Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Dear Friends,

Happy Independence Day! Let Freedom reign!

Today is a super significant day for our family. It marks the one-year anniversary of our family's freedom.

Exactly one year ago today, October 21, 2011, Ben walked out of corporate life and into our loving, waiting arms.

We realized our family could not be free until every member of our family is free.

Here is a brief family interview:

What does freedom mean to you?

Paige: To me it means playing all day. And something else about freedom, is to watch shows all night until I want to be in a burrito shell.

Logan: What freedom means to me is that all of us are together.

What does freedom look like to you?

Logan: It looks like all of us being together and doing whatever we want.

Paige: Yes, what Logan said.

Carrie: Piles of peanut butter cookies. Playing baseball at the park together. Stacks of markers and fresh paper close by. Kissing Ben anytime of the day. Sharing ordinary events, like snacking on toast and watching Survivorman. Sharing extraordinary events, like Paige mastering a somersault and Logan losing a tooth. Crocheting. Cuddling. Hugging.

What does freedom feel like?

Logan: It feels nice. It's the only thing that feels perfect for me. Being together feels perfect to me.

Paige: It feels like being home all day and staying with the family all day.

Carrie: Relaxing. Grounding. Whole. Complete. Joy. Peace. Secure.

What is different now from one year ago?

Paige: Daddy's not working. [to Ben:] Now we can be with you, and you can still work, and all you have to do is be at home.

Logan: I'm much happier now that Daddy's home.

Carrie: Memories are created together and shared in the moment, rather than reporting them at the end of each day to Ben. The pining is gone. The longing to be together has been fulfilled. I missed Ben so much. I wished with every fiber of my being for him to not get into the car and rush 70 m.p.h. every morning to a cubicle doing work he didn't care about that wasn't going to change the world or fulfill any of his dreams.

What did we do to make it happen?

Carrie: Having faith. Trusting each other. Being open to opportunities the universe provides. Knowing our hearts' desires would be fulfilled. Shedding the dream of the planet, daring to live out our passions. Being in the present moment, together. Nothing compares to that. In our safe home, cozy, connected. Oh, and downsizing.

We've learned to live and love together. Compromises. Negotiations. Meeting everyone's needs. Consensus.

Ben pointed out you can be together in a jail cell, but it's not the same thing as true freedom. So, beyond getting to share time and space, the context matters. A critical part of freedom is to be free from scores of rules, of others' dictating how your time is spent. And with that freedom comes responsibility, to make choices that continue to support our family and our freedom.

I am now able to more freely follow my passions and fulfill my life's purpose: to inspire others to do and be their best. Directing, coaching, performing all fit the criteria: "Would I do this even if I weren't being paid?" YES! I love what I do. And I love that what I do provides value to others, so that in turn, I am able to earn a living doing what I love. Ben being home creates the opportunity for me to say yes to these opportunities.

During our most recent complete trip around the sun, Ben has been working on genealogy practices and software. I've opened my own teaching studio in Dexter. We are together every day. I no longer feel like a single parent for the majority of each day. I have more time to cook, to chill, to crochet, to sing, to play, and sooooo much more time and reason to laugh.

I love Ben. I love our family. I love our freedom. I love connecting and creating and being. I am so grateful for our supportive parents, friends, unschooling family, free-thinkers, and courageous mentors. I hope we inspire you in turn to find ways to let freedom reign in your own life.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Harness the Power of a Good Hair Day

Dear Friends,

Bangs? Layers? Highlights? Permanent color? Semi-permanent glaze?

There are so many decisions to make when it comes to hair beauty.

Believe it or not, the same person has been cutting my hair since 1995. I lived out of state for four years, and even planned vacations home to Michigan around my haircut schedule. Seriously.

Have you ever pored over fashion magazines for just the perfect cut and color? Have you ever brought said photographs into your stylist, and come out looking nothing like the picture?

Okay, stylists are not miracle workers. Don't expect to leave suddenly transformed into Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Hudson, or Jennifer Lopez (all admirable hair trend-setters). But do have an idea of what you like and be ready to have a pragmatic dialogue with your stylist about what your hair can and cannot do.

I have been blessed with the talents of Peter Bokanoski at A Peter James Salon for 17 years. Seventeen years! This person has seen me through relationships, marriage, children, career changes, geographic moves, grad school, apprenticeship, funerals...and many hairstyles over the years.

Does anyone else mark time by noting, "Oh, that event occurred when I still had short hair," or, "I remember that event, I was having a good hair day"?

Fortunately, due to the talents, patience, and inspiration of Peter, I have experienced many good hair days. You know, when I apply myself. I have gone from single and dating (read: time and motivation to do my hair daily), to married before children (take the time to fuss with my hair, while my husband and I still have time to look at each other), to mother of two young children (yeah, Ponytails 'r' Us), to getting back into auditioning and being presentable in public (hair gets styled approximately once per month).

I love Peter. I love his advice. I love his haircuts. He is an artist and a friend. People compliment me on my hair, and I attribute this to lucky genes, effective styling products, and the expertise of my stylist, Peter, and my colorist, Gary Lemming.

So, consider this my Valentine to Peter and Gary at A Peter James Salon. Consider this also as encouragement to pamper yourself and use some of your Christmas money to treat your hair to the very best.

Peter always comes up with flattering styles, Gary does natural color for me, and I leave feeling great. Bonus: scheduling my hair appointment on the same day as an audition! They can get me all dolled up, and all I have to do is sit there and get caught up on celebrity gossip in People magazine.

As a mother with young children, I have found this to be especially kind to show some self-love by going to the salon. It's like a mini-version of participating in TLC's What Not To Wear. Stacy and Clinton would be proud of the attention I allow to be focused on myself a couple of hours, every few months.

So, in preparation for my hair appointment next week, I will be poring over In Style magazine (it has mysteriously been delivered to me -- actually to Ben -- for the past two months. Did somebody gift this to me?). I will be considering bangs, how much length to get trimmed, how realistic is it to go permanent with my base color. I am looking forward to being treated like a queen for an afternoon.

And I especially look forward to feeling fabulous afterward, not just for having a fresh hairstyle and highlights, but for having prioritized some "Mommy's needs are important, too, even for pampering" time!

P.S. I see on their homepage, A Peter James Salon is having a new client special. Join me over there sometime. You'll be glad you did, and both of us will get a discount on our services!