Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Put it in front of them

Many years ago the kid's art looked like this. I just love little kid's art, it's so alive, rich, interesting. I'd tell them to tell me what it's about, and I'd sit there for a LONG time listening to the entire epic story.

Now a days, the teens are scattered about and there are sometimes when a day or two goes by and I don't even see then. The other day my daughter and her friend were sitting at the kitchen table just talking and hanging out. I simple put colored pastels and black paper in front of them, didn't say a word, and walked away. I knew they both liked art and they went at it for awhile which was great.

Note above photo: the new grey BOY kitty!

And my other boy - beginning to be an old man. Us guys have to stick together, lots O women and hormones in the house. That energy alone is an entire blog to deal with, understand, appreciate (sometimes from a far), and love.

~MW dad

 from the book: The Art of Being a Dad (the first seven years)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rites of Passage

Being a man and father who has grown up camping, hunting, fishing in rural Pennsylvania, I have a solid connection with nature and the Earth. I've also been fortunate to be involved in Native American Indian ceremony and some very powerful initiation rites. I walk a sacred life now and always will until this robe drops

I mostly teach by example and let them free to be who they really are. I now have two teenage girls whom can be brought water but not made to drink - or something like that.  But I am concerned about the culture, the unconscious side of technology and the media, living in the suburbs where nature seems far away though the front yard is pretty darn close and an amazing place. But getting my girls to even hang out in the front yard is at times impossible. Fear of spiders, a teen girls social life, the foreign idea of helping out around the house, they almost always trump watching the wind, sun, and leaves playing.

Several years ago I asked a few women friends to do a rite of passage day for my 16 year old. My wife, her mom was not involved in the process, better to have the "Aunties" do it and anyway my wife isn't wired in thinking it's that important. My daughter enjoyed it as much as I heard. She said she'd "force" her kids to do it to, which was her way of saying thank you to me - I got it.

Over the years I heard through a spirit person that more rites of passage would be good for my oldest daughter, it would be good for her spirit, help her in the bigger picture, and she'd be working with younger girls and it would give her extra confidence and things to share. I told her about this, asked if I got someone to run a group would she be interested, and even maybe ask a half dozen of her girlfriends to be involved. She said she was.

It took almost a year to find a woman who works with teens and rites of passage. As time drew closer my daughter kept putting up more negative energy towards it happening. I know her and know this is her way of protecting herself, and staying away from anything new and out of her comfort zone. We had a talk one day in the car where she basically said she was "sure" she wasn't going to get anything out of it and that she'd only be doing it for me, and that I should drop it. And so I did - for about 3 days.

I just couldn't. It was in my heart loud and clear. I have a brief moment in time/space where I am physically connected to my daughter and to 6+ other girls who I have known since they were in kindergarten. Some of the girls could really use some guidance, wisdom, direction, find something inside themselves that they can hold onto in a storm.

Rites of passage are old and new initiation ceremonies and rituals that push and squeeze a person through a doorway, in this case from being a kid/teen into becoming an adult. Bi-products of initiation are responsibility for self, others (friends and family), community, and ultimately the world. Without these a person could stay stuck, still be a teen in a 50 year old body, not free or grounded, still acting out, hurting others and being hurt, not anchored in their mature masculine or feminine body.

So.... I was sneaky, I talked to another girl who is like my other kid, she's my girls best friend. I told her everything I know about these rites of passage. She was interested and excited and together we tricked my daughter into at least meeting with the woman who runs groups. I figured my ultimate job was to just get them together and after that, they could do what they wanted. And so it happened, it went down well, I was invited by the 3 of them to sit and listen. In the end they all made a date to meet again.

Well, over that time the girls talked and decided together that they didn't want to do it. The drinking water thing. I feel so good about it all. I followed my intuition, didn't take a no, kept following my truth and took it to where it wanted to go, full contact. AH..... my rite of passage.

And truth be told, I also feel like a failure, living near a city, not getting the girls and family outside enough, not growing up quality time in nature where it's unplugged and quiet, and having my girls grow up being OK to be alone in the woods. I know it's all good, and will be in the long run.  How? Because I know it in my heart now as I write this.


this blog was originally designed to promote my book:
now it's the second book, dad with teen girls, in draft...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's Been Too Long

It's been awhile since I've added words and images here. Sometimes as a dad with 2 teenage girls I think I don't have anything to say, speechless in the face of whats actually happening. But when I looked into my photography of this year I saw several things I could talk about and share.

There have been, and are many times when as a dad I feel far from my girls. I am just not that into shopping, the mirror, social media, and girl drama. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, I was outside all the time, woods, rivers, even fishing and hunting, riding motorcycles (minibikes), and climbing mountains. 

To get my girls outside to help move a woodpile in the front yard is basically impossible. Pay them??? Force them??? Recently I just let it go and did it all myself and enjoyed it, it's my wood pile, it's my wood stove, and I love it and am glad to offer it to the family to keep them warm and cozy (though the girls really just live in their rooms and only visit the kitchen when they have to). We live in the suburbs, my girls are small town girls near the big city of San Francisco. We come from different worlds.

But I did rediscover an abandoned graffiti warehouse and took my wife and oldest daughter, and then my younger one and her friend in to see this amazing place.

We said some prayers and creating a blessing for the place. It felt dark, sad, full of young male energy of despair and hopelessness - such amazing art and no place for it to be really seen, acknowledged, appreciated.

In front of one of my favorite pieces, artist unknown.

And there she is - busted!
A book about dad and little kids (the first seven years)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When Not Being a Dad

When I am not being a dad, which is often enough, 
I've been looking at big things like this -  which I love. 

On the home front we are all plowing along. 7th and 10th grade girls. I was talking to the older one about the 25 minute showers she's taking. I'm asking her to bring more consciousness to her shower time and water use. We've HAD this conversation before. I've put up signs on the other side of the shower glass, knocked on the door so many times, now am talking about charging her $10/month for the water, and even for one month didn't say a word. At least we are in dialogue and I'm communicating. Of course it's hair and shaving and girl stuff that's harder for me to relate to. My bad....

The younger one just called an hour after I dropped her off at school telling me she was sick.... enough for me to come get her. She's now in bed. Today, Weds. are my "dad days." I am THE ONE. My wife has off and can do anything and not have to think kids, which she does way more often than I do, cause she's a mom, and cause at times I'm more interested in the big ship on dry dock.

Thursdays are "mom days." Better day for my camera and dog to seek art adventures.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sisters - Brothers

Top photo: the older one 15 years ago
Bottom photo: the younger one today

I worshipped my brother when we were little, we always played together (matchbox cars and trucks), explored the woods (serious woods in Pennsylvania), sledding, riding bikes, later hunting with dad, and played horns in the band together so we sat right beside each other. I played a baritone and my brother Paul played a trombone - he actually still does and is into it recently buying a new fancy trombone for the several marching bands he is in. I now describe him as an engineer and musician.

My girls, the younger one always looked up to the older one and they played lots together as little people. Then middle school set in for the older one and things changed. I think they also changed for my brother and me at that time, a biological separation, some karma? But something happened and we went our separate ways. I get too, a high school girl with a younger sister who really like her could be annoying since mostly everything is - annoying. Sad at times for the younger one who gets pushed away often.

I had a harder time connecting with my brother when we were in high school and over the years, we are still brothers but I can still feel a distance. These days I write to him a more intimate email and he'll write back in a word - "thanks." And now he has multiple myeloma, a blood cancer without a real cure. He's had his second stem cells replacements and at the moment is doing good.

I have no words of wisdom here, maybe just an overall feeling of sadness and blessings.


Cell Phones

Birthday party last night, now seven 13 year old girls crashed in the living room. Last night they were all around the dinning room table eating cupcakes and one girl said, "I gotta go upstairs and get my phone, everyone here has theirs and I feel left out."

I was driving the girls home after a surprise trip to a climbing gym and dinner... fun! On the drive home all the girls had their phones out and were texting. Another girl from somewhere else was asking if the girls in my van were talking about her, that she was feeling a little insecure. Of course they were.

So interesting.... this world of technology, communications, real contact, and virtual relationships. I am not so sure, something feels off, a disconnect to the present, to silence and stillness, to nature, to not knowing that someone won't text you now.