Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God grant me the strength to make choices

A Wise Friend of mine once told me that life is all about choices. Sometimes we find ourselves saying, "But I don't have a choice." Like take for instance parents who say that phrase in relation to going out into the workforce as opposed to what they really want to do, which is stay at home with their kids. The argument could be that the extra income is needed to support the family. But you could choose to stay at home. You could cut back, move from your big house to an apartment, etc. But perhaps you value the big house and trips and well, food, so you make the choice to go to work.  Ok, so getting an illness is NOT a choice but how we deal with Some choices are certainly much harder to make than others and I think this all depends on your reality. Am I making sense here?

Well lately we are questioning our choices as a family. We are being taken advantage of and we feel boxed into our current situation, like we really don't have a choice as we do what we do and sacrifice what we sacrifice in the name of long-term security. But I have come to realize, thanks to thinking back on the philosophizing (made that word up i think) of Wise Friend, that we do have a choice. We can stand up for Us, what We want as a family and make a choice. We can choose to take back control over our lives and deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. Or we can choose the "easier" path, the one where we do nothing and wait with our fingers crossed. Where every day that goes by, a little bit of our patience, compassion, innocence and confidence is stripped away.

I can choose to say NO to continuing down a path I am not comfortable walking down. We can choose to demand respect. We can decide to pack up and leave this country tomorrow. We can. But every choice comes with its risks and rewards and each of those must be carefully weighed. But at the end of the day, it's simply a choice that you make. I think making the choice and as Wise Friend says, shouting it out to the Universe, is just as hard as dealing with the aftermath. Because if your choice is a difficult one to make, you likely already know the consequences and are mentally/physically preparing yourselves to deal with them. To summon the courage to say, "That's it. This is what we're doing. End of story," is as intimidating as it is liberating.

If you're now living out your latest choice and it's making you feel a combination of stressed, guilty, overworked, undervalued, bitter, resentful, angry, lonely, sad, confused, lost, little, weak, demeaned, lied to, etc. well, I bet it's time you made a different choice. And now I hear this verse in my head, an appropriate anthem really: "We're not gonna take it. No, we ain't gonna take it. We're not gonna take it, anymore."

ps. I just found out from hubby that the song lyrics I referenced are from a song by Twisted Sister. I NEVER would have guessed that in a million years. So, how cosmic do you think it is that the Wise Friend I'm referring to has a blog called, "Spiral Sisters" and that her post today prompted this essay?! Cue that weird music that plays when something is just plain freaky.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween in Sweden: Showin' em' how it's done!

I am officially a heroine in my neighbourhood of young, hip Mommies. Just call me Martha Stewart.

Hubby and I decided on a whim that we were gonna throw a Halloween party for Little Man and the neighbourhood kiddies. I'll be honest: It was epic. Now if you were to transplant our Spooky Fest into Any Town, North America, it would have been mediocre at best. In fact there wasn't anything we did that hasn't already been done North America that is.

You see here in Sweden, Halloween is a relatively new phenomenon, slowly growing in popularity over just the past 10 years or so. Pumpkin carvings a la cave man days, 30% of any given neighbourhood actually participating in trick or treating and the only costumes you'll find on the kiddies are of the scary variety.  No Buzz Lightyears to be found. And how about going trick or treating and receiving a handful of loose chips or 1 piece of candy? Now that's a fright.

So when we announced to the street that we were having a Halloween party, well everyone was excited to come and discover "what exactly do you do at a Halloween party"? I spent the week collecting Halloween-inspired recipes from family, friends and the Net and just when I thought I'd have to break out the construction paper and pipe cleaners, I discovered the new Toys R Us in town had a whole entire aisle of Halloween decor...woohooo!

Hubby is the creative one in the family so before you knew it, we had a poor, stuffed dude being crushed by Little Man's ride-on tractor, a front lawn full of tombstones, a floating witches hat and other spooky bits and bobs.

See for yourself!

We almost lost a few little party animals, however. You see, it took a few of them a good 15 minutes to make it to our door they were so scared, having never seen anything like this before. And then there were the activities. Nothing too inventive about cupcake decorating, bobbing for apples or sticking your hand in peeled grapes right? Wrong. "Jennifer, where did you come up with the idea to decorate "muffins"? "This is so creative." "I just got so much inspiration." Yes, my ego expanded to the size of a hot-air balloon. But I had to fess up, "We just do these things back home."

The one comment posted on facebook that sent me shuddering in terror, "You have just set the standard for all future Halloween parties." F-word. How the hell are we gonna outdo ourselves next year?!

Happy Halloween All! Love Marta Stewartsson, Buzz Lightyear (he was in costume for a record 10 minutes) and The King of Creativity, my hubby.

Now to work off the 2 kilos gained in the span of 5 days...Thank you birthday cake and Halloween candy! Oh, I almost forgot Hubby's handcarved, no stencils involved, pumpkins: