My Blogs of Note

I have a confession.  I am a stalker.
There is this mom.  Well a group of moms…and to be honest at the risk of being judged harshly, two dads  and a humanitarian aid worker that I follow virtually everywhere.

Virtually.

They write little snippits that make my heart swell or ache or fill with joy.

I relate to them in their personal struggles and victories.  I think they are all amazing people.

Courtney over at Storing Up Treasures has a Blogs of Note page where you can link up if you follow her blog, post her button and comment on that page.  It is a no brainer for me.  I think her blog is fantastic.  It’s actually my favorite of all the things I read.  I relate to her on a deep level even though we are pretty different.

I want to share with you where I find some really great nuggets in the blog-o-sphere.  They are diverse in their beliefs and lifestyles…hey! Just like me! And you!

Plus some of these peeps are my besties and some I wish were.

andrea k (blonde bedhead) 24 year old blogger, PR pro and photographer
Christianity. Feminism. Both might help us discover the best versions of who we were made to be.
Every now and then, we need a new way of looking at things. Because the world still needs changing.
(See, Christianity and Feminism can agree on something…)
where I attempt to find the words to write my way through all the good and bad in our big little days.

My stab at motherhood, marriage, faith, and life.

Two loving and commited parents who have decided to adopt. 
The Mrs.
Knowledge- a condition in which the more we know, the more we know that we don’t know.
an account of living and working around Butembo, North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo

So let me get this straight.  You read blogs about fashion, feminism, gay parents, christianity, social justice issues and families?

You’re darn tootin’!

To Do

I am still on this New Year’s Resolution thing.  I keep thinking about it. 
Hyper focus, much?
I have some strange to dos.  They are things I have wanted to do for a while now.  Things that sit in the back of my mind and nag at me.  Here are 5 Things that I’d like to do this year.

Strange or not.

1.) Deliver hot chocolate (on a cold day) or cold water (on a hot day) to random bus stops.  Can you imagine how this would make someone’s day? 
2.) There is a guy down the street who plays music on the corner to earn a living.  I would like to sing with him one day.  Who knows? Maybe it will help his profit margin.  I really just want to know more about him.  He is always there.  Hot, cold or rainy he stands their playing his guitar.  Curious.
3.) I have been meaning to try Ethiopian cuisine for years and their is a restaurant called Altu’s that I hear is pretty good.  I’d love to invite some ladies for a Mom’s night out adventurer style. Actually, numero uno could be a group outing too. 
4. ) Repel the Boji Tower.  It’s a super tall tower in downtown Lansing.  It’s all to raise money for Team Lansing.  I think living here makes me a part of the team.  You should donate to my page or this won’t happen, the city will be less cool and I’ll be sad. :)
5.) Starting this Sunday, I am going to attempt Roller Derby.  I am super excited.  I’ve already got a derby name.  I have discussed it with four other people and once I know if this new derby addiction is going to pan out, I’ll share it.  
Tell the truth.  Edge. Of. Your. Seats.
I know. 
You should come to the next derby match! I’ll be there!
Visit the event page for details on how you can get tickets….St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

A Bad Idea

I was all excited about the writing opportunity for Urban Mainstream.  I still am.  Really.

I am also worried about the weight of delving into my worst memories once a month.  Not just delving but locking myself in the same room to sit on the floor and write about what I see.

It makes my eye lids heavy just thinking about it.

A memory tonight made me burst into tears unexpectedly while rocking my baby to sleep.  It completely caught me off guard.  The tears that is.  I was intentionally remembering and forming the words in my mind for later writing.

When the sobs broke forth my two year old reached up to touch my face and said, “don’t worry mommy”.

I had forgotten that he was even there until his little warm hand touched my cheek.  I quickly brought myself back into the moment and wiped my tears away.


“Mommy’s okay. You don’t worry.”

We cuddled. I told him I loved him a dozen times and then I laid him in his toddler bed.  His soft curls, sweet breath and warm blanket a lumpy mass on the mattress.  He will remain in his bed until morning.  No one will come for him.  He may toddle across the hall carrying his warm blanket looking for the crook of his mother’s arm.  He will find no one hunting in the darkness.  The crook of my arm will mean safety and rest.

I envy him.  I am glad to provide such a childhood for him but those are the thoughts that brought me to tears.  The dangers of sleep.

There is no prettying up of my awful story.  A question is forming in my head about my strength. About my sanity. I think that this may be one of the best and worst idea I have ever had.

Please read my last post on this topic and sign up for a free subscription to Urban Mainstream.

You Can Be a Friend! Review & Giveaway!

Every once in a while, I will stand in the children’s section of a book store and browse the selections.  I will pick up unknown books with beautiful illustrations and catchy titles to flip through the new pages.  Sometimes my hands are drawn to the classics of my own childhood.  I love when a story gives me chills.  Those are usually the stories I end up carrying home to read to my children.
Reading to my children is not a priority of simple literacy.  It is an education in life.  It is a way for us all to have a broader experience of the world around us.  We can’t all be pilots, runway models, politicians or human rights activists but we can read their experiences.  We can attempt to apply their lessons to our lives.
On January 17th, New York Times Best Selling authors of You Can Do It! Lauren & Tony Dungy will release their latest children’s book You Can Be a Friend!  Tony Dungy, retired NFL player and Super Bowl winning head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and most recently a part of NBC’s Sunday “Football Night in America” pregame team has partnered with his wife, Lauren to share a lesson inspired by their family. Tony and Lauren have always impressed upon their children that a strong faith in God and big dreams are key to a successful life.
In their newest tale, the Dungys welcome a new family into the neighborhood with a plate of cookies.  Their daughter Jade is surprised when the little girl who has just moved in wheels into the room in a wheel chair.  You Can Be A Friend! will help open up a dialogue in your home related to accepting those with disabilities.  I was also delighted to find that the Dungys included in the story Jade’s conversations with trusted family members as she made some pretty intense decisions that were bound to improve her own character.  The choices Jade made at the culmination of the story brought proud tears to my eyes and hopefulness for the lessons it held for my own children.
As a parent it is often difficult to impart lessons before your child is pointing and asking questions about a disabled child on a playground.  Children are curious and they notice differences to the mortification of informed, loving parents like me.  The Dungys are inspiring parents to become proactive in their approach to teaching their children that, “God made everyone, and we are all special in His eyes. Sometimes we might have to look a little harder to see that.”  You Can Be a Friend! http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=m0bdd-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1416997717&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr will help you get ahead of the parenting curve through a solid family story and colorful illustrations by Ron Mazellan.  This hard cover issue is reasonably priced at $16.99 on Amazon and appropriate for children between the ages of 4-7. 
 
In collaboration with EMG and Little Simon Inspirations (Simon & Schuster) and in support of the Read to succeed and Write to Ignite initiative sponsored by The New Citizens Press, The Mother Flippin’ Blog is bringing you an exciting giveaway of Lauren & Tony Dungy’s newly released children’s book, You Can Be A Friend!
************************
 This review was originally published in The New Citizens Press on January 17, 2011.  The New Citizens Press will be launching their Read to Succeed, Write to Ignite initiative this year at the 10 Year Anniversary Celebration.  We are collecting gently used thesauruses and dictionaries to give away to children in the Mid-Michigan area.  Our goal is to empower youth to embrace literacy as a vehicle for a successful future.  
Visit www.mother-flippin.blogspot.com/giveaway  for more information about how you can enter to win one of three copies of You Can Be a Friend!
Tashmica Torok is a local entrepreneur, blogger and community activist.  Her blog, The Mother Flippin’: One Funny Mother, is about encouraging women to improve the world through thoughtful, honest parenting, responsible business practices and advocacy for those less fortunate.

And laughter…loads of laughter!

http://mother-flippin.blogspot.com/

Out and About

Nearly a year ago, I spilled the beans on my childhood trauma.  It was uncomfortable but when my emotions get the best of me I have to free them.  So I did.  Now the word is out and about.
I have always maintained the point of view that I did nothing wrong and so I should never be responsible for holding on to his secret.  I survived and if anything, when I announce that I survived sexual abuse, trumpets should blast and confetti should fall from the ceiling.  I am alive.  I am a part of the walking wounded but that’s the most important part of my story.  I recognize that I am a living force to be reckoned with and I am still walking.
That’s right.  MeStill walkin’.
It may not always be a victorious saunter.  It may appear to be painful, slow or a lost wandering.  I deal with my past as it comes.  I dealt with it in the way that a child does when I was a child.  I dealt with it again as a teenager…and again as a young adult…as a new mother….wife…thirty year old.
That sounds a little too simplified.  It sounds like my past came up to me at a coffee shop, sat down and introduced itself with an itinerary of what issues we would deal with during this thrilling episode of The Dirty Girl Comes Clean.  It’s never simple.  It knocks me to the floor each time. It is like a surprise shoving from behind after which their is a standing over me.  A gloating, a taunting about who I will never become because I am so damaged.
If you understand, my heart aches for you while my hand reaches out to pull you up.  If you don’t understand *sigh* the gratefulness to God on your behalf leaves me speechless.
Now. What to do with this girl’s story that is now out and about.
This year Urban Mainstream Magazine is running a Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Campaign called Unveiled Tears that will be officially launched February 15th, 2011.  I will be contributing to the campaign as a freelance writer sharing my experiences in support of the three main points of the campaign;

“To be Aware, To be inspired and To be an inspiration.”

I am not the only one who will be participating.  There will be many voices and they are looking for more to help lift the heavy veil of silence.
The idea of purpose: “The actions we take today gives hope to children tomorrow.”
I have to be honest and say that I used to take much more pleasure in sharing when I thought that my healing would be complete someday.  That delusion has now left me and I now realize that their will be major battles in a war that may last my entire life.  In my most heroic moments <~~~enter major sarcastic tone here…I rage at God that I don’t want to be anyone’s lesson.  I shouldn’t have to be.  My childhood should have been mine.  It should have been something unliftable by such a con artist.
*sigh* woulda, coulda, shoulda….My past was and is. There is no denying it, wallowing in it (all of the time…just sometimes on really bad day) and there is no reason to keep my hard won lessons to myself.
Well that won’t help anybody will it?

Survival

Writing for The New Citizens Press has been a blast!  I have been contributing a column biweekly and have started writing stories on a regular basis.  I am their newest reporter.
I know! What!?  Yep. *proud smile*

Anywho….I have this weird disease called voyeurism.  I always want to be a fly on the wall. 

ANY WALL!

Well with the exception of a few….and those typically include nudity and inappropriate behavior.

…..but I digress.

I have been given this powerful privilege.  I get to ask all kinds of questions and people are inclined to answer.  Once I have all their answers, I get to share it with you.  Some people may call that journalism or communications.  I like to call it listening.  I keep my heart and mind open to people and their stories. 

I feel honored when they tell me about their business dreams, personal challenges are allow me to review their work. 

Tonight, I am writing this post from the Biggby on Jolly and Dunckel (which closes at nine…just in case you are a full time job havin’ freelance writer and you need a night spot to write….this ain’t it people.  However, for a quick interview, it’s perfect). 

 I am waiting to interview one of the winners of The New Citizens Press Staying the Course Award that will be given at their 10 Year Anniversary Party. 

 “Stay the course” is a phrase used in the context of a war or battle meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism.

Do you know people in your life that have stayed the course pushing through, over and around obstacles and regardless of criticisms?  Did they survive disease, addiction, depression, poverty or abuse?  This life provides many a circumstance that can inspire survival.  My list is rather short here.  Were you there to watch their descent?  More importantly, were you there to celebrate their journey to eventual survival.

I am thinking of those people in my life right now. It may be time to call them up and salute their challenges.   

This is one of two interviews that will eventually be available online at www.tncp.net that I hope will inspire, encourage and motivate you in your life’s journey.

Peace and Grace,

Tashmica

Divine Black Friday

A few weeks ago someone created a Buy Local In Lansing On Black Friday event page on Facebook.  You all know how I feel about independent businesses by now.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.  It is probably not a new concept for the enlightened shopper.  However, I too have been sucked in by the Black Friday tradition by my sister-in-laws.  It became an event in commeraderie.  We all woke up early, shopped like crazy, finished with brunch and made it home by lunch time. 


This year I have made it a personal mission to limit my purchases in the big box stores and franchises.  It has been a year full of unique purchases and delicious food.  Who knew that focusing your purchasing power locally could be so fulfilling to body and mind….and tummy? When I saw the event page I decided to change the way I shop on Black Friday to fit in with my new buy local tendencies.


I was a little worried at first.  I knew that this may end up a solo mission.  The intention was not to make myself a loner on a day typically about sisterhood.  I invited some girlfriends but most declined because of other plans.  Finally, my girlfriend Natalie decided to join me for her first and last trip into Old Town before she moves away.  We set a time, we woke up, we texted back and forth that we were both running late and then we went.


We had an amazing time.


I am going to start with a suggestion for next year’s buy local marketing plan.  This is assuming that they want my humble opinion.


Do not try to compete with the chains.  Do not set up your sales for the same time.  I thought it would be cool to get up and do what everyone does on Black Friday just a hair differently.  However, with the exception of the few hardcore independent businesses I will mention in this post (Tallulah’s Folly, I’m looking at you!), most were closed.  The rest were there but the atmosphere was so dead, it took some of the fun out of it.


Upon observation, people who buy local sleep in and so do the businesses that serve them. Wonderful.  Next year, let’s do that and sit in quiet superiority over the trampled, exhausted crowd carrying their mass produced Christmas gifts. 


Okay….that’s a bit strong but I hope you get my meaning. :)


A few notes from our morning.


Natalie and I met at Tallulah’s Folly.  David was there with fresh coffee flavored with hazelnut, chocolate and cinnamon.  I found a gift for my dad and Nat found a few for members of her family.  We chatted about our questionable parental guidance regarding cussing and a colorful name for all of the business owners who didn’t open early. 


 I would share but this is a family show.


This was my favorite find at Tallulah’s.  It’s a fair trade, handcrafted bag made with recycled material.  This is made by Mielie and the tag reads,

This one of a kind Mielie product was made by Phymza in Cape Town, South Africa….creating jobs, unlocking creativity and spreading love.



Our next stop was the Lansing City Market where we enjoyed a wine tasting at…*drum roll please* ….8am!
We had a blast, bought some wine from Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery and got a 20% discount.  For a dollar we were able to try a shot of their brandy…which I promptly added to my coffee from Tallulah’s Folly.




Our next stop was Riverside Studio and the lovely Karen Nichols.  We looked at her beautiful creations and we talked about our children, bullies and how much we ache to protect our children.  We all agreed that if children were meant to deal with bullies alone we would leave them on the beach with the sea turtles and walk away.  I can’t show you what I bought because it was a Christmas gift BUT you can see some of her and her husband’s art on the Riverside Studio Facebook Page.  Enjoy.


After Riverside we noticed that the Waterfront Bar & Grill was opening up with Happy Hour specials all day.  We stopped and tried a Michigan made beer called the Black Widowmaker.  FYI, it goes well with biscuits and gravy.  We talked about our families, our friends and where we would go next.  Once we exhausted the beer and breakfast we headed over to try some gourmet cheese at Hill’s Cheese.  My favorite was a cranberry stilton that we shared with my extended family over the weekend.


It was so relaxing.





The rest of the day was a walk through Old Town.  We stopped at the new Katalyst Gallery and congratulated the owner on her beautiful photo that captured a peice of Bourbon Street and our eyes as we entered her shop.  We talked with the women of Gallery 1212 about art classes for our sons and how one harsh critique can end the creativity of a child. I never go to Old Town without stopping at Grace. We were offered a warm cup of coffee and I tried on another perfect coat.  (Hey Summer, find my husband on Facebook and tell him will ya! Perfect Christmas gift!)


AND


I got the most perfect gift for my sister (in-law) Julie.


Shhh…it’s a secret. :)


We spent time wandering around October Moon discussing how we wanted Christmas to be simpler this year.  The ladies of the boutique (owner and staff member) agreed an encouraged that our children simply wanted us.  Another couple of Christmas gifts purchased and now I light my candles with these…



I hope that you’re pickin’ up what I am laying down.  We had a conversation.  We shared our lives.  It was a community experience that we enjoyed like dinner with new friends. We bought fewer items but I am besides myself waiting for my family to unwrap their gifts.  They will all be unique and purchased only with them in mind.  I love it.  I CANNOT WAIT!


(Family, if you are reading this, can you say “teaser”)