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365 Days of Presence

Near Light

I woke up this morning internally panicked, like a lost child searching for her parents, something inside of me was begging for guidance.

But, nothing was out of the ordinary. In fact, things seemed routinely the same. Where was this growing discontent coming from?

All day, I tried to ignore it. And for a while it worked. Elijah and I went to the park and built sandcastles in the playground sandbox. The day was revitalizing and beautiful. It felt like a warm spring day, rather than a chilled-winter afternoon as February should.

At times the sun was shining so brightly it was nearly impossible to see what our hands were building. But with a little faith, we allowed our hands to lead the way.

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Soon after we got home, Elijah fell asleep. I laid with him, watching him breath sweetly in and out. Sand bits congregated like crumbs fallen into a crease, and I could feel them rubbing across my back — remnants from our day together.

Once he woke up, I got him dressed to go to his babysitter’s little brother’s birthday party. She picked him up, and what I assumed would be a nice break instead jolted my mind and body into a feeling of overwhelming emptiness.

I tried to clean. I went to the grocery store. I tried to write but I couldn’t focus. And my TV wouldn’t turn on. It was then I realized, what I needed was to reconnect with the universe. It’s so easy to get caught up in life, and all of its day-to-day needs, while ignoring or forgetting about the needs within. And so my soul was crying out, begging to be nurtured and fed.

In my bathroom on top of my toilet sat two candles collecting dust, one to burn for the spirit, and the other to show gratitude and appreciation. I picked both of them up and lit them, grabbed my deck of angels cards and sat down on the floor to do a reading. I prayed for guidance, and love.

And, I made a request — I asked my divine guide(s) how I can bring more love into the world. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and once again allowed my hands to lead.

Effortlessly, six cards were chosen. Once completed, I opened my eyes to find the most beautiful, carefully crafted messages:

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Divine Guidance” — You have asked and we have heard. You are being divinely guided right now. The gut feelings you are experiencing, the knowingness, the visions and the inner voice are all working with you, not against you, to tell you what you need to know. Trust and follow this guidance.

Forgiveness” — You are being asked to release anger and irritation. When feelings of unforgiveness are held in your heart, the only one being punished is you. Release, let go and return to love.

Music” — Immerse yourself into beautiful music. This music will lift your spirit above the earthbound concepts and elevates your thoughts to divine love.

Harmony” — New Harmony dawns upon you. Shift your viewpoint to that of love, and you will bring love and healing into the world. With love, conflict drops away and in its place reveals the truth about everyone and everything.

Healing” — Have faith that God is working through you as a healer. Hold thoughts of love around any situation that seems to need healing, and give thanks to God for this healing. The effects of this will touch many people and many lives.

New Love” — Open your heart to a new infusion of divine love. This is a time of wondrous changes in your love life, be aware and be open as divine guidance is working things out for your highest good.

And there I had it — so simple yet so profound — guidance, forgiveness, music, harmony, healing and new love. 

I sat stunned, with grateful tears welling up in my eyes, barely able to mutter out a “thank you.” Goosebumps began to cover my otherwise comfortably warm body, and discontent floated away, quickly replaced by love and gratitude.

 

 

 

Day 7, week two: I am that, I am

As I lay in bed this morning, I wondered how to turn off my mind and focus instead on being rather than thinking. After years of Western conditioning to think and be practical, it is truly not an easy task to turn off your mind. Or is it? Perhaps I am overthinking the whole don’t think thing.

I closed my eyes, laid flat on my back and began concentrating on my feet. They were cold, tingly and twitching. I moved up to my legs. “Feel your legs, feel your legs,” I thought to myself.

As I was attempting to feel my legs, I started thinking about my trip to San Fransisco this past weekend and was reliving some of the moments. “Stop thinking. Focus on being. Focus on breathing . Focus on feeling,” I reminded myself. I concentrated again, first on my. feet and then worked my way up to my legs and the rest of my body.

Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Each time I inhaled, air neither hot nor cold entered into my lungs. With each exhale, the air became warm and moist. Elijah lay to my left sweetly tucked away under our blanket with his eyes closed. His eyes were blinking rapidly while his consciousness was off exploring a dream land.

For a few moments I stared at him in admiration- his perfect skin, his sweet innocence and his little body working endlessly and unconditionally to sustain his precious life. My mind silenced until the words thank you bursted for within. Thank you God for my son. My love. My darling.

Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Cells and energy vibrating within my body like a never-ending stream of water. How have I gone so long without Being? I have been living like a dehydrated hiker lost deep within a desert who is desperately seeking life-saving water. My eyes peel open, my senses are alive and in my Being, I see the water. I feel the water. I become the water.

Today, for the first time ever, Elijah sang a song. As he was playing with his trains he sang, “Mama finger, mama finger where are you?” I looked up from my computer, in the midst of maniacally writing this post and replied, “Here I am. Here I am.”

Here I am. here I am. How about you?

Day 1: As Within, So without


*Image sourced with permission from Danny Proctor.

I woke up this morning from a vivid and bizarre dream after hitting the snooze button on my phone every eight minutes for an hour. In an attempt to not wake Elijah from his peaceful slumber, I tip toed out of the bedroom and into the bathroom. Being in weekday auto-pilot, I opened the shower doors and turned the creaky knobs counter clockwise. Water rushed down from the shower head, and I quickly stepped inside closing the doors behind me.

Goosebumps covered every inch of my body as it began to aquatint itself with the semi-hot temperature. Thoughts randomly raced through my mind, “Will Elijah wake up soon?”

“I need to do laundry.”

“Did I already wash my face?”

“What should I wear today? The green sweater? No I don’t really like that one. I should go get new clothes, I’m not interested in my selection anymore.”

I was so distracted by useless thoughts that I didn’t realize how hot the water became. “Ouch!” I shouted while leaning away from the water as I attempted to quickly turn the hot water down.

I finished washing my hair and turned the water off. As I dried my body and wrapped my soaking wet hair in a towel I thought about what else I needed to do before leaving for work:

-Put lotion on
-Dry & style hair
-Do makeup
-Pack bag
-Get dressed
-Brush teeth
-Take vitamins
-Change Elijah if he wakes up
-Give him hugs and kisses before leaving for work

While doing my make-up I stared in the mirror, brushing mascara against my lashes and thinking about the day ahead of me. Would it be fruitful? How would it go? As I finished my makeup small footsteps could be heard creaking down the hallway. “Mama?” A little voice called out. “Mama, come sleep. Come sleep with me.” I rushed down the hall excited- I was happy Elijah woke up before I left. Nothing makes my heart ache like leaving Elijah in the care of someone else without even being able to tell him where I’m going and giving him a hug and kiss goodbye.

He lead me down the hall, stumbling, still half asleep. I laid down in the bed with him, nursing him back to sleep. Five minutes passed, and I was running low on time. I began to sneak out of bed but as soon as I did his eyes flew open and he protested vehemently. “NOOOOOOO Mama! You not go to work! You not put your coat on! You stay with me.” Warm tears streamed down his chubby little cheeks as he screamed in disapproval. “NOOOO Mama. Don’t leave. Don’t work.” I could feel stress and guilt curling up inside of my body like rotten milk waiting to explode from its carton. I wanted to stay with him, but the clock was ticking and I had a train to catch.

As I walked the usual six minutes to get to the subway station, I felt a sharp cold breeze against my face, and I wondered, when was the last time I felt the wind? I mean really FELT it? I looked up into a bright, nearly cloudless sky and noticed white flowers blooming wildly on the street lined trees. When did the flowers start blooming?

My body floated in sync with a crowd of other morning commuters as we all pushed our way down the staircase and toward the arriving train. As the train screeched to a stop, I pulled out a book I bought a year ago called, “The Power of NOW.” I don’t remember why I purchased it in the first place, but it was the only book out of my collection I had yet to read. As I flipped through the pages, something within me began screaming, “AH HA!”

In wakefulness most people only shift between ordinary unconsciousness and deep unconsciousness. What I call ordinary unconsciousness means being identified with your thought processes and emotions, your reactions, desires, and aversions. It is most people’s normal state. In that state you are run by the egoic mind, and you are unaware of Being.”

“Yes, yes, yes! I am unconscious. I am living through thought patterns and emotional behaviors, rather than being present and joyful for this moment, right here and right now,” I thought to myself.

Then I began to panic internally, “How do I change my behavior and learn to be present? How do I silence my mind?”

Being present seems easy to do. After all, you just have to be here in this moment right now, right? Unfortunately, It’s not as simple as just being in the moment-it is about experiencing the current moment without being distracted by thoughts of the future and/or past. It’s about appreciating what is, not what was or what might be. It’s about accepting the current reality and being grateful for it- whether that takes form as a crowded morning train or a rush hour traffic jam.

How is it that I never noticed the sea of people around me? Even when we stood toe to toe or eye to eye? How have I not noticed the billions of precious life moments that have passed me by during my 28 years on this earth? How have I been so blinded by my own unconsciousness?

And I started to wonder, “how the do I go about learning to be present?” A solution popped into my mind: 365 Days of Presence. So here I am, on day one of 365 ready to lift the veil and live consciously, presently and gratefully- join me on my journey?

Xx
Antasha

 

The Intolerable Single Mother

A month ago, I wrote an article about dating as a single mom (http://thoughtcatalog.com/antasha-durbin/2016/01/this-is-how-to-have-a-legitimate-dating-life-as-a-single-mother-from-a-single-mom-who-has-been-there/). I attempted to keep the article positive, while simultaneously outlining the realities of dating for a single mama postpartum.  I wrapped it up with a list of requirements I have for dating men now such as them being kind and loving as well as accepting of my life as a single mother.

 

Unfortunately, certain man readers didn’t share my zest for living a positive and happy life as a single mother, and instead used my platform to condemn single mothers as unequal—one man even went so far as to compare single mothers to prostitutes.

 

One commenter named Matt wrote, “I’d have more respect for them if they gave their crotch dumplings up for adoption to families who could actually take care of them.” First of all, Matt, my son is not a “crotch dumpling,” he is a human being— one that I love with my entire heart and soul. Secondly, what makes you think I cannot take care of him? Do you know me personally? Do you know my son? There is no one in this world that could mother my child better than me. He is given the utmost love, care and all of the opportunities in the world.

 

Matt, your view is toxic and harmful to society. Your perspective means single women who choose to mother their own children are somehow less than those who have a significant other. Our president was raised by a single mom— need I say more?

 

Another commenter named Xam wrote, “She’s putting herself first and the guys know it lol. Where’s all of that money coming from?”

 

Xam, where do you get this grand idea that I am putting men before my child? Did you not read the BULLETED sentence where I wrote, “This is her first date in two years, and her first dinner without her little one.” 

 

What part of two years did you find incomprehensible? Or is it reading and translating the English language that you are struggling with?

 

Secondly, you asked, “where is all of that money coming from?” Did you for some reason assume that because I am a woman, and a single mother that I cannot be independently wealthy on my own?

 

All of that money comes from something called a full-time job— have you ever heard of a job? The one where I earn a salary (here is the definition as I am sure it is not part of your limited understanding and vocabulary- Salary: a fixed regular payment, typically paid on a monthly or biweekly basis but often expressed as an annual sum, made by an employer to an employee, especially a professional or white-collar worker.)

 

Another commenter named, Gr81 wrote, “You don’t have the leverage any more to make demands. You are now an undesirable. You’re only requirement should be ‘man willing to accept my bull shit’ in fact fuck that. You should be making lists about all the things you are willing to do for him.”

 

First of all, Gr81— there is nothing great about you or your clear hatred for women. Secondly, how do you know I am undesirable? Do you know me personally? Have we hung out? The answer is NO.

 

Furthermore, because I am a woman who has brought a beautiful human being into this world, I suddenly cannot make demands? That statement is a clear LOL.

I do and ALWAYS will have standards in who I choose as a partner—you know why? So I can weed out underserving men like you.

 

Having high standards is even more important now than it was before BECAUSE I have a child.

 

These comments were just a few from a long list of angry men upset that a woman can be empowered, successful and happy as a single woman and mother. The reason I have chosen to respond to these comments isn’t to lash out at a bunch of uneducated dick-heads, it’s to ensure that other women in my position don’t feel suddenly discouraged or disheartened thinking they are undeserving of love, happiness and success because they are single mamas.

 

There is nothing undesirable about a woman who guides another soul in this physical experience, but there is something seriously undesirable AND intolerable about men in 2016 thinking it’s okay to talk down to women, and treat them as though they are not equal. Learn to respect women, after all were you not born from a woman? (Yes, I am talking to you Matt aka crotch dumpling).

With love,

Antasha

Debunking the Myths of Single Motherhood

Debunking the Myths of Single Motherhood

Envision a mother—what does she look like? What is her life like? Is she tired? Overworked? Is she walking around with bags under her eyes or is she sitting in a crowd at a peewee soccer game cheering on her daughter?

Now envision a single mother—does your view change? Is she just getting off from working night shift at her third job? Has it been days since she has showered because she is too busy and too tired to be bothered? Is she lonely? Are her kids neglected?

Single motherhood: A true story

I became pregnant when I was 24, gave birth at 25, and was living as a single mother by the time I was 26. There was no dramatic break-up, no deadbeat father and no death that caused my status to change. Instead, my son’s father (who is very much involved and in love with our child) was denied re-entry into America (he is an Australian citizen) and rather than move to Australia and live our lives together but out of love, we decided it would be best to co-parent from across the world.

My circumstances may be unique to me, but my status as a single mom is not. Today one in four children, around 17.4 million, are being raised by single mamas (https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/).

Gone are the days of the nuclear family being the only acceptable version of family. Today families come in all shapes in sizes and tolerance for nontraditional families is on the rise, except in the case of single women raising children. A recent poll shows 70 percent of Americans think single women raising children alone is bad for society (http://www.npr.org/2011/02/24/134031175/For-Single-Mothers-Stigma-Difficult-To-Shake).

 Single Motherhood: Assumptions, Judgments and Myths

Single mamas often deal with a lot of unfair assumptions and judgments from society. The following list describes the most common assumptions and judgments I’ve come across since becoming a single mama.

 1.) She has no goals or career aspirations: This is one of the most comical AND offensive assumptions out there.

We as single mothers are resilient, determined and goddesses of multitasking. We are NOT lazy or unmotivated.

Ultimately, a goal oriented and ambitious woman will not suddenly lose all ambition because she becomes a mama. Instead, her child will often motivate her to complete her goals at a faster rate.

 2.) She is a (not so hot) mess: Her untamed hair is knotted into a ponytail, she goes au natural because she has no time for make-up, and she’s wearing old, worn down sweats. Does this sound like a single mother to you? To me, this describes all of us (at some point or another).

Sure, there are days I have other things to do than put on make-up and do my hair, but I am not neglected. I take care of myself and still enjoy looking and feeling attractive—and I am not alone, I regularly see tons of other single mamas (and moms in general) rocking their hot mama swag as they push their babies in strollers, grocery shop, attend classes, further their careers etc.

 3.) She is a victim versus a volunteer: The majority of single mothers I know are powerful, creative, incredible women who have some of the most impressive balancing abilities around. Sure, there are a multitude of reasons why a woman might become a single mama (break-up, death, lack of involvement from the other person, adoption, sperm donation etc.) but, when we label all single mamas as victims we diminish their power and subject them to unnecessary judgment.

 4.) Her children will have a bleak future: Nearly 41 percent of all children are born to unmarried women in America (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarried-childbearing.htm). Does that mean that all or the majority of those children will end up living in poverty and grow up uneducated?

No.

Just because our children are not raised in a “nuclear” family, does not mean they will end up any less successful, happy, healthy or loved, and hello–a single mama raised our PRESIDENT!

 5.) Daddy is absent: When I had my son, I vowed that his father would be an active AND accessible part of his life, and he is. I am not the exception, many women successfully co-parent with their former flames meaning that while they may have full custody and perform the day-to-day duties and responsibilities, daddy is still around to help support his children financially AND emotionally.

 6.) She’s on welfare: A lot of people think the majority of single mamas are on welfare, suckling away at the teat of America’s hard-earned tax dollars.

However, these welfare assumptions are untrue, as 53 percent of welfare benefits go to those who are 65 or old, while another 20 percent go to disabled people, 18 percent to working people and nine percent to unemployed, non-disabled people such as single mothers. (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/10/single-mothers-are-not-america-s-real-welfare-queens.html)

 What we actually know, is that we don’t really know her story

The fact is, most of us rarely know the true context in which a single mother raises her child(ren) and what circumstances brought her into that position. Therefore, before you question her promiscuity, damn the future of her children, assume she is dependent on welfare and see her as an uneducated victim remember this: the only thing you really know is that you don’t really know anything about her.

End Motherhood Cyberbullying

The above is a photo taken from a Facebook campaign in support of mothering however each individual mama chooses to parent her children. It featured photos with two mothers in each picture, each holding a contrasting sign; for example, in this photo a mother holds a poster saying, “I breastfeed my 2-year-old,” while the other mother’s sign reads, “I formula fed from the start.”


There were attacks on both of these mothers, as well as the parenting style they represent.

One commenter wrote, “eww, two-years-old? Don’t they have teeth by then?” while another wrote, “Once children are walking they should not be breastfed.”

A third commenter wrote, “I will always judge someone who chooses to formula feed if she can produce milk.”

All three of these comments came from women, under a campaign created to EMPOWER mothers.

Naturally, I felt inclined to comment as well, in response to all of the judgement and misinformation. For those who know me, you know I shamelessly practice attachment parenting. This means I still breastfeed my two-year-old, we co-sleep and have since day one, he nurses himself to bed, I have never let him cry it out etc. Now, to be clear, these are MY parenting preferences they don’t have to be yours or anyone else’s. If your child is happy, healthy and loved I am NOT going to judge your unique parenting style, just as I will not accept judgement of mine.

comment

So, I posted this comment under the breastfeeding picture, “My son is 2, and is still breastfed. He’s extremely smart, artistic, happy and loving. Mamas should always do what works for them & we should never judge as we rarely know the full context of each mother’s situation. For all the uneducated people in regards to extended breastfeeding: it’s natural and extremely healthy to learn more please visit http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/
Also, to those who are not mothers themselves, unless you’re posting a positive, supporting comment why are you on here? This is a support forum not a cyber bullying site.”

And was immediately met with a man suggesting I must be a stay-at-home to practice this type of parenting, otherwise it wouldn’t be “feasible.” This is his exact comment, “You are a stay at home mom correct? This is not feasible for working moms.”
ah

I find it SO astounding how closed-minded and ignorant people can be. Why do I have to be a stay-at-home mom to practice extended breastfeeding? (For the record, I think stay-at-home-mamas are incredible women!). I actually am NOT a stay-at-home mom.
I am a graduate student.
I am a single mom.
I am a teacher.
I am a bartender.
I am a freelancer.
And I am a damn good mama.
I work full-time outside of my house, and work part-time from home. So no, I am not a stay at home mom. What’s more, I went back to work 19-days after my son was born. I wanted to breastfeed, it was important to me. My son was exclusively breastfed for 8-months, and still is breastfed to this day. I made a conscious decision to pump at work three times a day to ensure my child had enough milk to drink while I was away. Was it hard? Absolutely! It is for everyone? OF COURSE NOT! I made the decisions I made for myself and my son, and for no one else. Anyone who is not me nor him has no business spewing any negative opinions on my parenting style. He is happy, healthy and SOOOOO loved! So to the man without breasts, who will probably never breastfeed a child, yes, it IS feasible and NO I don’t have to be a stay-at-home mom to do it.

We all need to STOP judging each other and making assumptions. After all, how many times do we actually know the full context of why people do what they do? Almost never. A campaign created in support of mothers and different parenting choices and styles should be empowering, not hurtful. These women put themselves out there to demonstrate the uniqueness of each mother, not to be bashed by strangers simply because those strangers disagree with each mother’s decisions. It’s OKAY to disagree, and have a different view of parenting…parent the way you want to and allow others to do the same.

The internet is an incredible and wonderful thing, but with it comes great responsibility.  We all share the responsibility to STOP cyber bullying when/if we see it, to act with kindness and compassion and to offer support (or no words at all if they are just intended to hurt someone else).

The mommy meltdown

My son plays outside as a brisk breeze blows through his finally-growing hair. Some of the follicles stand straight up giving him an untamed appareance, while others dance in union with the wind. He smiles, a full-faced smiled as his feet quickly pitter-patter against the rubber playground floor. Pigeons fly around, searching for crumbs or child donors to share their meals, others limp— the city is not a kind place for these birds, they are seen as an annoyance, and passerby New Yorkers rarely take pity on them. But, not Elijah. Elijah loves the pigeons. He loves chasing them, and watching them in awe as they expand their wings and take flight.

“Mama! Mama! Buuurds!” He screams at the top of his tiny lungs as he runs after a grey and white one, forcing it to make an emergency departure.

I know he would stay outside forever chasing birds if he could, but the air is becoming chillier, and I am tired after a long week.

“Okay, Elijah, it’s time to go bye-bye” I say rationally.

“Mama! NOOOOOOOOOOO!” He protests while throwing himself on the ground and unleashing the waterworks that make mommy feel oh-so-guily and sad.

I admire him. I admire his ability to throw a self-induced seizure and say, “fuck that, I don’t want to go. Or I don’t want to do that” with his entire self. He never covers up how he feels, or acts in any manner other than what comes naturally to him.

Sometimes I would love to be able to throw myself to the ground and cry (probably more than I should admit), in the middle of this big city—to kick and scream, and wait for my mom to come and pick me up and take me home. But, I am 27, not two…and my mom lives in Arizona not NYC so the acceptance factor of a grown-up behaving in such a way is not a realistic option, plus my mom isn’t here to drag me off of the ground and carry me home.

Last week I felt myself on the verge of a mommy meltdown when I suddenly became SO overwhelmed by my long list of responsibilities: motherhood, school, work (three jobs), freelancing, household tasks, school commitments and leadership activities etc. I wanted to pull a page out of Elijah’s coping book and throw a BIG tantrum full of screams and tears.

You see, while studying for mid-terms (and trying desperately hard to understand and learn the legal jargon in my international law book), working double the hours I previously have, taking on huge leadership roles and caring for a feverish toddler…it all just seemed to be TOO.MUCH. I had the self-pitying thought, “What is the point of doing all of this work?” I really felt like I was taking on more than I could bare.

Elijah cried in the background, coughing as he begged me to lay down and nurse him in bed. I went to the room with the aching stress weighing heavily on my mind— how will I get everything I need to get done and give him all of the attention he needs AND deserves? Am I being a bad mom? Should I do less to give more?

I could feel a lump forming in my throat, and my eyes blurred as hot tears sizzled down my cheeks. I let myself cry for a few minutes and it felt GOOD, oh-sooooo-good. I needed to release those tears, emotions and frustrations.  Afterwards, I felt myself calming. I let go, and trusted my heart and my decisions, knowing that everything in my life is here because I ASKED for it, and I have allowed myself to received it. Raising Elijah, working three amazing jobs, freelancing, attending a top graduate school…none of these things are burdens— they are blessings. Sure, sometimes I feel like I am walking between two high-rise building over a piece of dental floss—but rather than looking down and being afraid, rather than thinking about failing or falling—I remind myself to look up…to say thank you…and I feel oneness with myself, life, the world—and my place in it.

Being a mom has it’s hard days—there are no breaks, no shortcuts, no days off…but it’s also inexplicably amazing– like being engulfed in the brightest, most loving, comforting, kind cloud of energy day in and out. When I have my mommy meltdown days, I look at my beautiful son, all 34 glorious inches of him and I feel love, pride, happiness and gratitude.

To all the other mama’s out there having hard times…you are not alone, when you find yourself having a mommy meltdown like me, let yourself cry, release your fears and any negative emotions…I promise you afterwards you will feel lighter, happier and freer. It doesn’t make you a bad mom when you cry, or feel overwhelmed…it makes you human. We mama’s are amazing, we are superwomen and like anyone else, we have hard days too.

America, land of the not so free

Today, while reading a chapter in my law book titled, “The protection of Human Dignity” for my International law class I was suddenly struck by the urge to write this blog. How is it that we can bring states together to protect international human rights such as the right to life and liberty when we are unable to protect the right to life and liberty right here, in America?

Are we not a developed and wealthy nation?

Now, don’t misinterpret my statement, I am ALL for international human rights, and human rights in general— this is why I am studying humanitarian assistance and international development. But, what I cannot understand is how we can possibly implement any lasting, effective solutions on a global level, when we are not enacting these “global” rights here at home.

Why is it that someone can buy a gun in 10 minutes and then massacre a room full of strangers? Are the shooting victims not guaranteed a right to life because profit is more important than their beating hearts? Is the NRA and capitalism so much more important than life and liberty?

What the HELL is congress waiting for? How many more people have to die in a mass shooting before stricter gun laws are enacted?

In 1996 Australia had a mass shooting and the government IMMEDIATELY changed the guns laws thereby banning semi-automatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. It also instituted a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons. And you know what? Australia has not had ONE mass shooting since then. This is what our government should have done after the first mass shooting in America but instead our children are going to school and rehearsing for death. Children as young as three are placed on lock down in newly minted classroom drills—this is insane.

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/23/what-happened-after-australia-banned-lots-of-guns-after-a-massacre/)

It’s time to demand change. Call* AND write to your local members of congress and support organizations lobbying for gun control such as http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/gun-control-now-1.

Speaking of life and liberty–why is it that we are SO turned off by the homeless population in our own country— you know, the ones on the street corner holding signs saying, “help me, no family, no job, no hope— anything helps” or the ones we walk past in the morning on our way to work who are shaking a disposable cup of change saying, “please help—any spare change?” Is it because they’re in our face and it makes us uncomfortable to know while we sleep soundly, tucked into our warm beds thousands of people are sleeping outside on cement wrapped in dirty blankets? Does it make us uncomfortable to know while we are eating a nice meal, thousands of local people are going hungry?

Is poverty more acceptable when it’s advertised on TV screens in the shape of small children standing emaciated in a pile of mud?

I know there are organizations and people in America who are currently working to combat these issues such as homeless shelters and individual philanthropists, but the vast majority of us walk around unfazed by the struggles our fellow brothers and sisters are going through, and rather than offering kind words we utter phrases such as, “ugh, why can’t these people get jobs? I work hard for my money, I don’t want to pay for someone else’s welfare benefits,” or “why are these people so lazy?”

Is it really hard for us to treat each other with kindness and love? Does it do us a great inconvenience to offer a hungry person our sandwich or a few dollars? Even if you’re not able to give food or money, a smile goes a long way as does a phrase such as, “Good morning. I hope you have a wonderful day.”

We are a country full of educated, capable individuals and yet we still cannot figure out how to live in harmony with each other and our planet— why is this? Are we so engrossed in accumulating likes on social media that we forget to actually live and be human? Cruel and unusual punishment happens every day in this “developed” country— often by the officials selected to protect us (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/police-brutality/).

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When did we become so detached from our souls and higher selves?

Why does our government allow food corporations to put poisonous additives in our food? Why are hormones added to our meat? Why are pesticides sprayed all over our crops? Why are known cancer-causing substances not banned from our food supply? (http://www.seattleorganicrestaurants.com/vegan-whole-food/cancer-junk-food-carcinogen.php)

Why are all of the so called “chronic illnesses” only treated and not cured? Why do we give pharmaceutical companies SO much power?

This is no democracy. This is a state run by corporations and Donald Trumps.

When I graduate, Elijah and I are moving to Tanzania to open a Montessori school for elementary aged school children. We are not moving to be “western saviors,” no, we are moving because we are the ones who need saving— from America’s corporate anarchy. We want to be part of a community who focuses on love, happiness and personal growth and development— not one who focuses on the issues of other countries while ignoring its own and financial gain at the expense of life, kindness and purpose.

America, wake uplet’s take back OUR right to life AND liberty.

It’s time to change— right here and right now, not tomorrow or next week— TODAY. Demand change today. Be change today.

*People published a wonderful article with every number and email address for each member of congress here: http://www.people.com/article/preventing-gun-violence-people-call-to-action-jess-cagle. Please call and write today.

Toddler ruins. Building Choo Choo’s. Embracing Childhood Messes.

I remember the days of cleaning pre-toddler, when my freshly cleaned apartment would stay that way for at least a week. The only messes made after the fact were mine.


Even when it was ‘messy’ the mess was limited to dirty dishes and scattered clothes.


If I was feeling lazy, my dishes would sit untouched in my kitchen sink, or even worse, in my dishwasher (I miss having one of those!) because I couldn’t be bothered to turn it on. Clothes sat piled on my bedroom floor, not because they were dirty, but because I had the all too common western world “problem” of having a closet full of clothes and “nothing to wear” (I laugh at this notion now because I no longer have the time to sift through my entire wardrobe and try everything on only to wear none of those things).

These days, I’m lucky if I can make it across the battle zone, also known as my apartment, without tripping on toy cars or shouting profanities (in my head) at the lego pieces I step on.

Typically, I walk out of my bedroom around 10 a.m. in a bit of a stupor— I stumble into the bathroom, and wince as I turn the light on. The light illuminates finger-print covered mirrors, toy action figures sitting patiently in the tub, waiting to float in that day’s bath, and a trail of legos leading to no specific direction.

My apartment is like a child’s playroom, only it’s not confined to one space, rather it exists unrestricted everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I do clean, I promise you! But, my apartment can only maintain its spotless stature while my toddler naps peacefully. The moment he awakens, a gust of wind carries him into the living room and together they form the perfect toddler storm. Within 90 seconds, all of my hard-work is a past memory, quickly forgotten and in its place a new reality emerges amongst lego ruins, scattered books, countless balls, stuffed animals and Thomas trains.

Parenting a 2-year-old is messy business, but it’s also great fun. I have learned to let go of an ideal of how my house should look, and instead focus on playing with my son and allowing him to explore and create without feeling like he can’t make messes.

He has a dump truck where we store his legos and one of his favorite activities is to dump the legos out.

“Mama, I-jah (his name is Elijah, but he calls himself I-jah) dump it.”

“Okay. Dump it.” I reply.

He lifts the truck up, dumps the legos out and laughs hysterically.

Then he says, “Mama, build chooo-chooo.”
buildchoo
We spend the next several minutes building a four cart train that carries exotic animals, small trains (not part of the legos collection, but Elijah insists the trains ride ON the animals) and people. After our train is complete Elijah rolls it around for maybe a minute before ripping it apart piece by piece while proudly announcing the color of each block and name of each animal. After we finish I encourage him to help me put all of the pieces back into his dump truck, and usually he will help me (then when they’re all cleaned he says, “mama! Dump it” again)

Life is so precious and quick to change- I feel like just yesterday he was a tiny newborn laying in my arms, opening his eyes and seeing for the first time. Now, he is an adventurous and happy two-year-old who loves exploring, building and learning. It is my honor to be his mama and I embrace the toddler messes with love because I know one day he will be a man who (hopefully) cleans up after himself. The cars and legos I trip across in the mornings will be a distant memory of Elijah’s childhood— a childhood I love dearly, and am in no hurry to rush.

Time to “dump it” and build a choo choo!

xx -Antasha & Elijah

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