Category Archives: Raising a Humanist

Light & Life

When I was a child, I went to an elementary school with arts-inspired curriculum.  It was the 80’s, the concept of supporting the whole child in education was new, but all those hippies had to educate their kids some place. Our holiday celebration was not the re-telling of of the birth of Christ, but was much more and inspiringly called Light & Life.

I don’t remember much about these annual shindigs other than an abundance of candles and twinkling lights.  However, I do remember the mission: to celebrate light in a time of darkness.  To celebrate life when the world feels dead.  Light & Life.

This afternoon I went to my child’s Holiday All-School.  The school is much like the one of my own youth but better because we know more about educating the whole child.  It is filled with the children of children of hippies who walk alongside hipster kids’ kids, preppy gals children, and all sorts of named cultures, non-cultures, and in-betweens.  We’ve got it all.  And, together,  we lit a candle.

As the Head of School took the candle from the hands of a child, lit it, and sent peace to the world…I took a deep breath in and silently thanked the universe for keeping my child safe.  I silently thanked the universe that I no longer live next door to Newtown, where my high school has been contemplating how to do a lock down on a multi-building campus, where my oldest friends have had to watch funeral processions slide by with tiny caskets.  And I silently sent my love to anyone who might need it.  Anywhere.

Do not joke about a mythical Mayan Apocalypse when worlds are ending every day.  Please.  It offends my heart.

Instead let us spend solstice celebrating the light the gleams through darkness, the life that goes on living whether we want it to or not, and the chance to make amends, make change, make life, make light, and continue on.  Let us celebrate the lengthening of days and the turning of the earth.  Let us recognize the joy in small things and set aside our paltry love affairs with useless worries and imagined emergencies.  Let us celebrate Light & Life.


May you always love you


To all the moms who complimented my daughter’s first haircut at four and whose eyes widened in delighted horror when I admitted she did it herself with her little scissors–with my knowledge and blessing.  To all the strangers who tell me my child has the best outfits and who quickly find out she puts them together herself.  To all my girlfriends who I love: be you as you want to be because I love you that way.  To my daughter who still does her hair and outfits the way she pleases but who, now that she is six and vaguely self-aware,  slyly looks around to see who notices: may you always posses yourself as you and express yourself as such.  You don’t need to make sure anyone notices.  They do.  And they love you for it.  Trust me.

When Jada Pinkett-Smith was asked why she let her daughter Willow shave her head, this is what she said:

“This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this post it will remain incomplete.

The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be.

She is Fierce

“…though she be but little, she is fierce.” – Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

My daughter and I say this to each other sometimes.  To remind each that we are fierce.

I say it to myself now, at 3am, finally done with my very long work day.

I repeat the word, Fierce, to myself in the car.  What is this word?  Fierce.

I’m adopting it as mine.



Atlantic ocean with tiny learning sailboats

Out to Sea

I delivered a bit of my Grampa to the sea.

For the last years of his life, he was land-locked in Colorado, but I remember him riding the waves, hauling lines, and hollering ‘coming about’ without seeming to raise his voice.  An impossible feat, surely, to holler in our own voice.  But he did it.

Sweet iced tea and sandwiches with Nana.

Atlantic ocean with tiny learning sailboatsThe tiny below deck with itty bitty bunks, a bouncing head, and a compass I desperately wanted to understand.

Plastic covered cushions doubling as flotations for jumping off the back for a dip.

Bouncing on the bow with  my little plastic cup, dipping down into the waves to catch a jelly fish.

Spray flying, my brother laughing in the wind, his eyes reflecting the sun.

Avoiding the hatch opening that threatened to put a lump on your head like it did his.

My grampa’s thick fingers that so delicately built miniatures.  Thick fingers holding my hand softly through calluses.  My dad has his hands.

It was only right to bring him to the sea.

I found a beach on the Atlantic.  In the waves were tiny boats with tiny riders having their sailing lessons.  It was only right that he join the sea and these new riders.

I left my shoes by the rocks and wondered whether anyone would know what I was doing.  I pulled my legs through the waves, springing up on my toes with each oncoming wave, keeping the camera slung over my shoulder above the spray.

Off came the lid of the little tea tin, down I dunked it into the water, and there he swirled around my calves, foaming white with the Atlantic.

And I walked away, breath in my nose, salt on my face, sea spray at my back.