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well, recipe Thursday of course… :)

Not sure if I’m cooking tonight, or taking one of my daughters out for sushi. If I DO cook, I’m making:

Five Spice Chicken:

chicken thighs, boneless if possible, with skin if possible
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 tsp chinese five spice powder
1/2 cup shaoxing wine (*find at asian markets, red label)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes

Mix up your marinade with the above ingredients, coat your chicken. Let it sit overnight, or for a few hours if you can. It’s still good if you only let it sit for a half hour though.

Grill your chicken, and serve with:

Mango Salsa:

4-5 large ripe mangoes, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 1 lime

mix that all up, again preferably ahead of time, the longer it sits the better the flavors mingle.

it’s primal/paleo friendly (I suppose the mangoes are questionable sugar content, but hey in my world it’s fine), super easy to make, and fairly inexpensive if you can find mangoes in season that aren’t overpriced.

And hey, guess what? The shop that carries my jewelry wants a whole line of my little drawing/painting jewelry. I wore my doggie necklace in today, and it was liked enough that they want to do a section for it. yay!

that is all. :)

~Janie

more on jewelry


So since I last posted a very silly jewelry pic of my doggie, I thought today I’d post a pic more representative of what I actually like to make and wear. I know, it’s a bit of a goofy and fuzzy picture – photobooth, and self-consciousness to blame for that. Anyhow, this is a fine silver spikey pendant with kyanite drop, fine silver textured rings, faceted citron, and sterling chain. And the earrings are little fine silver spikeys as well, with prasiolite faceted cones. I LOVE prasiolite (sometimes called “green amethyst”, but incorrectly).

I’m trying to finish a bunch of stuff up, I made an appointment with the shop that sells my jewelry just to spur me into actually getting more done. I tend to accumulate books and materials, and not make enough time to actually sit down to create things. Maybe tonight, because although it’s sailing season, we aren’t racing yet. We’re totally fair weather racers, so we’re waiting until it’s warmer and sunnier. :)

~Jane

silly jewelry

So I think I mentioned that I’ve been dabbling in making jewelry for a couple of months. Mostly I’m doing PMC silver, which is fun and has tons of potential for creativity. PMC, if you aren’t familiar with it, is precious metal clay. You sculpt it almost like fimo, then fire it in a kiln where the binder burns off, and you’re left with the metal. There are many forms, copper, brass, sterling (which is new) and fine silver, which burns off to .999 pure silver.

My weekend experiment was making a little silver frame for a tiny little drawing of one of my dogs. It’s a little watercolor (distress ink again) picture, which is then incorporated into the frame using resin. I’ve been using the Ice Resin product line, and I like it, but I confess it’s the first one I tried so I have no other resin products to compare it to.

This necklace was done for myself, not sure what the market would be like for little dog necklaces like this. I have some others to try too, like sacred hearts, little crows with crowns, etc. that I think would have a bit more mass appeal if I end up selling them. What I’ve been selling is just semi-precious gem and silver jewelry so far, because I’ve been learning how to do the resin correctly, no bubbles, drying completely clear, etc. Resin is pretty cool though, because once it’s fully cured it’s totally waterproof. I ended up putting patina on this, and giving it overnight in a rotary tumbler, and it emerged unscathed by the water. :)

grumble grumble

I spent a good chunk of today trying to figure out site elements for my redesign. Every time I get started working on it, I hit a roadblock and get frustrated. Elliott promises me that he’ll take some time to add the site elements I want, if I point him in the right direction, so maybe this weekend I can sit him down in front of a computer and everything will work right come Monday.

Anyhow, I suppose ’cause of that, today kinda sucked. But hey, it’s recipe Thursday! and I’ll give you about the easiest recipe ever in the world, which is currently on the grill at the office:

Pork chops with sage and apricot

Take some pork chops, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coat in olive oil, stick a couple of sage leaves to each side. Cut apricots in half, take out pit, also coat in olive oil. Grill. (add the apricots at the end, but they are AWESOME grilled)

done.

Can you tell I’m uninspired today? Although honestly, the best recipes are often the simplest ones. :)
~Jane

well, I don’t sound like a crow!

So I had my first voice lesson last night, and it was actually really fun. Once I got over my initial nerves, it wasn’t that bad – of course that is because there was piano accompaniment most of the time. But at any rate, I am now officially set up with weekly lessons, so yay! Yesterday was just testing my range, seeing if I was tone-deaf, etc. ;) Anyhow, it’s all happy and good and I’m SO GLAD I finally did it.

I put a couple of sketches up on twitter, that I did while in Honduras in February, and I figured I’d post the rest of that here. A caveat: I almost never draw. But then, travel sketches are supposed to be somewhat rough, right? And I actually do see some progression during the week from my first sketch to my last. These were all done with pen and distress ink stamp pads, which oddly enough are my favorite thing to use.

Ok, that’s all. Even sketching for a week on vacation made me want to take an art class, which I haven’t done in forever. I just need more hours in the day.

~Jane

today is a very good day… so far

I’m kind of bouncing off the walls a bit, because tonight is my actual first voice lesson. After more than a decade of wanting to take lessons, I finally got over my fear and signed myself up. Does that sound silly, to have massive fear of doing this? Or maybe fear isn’t the right word, maybe it’s just anxiety because singing out loud, unaccompanied by a radio is so outside of my comfort zone. But like I put in an earlier post, the untimely deaths of a couple of friends really did make me stop and consider “if not now, when?

So tonight is the night. They may or may not take me on as a client, it’s almost like an audition of sorts. I’m sure if they don’t, they can refer me to someone else, so I will try to stay positive. The thing that sucks (for me, at least) about singing is that when I’m nervous about it, I sound worse. I mean so does anyone singing, but knowing that causes more nerves and then it’s just a vicious circle.

When I was speaking to the voice coach on the phone, I was asked what exactly I wanted out of things. It’s funny, because for me it’s not a desire to be famous, to do it for a living, or anything else. I’d be happy just finding a community of people who love music as much as I do, and occasionally participating, whether it’s in front of 5 people or nobody. So I guess what I’m looking to get out of it is simply to get better at it.

This is a far cry from my daughter, who intends to go to music school in Los Angeles this Fall. Now SHE wants to be a singer for real, for a living. I think she gets a love of singing from me, and a love of performing (which I don’t have) from her father. He’s not an actor, which is sad. He actually turned down a 50% theater scholarship back when he was fresh out of high school, and I have to wonder if he still regrets it. But anyhow, she does get a dramatic streak from him. :)

I am feeling a new era of creativity in my life right now, from this, to painting, to jewelry making. Would that I could put some of it towards web design, but I’m just not feeling that at the moment.

Anyhow, wish me luck. I hope tonight is fun.

~Jane

pity the abusers?

I wanted to take a moment while I’m thinking about it to blog about what I thought was kind of an astounding thing that happened during my panel at Momentum. First, here is how the panel was billed, direct from the Momentum website:

Being the Change you Want to See: Helping Stem the Tide of Silence about Sexual Abuse in Sex-Positive Communities

Nadia West, Kitty Stryker, Heidi Anderson, Nancy Schwartzman & Jane Duvall

A panel discussion on how sexual abuse/assault/rape have been mishandled by our communities in the past, and how we can stop the silencing that goes on and create positive outcomes in the future. How can we create change online and in the physical world?

I haven’t seen much discussion of the topic at conventions I’ve been to in the past. I vaguely recollect seeing Seattle’s Center for Sex Positive Culture having a regularly scheduled support group in the past, but as far as discussion goes, there isn’t really much of it, so I was heartened to have it embraced as a valid topic, and for me it was also healing to be a part of even if I did have a shaking voice during part of what I was saying.

At any rate, I was a little surprised when about halfway through an only hour-long discussion, what came up was how to help the abusers. I understand that this is a community that embraces a LOT of practices that the rest of the world considers beyond the pale, but still, really?! In a community where people who encounter abuse are afraid to talk about it, or even more insidiously, actively encouraged NOT to, I am a little more worried about the abused at this point.

Still, the conversation turned that way. It started out with something we all knew was coming. “But what about false accusations?” I don’t want to debate the percentage of false accusations statics and reporting here. If you look online, you’ll find anywhere from 3% to 40% being quoted, depending on what study you want to point to. It’s a valid question, but it wasn’t the point of the panel. The point of the panel also really wasn’t about how to punish abusers, all it was, was “how do we support women and men who have been abused in our communities.”

It was suggested, to my horror, that we need to do more to support the abusers. To make them feel safe in our communities by allowing them to acknowledge and apologize for their mistakes, and find support in changing their behaviors.

First, I will say that negotiation, consent, and other workshops on exactly these topics, are what the community is already all about. It’s about educating how to play as safely as possible with the risk factors involved. When almost every workshop I’ve ever attended has addressed those issues at least briefly, and many classes are devoted to nothing but that, I don’t understand how it comes up here. We need to quit apologizing for the abusers and start sticking up for the abused. Most of the people I know who have stories never were out to punish their abusers. They only wanted a voice of their own, and to be believed, or at the very least not discounted, shamed or silenced.

It is my contention that the BDSM community in specific has a real problem acknowledging the fact that there are predators who use organized community events for their procuring of victims. Lots of abusers are very smart people, and it makes sense to mitigate your risk factors and if assault is your kink to go into a community where the lines get very gray. That aside, abuse crosses all realms, it really doesn’t matter your religion, race, gender or socioeconomic status. It happens.

I understand WHY we don’t want to talk about this, cause guess what? I feel defensive and protective of BDSM too. I like to play, I like to be on bottom, and I hate that it’s misunderstood. The other night, there was a Criminal Minds episode about “The Company”. It had themes of nonconsensual bdsm and “slave contracts” and other such stuff. I found myself getting very defensive at first, although I will say they veered off to actually taking time to distinguish the criminal acts going on from actual consensual bdsm activity. Sorry, I know citing a Criminal Minds episode isn’t the best example. :)

My other issue of course is that if society at large equates bdsm with abuse, they’ll try to protect us from ourselves. I don’t want to be protected, I want to have the freedom to do what I want to do in the bedroom. But I understand the impulse to protect, it’s just easier than addressing the ugly bits. Problem is, abuse will happen anyhow.

Anyhow, I suppose if I had to put it in a nutshell, I’d say this: if BDSM is going to be a legal, respected sexual choice, then we have to acknowledge that the people who practice it are just as human as the rest of the population, warts and all – and then start addressing the warts.

recipe Thursday!

I love cooking, I just set up a recipe category so I can share some favorites. A couple of notes to start with: I am SO not a vegetarian or vegan. I think there are some interesting ethical discussions, and one of my own favorite pieces on it recently is this one, by Mark Sisson. That said, I probably won’t post many recipes that are vegan just because that’s not how I cook.

I wanted to put a nice happy lighthearted piece up since I’ve been writing about sexual politics, abuse, privilege, and so on for several days. I’ll get back to that stuff, just not today. Oh, and can you tell we’re not in Ensenada? Yeah, they found someone local to do it, which makes a lot more sense than us flying to San Diego to do it. I’m sad that I am not in Ensenada, I’m happy that it was done by someone who didn’t have to get on a plane to do it. Instead, we’ll take our own sailboat out tomorrow afternoon, cruise over to a favorite spot a couple of hours away, and spend some time campfire singing, eating and drinking with friends.

Last night was only the second time I’ve had time to cook a meal since coming home from DC. I texted my one remaining child at home to ask what she wanted, and she said “spicy noodles!” Spicy noodles is a variation on a Nina Simonds recipe for szechuan green beans. It typically doesn’t include green beans when I make it.

Ingredients:

a head of garlic, minced
scallions, white parts only, minced. A couple of tablespoons. Save the greens for another recipe, don’t toss them.
hot pepper paste (use from 1 tsp to a couple of tablespoons, depending on your heat preference)

pork tenderloin
a veggie (I sometimes do use green beans, but I also use asparagus or snap peas or whatever looks good)
udon noodles
Oil. (I use coconut oil, or duck fat. Coconut oil stands up well to high heat, which is nice. Use whatever you feel is healthiest.)

For the sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp worchestire or chinese black vinegar
3 tbsp Shaoxing wine (look for it at Asian markets, red label)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (I use Xylitol to keep it low glycemic)
2 tsp corn starch (Suggestions for a paleo alternative for thickener? Email me)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

And then you:

Start a pot of boiling water for noodles.
Dice up your ingredients, mix up your sauce, have them standing by.
Slice your pork tenderloin in fairly thin slices

Heat up a wok to almost smoking with your choice of oil. Brown the pork, set it aside and wipe out your wok.
Cook your noodles to al dente. They’ll get a tiny bit softer later, so don’t overcook. Drain, rinse in cold water, set aside
If you’re using a veggie, throw it in the pot with the noodles, also drain, rinse in cold water, set aside.

Reheat your wok with more oil, and throw in your spicy seasonings (the garlic, scallions and red pepper paste). WARNING! If you like a lot of spice and are using lots of red pepper paste AND you let your wok get too hot, you make a lovely pepper spray effect in your kitchen. I know this from experience, sadly. :)

Saute spicy seasonings until fragrant, maybe 30 seconds.
Add your sauce, bring to a boil, stir constantly until it starts to thicken.
Add your veggies and noodles, so they soak up the sauce. Add the meat last, the juices will make the sauce less thick.

Done!

This is a great recipe because it’s so adaptable. Want to stay paleo? Leave out the noodles. Want to stay vegetarian? Sub vegetable broth for chicken broth, use more veggies and no meat. It’s basically all about the sauce. I figure any recipe that my entire family requests (they are fussy eaters) is one to share. And check out Nina Simonds books, Spices of Life is my favorite.

Guestblog by Vamp: Momentum

I’m thrilled that Vamp agreed to guestblog here about her experiences at Momentum too. We did split up for most of the panels, just to see more, so it’s nice to hear about some of what I missed (although I’m jealous about some of what I missed), so in a break from just site reviews, Vamp:

Jane has asked me to do a guest blog about my experiences at Momentum, and I must admit that I’m at a slight disadvantage. The conference was extremely overwhelming for me, and I’m only now sitting down to write about it.

I am still very grateful to have had the chance to travel to DC and sit in the same room with so many brilliant and active folks. Some were fairly high profile educators like Dr. Carol Queen, and others were simply attendees that were inspired to show up and listen. I was equally honored to be in the presence of both.

I wish that I could talk about all of the folks I got a chance to visit with, but I can’t (since I didn’t ask permission to write about them). So, I’ll sort of do a walkthrough of the public events that I attended.

The first scheduled performer was Maria Falzone, a comic that is known for her show “Sex Rules”. One of my favorite things about her performance was her frank discussion of herpes, which is a topic that I wish got a lot more attention. So many people suffer in shame and silence with this very common STI, and they often believe that they are the only one dealing with it. I loved how her comedy broke the silence, and I wondered if her show dealt with the topic in more depth. I’d definitely love to see it and find out!

The keynote speech was full of food for thought. It would have been hard to walk away from a discussion featuring Dr. Carol Queen, Dr. Charlie Glickman, Dr. Logan Levkoff, Audacia Ray, and Bill Taverner and feel uninspired. My own mind latched on to Bill Taverner’s discussion of the sexuality of seniors, as I often wonder how my own sexual life will change and grow as I age. I definitely heard a call for action in this area, and hope that we receive a lot of requests to review sites that are of special interest to older folks. If you know of any, please ask them to submit for review! Jane and I called Bill over to our table in a restaurant downstairs later on, and he talked a bit more about the protectionism that is often practiced in regard to older people. That reminded me of a psych class that I took many years ago, in which a specialist in geriatric psychology said that folks that work in nursing homes are often surprised (and deal rather poorly) with the sexual lives of their clients. It can become rather ridiculous, with seniors sneaking around and getting chastised for spending the night with lovers that are in the same facility. It seems to me that remembering that human beings continue to be sexual beings until the day they die is a pretty important idea, and one that could make a lot of lives better if we all just faced it with emotional maturity.

The next night I got up early and made sure to see an incredible presentation by sexual civil rights attorney Diana Adams. “Sexual Freedom and the Law” definitely concentrated on Diana’s heavy experience in non-traditional family law, but she spent time discussing the general history of the intersection of law and sex in this country as well. She went over the Comstock laws, and made sure to remind folks that it used to be illegal to discuss contraception in The United States. Heck, it used to be illegal to explain to your own daughter about menstruation (or show her a picture of the female reproductive system). She also discussed the famous case of Bowers v. Hardwick that upheld the Georgia sodomy law, and Lawrence v. Texas (in which such laws were found unconstitutional). It was a lot of fun hearing the “behind the scenes” info on the Lawrence v. Texas case, and it led to a discussion that I found particularly uplifting. She mentioned that the current political climate and scary laws happening in this country were actually offering us a wonderful opportunity, in that when someone is found guilty of breaking these laws we can actually fight this stuff in court and show them to be the ridiculous things that they are. We’ve beaten these sorts of laws before, and we can do it again. Hearing her say that made me feel more hopeful than I have in a while, as it can be easy to get lost in terror when staring down some of the new legislation.

I really wish that I could remember more of her words, as she was extremely eloquent and educational. Suffice it to say, if you have a chance to hear her speak you should definitely jump at it. I spoke to her after her presentation, and she was an extremely nice and genuine person that seems very passionate about representing the interests of folks in non-traditional families. It was exciting to talk to an attorney who was so positive about helping folks.

As a feminist, I was very drawn to a point that she made about traditional marriage. I wish that I could remember it word for word, but the gist is that the government has often treated marriage as the institution that will “take care of” women, and thus expected a lot of things to be solved with it. She said that women shouldn’t have to rely on marriage for financial stability. If a single woman has to marry for health care or financial reasons, then the government is not much better than a pimp. I couldn’t agree more.

I bounced from this discussion into the next room, with Audacia Ray. She was giving a talk with the provocative title of, “Why the Sex Positive Movement is Bad for Sex Workers’ Rights.” I’m an old-school Audacia fan, so I was super stoked to see her talk. I also didn’t understand the title of the talk at all, and wanted to automatically disagree with her completely. I consider myself very sex positive, and very pro sex worker. The idea that I was actively harming sex worker rights sort of pissed me off, but I decided to suspend judgment and listen. I really do want to be helpful, and if I was actually doing harm I’d want to know why.

Well, the talk didn’t go at all like I thought it would. It wasn’t really about the sex positive movement actively harming sex workers’ rights, but more about how framing these rights as a human rights issue (instead of a labor issue) may not be the most helpful strategy. She discussed how many groups had positive gains down in South American countries when they viewed things through a labor lense, and organized with other labor groups.
I found this a fascinating and very helpful observation, and it has never really occured to me before. Jane had certainly tried to organize sex workers in the past, but I’ve always been more of a human rights person myself. When I returned home, I had a long talk with a labor organizer about this issue. He was absolutely certain that Audacia had some great ideas, and that he’d pushed similar issues for farm workers many years ago.
I still consider myself sex positive, but I do think that changing perspectives on this issue may be necessary for real change to occur in this country. I was so glad that I showed up and listened!

After this talk, I saw Jane sit in on a panel discussion on BDSM and abuse. She has already written about it, and I just want to say that I am extremely proud that she found her voice and sat on that panel. I know that it had to be hard for everyone that spoke up, and I applaud their guts. I love BDSM, but I think it is incorrect to paint a utopian view of kinky relationships. They can be just as terrifying and abusive (or beautiful and nurturing) as “vanilla” relationships, and until we start dealing with that out in the open it is a perfect place for predators to set up permanent homes. As someone who was raped by a member of the local BDSM community, and who was thanked for keeping it quiet…I think I know how deep the hurt can go when you are not only victimized once, but twice. Silencing survivors is an act of emotional violence, and it has to stop.

As you can imagine, that was a heavy panel discussion to walk out of and I was glad that there was a break for lunch!

When I returned, I got to sit in on a wonderful talk “The Dirty Business of Sex Toys”. This panel was a sheer joy! Metis Black (Tantus), Greg DeLong (Njoy), Rachel Venning (Babeland), JD Yoder (Nobessence), and Dr. Carol Queen (Good Vibrations) told their personal stories about getting into the business. I was particularly struck by how many of them had originally designed products to suit their own needs, and I loved that! One of my passions is shopping local and supporting small business owners, but for some reason I hadn’t really thought about supporting small sex toy businesses. (Well, that isn’t entirely true. I’ve always loved small toy businesses, and I tend to recommend original and creative toymakers. Once again, if you know someone who is putting together high quality and original products… please send them in our direction!) Still, this panel discussion really drove home the value of shopping with these smaller manufacturers that really care about their products, and who are doing innovative things in an industry where they know inferior copies may be created by competitors in a matter of months. After the panel discussion, I walked up to Rachel Venning and thanked her for putting together such a great store. It was the very first place that I went into and purchased my own toys, and I am happy that I was able to have such a positive first experience. I talked to Jane about how much fun it might be to write up profiles of small business owners in the adult toy industry, and I hope that we get to do that in the future.

The next panel discussion was “How to Be an Ally to Sex Workers”. I think that this was one of the most impressive and passionate panels of the entire event, and I found myself very emotionally involved. Patricia West, Jenna Cohn, Pele Woods, and Shannon Williams put together a great presentation. I was so happy to see sex workers and SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Program) members talking on this subject, rather than someone else talking about them. (note* I linked to the Bay area chapter of SWOP because that is where the above panelists seem to be most connected) Some of the information they shared was terrifying, such as how many sex workers are murdered each year. They spoke of the memorial that they do every year, and how it would really help if allies showed up to deal with the names at the events (as they are often so emotionally overwhelmed that it is a difficult part of the ceremony for them to attempt to do themselves). They talked about messed up laws that can use three or more condoms as evidence in prostitution arrests, and how the same cities have their health departments handing the condoms out to sex workers. They talked about mistreatment from law enforcement, including direct sexual assault. They painted an image of a group of folks under siege, who weren’t as concerned about minor points of esoteric argument as they were survival. At one point, a well-known audience member (and hero of mine) stood up and chastised them a bit for presenting in a way that didn’t build enough bridges with mainstream culture or the porn world. I can’t tell you how much I love the work of the person who said that, or how scared I was to stand up and say how meaningful it was for me to hear these women tell their truth.

After this panel, I took a big break.

When I came back, I joined the panel discussion “Ironies of the Anti-trafficking Movement: How Radical Feminism and End-demand Messaging Dis-empowers Women and Fosters Sexual Compulsion“. Honestly, the folks on this panel group didn’t get enough time to make most of their points. Megan Morgenson and Serpent Libertine certainly crammed a bunch of history and education into a really short time frame, however. The take away message was essentially that sex workers don’t like trafficking either, and they want it to stop. This is best accomplished by a system that allows them (and their clients) to report trafficking without putting themselves in jeopardy. There was also the message that suppression of sexuality and a culture of sexual shame create compulsive behavior and mental health consequences. I wanted to talk to Serpent Libertine and thank her for all of the really cool videos and such that she has put together for Red Light Chicago, but I found that I got a sudden case of the nerves and couldn’t get up the courage to do it. It is my one regret of the conference, as I think she does really important work.

After that I slid into a talk that I feel Jane and I actually should have been on, “Feminist Porn as Cultural Critique.” Dr. Lynn Comella, Dr. Carol Queen, Sinnamon Love, and Tina Horn quickly cured me of my sour grapes. They were fabulous! I especially enjoyed Sinnamon talking about her experiences with different film producers, and her own desire for more BDSM films featuring black men in the dominant roles. I got a chance to talk to Dr. Carol Queen after the panel, and I told her that I often feel that I have a very unique and powerful position as a feminist. I look at porn, and I judge it. I get to say how I feel about it, and my opinion hits porn producers right in the money. I feel like I’ve had more of a positive impact here than I ever would have simply walking the streets with protest signs, or trying to get involved in letter writing campaigns. I’ve seen some companies with racist and degrading websites change their tune after they realize that we’ll call them on their stuff, and they won’t make as much money. They hear that. I am very proud of my work.

The last presentation of the day was, “Sex and Cybercrime: I Know It When I See It.” Twanna Hines was absolutely charming, and led a very intimate discussion with the audience about cybercrime. She talked about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously defining pornography by saying, “I know it when I see it.” She went over the bizarre landscape of cybercrime. What was an example of some of the strange intersections of old rules and new technology? A teenager girl that sends her teenage boyfriend a picture of her breasts might be charged with child pornography. Absolute insanity! By the end of the discussion, we brainstormed about how to create change in the world. We talked about how important it is for tech savvy folks to run for office, school boards, and get involved in community discussions on the local level.

With that in mind, I found myself at the closing remarks of the conference. Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Esther Perel, and Lara Riscol were all very riveting. What was the most important message that I took to heart? Keep fighting for more education, especially for children. Ignorance is dangerous, and you can’t sit back and just hope that someone else will make it go away. As Dr. Elders said, “When you’re dancing with a bear, you have to make sure you don’t get tired and sit down. You’ve got to wait till the bear is tired before you get a rest.”

Here is to all of us dancing with the bear!

~Vamp

on a more personal note…

I want to blog about the friends that were lost in the fire while I was gone, and how many lives you can touch without realizing it. I don’t think I even considered it until they were gone, just how many people they touched.

One of them I knew a bit better. When I say knew, these were people we sailed with, partied with, did volunteer projects with. We knew them, but didn’t at the same time. I knew him better than I knew her, in large part because of a prickly exterior that she liked to project to the world. We all knew better, but I will admit that I didn’t make the effort to get past it most of the time to know her better. As for him, you know how they say some people never spoke an ill word of anyone? He was one of those, for real. I literally never heard him utter a negative word about anyone, in the years I knew him.

He had a repressive religious upbringing, that I only recently found out about. I always wondered where he found the courage to live as fearlessly as he did, and it explained so much. He cast off all of the negativity of the religion he was raised with, and kept every single bit of the good. Not selfless, but so far from selfish. This man would give you the shirt off his back. He was in a profession where he could and did use his privilege to help people that others in his profession would never have listened to. He regularly did that. He was a part of my oldest daughter’s village (you know, “it takes a village to raise a child”) in a way that I am grateful for.

I am going to try to be a better person. I *do* speak ill of others more than I’d like to admit. I will strive to change that. And, I am going to try to live with less fear. In honor of that, I did something I’ve talked about doing for years. I called a voice coach. I LOVE to sing, I mean truly. It’s a passion, and I do it for hours a day in my car, when I’m cleaning, basically anytime I’m alone or with the very few people in my life that I’m not afraid to sing in front of. I’m going to actually finally take some lessons, because as the universe has recently pointed out in a way closer to home than has happened in a long time in my life, life is already short but sometimes much shorter than you’d ever guess. So, instead of “some day”, the day is now.

~Jane