When Good Fowl Go Foul

urban turkey, Brookline, wild turkey

Photo courtesy of Devin D. Marks

Turkey time!! People have their favorite ways of thawing their turkey, preparing their turkey, eating leftover turkey. But do you have a favorite way of avoiding an aggressive urban turkey attack?

Really. If not, you should. Especially if you live in Brookline, Massachusetts (or if you have a friends who does), you are well aware of a rising population of feathered fowl gangs who are taking the holiday and town back with their waddling and gobbling and attacking . It’s apparently not a new thing. NPR reported on this in 2006. It’s made the news plenty of times (really, just Google it) . And a Brookline Tom Turkey even has his own Twitter handle.

So what’s a patriotic red-blooded American to do about this urban plight? Go turkey hunting, of course. Devin ​D. Marks was flabbergasted when he first saw wild turkeys in his own backyard in Brookline soon after he moved from Lexington, Kentucky two years ago. “Weirdest dern thing,” he said. His initial reaction was to reach for his Kentucky long rifle, and pluck and stuff his dinner. Shooting a firearm, however, would not have endeared him to his new neighbors. This is not the kind of reputation you want when trying to set up playdates for your daughter.

What is there to do then, when your feathers are ruffled and you’re up in arms over good fowl going foul? Locals have complained, taken pictures, gawked, talked to the local authorities. But the most useful, and fun, resolution it seems, is an Urban Turkey Hunt Club. Marks is organizing the first annual hunt club to strategize how best to address this problem, while killing one bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon at every meeting. And by “strategizing,” he means drinking, laughing and bonding for a good cause–a portion of the proceeds will go to a worthy non-profit. Clearly, the urban turkeys will feel cold fear in their hearts and the urban hunters will feel warm cheer in theirs.

Seems the most reasonable, and most humane way, to deal with Wild Turkeys. The event fee covers annual membership, a bourbon tasting flight, and a cigar. ​(Word is, a “hunter’s” breakfast menu will be offered for an additional cost with a turkey side dish.) All firearms must remain at home. Flasks are welcome​; hunting garb is strongly encouraged​. How else to chase Wild Turkeys off bourbon shelves?

The inaugural meeting of the Brookline chapter will meet Tuesday, November 24, at SUNNY BOY in Washington Square, 8:00 PM. Tickets are available online, via www.UrbanTurkeyHuntClub.com

urban turkey hunt club, urban turkeys, Brookline, turkey hunt

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Houses We Live In

mindfulness, parenting, expectations, children, disappointments

I’ve been having minor, yet irritating, disagreements with my dad the past few weeks. I’m having some minor renovations done in the house, as well as changing lots of things within the house. He’s been visiting to help me out.

And he is ruminating on the doorbell chime, the balusters and newel posts for new railing, the chandeliers, the furniture. We have very different tastes, and different priorities. It’s exhausting reminding him of this. He feels strongly about sharing his opinions.

And our opinions are very, very different. These minor disagreements are fueled with intense feelings, and lots of frustration. I realize it’s not about the doorbell chime. It’s not about the balusters. It’s not about the chandeliers. It’s about the fact that I am not the child he wanted. I will never be the child he wanted. He tells me this through light fixtures.

Before I became a parent, it was easy for me to say he should just accept who I am, and love me unconditionally for me. But now I understand, as I have two children myself who I wish were slightly different in their own separate ways. As a parent now, I feel sad for my dad. I wish I could be who he wanted me to be. But I’m not.

So here’s the thing. He absolutely loves me. And I completely love my children. But relationships, they’re messy. When we have close, intimate, authentic relationships with people–siblings, parent/child, significant others, close friends–there’s a lot of investment of ourselves in them. There’s a bit of enmeshment inherent with them. There’s expectations involved. And inevitably, we will be disappointed in them and by them. We will feel frustrated because of our investment in them. It hurts when they show they are not who you wanted them to be, or expected them to be.

I try to remember this when I feel frustrated or disappointed with my sister or my son or my mother or my boyfriend. I try to remember it’s not personal. But it is a little personal. Because I’m part of this relationship. But mostly it’s not about me. It’s about how he or she is living his or her life, and how I may not agree with it or like it.

And it’s up to me to decide if the hurts and acceptance of the other person’s true self is too much and I need to end the relationship. Or if I simply need to change the relationship. Or accept it as-is entirely.

So I try to remember to be kind and gentle when I remind my dad that this is not his house to live in. He’s made his house. And I moved out a long time ago. I’m making my house now.

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tree of Life

20151023_080906 (2)

“I love that tree,” I said to La Chica when I dropped her off at before-care at the school. There’s this one tree off in the distance that turns a brilliant red orange every fall well before the other trees, and much more brilliantly. Seeing that tree every year makes my soul smile, I don’t know why. So I pointed it out to La Chica.

“Why does the tree bother doing that, when no one notices it?” she asked. “No one ever notices it. So why does it bother turning such pretty colors if no one cares?”

Oh sweet pea, because that’s what trees do. They turn wondrous colors every fall, without fail. It’s just part of what they do, it’s part of what makes them trees. Some years they aren’t as bright, or may drop leaves sooner or later due to weather and other external circumstances. But they all change colors and drop their leaves every year. Because they’re trees.

They don’t do this because people are watching. They don’t do this for anyone. They do it because it’s what they are. And sure, a lot of trees go unnoticed. Until one day, someone looks up and his breath is taken away. Keep doing your thing, and one day, someone will notice and you will take his breath away.

Posted in Empowerment, Relationships | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

My Special Date

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons

I believe in exposing my children to the arts. Since they were little, I’ve taken them to Broadway shows, ballets, symphonies, plays, concerts. It so happens that to the delight (dismay) of my ex-husband, many of these concerts are hard rock/metal concerts. Lots of shoving, spilled beer, all sorts of smoking, lots of profanity, and loud, thumping drums and bass. You know, things that a good parent exposes her children to.

My kids get a little irritated at shows. There are moments of pure grumpiness and dislike. After all, no one likes beer spilled on them. But they say they have a great time at the end of each concert, and they’re always asking what show they can attend next.

I wonder why. Some moments they look miserable or bored. My friend points out they like to go to shows with me because they know it makes me happy. He’s right. They want to connect with me.

La Chica loves to run races with me. You’ll remember she screams and cries and fights me the entire race, every single race. But when it’s over, she declares how wonderful it was, and she wants to run more with me. Because she knows running feeds my soul and she wants to connect with me.

Recently, she asked me to do yoga with her. Yoga does not feed my soul. I get grumpy and irritated and impatient with yoga. Which is pretty much the antithesis of what yoga’s about. I try to stay away from things I’m not successful at, but she really wanted to do it. So we’re doing yoga together because it makes her happy, and I want to connect with her.

But the Boy, I’m losing him. He started middle school this year. His hormones have kicked in full gear. He’s moody and sullen and disagreeable. He’s also growing into his own person. As he individuates, I’m losing my connections with him.

He’s bridged from cub scouts to boy scouts. I’m all about fostering independence, so I am glad for these opportunities for him to learn and fail and practice on his own. I’m sad also though, as my involvement in scouts is very different, very detached and far removed. I’m no longer part of making those memories. I’m no longer witnessing many of these memories. I’m being told about them, after the fact.

As he’s gotten older, I’m not volunteering in school anymore. I’m not helping him bridle his horses anymore. I’m not invited into his imaginative play with his dragons and wizards and Lego minifigures and Pokemon figures anymore. He can’t fit on my lap as he reads anymore.

We’ve lost our points of connection as he gains independence. I still get surprise bear hugs and kisses, snuggles, jokes. But they’re few and far between. I’m losing him, and I think he feels it too. I understand the developmental moodiness and attitude of puberty and tweenhood. But I think he’s also sensing the loss of connection. There’s a crankiness and edge to him lately. Our interactions are largely transactional now. I take him where he needs to go, he does his chores, he tells me what homework he has. I kiss him good-bye in the morning and good-night in the evening.

We both want more in between those kisses. We’re both kind of cranky with each other. Because he’s not who he used to be. And we haven’t figured out how I can honor that and still connect with him.

So I’ve decided we’re going to figure this out with Special Dates. When the kids were a little younger, I used to drop one off at an activity, and spend Special Date time with the other sibling. Instead of reading or running errands during this time, I would let him/her choose what we’d do on our Special Date. We’ve had picnics, played hangman, gorged on donuts and ice cream, painted pottery, talked, snuggled, played board games, gone shopping. It didn’t matter what we did. What mattered was that each child knew I was fully present with him or her during an activity of his/her choosing.

It is this validation and being present that made these Dates special. It is in these moments we connected. It is in these connections that each child knew he or she mattered, and that knowledge fills the soul. I asked the Boy if he’d like to do this again. He smiled and his eyes lit up. Yes, yes he would. That Boy would do anything for a donut. And I’ll do anything for a connection.

Posted in Mindfulness, Parenting | Leave a comment

Yoga Wisdom


I am convinced my child is out to kill me. As a toddler, she used to ask if she could have my jewelry and shoes when I died. Since then, I’ve learned to sleep with one eye open. She’s become much more subtle as she ages. She recently convinced me to do yoga with her. Somehow, she knew this would be what kills me.

I didn’t think this would last. She isn’t a big activity kid. She plays the drums and the double bass. She runs. At one point she danced ballet for a couple years. But that’s about it. She doesn’t really like to sign up for activities or classes. And yoga is hard. So I had high hopes that she’d hate it and quit.

Especially after the first class, whereupon I discovered this was a power yoga class. Holy overworked sweat glands, Batman. I was pissed. The only thing I hate more than yoga is really hard yoga. So after class, I asked what she thought about it. I figured she hated it too. By “figured,” I really mean “hoped.”

To my dismay, she was all smiles and excitement. She loved it. She definitely wanted to continue. Why?! (Because she’s out to kill me) She said it was hard, but she loved it. Really, Why?, I asked her.

“I discovered things I never knew my body could do!” she said excitedly. She was so pleased with herself.

And I was so pleased with her. This is exactly what I hope for in my children. The desire and courage to explore and discover. The resilience to persevere and not give up. The grit and drive to push your body and self to do things you didn’t think were possible. The belief that you can accomplish things you never knew possible. The delight and satisfaction of doing hard things.

This. All this. This is exactly the kind of person I want her to be. And she is. Namaste.

Posted in Empowerment, Meditation, Parenting | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The Big Purge

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons

Hi. My name is Susanna, and I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’m also in the middle of a purge. My sister calls this a mid-life crisis. She’s wrong. She has no idea what I’m capable of. This? This is just a simple purge, a cleansing. I’ve decided a lot of things in the house must go. The living room furniture. The dining room set and china cabinet. And almost everything in the china cabinet. The china. The champagne flutes. The tea set. The lead crystal vases. The candlestick holders. (The cake stands stay. I love my cake stands.)

I need to get all these things out of the house because none of them are me, and all of this Not-Me is suffocating me. I need to get back to me. The formal dining room set with the china cabinet. The sofa and loveseat. The china. All so sensible. So proper. So practical. This is what we’re supposed to fill our homes with when we get married. So I did.

But see, I’m not sensible nor proper nor practical. I hate being surrounded every day with these reminders that I was supposed to be sensible and proper. I grew up in a culture and family that taught me I am supposed to be practical and sensible and ladylike and proper. I was supposed to be agreeable and obedient. But see, the problem is, I’m not. I never was. But I was forced into this box of societal norms and expectations. And I was a good pleaser. I was a good perfectionist. And every now and then, when my feisty self slipped out, people would roll their eyes or yell at me. And I’d tuck my soul back in and sulk away.

And I did what was expected. But inside I was angry and depressed. Because I couldn’t be me. So I grew up and went to good schools. I threw fun parties and impressed friends in pre-Pinterest days with fun creations delicious meals. I held a good job and got married and bought a house in the suburbs. I dressed my kids well and made organic baby food. I was a Type A perfectionist.

Through the years, it became harder to keep my soul tucked in. And like a butterfly unfolding from the cocoon, I slowly unfurled. And hung upside down drying my wings for a bit. And slowly started to fly. I stopped apologizing for being absurd and frequently inappropriate. I started embracing my impulsive side, my brave streak. I stopped caring about what was expected of me. I started honoring my true self. The more I cared about myself, the less I cared about a lot of other things.

So I don’t want to come home to reminders of my inauthentic self. I want to come home to me. To a dining room table that calls to me. To mismatched dining chairs that resonate with me. To improper, not sensible, completely irrational and impulsive marks of me.

And it’s amazing how much stuff we amass through the years. Slowly through the years we bring things in and tuck them into cabinets and nooks and crannies. Wine glasses, martini glasses, champagne flutes, espresso cups, serving platters, gravy boats. We rarely use many of these things, but we keep them, just in case. You never know when you’ll need it, the practical self says. It’s amazing how each of these things crowd the house and close in on your soul though. These sensible, practical things are suffocating me. I want to open up, and exhale and expand into my space.

So if we have a celebration, we may be toasting champagne out of wine glasses and coffee mugs. Because if my friends will be here, they know me. They won’t care if things aren’t proper and perfect. Because I’m neither. And that’s part of my charm.

Posted in Empowerment, Mindfulness | 19 Comments

Math is Hard. Parenting is Harder.


I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve been bested by my son’s math homework. He’s 11. I literally had to Google his homework before I could help him. He is in Pre-Algebra, folks. In my defense, I am a writer and a therapist (words are my thing, not numbers!), and my last math class was freshman year in college. In 1992. I’m not stupid, I made it through AP Calculus in high school after all. But boy do I feel stupid now, especially now that I’ve admitted this to the world.

Parenting is hard. It’s not what I thought it would be. You feel me on this, right? I read all about what to expect when expecting. I knew my child development theories. I knew what behaviors were normal phases and what might be psychiatric issues. I knew I would have to teach manners and empathy and compassion. Hell, I’ve even managed to throw in mindfulness and meditation into the mix with my kids.

But math? I hadn’t counted on math. This shit is hard. I’ll tell you what else is hard. Accepting my kids as-is, and loving them unconditionally. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But quite honestly, I’d like my daughter to be more organized, less emotionally reactive, and more driven. I’m the first to admit I criticize and critique more than I ought to. I’m the first to admit I ought to be supportive and patient, and patiently teach skills to foster such traits. I don’t. Because I’m pulled in a million different directions and I’m just not wired to parent in that way; you know, that good-parenting way. Holding space for my children to be who they are is difficult when I’d like them to be more, or less.

Being present with my kids is another hard thing. I know, I’m supposed to cherish every moment because time flies. Time does fly, which is why I need to manage our time and schedules and make sure everyone gets to where they need to be. I need to make sure their bellies are full and their backs are clothed and their heads are cultured and their limbs are strong. I also need to make sure my soul is filled. So we’re a little busy. I try, but I could do a better job with being present in each moment with the kids.

And my soul being filled leads me to another difficult struggle. The balance between taking care of self and taking care of the kids. Meeting the needs of the children, and meeting your own needs. How much is too selfish? How much is being a martyr and losing yourself? This give and take waxes and wanes daily, and shifts through each family member’s developmental stage. I hadn’t counted on this one. I just stupidly assumed I’d take care of the kids and make sure business got done. I had no idea there would be so much juggling and balancing and sacrificing and guilty-hand-wringing.

Providing structure and guidance and expectations without killing fiery spirits–this is hard too. Honoring these little people with bright sparks and passions and willful ways, while trying to teach them acceptable and expected behaviors is not a strength of mine. I tend to say “no” too often.

These things are harder than math. Because at least the interwebs can help me with math. This other parenting stuff is all trial and error and winging it. It’s a lot of getting it wrong. I tell the Boy that his math homework’s value is the opportunity for practice. We practice these new skills until we’re better at them. I tell him it’s not about getting the problems all right all the time. But that it’s practice, and it’s this process that’s the true value. So I’m trying to focus on gratitudes for these opportunities to practice these parenting skills. I’m screwed though when the Boy wants to take computer coding.

Posted in Mindfulness, Parenting | 2 Comments