Happy Memorial Day!

What do you do to celebrate Memorial Day?

I believe that we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women serving our country, regardless of whether or not you agree with the politics that put them there. Today, The Two-Penny Soapbox is taking a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices of our soldiers and their families.

In tribute, The Husband and I have the tradition of running the annual Bolder Boulder 10K Road Race. It has been a family tradition since before we were even a family. We ran our first race together back in 2003, not long after we had gotten engaged. I had never run in honor of someone specific until I had the pleasure of getting in contact with my birth father in late 2012. That following 2013 Memorial Day, I ran in honor of him; Ron Walker, 82nd Airborne Division, combat veteran. I have run with his name every year since.

Last year was my oldest daughter's first Bolder Boulder. We weren't sure how she would do, but that girl trucked all 6.2 miles like a rock star! She has been counting down the minutes (no seriously, she is actually doing the math) every day for the last week.

So, while you are barbequing, lounging around, playing in the sun, or running one of the most fun road races in the States, don't forget to honor those whose day it is.

Happy Memorial Day!!!

The Dog Factor

The beautiful thing about stepping out into the world and experiencing other countries and other cultures is that you see things from another point of view. Sometimes it is one you hadn't considered before. And sometimes, you learn something about your own culture you never would have questioned before.

I had this happen when I was living in England. I had an experience that allowed me to see what Americans look like to...well, not Americans, and this revelation all started with a movie.

I was living in the UK in 1998 and 1999, and you may or may not know that American movies used to get released over there later than they do here. Because of this I had the opportunity to see the movie "Independence Day," twice with new-to-the-movie audiences.

The first time I saw the movie, I was a sophomore in college. I saw the movie in Denver, at a fairly well-known and very large theater. I also saw it mere days from when it came out, so we were in the Fourth of July spirit. The theater was hushed most of the movie, with a smattering of gasps and snickers during scary or funny parts. When the lights came up, people cheered. It was a serious (albeit fluffy) action film.

Or so I thought.

Then, two years later while living in Norwich, England, I attended the performance with four of my British friends. Within the first fifteen minutes I had begun to wonder if I was even watching the same film as they were. The entire theater would erupt into raucous laughter at parts I couldn't even begin to see were funny. By half-way through the movie it began to dawn on me that what I had previously experienced as a serious action film at home, was instead being treated like a full-on comedy by my British compatriots.


I left the theater bewildered and perplexed. How could an entire theater find humor in a dog running down a tunnel from scorching flames, only to jump to safety at the last second? Why is that funny? Where was the humor in people communicating with each other at the end by Morse code? Somehow, amidst what I perceived, there was a thread of humor that seemingly everyone could see but me.

Later I asked my friends about it and they laughed and laughed and made comments about "Americans and your cinema," how "Americans sure love their dogs," and "isn't it always the Americans the save the day. The rest of us don't sit around waiting, you know."

Later, when I was back stateside, I rented the movie for a third time and attempted to watch it from their perspective. And after spending a year, as anthropologists call it, "going native," I suddenly could see exactly what they were talking about. This scene truly is hysterical:

As this scene was as well. Trust me, most Brits found this either hysterically funny, or deeply offensive...."About bloody time" those American got off their butts and saved the rest of us....

And it wasn't just "Independence Day," either. No, suddenly all movies were viewed with the dual lens of American and British. Suddenly, I was the one laughing hysterically at bizarre moments. Because I am here in America, I mostly laugh alone. But once I saw things from their perspective, I couldn't un-see it. It is there, in my brain, forever. And Americans, Oh my LORD are we obsessed with our dogs!! Once I saw it...it was permanently ingrained and suddenly I saw dogs everywhere.

So, next time you are sitting in a movie like the "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and you hear someone bust out laughing as the random dog leaps to safety as they are leaving the danger zone, or you hear someone snicker at the random dog in Transformers, or any other action movie ever made, just know, that what we see, isn't always what someone else sees. The dog factor is real. They truly are everywhere!

We even put them in movies that they have absolutely NO business being in. The novel, "The Road," which is a post-apocalyptic dystopia that has people eating people, made mention that few-to-no animals were left in the world because they had all been eaten. And  yet....and YET.... the movie, "The Road," ends like this:

Yes. That is a very healthy, well-fed dog you are seeing. I am sure that family, while attempting to resist the cannibalism that is rampant throughout the rest of the world, would have eaten that dog long ago. Not to mention, in a movie where food is that scarce, they never would have wasted it on a dog. But, this is America, and there has to be a dog in everything!

Seriously, this dog, from "Transformers," is just there for humor value....that and the unwritten rule (I can't find one) that you can't make an action movie and not put a dog in it somewhere. I suspect it is in some secret film maker by-laws:

I want you to think about that the next time you are watching a movie. Pay attention to the dogs. You will realize they appear in almost every film, not the just one's that are part of the story (The Husband has been converted, he sees the dogs now too so I no longer have to laugh alone.)

They are often random and extraneous, but God forbid you pull something like Ridley Scott did in "Gladiator," where you make the dog a part of the story and then fail to deal with what happened to him. That is tantamount to crucifixion-worthy.  No joke. You should see the message boards. Whether he forgot the dog as he claimed, or killed him off only to find out that wasn't acceptable to American viewers is hotly debated, but not dealing with it at all created a storm of criticism.

Americans do not stomach killing dogs very well. We even made a movie about a hit man coming out of retirement because someone killed his dog in "John Wick." Someone killed his dog, and that fact somehow justified his killing somewhere upwards of 75 souls. As an audience member, you are supposed to be ok with that math; 1 dog= 75 humans. And the sad part is, we are ok with it. Americans are really, truly obsessed with dogs. I am not sure what it is about the American culture that bonds so significantly with the loyal canine companion, but it is there, indisputably there.

So, whenever I am struggling with seeing something from someone else's viewpoint, I stop and think about my total confusion as I sat through a movie I thought was a serious action film, while everyone else was busy wiping tears of laughter form their eyes. Sometimes we are just coming from very different places. That is okay, as long as you can step out from time to time and realize that sometimes the dog really is the elephant in the room.

I am curious to know. Comment and let me know if you see it, the dog factor. It is like one of those hidden messages in the optical illusion, pay attention and you will start seeing it....then you won't be able to stop seeing it.

Summer is Coming!!!

This is a quick, fluffy blog. Mostly because I, like my kids, am totally suffering from spring fever. I too am ready to be done with daily grind of the school year. I am wearing out on packing lunches, finding library books buried under toys, asking for the 10th time if everyone's homework is really done.

I want to play. I am ready to get outside and garden. I am ready for hiking and kayaking and biking. We are only a few weeks away from trips to the zoo and the museum or afternoon movies at the discount theater, but I want it now. Are we there yet?

It is during summer when I really truly appreciate working from home and being a mostly-at-home mom. I get to party with my kids for 12 weeks and now that they are older, I love every minute of it. I  am counting down 8 more days of school!

It was much harder when the kids were small. When the daily grind of baby care and caring for school aged children made our days confined and monotonous. Back then I had bored kids or a cranky baby. We couldn't go to the zoo or the museum, or if we did, we couldn't stay long because the baby needed to nap. Art projects were hard because we had to pick toddler-friendly supplies.

Back then, summer was a 12-week long wasteland that seemingly stretched on for what felt like forever. But, that was a different season. We are exiting the baby season of our lives and I am looking forward to summer because....*fingers crossed* this is the summer we finally potty train Connor (3 1/2) and say goodbye to the last vestiges of babyhood. This is my summer of transition.

This summer I officially move into the role of "mother of older children." This past weekend my 9 year old asked me if we could watch "Jurassic Park". The weekend before we took our girls to see "Age of Ultron." For those of you still attending movies like "Home" or "Minions," have no worries, the time is coming when you will get to mix it up and go see something that is actually on your radar. You can go see something you would have gone to see without your kids.

Older kids are fun! And I am going to get to hang with them this summer and enjoy their company while they still think I am cool. This is the proverbial "honeymoon period," or "second trimester," of child raising. We are post- high-need, cry-happy, tantrum-thowing baby and toddler-hood. We are pre- puberty, pre- eye-rolling, "mom, could you just walk five steps behind me so people don't know we are together" teenage-hood (something I actually said to my own mom).

Right now, my kids still think I am cool, and right now I think they are pretty cool too. We are in the best part, and I intend to enjoy every single second of it!

So, eight more days! And then, let the fun commence!

With that,  here are just a couple of pictures from our awesome summer last year:
End of Soccer Season Fun

Colorado History Museum

Fourth of July Fireworks

Children's Museum

Cherry Creek Reservoir

Backyard Fun

Risk Is Real, Lawsuits Won't Change That

I spend a vast amount of time scrolling through the net seeking out articles on my passions:
  • risk management
  • parenting
  • reconnecting kids with nature
  • improving the workplace for all caregivers
  • political movements to improve the lives of working women
  • anything on how to build communities, or communities that have made the news
Occasionally, my searches bring me to an odd conglomeration of articles that trigger a thought process that takes me outside of my "box" that I normally think from.

Last night I found a news story about a local cat café that is being sued by a customer. She is being sued because the customer got a cat bite and it became severely infected and she ended up missing a week of work. Her family income situation was precarious and the incident was apparently devastating to their economic position so of course they had no choice to but to file a nearly $6,000 lawsuit.

On another note, this past Monday the verdict finally came down in the lawsuit where a police officer sued Starbucks after he burned himself on a free cup of coffee in 2012. Yes, in case you hadn't heard of that case, the officer was given....GIVEN....a free cup of coffee. Apparently the lid on this coffee disintegrated and he was burned. This apparently caused his Crohn's  disease to flare up which then required surgery. He didn't win.

Do you know what we would have called this before we turned into a "litigation nation?" We would have called it a misfortune. We would have called it a tragedy. We might have even said it was just a seriously crappy day. What we would not have done is point our finger at someone else and say it is their fault. We would not demand monetary compensation for any and every horrible thing we experience. Sometimes shit just happens, as they say.

The stories are tragic for those affected. What they are NOT, are acceptable law suits. This stuff is making me crazy. I am not joking....C.R.A.Z.Y. Here are the facts, and I will offset them so as to make a stronger point:

Coffee is hot, Cats are unpredictable, and children get hurt sometimes. Risk is real. Suing every time something bad happens does NOT, contrary to popular belief, prevent risk. All it does is instill fear in everyone.

A short time ago I wrote a series of articles on the subject of risk and how we treat risk in America has created a ridiculous standard for parents. If you want to check some of them out, I am including a couple of the more popular posts.

Moms, Let's Ditch the Defensiveness
Taking Page From the Homebirth Movement
Parental Pinch Gets Tighter

Additionally, after I was done ranting and raving on social media about the 9 news story about the cat café and the ridiculous cop, I found an article, Criminalization of Natural Play, which then led me to explore the website, Children and Nature Network . The authors on the site posited various study results which posit that the increase in sensory issues, balance problems and lack of body awareness in older children these days is directly related to the lack of outdoor play, physical activity and the increase in screen time, indoor activities and organized extracurricular activities.

The idea that was proffered throughout the site, is that by attempting to make children safer, we have in fact made the LESS safe. Would you like to read that again?.... By attempting to make children safer, or in other words, by trying to anticipate every risk they may encounter, we have actually made things more dangerous for them. Children are less balanced, less body aware and more likely to injure themselves with mundane tasks because we won't let them climb trees, play outside unsupervised, or allow them to roam unattended by adults.

I have reached a point where, every time I read one of these lawsuit stories, I just want to weep for society. For me it is a total *head desk* moment. Do we, as a society, not see that we are gradually making everyone's life harder every time we add a new waiver form, disclaimer posting, change in behavior, state requirement, or need for reliance on liability insurance? Every person who files a frivolous lawsuit or engages in any type of risk that turns out badly creates another level of fear in America.

Teachers know what I am talking about. Many of them are terrified to discipline children in school because there is always the ever-present threat of a lawsuit hanging over their heads. I would even purport that there may come a time when disruptive students are either automatically expelled or immediately turned over to law enforcement because teachers don't dare touch a student, no matter how violent or disruptive they are being. 

Many parents, like many teachers, want to let their children take risks. I, as a parent, want to let my kids climb trees, walk to school on their own, ride their bike around the neighborhood, walk down the street to their friend's house, be adventurous in the classroom and on the playground. I want them to take risks so they can learn their own limits and build their own confidence.

Sure there are times when I have a moment of terror, like the time I went out into our backyard because I couldn't see the kids from the window and I found my oldest balancing precariously on the tippy-top of their two-story playhouse.

And if something happened and the beam broke and she fell and hurt herself, or God forbid, she was killed. I would seriously hope that I would have the good sense to recognize that it was an accident, and not someone's fault. But, too many people's first response would be to sue the playground equipment maker, or demand that we change the composition of the equipment itself (make it shorter, wider, safer etc.).

If we keep on instituting this culture of fear, this "litigation nation," we may find that we have an entire generation of children who are more dangerous to themselves just walking around, than they would be if we just let them takes some risks now while they are young. Not to mention totally unable to function outside a controlled, organized environment. Just when the country will need new innovaters we will have an entire generation of kids that believe, with all their hearts, that all risk is bad.

And so, I will leave you with a quote from a great article, titled, "THE UNSAFE CHILD: Less Outdoor Play is Causing More Harm than Good":
Secondary to restricted movement and less time outdoors on a regular basis, more and more children are walking around with underdeveloped vestibular (balance) systems. In other words, they have decreased body awareness and sense of space. Teachers are reporting that children are falling out of their seats in school, running into one another, pushing with more force during games of tag, and are generally clumsier than in years past. In fact, the more we restrict and coddle our children, the more unsafe they become. -Angela Hanscom

Why I Loathe Mother's Day

I hate Mother's Day.

It sounds bizarre, but I do. For weeks before the day I start griping about it. I complain about how when you live near your own mother, Mother's Day is never about you. It is like a hierarchy. You don't get to celebrate Mother's Day the way you want to until you are no longer the youngest mother on the totem pole or unless there is significant distance between you.

Wow, that sounds ridiculously selfish as I type it, let me explain.....

I am terribly susceptible to all those Mother's Day commercials floating around that show this idealized vision of the perfect Mother's Day. I tear up when I see the family gathering around to celebrate Mom, and yet, in the back of my head I am already starting to get grumpy, because I know it is an unrealistic expectation.

And that is the long and short of it. I hate Mother's Day because somehow, on that day, our families are somehow supposed to magically create enough love, goodwill and thoughtfulness to carry us through a whole other year of self-sacrifice and hard work. Somehow the expectation is, for 24 hours, our families are supposed to prove how much they truly appreciate us, as mothers.

Normally, on Mother's Day, I make dinner for my Mom and my Mother-in -law. I work all day long in the kitchen (forget that it is my day too) and whip up some fantastic feast to show them both how much I appreciate them and all they do for us. I love them both. They are truly magnificent women and I am lucky to have them in my life. But, I will admit, when the three of us agreed to take this year off, I was relieved. I was going to get to spend the day how I wanted to....as a total hermit. Yay!

Because, unlike my mother's theory that I somehow hate the day because I was rejected by my birth mom, which is ridiculous, I hate the day because it sets up unrealistic expectations. Actually, I hate Valentine's Day for the same reason (although with much less vehemence). It is a holiday that excludes people by its very nature. Also, it puts moms in the mindset to seek out perceived slights.

Somehow, by going through the motions of getting chocolate and flowers on Valentine's Day or buying your mom the "perfect present" which shows her how you "truly feel about her," you have fulfilled some cultural expectation and proved that you love the person receiving the gifts. Forget about the other 364 days a year when you love them just as much. You have to prove that you love them on this day. In my opinion, that isn't how love works.

Does it really mean anything when you have to do it?

And yet, my expectations are just as bad.

6:35 a.m.:  Same as every morning, I awaken with a 3  year old shaking me, "Mom, just get up and get me my strawberry [milk]." I roll out of bed, sore from the previous day, and head downstairs. I do this every day of the year without fail, and yet because I know what day it is, I shoot hateful daggers at my sleeping husband. I assume, because despite it being our normal routine, he should have somehow set an alarm and beat the baby out of bed so I could sleep in.....because, HELLO, it's MOTHER'S DAY!

We head downstairs and I get Starman his milk, set up his morning cartoon, feed the animals and start on the dishes. Now I am pissed off because, they should have known it was Mother's Day today and, despite the fact that I do the dishes every morning, they should have known this wasn't what I wanted to encounter first thing on MY DAY.

About an hour later, as I am finishing the dishes, the rest of my family joins me. They immediately  wish me a Happy Mother's Day. But, instead of being happy, it irritates me. I go upstairs and take a shower only to hear my husband yelling. Turns out my 3 year old broke a shelf off the wall. My immediate thought, "of course he did, because it's Mother's Day."

Ten minutes after that, the girls start fighting, which prompts me to scream, "GREAT! This is exactly what I wanted to hear on Mother's Day. I knew today was going to be horrible." (Because somehow the girls fighting on Mother's Day felt like a personal insult, "Can't I get one day of peace?") The Husband immediately responded with, "Ah, yes. Of course you are already a bitch this morning, it's Mother's Day. I figured you would be. You have been bitching about today for weeks."

I stomped to the family room, kicked everyone out and binged on three hours of uninterrupted television. By myself. Heaven.

While I am watching t.v, the girls bring me their offerings. For some reason they annoy me because they feel so obligatory. They are cookie cutter assignments from school and don't feel that they have much of my girls in them. (In contrast, I melted like a puddle over the bouquet of dandelions they proffered me after school a couple weeks ago. And Saturday, because Starman was spending the night at grandma's house, they made us breakfast in bed.) My kids are awesome, and I feel like a total jerk for not feeling it more.

The kids started complaining that I hadn't fed them yet, so The Husband talked me into going out to Sweet Tomatoes (or Soup Plantation in other parts of the country) for brunch. On the way there, I mentioned that even though I spoke to my Mom the previous day in person, hugged her and wished her a happy Mother's Day, no doubt she would still be expecting a phone call. I told him I would need to do that when we got home.

Brunch put me in a better mood and I was going to call my Mom when we got home, but the girls begged me to watch part of their movie with them first, so I did. I only made it about 10 minutes in when I fell asleep on the couch... for the next three hours.

I awoke when I realized that the dog was barking and barking, which meant someone was at the door. It was my cousin and his girlfriend, and their 3 year old. Bleary eyed, I pulled open the door. They just wanted to stop by and surprise me.

I invited them in, and discovered that the whole family was asleep, so I went around waking them up. By the time I got Starman up to play with his friend, got everyone drinks and snacks, and visited for a while, I realized it was nearly 4:30.

Oh crap! I excused myself and told them I really needed to call my Mom.

I knew she was pissed off when she answered the phone. We had a short, brisk conversation and I explained I would call her later when the company had left. They left around 6:30 and I called her as I was making dinner. We talked along, and I thought we were good. I thought that right up until she told me that my not calling her until 4:30 was clearly a reflection on how I "truly felt about her." Then there was something about being ungrateful and my attitude being a reflection about my birth mother's rejection.

Suddenly, just like me with my own family, the other 364 days of the year meant nothing. It didn't matter that we hugged the afternoon before and I wished her a happy Mother's Day. It didn't matter that we discussed putting off celebrating the day until it was less snowy and cold. No, the only thing that mattered was that I didn't call her until 4:30, so clearly I love her less.

Just like my own feeling that clearly my family loves me less because they didn't bend over backwards to make my life easier, change up our routine, and in all other ways prove that they value me. And that is why I hate the day.

We set up these Hallmark card expectations and then, these mothers who are busy sacrificing and giving the very best of themselves 364 days of the year, somehow have to cash in for one, inevitably disappointing day. Because, ultimately, there is no way to properly appreciate your mother. She is the end all and be all of existence. My mother gives and sacrifices and loves me all year round, and I appreciate her, whether she sees that right now or not.

I woke up this morning feeling relieved that the day was over. I came downstairs and sat down to write this post.

My husband came down soon after and came in and hugged me, "Happy Day after Mother's Day," he said with a smile. "What would you like to do to celebrate you today?"

And just like that, I melted. Because today he didn't have to. Today it feels like appreciation vs. obligation. You know what.....I think I might call my Mom.

The Changing Face of Parenting: Pornography and Pre-Teens

It has recently come to my attention, as I talk to parents whose children are older than mine, that parents today no longer have the option to parent the way our parents did when it comes to sex and sexuality. After talking to parents of pre-teens and doing some research, I have found that nearly half of all pre-teens have been exposed to sexually explicit material of some kind, whether willingly or unwillingly.

Gone are the days of the simple birds and bees discussion, which focuses mostly on mechanics. Gone are the days of the occasional Playboy or romance novel found hidden in the closet or under the mattress. As parents, we no longer have the option to avoid the subject of sex, sexuality and relationships. With an ever-increasing access to graphic pornographic material (read: an ever-increasing level of access to internet-capable mobile devices), we no longer can afford to put off the discussion of sex and sexuality until the onset of puberty (which is also starting earlier).

When I was little, my parents gave me the ever-classic Time Life book, "How Babies Are Made." I also received a book about my changing body. I don't remember exactly how old I was, but I want to say it was somewhere around 9 or 10. Puberty hit not too much longer after that, so it was probably good timing. In my experience, I was the first one in my class to hit puberty, but 10 1/2 is no longer considered early. With earlier exposure to hormones, and sexual images, our children are having to deal with these concepts much earlier than we ever even thought of doing.

Last week my oldest daughter, Snowflake, asked me, "Mom, what's a virgin?" It took me a minute to realize where she was getting that word. Then it dawned on me that it was from a commercial for the new show, "Jane the Virgin." I told her it was late, and I didn't want to answer her question right then, but if she asked me again tomorrow we could talk about it. I was hoping she would forget, but no. First thing the next morning she repeated the question, "Mom, what's a virgin?"

"OH CRAP!," I thought. I forgot to prepare an answer.

On the fly I explained that it mostly had to do with something I didn't feel ready to discuss with her, but involved the process for how babies are made. My explanation mostly revolved around the fact that the virgin Mary conceived a child without a husband, and that the show featured a character whose irresponsible doctor was trying to help a mommy get a baby in her tummy, but that she put the baby in the wrong tummy. (Which I have to say, sounded WAY messed up when explained at a 9 year old level.)

I assured her I would discuss everything in detail at some point in the future, but that I didn't feel she was ready for me to discuss it with her at that moment. Lucky for me, about a year ago, she insisted she wanted to watch a scary movie (Robocop 2) with Daddy and ended up getting freaked out by something she saw. I used that as a reference point about how we have to guard what we see because you can't un-see something upsetting. (For the record, I have a scene like that too. It involves pushing someone's face into burning oil on "MI-5." I can't fry anything without thinking about it.) I told her that I could explain the whole virgin thing in more detail, but once I told her, I couldn't UN-tell her and it would change the entire way she sees the world.

Thankfully, she seemed to except my explanation, and it felt like we dodged a bullet. But, I realized the time is coming faster than I would like it to, when I am going to have to sit down and discuss these things much sooner, and in much greater detail than my parents ever would have thought of doing. I am dreading it. But, I know by not doing it, or by ignoring it, I will only be making my kids more vulnerable to all the crap that is out on the internet.

Parental controls on mobile devices are great, but they only go so far, especially when kids are expected to bring tablets, phones, and other internet capable devices into the classroom for projects. Many school districts require kids to have tablets because, in effort to save money, they provide digital textbooks.  Often times, legitimate websites are blocked by parental controls, causing kids to have to call home to get the password in order to maintain required access to complete assignments. This quickly renders parental controls obsolete leading many parents to abandon them.

With children online for schoolwork, it provides the perfect "cover," leaving many teens semi-unsupervised while handling an internet capable device. These kids are technological experts at clearing search histories and covering their tracks, so that many parents are unaware of how much time their children are actually spending online. One study interviewed parents and found a 3-4 hour a day discrepancy between the amount of time teens spent on the internet vs. the time their parents believed they spent online.

Last but not least, studies are flooding the internet on the long-term effects from ever-younger exposure to hard-core internet pornography. A whole industry in live-in sex addiction and pornography addiction rehab for youths has sprung up in response to the increasing problem of pornography addiction in teens. Pornography addiction is rapidly becoming more prevalent in teens and preteens, both boys and girls.

In order to combat this, we, as parents, are going to have to engage our children in discussions that go way beyond the basic mechanics. We are going to have to have conversations with our children that our parents never would have dreamed of having with us. No matter how uncomfortable it feels, we are going to have to engage with our children on the subjects of desire, sexuality, relationships, preferences, respect, responsibility, choice, consent, variety of acts, frequency, masturbation, objectification, and sexual safety.

We are going to need to give them to tools for their toolbox, so that when they come across a graphic scene depicting violence or non-consensual sex acts, they have the ability to recognize what they are seeing and file it in an appropriate place. Talk and trust is the only hope we have to help our children navigate this new digital age.

I know I am going to have to do this soon, but the thought wakes me up in a cold sweat at night. My parents hardly ever held hands, kissed, or otherwise showed affection in front of me (although it was always clear they loved each other), and in all my years at home, I think I must be the only child in America who never heard her parents having sex. Because of this, the idea of having these discussions with my children makes me sick to my stomach. But, I know I have to. We all have to.

In our day in age, leaving kids to figure it out for themselves was a relatively safe choice. Sure the Playboy or Penthouse might have been shocking for some children, but those were static images in magazines. They were rare to come across, and the image didn't change. The pornography that our children will most likely be exposed to at some point in their adolescence, whether accidentally or on purpose, will be typically be graphic, video based, and easily accessible. The potential for it to become a real problem is ever-present.

Pornography is not ever going to go away (visit the Sex Museum in Amsterdam if you don't believe me, ancient artifacts with dirty carvings on them prove that sexual images have existed as long as humans have). Our children are going to come across it. The question is, do we have the type of relationship with them that will allow them to come to us and discuss what they see? Will they have the tools to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality? Will they understand how not to objectify their sexual partners? The only way to be sure is to talk about it.

Struggling with Self-Doubt

Almost everyone struggles with self-doubt. Pretty much, unless you are a narcissist, ego-maniac or a sociopath, you have a time in your life when you wonder about your own self-worth.

The last few months have brought an overwhelming amount of success with my writing. I knew that after that rush, there was bound to be a lull. What I was unprepared for, was how badly it would affect me when the lull happened.

Lately I have been struggling with getting articles posted, second-guessing my work and experiencing anxiety over why anyone would want to actually read what I have to say. I suspect that my recent self-doubt is primarily fear-driven.

Since January, in addition to my recent successes, I have been embarking on a journey to turn a long-term project (and life-long dream) into a potential reality. The idea that it might actually happen scares the heck out of me. Ideas are safe when they are in your head, but much more vulnerable when they are out in the world (much like children leaving the womb).

Also, I am definitely what is known as a self-sabotager. I have a long history of sabotaging myself when things are going well; getting sick before important meetings, eating a whole tub of ice cream after just losing 10 pounds, "forgetting" to turn in paperwork in a timely manner.

The good news is, I am aware I do it. The bad news is, I can't seem to stop myself sometimes. I don't know why I am sharing this with you all, except that I have always promised to be transparent and honest here at The Two-Penny Soapbox.

I love writing. My recent successes have given me hope that I can actually turn this into a vocation, rather than just a hobby, and quite frankly I am terrified by that. And so, I have begun to avoid the computer, struggle to come up with ideas and have spent an insane amount of time playing Candy Crush rather than writing.

My hope is that by naming these feelings, sharing them with you, and exposing myself, I can move past it and get back to what I love to do. This blog is my passion, my heart hanging out there, and I want to continue to maintain a quality that I have come to expect from myself, but has been hard lately.

If you struggle with self-doubt, or self-sabotage, you are not alone. I would love to hear how you cope with it? How do you re-discover your motivation? How do you smother the inner critic?