That's what SHE said: the isolationist catastrophe of Brexit, Brits lose ragging rights, how can I love you more, trans narrative NOT trapped in the wrong body, things that are harder to get than an assault rifle, Trump gets pranked and more...



A very sad day for the global economy and an even sadder one for humanity..."We find ourselves in a moment of global fear. The democratic identities of Britain and the United States are under threat — not from immigrants or even changing values, but from nationalists and xenophobes exploiting citizens' darkest worries with populist projects, including Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency and Brexit. To many voters, the world is a scary place. Terrorists seem to lurk everywhere. Uncertainty surrounds us. Change is rapid and some aren't keeping up. Unsurprisingly, politicians of many stripes are capitalizing on our fears to rally voters against trade, immigration and international cooperation. The costs will be substantial."


A devastating blow...“When our countrymen cast their votes yesterday, they didn’t realize they were destroying the most precious leisure activity this nation has ever known,” he said. “Wankers.” In the face of this startling display of national idiocy, Dorrinson still mustered some of the resilience for which the British people are known. “This is a dark day,” he said. “But I hold out hope that, come November, Americans could become dumber than us once more.”


A provocative poem based on Thich Nhat Hahn's question, "How can I love you better?"..."Here is the part about this question that I find so touching: the asking. The vulnerability to ask. The openness to not only put another heart before us, but to put the way that our beloved would like to be loved ahead of our own sense of what that loving has to look like."

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An interesting dialogue that asks us to expand our understanding of the co-opted trans narrative of feeling trapped in one's body..."Nico: I’m a gender variant queer fat femme from Brooklyn, my pronouns are he, and they. I don’t identify with the model of having been born in the wrong body in order to be trans. Growing up as a fat queer person, my body has always been something I should not be allowed to identify with, love, or accept. Being trans meant that too. The more I wanted to explore my body, and push the socially imposed boundaries of presentation, the more I was encouraged to explore a hypermasculinity in order to validate myself, my identities and my journey. For me, coming into myself is to unapologetically let myself be what I want to — the radical self-determination and to reclaim the agency over my body, my hair, my voice, and my skin."


In Florida, it is harder to get a marriage license, driver's license, voter-registration card and solar panels than it is to get an assault rifle. It is even harder to get a handgun than a gun that requires two hands to carry..."7. A handgun - In addition to the .233-caliber assault weapon that helped Mateen carry out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, he had a 9mm Glock 17 handgun as well. He could have left the store immediately with the former, but needed to wait three days to pick up the latter because Florida law imposes a mandatory waiting period on any firearm "capable of being carried and used by one hand." The waiting period does not apply to guns that you need two hands to hold, like the Sig Sauer MCX. Some additional caveats apply: You don’t need to wait three days if you trade in one handgun for another, or if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Mateen, who worked as a security guard, did, but the owner of the St. Lucie Shooting Center said he observed the waiting period nonetheless."


At a graduate seminar on democracy, a white student is shocked to learn that a black student is not surprised by the popularity of Trump despite his racist epitaphs. In fact, the black student argues that people are not supporting Trump in spite of what he says but because of what he says...“My black friends and I get almost amused when our white friends tell us how shocked they are at what they’ve seen about this country since Trump began winning primaries with millions of votes. We’re not at all shocked. White supremacy in the U.S. has never been hidden from us. We’ve known about it for a long time, ever since the first black person was enslaved and shipped to these shores. For generations, we’ve had to be on high alert, lest America’s deep-rooted racism bring us down. Trump simply puts it out there where more people can see it."


Finally! This weekend you can take that picnic basket you have been packing for weeks and check out the FREE Griffith Park Shakespeare Festival starting June 25 with Richard III or the FREE Shakespeare by the Sea productions happening around Los Angeles. More Shakespeare festivals include Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum lineup Romeo and Juliet set in East Jerusalem will kick off its 2016 summer repertory season.  For a dose of historical fiction rooted in the hostile politics of the 1960s, Home Sick  is currently running at the Odyssey Theatre along with Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy ApeAlso be sure to check out revival production Ajax in Iraq at Greenway Court Theatre or the world premiere of Blueprint for Paradise, based  on the true story set in 1940s Los Angeles about a wealthy American couple who employ an African-American architect to design a Nazi Sympathizer training ground and compound in Pacific Palisades. For tweens and teenagers, check out The Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival closing this Sunday, June 26th or Sam Harris's HAM: A Musical Memoir at the Pasadena Playhouse.  At ICT. Tony-award winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang is now running. For the kiddos consider All Shook Up at the Laguna Playhouse. For some outdoor cinema in a truly spectacular location, check out Cinespia's lineup at the Hollywood Cemetery. To dodge the heat, there are some fantastic art exhibitions around town including Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life at The Broad and James Turrell's Light Reignfall at the LACMA.

NYC theatre-lovers can pack your picnics for the 54th Annual Shakespeare in the Park festival at Central Park starting with The Taming of the Shrew or Socrates Sculpture Park's International Film Festival this summer. Another must-see is Arthur Miller's The Crucible starring Saoirose Ronan at the Walter Kerr Theatre through July 17. Also be sure to check out the Hallett Nature Sanctuary - four acres in Central Park - reopening after a massive restoration project. The section has been closed since the 1930s. If it gets hot, check out Edgar Degas's lesser known printmaking career at the MoMA or MADreads at the Museum of Art & Design kicking off Sunday, June 19th.

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Friday Finds

1. Yoga Cards for Joyful Learning | Yogi 
2. Nail Sticker Trading Cards for Girls | Tiki Cards 
3. Teaching Kids To Bake | Happiest Little Baker
4. Adorable Little Hair Clip Set | Ally + B 
5. RoseArt | Washable Sidewalk Paint Markers
6. Vela Handcrafted By Women in Uganda | Akola 
7. Sugar Bowl Bakery | Lemon Madeleine
8. Cell Phone Radiation Deflectors | I Am Cell Aware 
9. Shine A Light Emotional Checklist Ages 5-7 for Home | AboutMe Market

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What I want you to know about making amends with my abuser

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is Anonymous.

When I was a child, I was sexually abused by an older sibling of mine, and I kept quiet about it. It was during a very tumultuous time, as my parents were in the process of separating. I had hope that they wouldn't split after all, so I felt I had to keep this secret to myself. Also, my brother was the type of kid who gave my parents a lot of trouble already - with behavior and in school. I was the A-plus smart kid who was perfectly behaved. I didn't want to add to anyone's stress level.

Well years later, I felt prompted to deal with this issue. We are talking 20 years after the fact. That deep, dark secret I hadn't told a soul was finally released into the light to my close friend and later, to my boyfriend. I was a falling-apart mess. I was going through major Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with suicidal feelings and intense anxiety. I sought out a counselor and started going to weekly sessions. Over time, I decided to confront my brother. My therapist helped me construct a letter and I sent it. I received an instant response. It was not what I expected. My therapist had prepared me that most abusers do not acknowledge their actions or feel remorse for what they did. But my brother's response was different.

He was sad, even heartbroken, over what I was going through. He said it was the biggest regret of his life and he would do anything to make it better. He sent money for my therapy and he wanted things to be instantly okay between us. I was not at that point where I could have him in my life just yet. I worked through all of the steps with my counselor and over time, I was able to heal and even forgive my brother for what he did to me when we were children. I was able to understand what started the process because he told me something had happened to him also and that had made him act out to someone else (me). He decided to seek counseling as well.

We now have a great relationship and there is nothing between us except love, forgiveness and understanding. Some days I am still filled with anger at him and what happened to me, but I think that is normal. I shouldn't have had to endure what I did. No one should.

I really did not want to write this. I have put it off for a long time. But I know I am far from alone in being a victim of sibling sexual abuse. And what I want you to know is that making amends is possible. And the healing I went through has been life-changing. I still go through periods of anxiety, but I am in a much better place after dealing with the hard stuff. If you were sexually abused and have not talked with a counselor about it, I urge you to get help. You have a whole life to live and trust me, it is a million times better on this side of the healing. It's an uphill battle but one worth fighting. I am grateful every day for how far I have come.

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Are youth sports ruining our family pace?

Hi, my name is Kristen, and I feel conflicted about youth sports.

Anyone else?

Full disclosure . . . I didn't grow up in a sports-playing household. My sisters and I were all very into the arts. We were choir and theater geeks. And my dad was more likely to watch ballroom dancing on a Saturday then he was to watch a football game. We were more familiar with chord charts than soccer cleats. We are an artsy farts he family through and through, so the kids sports landscape is new to me.

That being said: I'M OVER IT. I'm feeling that particularly today, after a Father's Day completely hijacked by two basketball games.

We have been fairly casual when it comes to sports and our kids, doing classes or camps here and there and letting them play on occasional teams that didn't require a lot of commitment. However, they have been putting the pressure on us to play in a more serious basketball league. A couple of their friends are doing it, and I figured, at 9 and 11, this is not a whim, and actually something they want us to take seriously. I appreciate that I have two kids who wants to be active and athletic. I appreciate that they would prefer to spend their weekends playing a sport over playing a video game. And I appreciate that they see the value in pushing themselves forward in something they like doing. I wanted to reword all of that. So we signed up for the basketball league, not really realizing what it entailed.

What it entails, basically, is robbing us of a family dinner twice a week, and our ability to attend a church as a family on Sundays. They have practices twice a week at dinnertime and they have not one but TWO games every weekend. Which, in my book, feels like a pretty big sacrifice. And this is with both of the boys being on the same team! I forced poor Kembe to "play up" the league, so he is a 3rd grader playing on a 5th and 6th grade team. Now, he is athletic enough that he can keep up, and tall enough that no one is the wiser at his age difference. In fact, even at 2 -3 years younger, he is still one of the taller kids on the team. But had I not done this, I can't even imagine the chaos it would wreak on our family. Having them onto separate teams would mean they could be out for practice collectively four different nights a week, and then we would have four games on a Sunday instead of two.

I was expressing my concerns to a more seasoned mom, who told me that I should count my blessings, because "this is nothing" and "club basketball is even worse." Apparently, in that case, they would be playing even more games that weekend, sometimes traveling to do so, and have practice nearly every day. What in the world? I do not remember sports being this intense when I was a kid. Especially for kids of this age.

And this is where I feel so conflict. A part of me wants to pull them out and reclaim our family time. They are still young, and it is still a huge value for me to attend church together, and eat dinner as a family when we can. I feel like we will have plenty of years down the road when our evenings are hijacked by school sports. Do I really need to engage them at this level so early?

But then, there is the fact that there are so many parents who ARE engaging their kids at this level. And I can already see the difference. We have been really casual with sports, and the skill level is noticeable. My boys have some natural ability but it doesn't bridge the gap with these kids who've been playing at this intense of a pace for the last three or four years. And that skill disparity is only going to widen if I don't keep them in sports.

Now, I've also always been the mom who just doesn't really care that her kids are sports stars. I'm quite fine being a B+ family when it comes to extracurricular activities. When parents talk about their 2nd graders' "future in sports" or private coaching or what they need to do to get a scholarship my eyes are rolling back into my head, because LET THEM BE KIDS and also, there are other things I want to emphasize for their futures. But the thing is . . . my kids care. I haven't wanted to push them into needing to be an all-star at something, but they very much have set these goals for themselves. They feel good about sports. It promotes their self-esteem. It feels like something they can master. And THEY want to be the best.

So, I am left with these conflicting values, between our family life and wanting to encourage my kids in following their passions. And I'm not sure how to have both.

I am curious to hear from other parents. How do you handle this tension? Have you been able to find sports opportunities that are less intense? Do you worry about your kids falling behind if you don't keep them involved? 

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#TBT Ten steps to positive summer parenting

 On Thursdays I post something from the archives. This is from July 2015.

I’ve been told before that my default mode for reacting to the world around me is sarcasm. I trend toward the cynical side of whatever personality-analyzing method you’re using. It works for blogging, I guess, but isn’t always the most attractive quality as a mom. Especially when the kids try to emulate the snark. 
As a parent, I’ve begun recognizing this on a regular basis. There are so many studies on the virtues of positive parenting and optimistic thinking, and sarcasm just doesn’t match up very well with those virtues. So as summer is here and my kids are home with me rather than at school, I’m going to try to be a more optimistic/positive parent. Call it the “Summer of Positive Parenting.” 

Here's what I'm trying but have in no way mastered . . . 

1. Saying “I’m proud of you, but you should be so proud of yourself.” Kids need to know that we are proud of them no matter what, of course. It helps them to keep a positive outlook about whatever they are trying to accomplish. But I’ve found that this process gets a huge boost when I remind my kids to be proud of themselves. I want them to be pumped about their own accomplishments, from grades to skateboard tricks. It’s not about always winning or getting first place, but about personal pride in having done something well. 

2. Being appreciative. Kids do so many things each day that go unrecognized. They may be tiny things that I’ve reminded them to do a GAZILLION times, or big things that they’ve just learned how to do. They may be things that show that my kids are actually aware that other people exist around them. Telling them that I notice what they’re doing and appreciate it helps them feel good about themselves: “I love the way you got dressed today without me asking you” or “I appreciate how you let your sister go first just now.” It’s a way for me to call attention to the positive things they’re doing everyday instead of always pointing what they’ve done wrong. 

3. Increasing the number of times I say “I love you.” At our house, we make it a point that “I love you” is the first thing and the last thing that the kids hear from us everyday. Kids need to hear those three words every day, at least once. But what about the rest of the day? There are countless other times throughout the day that I could tell my kids “I love you.” When I pass them in the hallway. When they come inside to grab a drink while playing outside. When they’re with friends and sure to be embarrassed. (Fine...I’ll pick my moments. Maybe.) 

4. Giving them clothing freedom. Each of my kids has their own style and fashion sense. I love that about them. Even when their style choices may be quite different from mine, one way that I can be positive about how they dress is to give them one or more days when they get to wear whatever they want. There will be times that I need to make suggestions or help them with their clothes, but giving them a little more freedom in developing their own style—which means learning not to automatically say “You shouldn’t wear that”—helps them make decisions and feel good about themselves. 

5. Giving more hugs. When I’m busy, or when all the kids have different things going on, I tend to forget how important physical touch is. Full-body hugs are one of my favorite ways to tell my son or daughter how much I love them, but there are so many times a day that a quick shoulder hug can make my kids feel loved and important, too. It could make the difference in a day being good or bad.

6. Less nagging. No kid likes to be told to do something by a parent... and then harped about it over and over again. No adult likes it, either. There will be times I may need to gently remind them to do a chore or activity, but for the most part, everyone would be a lot happier if there was less nagging about getting things done. When Mom doesn’t nag, kids can feel positive about being responsible for their own accomplishments around the house. Everyone wins. 

7. Less yelling. Nothing sucks the positivity out of a child like being yelled at. (The same goes for adults.) They may have done something wrong, but yelling doesn’t make it any better, especially when it’s about something small. And that applies throughout our family. The kids react better to each other and work through problems better when no one is allowed to yell. In most cases, this helps them communicate and problem-solve without my help. Look, I don’t like to be yelled at. I’m 100% certain they don’t either. 

8. Being a better role model. Ouch. If I want my kids to be positive people, then I need to be a positive person. That may mean holding back a negative or snarky comment so that my kids don’t hear it. That also means showing my kids that even if I mess up, get angry, or have my feelings hurt, how I react is important. I want my kids to know that it’s OK to have emotions. We all have them—good and bad. Learning to deal with them in a healthy way is the important part.
9. Cooking together. One thing we’ve started doing over the past year is letting the kids help us in the kitchen. While it can be a challenge, the process of cooking together is always fun. They are learning. They are cooperating. We all end up smiling. Everyone gets assigned some kind of a job. As they get more skilled and more responsible, they'll be able to cook with less supervision. And the older kids can help the younger kids. Best case scenario: There will come a day when I’m not needed in the kitchen at all! 

10. More listening. Summer is incredibly busy for us. When I take the opportunity to sit or walk or spend time with my kids and listen to the things they want to say, it tells them that their thoughts and ideas are important. It tells them that I want to know what’s going on in their little minds. When they feel like they can tell me anything, it creates a positive and open line of communication. This is important now, but it’s even more important as they grow older—when there might be bigger things they need to talk about.

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