women and men chastise my boys for wearing pink.  Grown ups.  Adults. People who should know how to watch their mouths and keeps their bigoted opinions to themselves.
Nervous about displays of male affection...ie: hugging.  Disaproving over colors that anyone who hasn't been brainwashed might enjoy.  Irritated at the birthday gift of a unicorn or a silk cape in a lovely shade of rose that lit up the eyes of a brown eyed 5 year old.

What IS this?

When we demand that little boys are only allowed to like certain colors, certain toys, and certain ideas, we create exactly what is wrong with our world today.  A universe of little boys dressed like big men with big tough exteriors that beg to not be torn down or peeked inside of.  Little boys pretending to be the men they were told they HAD to be.  And they forgot who they were...they forgot that they were allowed to be gentle.

We create men who don't know what they feel, or why they feel, or why anyone else is allowed to feel.
And it hurts us all.

Why do we do this to our boys?  Why do we allow our girls to tell our boys that the toy they are playing with is a "girl toy"?  Why do we stop our children from being who they really are simply in the name of a fear...or, in all honesty, a prejudice.

If the fear is "turning your child into a gay person"...it's important to understand something real: You can't make a person what they are not by allowing them to be who they are.  Enjoying certain colors, toys, hobbies or jobs does not make someone who they are not.  In fact, a recent study I read in a psychology class indicated that most gay men have been shown to have had un-supportive or emotionally unavailable fathers. This is NOT to say that every boy who has an emotionally constipated father WILL be gay; correlation doesn't equate to causation..but there is a correlation that should be looked at...wondered about.  And I had to wonder in light of this...why don't we shudder when we see a father being dismissive to his child in the same way that we shudder when a little boy gets to wear the pink sequined chuckys he's been coveting for months?  Why don't we think it might screw with a child's sexual image when dad plasters his face to a football game all weekend instead of playing with his child in the same way we might when we find out that an 8 year old loves cooking above sports?  Why don't we cringe when we see a little boy get a tonka truck when he REALLY wanted a rainbow unicorn or a baby doll?

I'm just pondering here....because I see a world wherein my sons are being allowed to feel.  And I see that they are being raised differently than their male peers.  The results?  I have a 14 year old who WILL stop in the middle of a soccer game if a kid on the other team gets hurt to make sure he is o.k no matter how much his peers chastise him for being sensitive.  I have an 8 year old who wants to hug me for several minutes, without being patted away impatiently:  Comfortable with how it feels to nestle up to his mother, without fear of being teased as a mama's boy.  I have a 12 year old who nurtures all things soft and fluffy and who isn't afraid to admit that he doesn't care for the gun games his peers play or the sports they covet watching on t.v...  I have a 7 year old who adores pink, and green, and blue and anything sparkly and can often be found wearing all three at the same time bejeweled with any glittering thing he can find.  All of these boys are quick to select pink frosted cupcakes with hearts over sports themed cupcakes.  All of these boys are immediate in their efforts to console one another over heartbreaks and life disappointments. 

Sure, they joke and use occasional potty talk and tell jokes about farts too. They play in the mud and adore bows and arrows.  They like rock music and are clear about their opinions about girls. As the 14 year old stated yesterday..." I feel sorry for skinny blonds.  They look so pale and hungry.  I'm more into girls that look like they don't starve themselves...they have more to look at and enjoy."

Smart lad.  I guess wearing pink socks hasn't altered his feelings toward the opposite sex.  But honestly, even if he wasn't in to girls...it wouldn't have been the freaking SOCKS that determined it.  And, I'd love him as fearlessly as ever. 

All in all...I guess what I'm saying is that while I have zero experience with little girls, and so can not KNOW if they really are sugar and spice and everything nice...I DO know that my little boys are everything sugar and spice and everything nice.  They know how to be sweet.  They are sassy and clever.  And...there is nothing sweeter than the little boys who look up at you, even into their teens, as you kiss them goodnight and tell you..."Mommy...your the best in the whole world."

If that's not everything nice, I don't know what is.

Homeschooling Considerations

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many ways including as a homeschooling curriculum or afterschool tutorial. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning