March 29, 2008

Playing in Photoshop

I said I'd post my art, still waiting on yours (tick, tock, tick, tock...). Here's my playing with photoshop pic, hope you like. I had fun, which is what art is all about...

They're Heeeerrrreee...

How many people believe in the paranormal, u.f.o.'s and ghosts? Things of that nature. From what I've seen you have an even split on believers and non-believers. Than you've got the people who attach religion to it or science to it. You come across shows like "Ghost Hunters" on the Travel Channel, and those kind of shows completely make you want to laugh at the whole matter.
There's too much junk, conspiracy theory, hoax's and tabloid articles for anyone in the world today to really get a clear understanding of it all. These things have really hurt the idea of taking any of it seriously.
I myself am a half superstitious person, who believes it's arrogant to believe we're the only life in the universe and has a healthy respect for the idea of spirits and ghosts. I've seen things I can't explain, but I don't have enough intelligence on the matter to say with absolute certainty whether or not either exist. I've had the radio in my wife and I's office come on mysteriously and a Ouija board in the closet that gives me the creeps, but I'm not ready to go running, screaming from our home. I've definitely had experiences in places that made me walk a bit faster, while looking behind me.
But, that's just me, I'm a writer and have an active imagination. When I was a kid, my mom tells me about 1 or 2 years old, I had an "imaginary friend" that I told her and my grandmother, without a hint of child like words, he drowned in the fountain near our house. I guess I talked about it very "matter-a-factly", as if discussing the weather of the day. Yet, I don't remember any of it, so I can't say for sure.
I've always had this theory though, that the "imaginary friends" children see could, very well, be spirits. And I'm not going to BS anyone, say that I don't believe at all and move on with my day. Because it would be just that, a load of BS. I believe that there are plenty of UN-explainable things in this world. How could anyone say for sure that these things don't exist? No one has been to every square inch of the earth with all available equipment and studied it all.
Without doing that, the experts who say for sure that non of it has happened or exists are theorizing just as much as the believers they try to disprove.
More on this subject later, I apologize for my absence, I was out of town with my family. I look forward to more sharing on the next exciting episode of "Joe's Thoughts".

March 26, 2008

Oh no! My daughter's first pimple...

I guess, in a way, after my daughters 9th birthday and the family genetics, I was just kind of waiting for this to happen any day now. My daughter just got get first few pimples. Hopefully all you parents out there know what this means, the onset of puberty.
It's a scary time for children, I get that, but what about the parents? This means that the "talk" is coming soon, the period conversation and the spike in her interest in the opposite sex. OK, maybe I'm overreacting just a little bit, or am I? I'm sure that for a lot of parents this is something simple by now, something they've already been through. They're sitting there, reading this, thinking "Big deal", but I bet they weren't thinking that when it first happened.
I guess this really isn't something to freak about, it was something, as I said, that I was just waiting for. My daughter and I have good communication, we're close and I think that enough of it is in my "understanding encyclopedia".
Of course I can do this, anyone can, as long as you just relax(I know it's hard, but do you really have a choice?) It's all about not freaking out, your daughter is going to be doing enough of that, why should the fear spread? This is something that's been happening for thousands of years now. My daughter will get older, she will learn to drive, she'll have boyfriends, maybe marriage and maybe kids of her own; someday(hopefully not too soon on the whole pregnancy thing).
This should really be a time when you, if you haven't already, find time to really gain a higher level of communication with your daughter. This is what parenting is all about, helping your kids learn and grow. The choice is yours whether or not your going to be a parent or just one of the kids. Your chance to really shape your children into adults begins at this point. Soon they'll start to understand the basics of growing up and some of your dirty jokes(watch those around the kids when they hit this stage, they'll start asking questions); now it's time to make sure you do the right thing.
If they have questions, answer as many as you can suitably(they are still children), help calm their fear by telling them your own stories of growing up, be their to hold them when they need to release(those hormones can be a circus, you remember) and most importantly make sure you pass on the right message. Don't go the whole scare tactics route(that's a good way to mess them up for a long time), just be honest and open. It's important that they know, that you know, what you're talking about.
This is not the time to pass off responsibility, would you rather they learn it from a kid at school who has no idea what they're talking about? Or maybe you'd like to run and hide, forget about this part, and end up regretting it when your daughter comes home crying because she's pregnant. I can't guarantee that wont happen anyways, but this is your time to steer them towards a responsible choice as best you can.
It might be the whole "Damned if you do, damned if you don't", but do you want to take the the chance that if you would have talked to them, it could have turned out differently.
Stand up, be a parent, because whether you wanted kids or not, you're a parent non-the-less.

March 25, 2008

To all the "Me" Parents

I think it's really odd how people nowadays expect other people to raise their kids. I don't just mean these well to do, just have to have a working life mothers and fathers that hire nannies, the idea of having kids only to have a nanny raise them has always seemed a bit odd to me. I'm also talking about the people who expect Dr. Phil, Oprah and that silly British nanny show to raise their kids.
It's not that people directly have these people come over and raise their children. It's the way in which they take whatever Dr. Phil, Oprah, etc. said this week about parenting and immediately go and start doing it. It's like most people have completely lost the natural ability to raise kids on their own; setting rules, making boundaries, doing chores, etc.
Long before the invention of the television, radio, and Internet people all over the world raised their kids. So, why do we suddenly need the intervention of these things to guide us? Have we become such a scatter brained society that we have, in fact, lost the ability to be a parent? I would say, from my point of view, the answer to that is "No".
I'm a parent, not always a perfect one mind you, but I have the basic idea of what goes into raising my kids. I think a lot of the problem in this era is our inability to truly take the time to raise our kids, the inability to listen to our kids, a complete lack of respect on both ends and a me, me, me hive mind thing going on.
Dr. Phil tells you not only how to raise your kids, but also that "Self-Matters". I think personally, from watching my own parents, that I know when to draw the line between me and my kids. They need personal space, I need personal space and I need time with them, the need time with me. Simple concept, isn't it? Maybe not always, but that general idea works 99 percent of the time.
Now I'm not stating that parenting is that simple, it's not supposed to be. Anyone who has kids knows, or should now, that it's not that simple. But you can take simple steps towards becoming a better parent. Turn off "Dancing with the Stars" and put in a Disney movie, watch it with your kids and see how much more reactive they are when you're there with them, as opposed to when they watch the very same movie by themselves. Have them help you cook a couple nights a week, it's not only "special time", it's also a learning experience for them. And, even in those moments when it doesn't seem like they're listening to a word you say or watching what you do, think back, even if they're not taking it in directly, they're taking it in sub-consciously.
I've posted before about these special moments with your kids, if you haven't read it, just browse through it. I may not be Dr. Phil or Oprah, but I'm a parent and, just like any other parent, I want my kids to be happy and lead good lives.
So, to all you single parents, married couples, teenagers just starting out in the parenting world and UN-married parents; do the best you can when you can, don't ever give up on your kids and believe in yourself as a parent. Those three basic things are a great foundation for being the parent your child/children need.

Realizing your Dreams

What do you dream of? What's my place in the Universe? Common questions for many of us in the world today. We all want a place here, a sticker that gives us a name. But, why is it that most of us think that we have to be something other people see as special?
What about all the basic things that give us a very special place in the Universe. Parents, teachers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers are all very special people. Almost everybody agrees on that point. Yet, we never take a closer look at what makes a lot of these people so special.
All we look at is things like their courage, strength and ability to ignore the small things and push for the big. What about those times when these people are sitting alone on the bed or standing in the shower, crying.
The world today seems to think that if your a hero or you're special, you don't show emotion. My wife, when we first met, had a very hard time with this. She would get stressed out, upset or something would bother her and she'd keep it all boxed up inside, except for the anger. Not to say it isn't okay to be angry, but you've got to let it all out to really have release.
I think that a lot of people now have a tendency to see strength as blocking it all out and marching forward. Don't you think that Abraham Lincoln sometimes sat crying on his bed, Martin Luther King had doubts and would need his wife to hold him, Gandhi needed some time alone to cry... These people that we see as "Great" human beings, they had emotions too.
They weren't always the "strong" people we read about or now see in a video. Everyone from Jesus to the Firefighters of 9/11 have cried and felt like giving up.
It's that ability to show yourself for who you are and still march on that makes you a hero, not bottling it all up inside and marching on.
To wrap it all up in a neat little package, take some time in the day to cry when you need to cry, scream into that pillow, zone out or write in your journal. It's that release that allows you to march on into the face of adversity, not holding onto it and using the anger. Anger is like caffeine, it's a quick boost of energy. But love, tears, hope, release; those are the foods that will strengthen you for the long haul.

March 23, 2008

Easter Tales

I told you, Dear Reader, that I would give you the true history of Easter. A little late in the coming I know, but the Easter Bunny was a bit busy making sure Easter would be good for my kids.
There are two predominant tales (no pun intended) associated with the Easter Bunny and it’s origins. The first is a very basic story of the Easter tradition and its rabbit (a hare in legend).

The name Easter itself came from a Goddess named Eastre (also known as Oestre or Ostara), who was the Goddess of dawn and spring. Of course she was a fertility Goddess and she brought the end of winter and the brighter, happier days of spring. The animal most often associated with Eastre was the rabbit, because of its rapid reproductive rate.
Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny were featured in the Pagan holidays of Eastre, originally held during feasts of the Goddess Ishtar. The eggs were used in the celebration for their obvious representation of fertility and new life.
The Pagan worshippers painted the eggs in bright colors to show their appreciation for what Eastre had provided them.
The next tale holds the same general beliefs, but is a bit more detailed in its telling. The Goddess Easter came late one spring, in order to make up for this she decided to save the life of a bird frozen in the snow.
Eastre made the bird her pet and, feeling bad for his inability to fly because of his entrapment, made him into a hare, named Lepus. She also bestowed on him the ability to run fast, so that he could avoid hunters. Finally she gave him the gift of being able to lay eggs, not the usual eggs but brightly colored eggs.
The only catch was the Lepus could only lay these eggs once a year, on the day that Eastre is now celebrated. Those are the two most predominant tales I could find on the internet and the most popular.
There are a few more things associated with Easter and the Easter Bunny, but wherever you look you find the same general ideas. There is the Pagan belief in Ostara (Eastre) and the Easter associated with Christ and his resurrection.
All tales and traditions take you down one path or the other.
That’s all for now, I’ve got my own little hares to take to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. But however you celebrate this wonderful spring holiday, best wishes and Happy Easter.