What RAWR means to me, Aurora

If I had to put a label on it right now, RAWR would be a toothy, spitty roar of frustration. For a variety of reasons that seem the pinnacle of importance right this minute, but probably aren’t, when it comes to the grand scheme of life. But that isn’t always the case. Every once in a while it’s pure joy. Sometimes it’s pain that fills you up to the point that your head jerks involuntarily backward as your esophagus straightens to release the pressure building in your head and heart. Sometimes it’s a noise you let out when the elements descend upon your town and the electrical current from the sky catches your fingertips and begins coursing like adrenalin through your bloodstream, when you momentarily revert from human, back to creature and take off on a mad dash through the rain.

Mostly, I associate it with times like that. When I shrug off the restrictions placed upon me by the culture we live in, and let loose whatever is in my heart. I used to be embarrassed when that happened. It is, after all, frowned upon, almost always. We’re supposed to be composed. Quiet. Respectful of other people’s space, feelings, beliefs, etc. We’re supposed to be cheerful, and look on the bright side. Responsible. Sensible. Mature. Politically correct. Culturally sensitive. The adjectives alone make me want to unleash the raptor claws. The labels that come with really letting go, in almost any fashion, are not ones that you want associated with your name in this day and age. Emotional. Unstable. Weird. When I was young, I really didn’t want anymore of those connotations floating around me, as I walked through senior hall in high school.

But then, when I was 19 years old, my Grandfather died. The man who, besides my mom and dad, had been more to me than anyone else on the planet. Not just a pillar, but a compass, a shelter, an anchor, and a guide. A good strong back that helped to build the neighbors houses. A shrewdness and intelligence that saw through false fronts and all attempts to mislead. A smile that drew everyone. A presence that demanded respect. A powerful, voice that carried each and every impossible note of his beloved operas through the house and out the windows. An artistic precision as a draftsman that earned him a career that far outweighed what his education should have allowed. A temper that frightened away men twice his size, and laughter that brought them all back. He’d quit school at 16 to help feed his family in the Depression, seen the ugliest part of World War II, raised 3 strong-willed daughters, loved my grandmother with unabashed adoration for almost 60 years, and loved me damn near as much. I was the only one of his empire of grandchildren that he called for when he was dying.

The funeral took place in the big church near my grandparent’s house outside of Fort Worth, Texas. They had dressed my grandfather up in a suit and arranged his face in an expression of peace that somehow made me feel revolted. He hadn’t gone quietly. He’d never done much of anything quietly. There were photos of him from his time in the service, as a young man that I didn’t recognize, there were near a hundred people walking through and expressing their sorrow for my loss, some of them I vaguely remembered, but most I didn’t. Everyone was calm, everyone was talking about how… much happier we should be for him now that he was with God. I kept looking around and wondering why no one looked like I felt, which was on the edge of screaming. My mother, who was more of her father’s spirit than either of her sisters, but who was trapped here in the binds of tradition and trying not to embarrass my grandmother, was thanking people for their prayers, when she has never believed in God. I had to read some Bible verse at the podium that I neither understood nor accepted. I was so angry at all of these people for their sterile, composed and precisely planned execution of this ritual. Obviously none of them had known him like I had. Obviously I was alone. Obviously I was wired wrong, that I couldn’t find any comfort in what was going on around me.

I was watching my aunt escort my grandmother slowly away from the coffin at the front of the church, this vicious torrent of anger and dismay chasing around in my head, when Grammy suddenly jerked her arm free of my aunt’s, spun 180 degrees, collapsed into a pew, dropped her face into her frail old hands and essentially burst wide open. She sobbed into her dress and slapped away the hands of anyone who approached to try and soothe away her grief. She threw off the responsibilities of a respectable widow hosting a gathering for the benefit of everyone who needed comfort less than she did, and reverted back into a creature who’d lost her mate, her partner, her protector, her lover, the father of her babies, and the other half to her wizened old heart. Everyone around her looked flustered and worried, not knowing what they should do, and I was secretly glad. There it was. That was what I felt, and I was so grateful to her for feeling it, and showing it, onlookers be damned. It did scare me, because I was of course, still just a kid, to see one of the ‘grown ups’ in my life fall apart like that, but that didn’t last very long, because it didn’t take much to see that it was primal and beautiful and the most real tribute to the loss of such a great man’s love as she could ever express. That short moment, when I watched her curl into a ball and roar ferociously against the pain she felt… I will never forget that. I knew then that our spirits were the same, and my pride could not have been contained in all the oceans.

When I am too full of something to keep it inside me, I let it come pouring out, just like she did, and I know that it’s ok, because that kind of passion runs in my family. We aren’t quiet. We aren’t composed. We’re a throwback to a lost tribe of true humans, who felt what they were supposed to feel, and had no concept that there should be shame attached to it. I take it to mean I am linked through my bloodline to the people I am most proud to call my family.

When the hairs on my neck stand up under a thick cover of lightning storm clouds, I let my eyes grow wide, throw the door open and charge like a savage out into the downpour.

When I am in the middle of a crowd of thousands, and music courses into all of us like a higher plane of collective consciousness, I let the tears bounce off my face to the rhythm of whatever hedonistic beat I feel.

When someone around me expresses an “opinion” that feels to me like an affront to our entire species, and the will I possess to hold us together where we belong, I admonish him or her with sharp whips of the truth, because the “right to your opinion” can kiss my skinny white ass, if you’re using it to spread hate or fear or ignorance.

When someone means or causes harm to a person that I love, my rage defies my slight stature, and my little fists ball up ready to fight back.

When a demon (for lack of a better word) posing as a person commits atrocities that wound us as a community, I am not embarrassed to join my grief with that of my people, in hopes that it crushes the perpetrators of evil back down into whatever cracks of hell they emerged from, and simultaneously spreads the roots of healing into those most robbed of happiness by the crime.

When my sweetheart is gone and I feel like one more appearance alone in public, one more polite refusal of the passes of a man who doesn’t know my heart belongs elsewhere, one more morning waking up in an empty bed, will drive me into loneliness that I will never return from, I scream into my mattress with a rush of adrenalin alike to that of one I’d feel running for my life from hungry wolves, and I hope that somewhere in the universe, he picks up this channel of raw emotion that means I love him so desperately that his absence drives me mad.

And when I lose someone, regardless of the fact that I believe our energies will in time be combined again in the cosmos, from whence we came, I will howl like a rabid animal and scare the living shit out of every single person in a ten mile radius, rather than stuff all that pain down inside, for it to poison my blood, until a more appropriate time arrives for me to deal with it.

I inherited my RAWR from a long line of men and women who refused to accept the rules they found to be unworthy of following. It is a part of me, even when that is inconvenient. Those around me who might momentarily be pushed backward by the force of it erupting from my lungs/mind/heart/soul, are quickly drawn back toward me, in curiosity at what force this little body could contain to create such power.

Be proud of what comes from within you. Share it with the world. Lord knows, our people are asleep at the wheel and in desperate need of some LOUD noise to wake them. Maybe if we could synchronize it, the force of it could change our course. Maybe it is healthier for us not to sanitize the less than perfect aspects of what being a human means. Maybe, in the pursuit of being my truest self, and encouraging others to do the same, I will earn the pride of my ancestors and I will deserve the love I was raised with. Maybe if I RAWR loud enough, my grandparents will hear me and know that they left something powerful in me, back here on Earth. I remain ever wide-eyed and hopeful. And loud.



Eating Under the Stars

This afternoon Hubs, First Son, Small Man & I met up with a Friend & his Son (our Son’s Bestest Buddy) @ Sci-Port, our local science center.  We had a blast chasing the Boys around & checking out all the awesome science-y stuff.  Sciport Louisiana's Science CenterAfter a while everyone in Sci-Port knew it was time for Small Man to eat, because he RAWR’ed his little face off for a couple minutes.

I had been trying to think of a good nursing spot & figured that the Planetarium would be perfect & boy, was I right.  I told Hubs we were going to go have some Boob & we’d catch up to them as soon as we were done. We went into the darkness & were all by ourselves, which was quite a contrast to the hustle & bustle going on just on the other side of the walls.  It was wonderful.

I got to feed Small Man while listening to beautiful, relaxing piano music in the dark, quiet, star-filled Planetarium.  I wish we could have stayed forever.

*Ohhmm Raawwr*


To Pizza or French Fry

I have learned that I am afraid of heights. This is not some fear that I can talk myself down from. Nope. This is a shiver to my core at the realization that I am higher up than my conscious brain is comfortable with. Which is strange, because I’m not afraid of flying. I feel quite the opposite with flying. Although I despise being smushed into a tin can like a sardine, I can tolerate it because I want to get from Point A to Point B. But when Point A is on the top of a mountain, and Point B is at the bottom of the mountain, it is a whole ‘nother story.

How did I learn this fearful fact about myself? I learned how to ski this winter and by most accounts, to ski you need to go up. It’s not just the chairlift that scares me. (Each jerk and wobble sends a shiver down my spine.) It’s not just the height of the chairlift above the ground that scares me (uh no, I cannot jump and land that one.) It is the moment when we arrive at the top of the mountain and I glance down at what I’m about to ski (or controlled fall) past. It is a split second of that moment where my adrenaline starts pumping and my brain starts shaking and my gut says, “Are you freakin’ NUTS?!?! We could hit a tree or a person or fall or, or, or….” And the required response to the inner me is, “Yes. I am freaking nuts so let’s go.”

To satiate my inner scaredy-cat, I reserve the ‘right’ to go as slow as I want on my first run. I know my ski buddy, Raul, will get impatient with me and push me to go faster and faster, so I get one run to go slow and learn my way down. This usually means some hilariously sad combination of pizza-ing my way down and french-frying my way across the snowy faces. I get half way down, stop and puff that “I can’t make it. I can’t possibly do this!” Raul in his infinite patience stops and calls me out, reaffirming that I CAN do this, and have done it and will do it again. Finishing the run with a smidgen of confidence, I get back in line for the next lift up the hillside.

With each successive run, I go a bit faster. My ski’s move a bit surer. I get better at the good old-fashioned “Hi-Ya” driving my ski pole into the snow to trigger my feet to shift weight. I think in my head, “left, right, left, right” with the weight applied to each foot, sinking my ski into the snow scape and forcing my inertia left and right. I learn to feel my edges grip into the snow, and recall all the past information the snow has given back to me: how cold it is that day, if someone skied it already, how long it’s been since the last dusting or dumping, how fast I’m gliding past.

With each successive run, the hammer-nammer of life quiets. My focus steels. Movements are made out of love, with a smile. Then we hit the spot, it’s always a few stories above a plateau. Raul signals that it’s time to go 100% french fry and aim our ski’s straight down. I crouch down, letting my poles dangle behind me, acting like training wheels and keeping me grounded, and then just go. I ask for my angels to lift me on their wings and carry me safely down. Sometimes I can’t help but scream at the top of my lungs an “AYYYEEEEEEEEEE” as I zoom down the hillside faster than the speed limit in most towns. Digging my feet in and slowing down I marvel at the adrenaline and feat I just accomplished. Suddenly feeling more conservative, I slow down as we come back to the lift’s line.

Then it’s our turn to get swept off our feet, turbulently floated up the mountain to do it all again. Seriously, all of it. Even the literal shaking in my boots part. Yet I keep going down and getting back on the lift to do it again. I am afraid of heights, and yet this force inside me compels me to follow Raul and learn the ways of the ski bunny. For me, the best way to describe this pull towards scaring myself silly is my RAWR. My RAWR longs for those AYYYYEEEE runs. Longs to turn off the nattering brain and go fast. So, in spite of my fearful side, I ski to RAWR.

For a ski noob interested in finding their inner Ski RAWR here are some lessons I’ve learned:

-Don’t leave for the mountain during a snowstorm. It will be great skiing on the slopes, but cars won’t fare as well on the roads.

-Decent gear matters. Did you know you can rent skis, boots and poles for the whole season, and take them with you to any mountain? Then you’re committed for the season with no long term commitment! The more you go, the cheaper your investment becomes. We got ours here.

-Now that I know I like skiing, next year I may buy boots, and rent the rest. Ski’s come and go but what’s on your tootsie matters most. If you rent, get insoles specific to your feet to ensure a full day of skiing comfort. When I buy boots, they will be something like these. (the faux fur is so soft and yummy!)

-Ski Goggles are a must. You want them fairly free of scratches and smudges so your line of sight to safety is clear. These are on my wish-list for next year. I love the low profile edges, key to a noob staying out of other’s paths.

-Night skiing is a deal! We are lucky to live within an hour of our nearest ski slopes, so when winter is pouring down on Seattle, we book it up to Snoqualmie for some after-work slopes time. After playing hard in the snow, we come home exhausted and ready to work hard the next day.

-Find a tradition you can do after each trip. We like to drink hot chocolate after a good day of skiing and talk about the day’s highlights. If you need some mood music for the drive, check out the Head and the Heart. #7, Lost in My Mind is one of our favorites.

-and lastly…  don’t be afraid to go high or fast. It can be fun, just trust yourself.



For someone who lives in the greater Seattle area, I am an anomaly in that I do not drink coffee. There is Starbucks and Tullys and Peet’s, Oh My! (oh my because there’s so many more!)  I’ve learned to tolerate the smell but the taste still gets me every time. No mocha, no thank you.

Now, this does not mean I do not need help waking up in the morning. I have never been a morning person either. A frustrating combination to live with when you’re 16. It has taken many years beyond 16 to gain a few tricks to help me wake up and feel motivated. Below are the suggestions worthy of a rawr.

1. My first go-to is the shower. The warm, steamy shower. The quality of the shower experience depends on a few factors such as the shower head, the surface under your feet, the space for your elbows and most importantly, the time span of hot water. Oh, and there’s a routine. The graphic below illustrates just so perfectly a typical morning.
Unfortunately, if your hot water tank is not large enough, you get stopped at step 4. Investing in a tankless water heater is like a bottomless cup of coffee that is always hot and fresh.

2. When the shower just isn’t enough, I turn to a cup of hot water and lemon juice. Yup, it is that simple. A cup with a handle, a kettle or hot water dispenser and one lemon is all you need. Slice the lemon in half, put it in a bag or container and stash in the fridge for your week. Squeeze several drops of lemon into your water and feel your snotty self dissolve away.

3. If I’m ever so blessed to have sunshine in the morning (remember, Seattle is gray and cloudy), that  sparkling ray of sunshine is my last ray of hope to wake up with a smile. Just recently science is proving that humans need a certain amount of daylight (with its complex colors and varying intensities) to sleep well at night and feel good in the day. Daylight is crucial to balancing our circadian systems and maintaining good health. Even 15 minutes of direct sunlight can help you sleep better at night, so it truly is worth it to stop, take a break and get outside.


What RAWR means to me, Erin

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.- Bruce Lee

If you had met me at age 20 you would have said, “The Rawr is strong with that one.” I was passionate and driven with a strong sense of self. I lived, laughed, and loved to the max. In fact, my husband often bragged to people that my fiery disposition was one of the reasons he fell in love with me. I was unapologetically me and damn proud, and I’m sure I couldn’t imagine a time where that wouldn’t be true.

Of course, I didn’t know that like most adults life would start to happen at an alarming rate. Long hours of interning, commuting, and working followed by long hours of being a mom and wife were covertly dampening my spark. Most of the time I don’t think I even noticed, and when I did I would just tell myself that I would find time to feed my passions later.

Fast forward to me at age 28: Separated from my husband and living in my friend’s spare room with my 2-year-old son, and soon to find out that I was pregnant with another. I was broken and sad, and I could not understand how my life got to such a point. I grieved my marriage and felt absolutely powerless to save it. I would stand on the porch dropping off my son, and wonder how I could struggle to find words with a man I had shared my entire adult life with. Of course, what words we did find were often screamed at each other and punctuated with cursing and doors slamming. It felt so chaotic, so out of control. I wanted to be happy, but I was afraid of what that might mean. I felt the need to Rawr way down deep, but it never managed to make it out into the world without being drowned by tears.

And then my Rawr light-bulb moment happened. My husband and I were reeling from yet another knock-down, drag-out fight when he called me. I found the words “I want a divorce” coming out of my mouth. In the moment of silence that followed I think we both realized that I wasn’t bluffing or speaking in anger. I meant it. The strangest thing is that I always assumed speaking those words would be devastating and life shattering. Instead I found myself feeling somehow liberated. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was making a choice based on what I wanted and needed, and suddenly I could breathe again. My Rawr had finally bubbled up to the surface. That’s when the truth hit me; if I wanted to be happy, I needed to be true to myself again. No more fear, no more people pleasing, and no more burying my needs and passions in favor of the needs of others.

So I started to live for me. I reconnected with friends I had neglected, I listened to old albums I hadn’t dusted off since college, and I started to find opportunities to really live. I was rebuilding me, and it felt so damn good. And along the way I somehow found myself reconnecting with my husband. We took baby steps at first, and slowly trust and communication started to form again. What developed was a commitment from both of us to work on saving our marriage, but to equally work on ourselves. It wasn’t going to be enough to fight for the bigger picture if the smaller pieces weren’t healthy and happy.

The icing on my Rawr rediscovery cake was discovering roller derby. I dove in and found myself surrounded by strong, determined, passionate women who were excited to have me as part of their sisterhood. I discovered that I could be “Erin- wife and mother of 2,” but that I could also be “Shove & Tell, #22, the bringer of merciless low blocks.” It felt amazing to rediscover the athletic, fierce self that I thought was long buried in my youth.

In the past year I have lived, laughed, and loved so hard. I found my passion and spark again, and this time it’s not something I take for granted. I know it’s a fire that needs to be fed as often as I can. So I love my children fiercely and allow myself to be silly and fun, I connect with my husband and let myself be vulnerable and in love, I rock out to good music, I connect with friends, and I unleash my roller derby bad-ass whenever possible. I always thought I would grieve the end of my 20s as the end of the best years of my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the best is yet to come.

#Erin (aka Shove & Tell #22)

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