Sunday, September 30, 2012

Being a Family of Agtivists

Approaching strangers with something to give them has got to be one of the most confronting things a person could do. Making eye contact for that brief second then looking down at your out streached hand with the flyer in it, willing them with your gaze to look and reach out and accept. When they do, that connection, that moment of acceptance creates an internal sigh of relief and a boom of joy in your heart. You get bolder and look them in the eye again and say "Thank you". Your gratitude tells them, "This means so much, because our world means so much, because you mean so much." We may not know each other but for that brief second we are connected and they matter to a complete stranger, not just because of their vote, but because they create the world we all live in.

My children and I loaded up on Prop 37 flyers and went to the Irvine Global Village Festival yesterday. It was so hot that my three year old's bangs glued to his forehead with sweat and he threw down his hat in protest. Before we approached I rallied the troops and we sorted out what we were going to say.
"Can I give this to you about Prop 37?"
"Do you know about GMO's?"
"Please vote Yes on Prop 37..."
"Mom, say another one..." Bodee requested. He needed to find one that was easy for him to roll off his tongue. One that he related to. He settled on " Will you help label GMO's?"
Ben chose "Please vote YES to label GMO's."
Bronson just said, "Here."

Each had their own way, all was okay. With unity in our hesitation but armed with determination, we walked through the throngs of thousands of families, shoppers, teens and diverse groups of people and began passing out flyers.
The kids lost their words at first, and then found them again. When the first person accepted their bodies sighed and they gained confidence that had them stand taller. Some Persian ladies even stopped and asked for their flyers. These kind people have no idea, or maybe they do....of the contribution they made to my sons in accepting what they had to offer. My sons made a difference, but only because people let them.

We walked through the festival passing out flyers. Sometimes it was confronting, people shook their heads NO before we could even get two words out. Sometimes their hands were full so we didn't bother to approach them. Other times they reached gratefully for what we had, trusting, accepting, and sometimes they stopped and we sensed we had a moment to share more about the issue. They listened, looked over the material, shared a story of their own and we look into each other's eyes with joy in finding a kindred soul who learns, cares and shares about the same thing. Our world felt safer, connected and stronger because someone else out there cares and shares just as much.

We made our way to the children's section and there, practically dragging and dripping with sweat, I heard my sons to the shady craft table and take their flyers from them. They earned shady craft time. Their father finds us after parking and stands in the sliver of slight coolness with them while I venture out again. He supports my passion and I love every bit of his patience.

I never used to be this person, the one with the flyer, the one who got in the face of strangers about a political issue. The one who would get over her fears of looking like a loon and do it anyway. It's so freeing to share. I feel so fulfilled when my two stacks of flyers run out and my bag is much lighter. I have shared with maybe a hundred or two people in an hour and all I want to do is share longer.
I can't wait to go to another gathering or just to stand on the street. I know now why people become activist, or in this case Agtivists, because connecting with other people and sharing about something that matters to us, is, an act of setting aside the fear and fulfilling on who we really are...beings who make a difference in other people's lives. We are all in this life together.
There are people who don't want to know and then there are people who want to know.
They may not know what it is, but they are willing, open and that openness doesn't just allow them to be contributed to, they actually contribute to others.
To those people who accepted a contribution from my sons and I yesterday, thank you for your generosity and graciousness.
You create the world in which I am proud to have my sons grow up.

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Kind of Teacher

Back to School night can be a process of mild manner greetings and yawning through the outline of the day to day activities. One might sit in their children's small chairs and rememeber what it was for us to be in school and get itchy with drudgery. We might high tail it out of there in breath a sigh of relief in the parking lot....Thank God I am not a kid...all those worksheets and the teacher's droning voice would kill me...

This week Back to School Night was different. It may be because Todd and I have really turned around our perspective on education, after seriously considering homeschooling and researching it for several months, I have a whole new gratitude for those who take on educating daily, for 35 kids not even their own. It may also be because we have a joint commitment that learning be fun, so we see it that way. Our perspective seeks out and finds the fun rather than the drudgery. It is most deffinately also because of the teacher.

Mrs. Johnson's energy and way of speaking says "Strap in, we are going for a RIDE!" then she practically shouts with joy, guffaws, screeches, mimics kids moaning, and laughs right along with us through the whole curriculum of second grade. She looks like a Commando Barbie teacher, fun yet firm, and delightful.
She tells us "My goal in giving homework is to give you MORE TIME with Them." She says this like our lives depend in it. And in a way I get that it does. We only have so much time with our kids. They are growing fast and soon they will be living away from home, in their own worlds and we will be stirring our soup and remembering how NOISY the house used to be and how we couldn't get a moment of peace to think....and now all we do is think about those moments.

Mrs. Johnson wants to revel in the moment we have now. She makes learning FUN. She puts a raw egg in vinegar and has it sitting at the front of class for days. Everyday the big exciting question is "What's happening to the egg? Should we put food coloring in it? What are all those bubbles? What does it feel like?" You can imagine the kids all standing around the egg and jumping up and down with uncontrollable glee.

She sweetly commands, before we leave the room to come up and "poke the egg". So after breathlessly blasting through all the fun things the kids are going to do this year, Mrs. Johnson waves us up front and fifty or so adults cautiously approach the vinegary egg and poke it. The shell is completely dissolved..Where did it go? It's rubbery and 2 x bigger than an egg should be. It is fascinating. We are curious about what other experiments we can do with our kids.
We are inspired, excited and have complete faith that our son will love his experience with school this year. We are also inspired by what human beings are capable of...a young Mom rallying and waking up an entire room of adults (at least my husband and I) to how really truly fun learning, "even" in a classroom in a public school can be. If you choose it. If you create it.

I approach Mrs. Johnson to connect, thank her and introduce her to my husband. I find myself excitedly telling her how we did "Terrific Scientific Tuesday" all summer and did experiments like "Will it Freeze? or Will it Float?" and how FUN it was for the kids. I see her eyes light up and we recognize kindred spirits in partnership. FUN! Kids love to learn, we agree, it's the adults who see it as drudgery. And it doesn't have to be that way. Kids want to learn AND play. I shared with her how much I appreciated being able to have time with the kids to do that after school too, and how Bodee would often do all his homework on Monday so he could play all week.
She says "That's my kind of kid."
We certainly are fortunate, because she is "Our kind of teacher."

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I express my existence through writing. I connect with what is miraculous through seeing the moments of magic and creating them in reality. I also swim in the depths of my sorrow and flail in my fits of rage...through words.
This week, I allowed my self expression to be stifled. Something happened and I let it stagnant my flow of creation. I experienced being heartbroken.

"When you are really committed to making a difference in something, prepare to be heartbroken. Because you will be."

These words came from my dear friend's seminar leader, Curt Hill at Landmark.
I have been passionately learning, sharing and standing for a future where we know what is in our food, for a future where our food is real and whole and healthy. I have been writing and speaking to complete strangers for a future where our children can have children someday, and they can live long healthy lives. I believe everyone wants that. In my heart of hearts I believe everyone will do almost anything for that future.
I felt crushed when I was faced with a no.

My dear friend shared the quotation about being "prepared to be heartbroken" this week when I shared with her my frustration and sorrow about my request to speak to my children's school PTA about GMO's and healthy food, and was turned down. Even my nine year old son was denied in his request to speak in front of the whole school about being Happy Healthy Students and eating food that supports them feeling good in school. A NINE year old wants to get in front of his whole school, voluntarily, for five minutes and share something GOOD that matters to him, and he is told NO. My heart breaks and I weep.
I shared this with him, after I composed myself, and he is confused. He is sure the Principal just doesn't understand what his report is about. He is determined to share it with him and ask again.

When I initially got the news from the Principal, I completely got his concern to not "overwhelm" the parents with issues and inundate the PTA with a political causes.... I get it still, I do.
I get that the issue of food being unsafe, especially the food the school system feeds their kids, is unsavory. No one wants to know that what their kids eat, under their supervision, is not good for them. No one wants to hear something that will require them to change their ways, to be inconvenienced. It's soooooo much easier to believe that everything is okay. And no one appreciates the messenger telling them to change their ways. Annoying. Weird. Looney.
People want to label people with passion for a cause as loons. Then they don't have to give the issue validity and actually take some responsibility. That's human.

I understand our Principal's resistance to having information shared about GMO food and the possibility of questions being raised about the food served at "his" school. One, theoretically, could connect a source of blame to him. But that blame is not exactly accurate. The Principal is not the source of the source of the food. The federal government is.
The Principal is however, the source of the source of the information shared at PTA meetings and school meetings. In protecting the parents and children from a "cause", another perspective is that he is actually blockading them from an education in ways to be healthy and learn and make a difference in the world. An educator. I find this ironic and sad. I wept after our meeting. Not just because I was denied the opportunity to share and make a difference with the PTA and my son was denied his self expression, I wept for the status of the human race....the resignation, the doubt, the fear that permeates our lives and our decisions. I wept for the barriers we create for ourselves "It's too overwhelming", "It's too hard," "I don't know how that's going to go so we are not going to try that." The source of the fears is "I fear I won't look good, so I am not going to do that." I wept for the stagnant status quo that we stew in.

It's human, however, to have the very thing we want to accomplish actually be the thing that becomes the barrier to what we want to accomplish. I get his commitment to the education he has created at the school,the way he knows it. It's a great education, it's a wonderful school, it's a thing to be proud of...not protect. Protecting a group of people is actually seeing them as "small", as people who cannot decide for themselves, who cannot intake any more.
I see our community as big. I see "issues" as opportunity. Even heartbreak.
There is an opportunity for full blown self expression, for connection, for making the earth move beneath our feet because many small voices have spoken up, stood up and are storming the status quo.

Zen Honeycutt

If you are reading this, Dear Principal, I love your stand for our school. Your commitment to our community is unquestionable. I ask you just to ask yourself,what else is possible?
And be prepared for a knock on your door from a nine year old.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

YOU Could Never do THAT!

It's automatic. The voice in my head sees a Mom with 8 kids and it says, "Oh man...I could never do that." I see a Mom friend feed her physically challenged child with her fingers, every meal, patiently. I see a workshop leader be so charming and funny with a person who is berating him. I see my husband surf the web, find a solution in minutes to something I was struggling with for two hours, and fix the computer. I see a teacher calmly have 35 kids put their new fun bendy rulers away and pay attention.
Each time, my brain tells me "I could never do that." It doesn't even consider if i would want to, it just automatically decided I couldn't.

And it it true for me. Really. I couldn't do THAT. Not when I am thinking I can't. Not when I am comparing myself to the way the other person is doing that. That voice in my head is automatic. I don't want to think that, I don't plan to think that, I can't even imagine I get anything out of thinking that.
Except I do.
I get to stay safe and play small.
The voice in my head gets to be right for one more day and survive.
That is the function of my brain. It's JOB is to have me survive. So, as a Mom, when I see something that looks challenging in the parenting world, my brain tells me not to do it. And not just "Don't do it," but " YOU could never do that." In other words, "THEY can but you can't. There is something inherently wrong with YOU. You would fail at that." The brain tells us this because human beings are crazy about failure. That is the last thing in the world we would rather do. Literally hundreds of millions have died because they would rather die than fail on the battlefield.
So everyday there are things I subconsciously say no to, that escape my realm of possible, because I see something or hear of something and my brain's response is "YOU could never do that." Done deal. Idea gone.

I wonder what I could create in my life by not listening to this voice of survival?
I wonder what battles I wouldn't lose if I stood up and fought because I can?
I wonder what I could create in the world if I wasn't sidetracked by my own brain's desire to hide out and stay small?

As a parent I met other inspiring parents every day. Parents who traveled around the world with their 12, 10 and 3 year old, living in Europe, the middle east and South America for ten months. That time my brain said "You could never do that NOW." At least I know I could do it, just not now. We know how that turns out 99% of the time..not now becomes not ever by default..

I get that I am not going to choose to do everything I see or am inspired by...but what is possible if instead of hearing that voice, telling me I could never do that...or do that now....I actually said ok whatever...What if I did?
What if I looked at, speculated and created what is possible if I did do that?
What if the world saw people, loving their enemy, caring for the elderly, sheltering the foster children, feeding the starving, forgiving their parents....and they actually said "What if I did do that?"

What kind of world could we create?

Kids create all the time. When they are three, they don't have a voice, for the most part, that doesn't say they can't do something they want to do. "Mommy I can fly! Mommy I do that! (no matter what we are doing, cooking, fixing a computer, cutting hair...)"

As a child we didn't tell ourselves we couldn't. We told ourselves we could. We learn from our environment that we can't. As parents now...perhaps our job isn't to protect them from the world by telling them they can't do certain things, but to ask them what it would be like if they did. No matter how far fetched it seems.
"Oh you can fly? Where do you want to fly to?"
"Oh you can do this? Okay I will give you this tool and you can fix your toys! What toy are you going to fix?"

When we wonder with them about what they can do, we create possibilities and connection. They may not do those things, but most importantly, they feel heard. What they want is important and yes they CAN do that.
Wondering is the ticket to love, connection and all things possible, for all of us!

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Insanity" in the Classroom

I am inspired by the people around me. Not always. Only when I listen. And not listen like waiting for them to stop talking so I can say something about what they just said but better or more or different....but listen like hearing what they are committed to, what drives them, listening for what they love, even if they are complaining.
Last night at our leadership meeting this one teacher was not complaining however. He could be, he teaches Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors in high school and it sounds like a rowdy bunch in Corona. He could be complaining about the insanity it is for one teacher to be teaching 160 something teens. He chooses a different point of view. One that empowers him and his students. He commutes from Irvine but he sees it as a beautiful drive. His students inspire him every day. He invited them to "Play BIG Games" this year and in their life and the walls of their class, rather than covered with rules and things the teacher wants to students to get, the walls are covered with posters of the students goals about graduating, their career choice, grades or family. THEIR Big Games are what they see every day and what they hold themselves accountable for.
This amazing teacher, let's give him his due credit shall we? Jonathan Smith, shared that he created BIG Games with his students and they are all inspired, he's inspired. And then he went home and his girlfriend said "I got the work out DVD "Insanity"" He said "Good for you."
He was NOT doing it. No way No How. He knows how insane it is. The the next day he shared about his day as he normally does, and his girlfriend's game, and the kids all chanted BIG GAME! BIG GAME! Suddenly he was being supported by his students, to take on "Insanity " workouts and he took it on. Everyday for 60 days these kids are supporting their teacher in playing a BIG Game. And they agreed that if he misses a day they won't make him wrong, like boo hiss, but they will encourage him and have him restore his integrity and repromise. They are learning through experience the difference between morality (the boo hiss mentality) and integrity (honoring your word). His students are up to BIG Games too, all things that really mean something to them. One girl is going to tell her father that she loves him every day. When Mr.Smith asked if ths really was a BIG game for her, and she said "Oh I NEVER told my father I love him, so yeah, this is HUGE."
Can you imagine being the father of a teenage daughter who has never heard "I love you" from her to suddenly hearing it everyday? How is that family going to transform?

This teacher gets that his workout is not just about his body however, it will improve of course, but his promise, his word means something to his students. He has it that he needs to get up every day at 4:30 am and do this workout because if he doesn't, as their role model, he is giving that girl who promised to say "I love you" to her dad every day, an OUT. So his workout is not about him, it's about the difference honoring his word makes in the world.

Now you may ask yourselves what does this all have to do with a math class?

Kids who play BIG Games in class and in life are excited to go to class, no matter what class it is. They get that THEY matter, their lives matter and they feel gotten. They aren't just a body in a chair, a statistic for the teacher to manage otherwise he won't get a raise or tenure. They aren't concerned with being "left behind" they are creating a new future. They aren't just an annoyance, they are actually a contribution to their whole class, even their teacher. They make a difference in their teacher's life. And, these kids get that when they are around Mr. Smith, they are listened to as GREAT. They are held to their own word, what they created, and they are responsible for causing their life to go the way they say so.

That's not just an education in math, that's an education on being an extraordinary human being who contributes to the world.
Here's to you Jonathan Smith, one of the greatest teachers I have ever heard of, and to all your students who are driving you to "Insanity" in a whole new context.

Thank you Jonathan Smith, for being extraordinary. You are creating a future I am excited for my boys to live into. Now we just need to share how teachers can get access to the tools you are using in the classroom to create this all over the country.
I am your partner.

Zen Honeycutt

The tools Jonathon uses in his class are from His passion is entirely his own.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why Are There So Many Kids With Food Allergies?

Have you been wondering this for years? Do you have a neighbor with a 9 month old baby who is allergic to apples,or kiwis or bananas, like I do? Do you wonder why you can't pack Peanut Butter in your kids sandwich forlunch? Grrrr...that's the only thing they eat! Or why when you go to all the trouble of making a great cake and serving ice cream or buying a stack of boxes of pizza and some Mom shows up with all her own food for her kids at your kid's birthday party? Is she paranoid? Not trust you?

Or maybe you are the Mom, and it seems like no matter what you do, your kid's allergies are increasing or flaring up more frequently, and you have to inspect everything...and you are at your wits end. Do you wonder what the hell happened for FOOD to suddenly be dangerous to our children?

I didn't at first. Honestly when my son was allergic to dairy, we didn't buy organic milk 9 years ago, I just thought it was him. When he showed up with more allergies, to nuts and ended up in ER, I thought it was genetically my fault. My tongue itched once when I had a walnut when I was seven and I thought it was genetic. But when he and I turned out to be gluten intolerant and then this year when he suddenly developed a red rash around his mouth and we discovered it was a Carageenan allergy, I really had to begin to give up my resignation and wonder what the hell was going on.
Carageenan turned out to be a food thickener in everything good to a nine year old, most pizza sauces, hot dogs, ice cream, lunch meat and lots of candy.
This was not normal and couldn't just be genetic...too many other people on the internet and at his school had the same rash. WHY was he suddenly allergic to this?
What if he got teased?

I did my research, read "The Unhealthy Truth" and learned that studies have shown and doctors around the world have proven that genetically modified foods are the cause.
The GM food is engineered with a pesticide, BT Toxin, injected into the DNA of the corn or soy which is designed to explode the stomach of the bug when it eats it. Our kids and we eat this corn or soy and our stomachs slowly errode, causing leaky gut syndrome (a hugely rising phenomena in pediatricians offices), which is when tiny particles of food escape from the holes in the lining of our stomachs and the body sees the food particle as a foreign invader and attacks it. It then recognizes this food as an allergen every time we eat it. It also makes the third generation of rats who ate this food sterile and caused infant mice mortality, cancer and reduced growth.
WE KNOW NOW. To really get the whole picture,
watch "Gentic Roulette" for free until Sept 22, 2012.

What to do? EAT ORGANIC! Eat only non GMO. If it is not organic or doesn't say Non gmo it is GMO in American grocery stores ( not anywhere else in the world by the way, we are the only ones who allow it, so the manufactuers make if cheaper for us, ,GMO and with non GMO ingredients for other countries)
What else? Heal your stomach and your kids stomach by eating mostly fruits and veges (organic) and using supplements like MSM or IntestiNew and Probiotics to restore the good bacteria in our digestive system. HEAL THYSELF with organic food. It will take weeks or months, but we can do it.

Also SHARE this movie with your friends! WE are making history together!
This is possibly even bigger than civil rights because this affects a grave injustice to all human races in the USA. GMO's are literally foreign invaders attacking us, not just on our own soil but in our own bodies.

If California gets this passed then it will affect the entire United States.
The movie "Genetic Roulette" and this information seems daunting, but what I learned that inspired me was that we have won many battles for REAL FOOD before, maybe not you and I, but our USA champions for food all over America, those previously imagined "wacky hippie types" have given their time, their energy, their sleepless nights and worn out feet up to standing, chanting, sharing, writing, emailing and posting on Facebook, every day, so that you and I can pick up a box of cookies for our kids that says non-gmo verified. They defeated GMO wheat and GMO potatoes. They defeated GMO rice! I did not know that! Marvelous! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Now we just want the companies who are GMO to say "Made with GMO food" so everyone else who doesn't know about GMO's will begin to wonder too...

Because when we give up our resignation that allergies just are that way, or cancer just happened to happen to my mom or sis or me....when we wonder what the cause is and what is possible....we create miracles, prosperity and freedom in the world.

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, September 14, 2012

Partnership with Teachers

Ben had the wrong teacher. No two ways about it. He was 4 turning 5 in preschool and the time we didn't know he had a gluten intolerance and after snack his teacher told me he would be so sad over something insignificant in the playground that he would sit and sulk for a half an hour. When I asked her questions about it, tensions flared. It occurred to me that she was making him wrong, like he "should be able to get over it at this age." and "not get so upset." I don't remember if those were her words but that's what I heard. Something was "wrong" with my son according to her. HELL no.
Why wasn't she sitting down with him and asking him about it and working it out? She said it was a rough year, there were a lot of "criers" in the class.
I was angry with her. I reacted in survival mode, all in a frenzy, and tossed and turned in bed. I spoke to the director and she agreed that it was best to switch Ben out of her class, because the teacher "just has that style of letting children work it out by themselves" which didn't work for Ben or me. So after Christmas, when he had turned five, we told him because he was older, he was going to a new class. It was right next to the other one and I avoided eye contact with the teacher. Only a mother who has had a preschooler can appreciate how much drama this is. It is like the end of the world to a mother when her child is not doing well in school. Her soul is heavy and sad. Mine was.

Then, two years later, Bodee got the same teacher. She was the only one who did five day Pre K. The only class I wanted my son in at the only preschool I wanted him in. He had already been there a year and a half and loved it. I was so confronted. OH NO. I thought. This year is going to suck. Should I pull him from the school?
With grave concern, my friend said I should. My insides felt knotted and wrong.

Then I got that I was reacting to a circumstance rather than creating.
So she was Bodee's teacher now. That's what was so.
I could create Powerful Partnership with her no matter what. Circumstances do not dictate my life. Teacher's personalities don't define my child's experience. We can be powerful in the face of anything.
So I went to the class early on the first day. I got a moment alone with her, loked her directly in the eye and said,"We have had our differences in the past. But you are Bodee's teacher now and I want you to know that I have it that you are the perfect teacher for Bodee."
What premise did I have for that? Nothing. I only had it that way because I made it up. Because I wanted it to be that way, so I said so.
She looked at me hesitently at first, questioning, body slanted away from me. I said "I mean it. you and Bodee are going to get along great. He needs exactly who you are."
Her eyes became clear and grateful. She took a deep breath and turned towards me.
"Really? Thank you. I really want to have a great year."
"We will." I declared. "And if you need anything, we will be here to volunteer early everyday."
"Oh, Wow."
"I want to thank you for your partnership in educating Bodee it means alot to me that he has a fun year and learns alot."
"Oh he will. Thanks so much" she said joyfully.
We smiled brilliant, free smiles and chatted more about Bodee's likes and dislikes. We were total partners. Connected and committed.

That year was the better than I ever imagined. We got to school early, swept and cut papers, and supported her in whatever was needed and chatted with her. I got to listen to her about her marriage dilemmas and support her through a tough time. I got to know what an incredibly committed woman she is to teaching and I grew to adore her, really truly love the person she is.
Bodee was the teacher's pet, helpful and kind. Some people had warned me, because of Bodee's passion and drive to win, that he was going to be difficult in school. That was so not the case. He did brilliantly. The partnership he experienced between the teacher and I had him be confident, proud and engaged. Had I been hesistant, resentful and fearful I am sure he would have felt that. We would have been late, not in communication and resisting school. But that's not what I was committed to. I was committed to powerful partnership, so I created it. And it was present in the room. The class was connected, warm and fun.

At the end of the year, the teacher gathered all the parents and literally cried in gratitude for us and the bond we had created that year. Tears rolled down her face and we all cried too. There was love and connection that was highly unusual. It was like we were a sisterhood.
Two years later, Bodee still asked to see her and kept her card and picture by his bed. He couldn't have loved his PreK experience more. When he went to Kindergarten he was already at the level of learning where they wanted the students to be in January. He sailed through school and is still excelling. When he has acting auditions I have no qualms about pulling him out early to drive to LA. If he wasn't doing well, there is no way I would do that.

Partnership makes a difference in much bigger ways than we initially imagine. Creating that the teacher or child gets is the PERFECT TEACHER, no matter what ( ok except abuse, I am talking about decent teachers), whether we like them or not or they talk funny or seemed rushed or matter what...creating Powerful Partnership is possible. The impact is that the kids sense that trust, they feel safe, they look forward to the day and learning from someone that you respect.

So often, parents complain about the teachers in front of the kids and they think they are protecting their kids...they think they are expressing their love by siding with the kids and blaming the teacher for too much homework or fact this causes a struggle and insecurity for the child. They feel unsafe, distrusting and resentful towards the teacher and even down right confused as to why their parent would send them to school for 6 hours to be with someone they don't like. That is the opposite of what a parent is committed to!

So LOVE your child's teacher as you love your child, and give them a chance to grow and be strong and be able to be with any teacher and however that teacher is, that they work...and you empower your child to be powerful in any situation.

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, September 10, 2012


My nine year old son and husband assisted for the Young People's Landmark Forum this Friday through Sunday. What that means is they volunteered for three days for almost ten hours a day, to support and cause a course that empowers kids to be leaders in their lives. They may not want to lead others when they come out of the course, but they know what it means to be a leader for themselves in their own life. They are no longer victims of their parents or woe-be-gone because they have to live with their sister...they are no longer fearful of speaking up and expressing themselves or of listening to others. They leave reconnected with their siblings and parents and ready to be responsible in their lives.Whatever was their barrier between them and other people,and what they want in life, is gone.

And my son and husband provided that. Am I proud? Beyond. What matters most though is what they got out of it. I will never know fully what it was, but they do. My son came home Friday after one day of assisting when he was the Taskmaster for the adults and it was as if he had matured a year in a day. He seemed settled inside himself, not like settled like compromised but settled like all the hesitation and concerns that a nine year old might have about what other people think or his brother stealing his stuff or his parents bearing down on him...all those concerns seemed to have settled to the bottom of his being, and what was left was a clear Ben. A clarity and confidence and happiness that is just wonderful to be around....magnetic and joyful.

Being a contribution to other people is what lifts the human spirit beyond survival an into elation.
My son is elated.
Today he was eager to go back to school and to share his Healthy Happy Students voluntary report and presentation to his class. Even though he is in a combo class and half the class is a year older than he, he was confident. Even though he was doing a report that was not assigned, he was eager. Even though he was speaking in front of mostly a class he didn't know on the third day of school, he was proud. The circumstances didn't matter because he was coming from his commitment to make a difference in the world. He is passionate about helping others. This is not normal for a nine year old! Or maybe it is but we parents don't even consider it or encourage it. We assume school is a drag and kids don't really want to learn or do a report for no reason. We think other people will not want a report on how to eat healthy. But they did. He shared about GMO's, gluten/wheat, red food dyes, preservatives and how they can affect kid's health, moods and focus in class.
And the kids said "Wow!" and "OMG!"
The teacher said "That was beautiful! We can tell you are passionate about this!"
When she had to ask them repeatedly to put the flyer he gave out away, and invited them to share it with their parents, I teared up. He was making a difference with 35 families. He shook his head yes twenty times when I asked if he wanted to speak at another school. He is ready to share more. My heart couldn't have been happier for him. My son surprises and inspires me.

All I have to say is if you want your child to be empowered, BE empowered. Do the Landmark Forum. Support them to do it. Assist for it. They may not get what my son got, but they will get what matters to them. They will be able to express it with confidence. They will let go of their fears, contribute to others and light up the world with who they are being. Elated and lifting the spirits of others.
And deep in our hearts, that's all we really want for them.

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Questioning Rules

We have to do it for our kids to attend public the rules. The Annual Notification has to be reviewed by parent and child, agreed upon with a promise in in bold 36 point font. We value integrity so before we sign it we really do read over it with my sons. My eldest nodded seriously, agreed without much question and assured me that although he brought a plastic squirt gun to school once by accident, he would never do that again. I adore and honor my son for his consideration of what works for everyone. His respect for school, authority and rules comes from a natural love and compassion for all people. My son will do great things with his love and compassion for the world.

My middle son however was another story. Every rule I reviewed made his eyes widen larger. Each rule was a peek into what was possible and ideas he never considered. He had plenty of questions and I really had to give up my fears that these rules would inspire him to misbehave rather than define boundaries for good behavior.

"Kids bring guns to school? Where do they get the guns?" (wince)
"Gangs? What are gangs?" (cringe)
"Prescription drugs? Why can't we take those to school?" (shudder)
"So if you get expelled-ed you don't have to go to school?" (noooooo!)
"Do I get to go to any school I want?" (sigh)
"Do they bring kids to jail? Can they watch TV there?"(God help me!)

Just to satisfy curiosity, I answered every question honestly, with the reality of the consequences, ie: "Yes they might get to watch TV in kids jail, but only a few channels and they don't get to see their friends ever and their family only once a week. They don't get to ask for the kind of foods they like, play in a play ground or park or get any kind of video games ever."
He got it, he really is a smart and good boy (just for the record his teachers report him as a "helpful and enjoyable student")... but the previous twinkle in his eye that flirted with the idea of getting into trouble had me twitch in my sleep.

As much as I dread the boundaries he is most likely going to push when he is older, I also can see the miracle in his inquisitive and rule breaking brain.
He sees rules as boundaries to break...he wonders what is beyond the NO.
He may not break the rules, especially if it is not a good deal for him, but he is fascinated by what is possible and is curious about experiencing everything.
This is one adventurous boy. That's not great news for me, I may need to get serious coaching (or write my own book on parenting teens) when he is a teenager, but it sure is good news for the world of innovation.
Innovators break rules. They are curious about the furthest boundary and then blast past it. Inventors want to know everything there is to know about that type or product, industry or problem and then make up something new. This son, if I am not fearful and squash his natural desire to be curious about pushing boundaries...if I foster his wonder in the world, will also do great things.
I also adore and honor this son for his curiosity and hunger to live life fully.

It has me wonder where I might be stopping myself by obeying rules and boundaries...where I might get curious about what is possible, in an empowering way, and come up with something new. My children all inspire me, I just never know when or how that inspiration is going to show up. Who would have thought it would be over a packet of school rules?

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, September 7, 2012

That Weird GMO Lady

I used to be angry with the hippie types outside the grocery stores, eagerly confronting me with a clip board and huge smile about a bunch of Props I was never going to remember. I would get terse and resentful. I have things to do...can't you see my three kids squawking about the grocery cart and who gets to choose the cereal? Geez. Some people....
I would brush them off and make sure not to make eye contact again on the way out. I would feel guilty and upset for many more minutes than warranted...but for good reason. Ignoring the people who were trying to better the world was crappy. I could at least give them 30 seconds of my time. But I didn't, I wrote them off as weirdos who didn't have enough to do in life, probably people who lived alone with too many cats, OCD types who got obsessed with saving the whales or where the money should go in city coffers....who has the time for these things?
I've got important things to do for God's sake. I have to get toilet paper and frozen blueberries.

I am one of "those people" now. I make time. Today was the first of many days that I will stand in the sun and wear bright buttons and talk to complete strangers about how they should vote. I am THAT person. I don't care what you look like or how fast you are walking or how many squawking kids you have (I will in fact persue you more with a gracious smile) because this Prop 37, a California bill to Label GMO's, is something that affects every single one of us, and that we can all make time for. We may not want to know about it, but if we do, we can literally be a major cause of whether or not we have great grandchildren (studies have shown that rats that eat GMO food, their third generation is sterile). We can cause that we don't get cancer (there are studies that link to cancer and allergies, weight gain and digestive diseases, read "The Unhealthy Truth" or "Seeds of Deception") or suffer from allergies for the rest of our life. If we get Prop 37 passed in California, being the 8th largest economy in the world, it will alter the future of the human race. Food manufacturers will need to change the ingredients of their food and actually make healthy food.

I am PASSIONATE about this issue. So much so that all fear, weirdness, or reasons about being busy dissapear and I find myself eye to eye with a woman who has cancer and who never heard of GMO's and promises to put a bumper sticker on her car and let thousands of people a day know about Prop 37 and saying YES to label GMO's. That moment of recognition, of her sadness and pain, of her confusion over why this is happening to her, has me ready to stand in the sun for another hour.
And when my three year old, who is sitting in his stroller playing with a monkey in the shade points out that I missed a man, I see that he wants to be a part of this connecting I am doing with people. He will "tell me about all the people" ( be my helper) and my heart fills with joy. I get that he gets to see his Mom go up to complete strangers, talk with them and leave them smiling or at least aware of something in a new way. Some may be terse, but I don't give up and sit down. I keep at it, and someday he will get that it takes tenacity and relatedness to connect with people about issues that are important.
It will be much easier for me to teach my kids to be leaders if I am a leader. It will be much easier to teach them to be polite, gracious and related if I do that. It will be much more rewarding for me and for them to be people who make a difference in the world.
I can't choose for them, I can only choose for me.

Each person I see is connected to thousands of people. Each person is very important to many people. Our health, our body is really all we have to be in the world, taking care of it by feeding it real healthy food, will impact our lives and our children's lives for generations.

Every single vote matters because every single person matters.
If that makes me weird, than bring it on!
If you want to be weird...related, connected and make a difference too, check out

Zen Honeycutt

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More Manly

My sons recently watched that hyper energetic Sponge Bob movie with a mermaid that tells Sponge Bob and Patrick (his Starfish friend, if you have been living under a rock) that they need to be "more manly". They go on a quest to be manly and when they finally get seaweed mustaches it is as if they found the Holy Grail. Now they are MANLY!
Bodee liked this idea. So he found a pen and drew a thin curly mustache on Bronson as a test subject. MANLY!
Then Bodee decided he must be MORE Manly, so he covered his face with a ink BEARD. Full on beard action all over his face. He proudly wore his beard across the street when we played in the park after dinner and showed it off to the neighbors.
His older brother cried with ridiculous authority, "That doesn't make him more manly, it makes him more KIDDISH!"

My husband and I laughed (out of earshot of course) until we almost peed our pants.
What I realized later is that we enjoyed this Manly episode of Bodee, Bronson and Ben antics so much because we can soooooo relate to trying hard to be something, only to result in the exact opposite impression.

We humans try so hard to be cool in high school, and so often our classmates see right through it and call us a dork.
We try so hard sometimes to get the right gift for someone, only to have them crestfallen and confused.
We try so hard to be loved...and end up bleeding romantic wounds that seem to never heal.
We try so hard to keep our children safe only to have panic attacks from the number of ER visits and near catastrophes.

I realized as delightful as our efforts are as a child, we often are completely blind to the fact that the very thing we are trying so hard to have happen is getting completely thwarted just by our own efforts.

What to do?
It's counter intuitive. Scary in fact. Down right threatening to our existence.
Our inner voices, the survival cave woman or cave man or committee would object with mega phones.

Want to be cool? Give up caring about being cool and be self the goofiest, loudest, bravest and boldest thing you have ever wanted to do in front of people. People will see the vulnerability in your self expression and you will be the coolest.

Want to please someone? Rather than thinking really hard and concoting schemes for days, just be chill and ask them what would knock their socks off. Give up the fear that if you ask them, they will tell you something that you cannot fullfill on, and fail. Just ask and listen and ask for more. Listening alone will have them be pleased as punch.

Want to be loved? LOVE. Put yourself out there and fall in love every day with someone or the one you are with. Wonder about who they are, marvel in their miraculous quirkiness, delight in their humaness and celebrate being THE ONE to get to be with them. Love them with a whole open raw heart, lay it on the ground before them and offer it to them. Be the one to call first, cry first and say I love you first. You will be loved when you love.

Want to be safe or have your loved ones safe? Do what people do who feel confident and RISKY! Be bold and what you want, where you want and flirt with disaster. Let your child run and climb and fall and cry. In the danger they build their confidence and learn the preciousness of their life.
Let yourself be terrified and do it anyway. The fear of safety will melt away and what will be present is the freedom and joy of being alive and experiencing life fully.

Want to be manly? Be who you are! Be a kid or be a teen, be an older man or gentleman. Be the man you are, own it, say it, express it, dive into what you love to be and be that. You will radiate your manliness in your own unique way. Being who you are, rather than something you think you should be, has others celebrate your you-ness.

There is, in our quest for who we want to be, nothing to do ...but to be everything we are.

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, September 3, 2012

Empowered Birth

Today on Labor Day women all over the USA are promoting Empowered Births. Before you go any further, if you have given birth, I request you just set aside any idea that anyone is judging how you gave birth, and also give up judging your birth yourself. The point of the birth is to have a baby, if you did that, you accomplished what you needed to do.
This blog is about what is missing in births in our modern day, and what is possible.

What's missing is empowerment, celebration, bonding and trust.

Today, women experience birth being done TO them. They are told by their doctor that they need to be induced for safety reasons that are mostly concocted so that insurance companies, hospitals and doctors make more money in a faster amount of time.
Women are induced, forced to birth the baby by synthetic chemicals, earlier than the baby is ready to be born. She is hooked up to wires, told she can't pace or rock or move ( which is a natural instinct in laboring) and, in most hospitals, cannot have a doula for support, cannot even have a bite of cracker for the several hours of labor and cannot dim the lights or play music. The birth is controlled by others and it is being done TO the mother. This is not empowering. It is frightening. Women's cervix's close up and then they are told they have to have a Cesearean.

What's missing is celebration. Women have been giving birth for hundreds of thousands of years naturally. We are alive today because our ancestors left birthing for women to do at home, naturally as they saw fit. Suddenly in the past 100 years, doctors who built hospitals needed a consistent method of income and saw birth as a way to easily fill those beds. They vilified midwives, advertised them as unclean, and doctors were trained to simply ask "Which hospital did you want to give birth at?" or just tell their patients which hospital they will go to. No choice, no acknowledgment of any other choice and the billions of natural births that happen in other ways for hundreds of thousands of years. Celebrating that women are powerful, are designed to give birth naturally and are capable of giving birth naturally, at home or birthing center is totally missing.

What is missing is bonding. In a hospital, the baby is picked up, handled by two people or more before it even gets to the mother. It is wrapped in blankets, so it barely touches the mothers skin and bright lights make the baby close it's eyes. Then before it can even nuzzle it's mother, it is whisked away to get it's foot pricked, heart monitor labels stuck to it and drops in its eyes that blur vision. It is screaming and scared. The mother, who has been induced and most likely, because the contractions are artificially forced to come on so strong, has begged for an epidural, is drugged. She is zoned out, in shock and it is not because she just had a baby. It is because the drugs have blocked her natural ability to produce the surge of adrenaline and endorphines for bonding that naturally occur when a mother gives birth naturally. I love all three of my children fiercely, but it is true that, when unhindered by drugs, you bond differently with your baby. That slow, sweet, present and immediate bonding is missing in modern day birth.

What's missing is trust. Women trusting themselves. Women trusting their bodies. In a hospital they put their hand into the birth canal several times during the labor to "check on things". Imagine the discomfort and exposure to germs? During a home birth it almost never happens. During a hospital birth, even if it was not induced, they find reasons to give you Potocin, to speed things up. I was told "if you do not diliate a centimeter and a half every hour, we will administer Potocin.That's our policy." When the Potocin is given, ,as it is in 80-90% of births now, the contractions come on stronger and the chances for a Cesarean skyrocket. This is surgery. This steals the woman's natural birth ability and greatly prolongs bonding. She is unable move and to carry her baby as she likes and begins caring for another human being in a state where she cannot even take care of herself. The constant monitoring, checking and pushing the woman along with drugs is all from fear and creates fear, slowing birth and making it more painful.There is no trust that the process will unfold naturally.

What's possible is empowered women having choices. Being curious and informed of their choices and choosing with trust in themselves. Trusting the body gives the mother a safe space. With a safe space the mother births faster and less painfully. She gives birth in candle light if she wishes, with her choice of music playing, being able to move as she desires and being a participant in her birth with her child. The birth is shorter and far less painful. She does what her body was made for and she experiences herself to be more powerful than she ever imagined. She is empowered and celebrated.

To learn more watch The Business of Being Born, one of the greatest movies ever made.

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Know Thy Neighbor

Living in New York City was like living in a pinball machine. Fun, exciting and always trying to score big. In my twenties I bounced from place to place, moving 12 times in 9 years and lived all over Manhattan and Queens. In each place I never really got to know my neighbors. And this was the norm in NYC. I only had one friend who knew her neighbors and she was an especially outgoing and quirky person. She was not the norm. She lived on the street with the Hells Angels and figured out that if she befriended them, they would look out for her and they did. The whole situation was not the norm.

In NYC I didn't get to know my neighbors, usually, because they could be borderline insane asylum or OCD or creepy stalker type and not having any connection at all was just safer. I went in and out of my apartment and was relived if I didn't have to squeeze past and avoid eye contact with someone who smelled like another countries dirty socks. I did not make eye contact in New York City. If I did it was almost intrusive or too much of an invitation to connect in a way that could be threatening. If it was a homeless person asking for money, for sure I would be out a couple of dollars (which meant lunch to a starving student) and subway ride where I had inhale their pee stench for twenty minutes. Or, in the case of my friend, one wrong look and a homeless person my throw an air conditioner at your head and almost kill you. If it was an older man, I might get groped, younger man and he might follow me for three blocks making noises about my butt. Make eye contact with a women with kids and I might get assaulted with her eyes in defense of her parenting methods and then have to listen to her yell louder at her poor kids for twenty blocks. Pre-teen boy and he might pretend to vomit on me and give me a minor heart attack before I even start my day (actually happened). People kept to themselves unless it was a networking situation or private party and some assurance of connection to sanity was present.
Never mind getting to know my neighbor. Hell no. They lived right above or below or beside me, for God's sake and if I got to know them and they were crazy, then I was stuck with this awful fear or resentment for as long as I lived there, which could be almost a year! Ugh...too awful.
But I lived in NYC for what was possible, for the growth in art, fashion, creative nightlife and celebration of cultures during the day time street fairs. New York City is the greatest city in the world, including the crazies.I knew alot of amazing people there, I just didn't get to know my neighbors.

In California, we didn't get to know our neighbors for a long time either. Sticking to ourselves, going in and out of the carport and into the perfectly maintained beige condo, was just too easy to never come in contact with anyone. Eventually, like people who have dogs, we walked around our neighborhood with our kids and were faced with greeting people and connecting. Eventually, I transformed my relationship with community, and stopped seeing the word "community" like I did "taxes" something I had to put up with, and began seeing opportunity to connect. The easy going California sun and family lifestyle helped too...I joined the Moms Club and met actual neighbors with kids around the corner from me. I began to stock my freezer with Popsicles and ice cream so I could offer it to passing neighbors and suddenly we had real friends. And they weren't crazy.
We even threw a block kids and I went door to door with color flyers I made and 80 people gathered in the center green on sultry summer night. We shared food from different cultures and our kids got to feel connected to our neighborhood. One neighbor said that he had lived there for 15 years and had never met the neighbors. My heart was full from the acknowledgement of creating connection with our neighbors.

In our neighborhood now, bigger homes with front yards and back yard pools, we definitely know our neighbors. We had a house warming party, go visit our neighbors and swim with them and stop and talk with everyone we meet. Last night we saw some neighbors down the street and ran over to greet and talk with them and I was so delighted to see them. One of them is cultured, kind and brilliant laywer, and we share a crafty sewing interest and recently had "Ruffles and Chocolate" morning, when we made chocolate and ruffle tee shirts. I see years of creativity ahead of us. The other is a newly married couple and one needed a job that my husband might be able to help with. Another is just a sweet and lovely person, and a Eurasian stay at home mom like me, and we have a lot in common around health and food as well. Another is an older couple which loves to make cookies, fly remote control airplanes and take care of our plants. Other have yard sales and are handy men. Very helpful.

I get now, that our neighbors make up our lives, our community, which we are a part of. It takes vulnerability to reach out and know them and a trust in humanity. And I find that when we trust in humanity, we are rewarded. We may get some crazies, but for the most part, we get warmth, connection, celebration and fun.

It's almost the end of summer, get out and Know Thy Neighbor! Throw a block party or will get to know a greater world and a greater you.

Zen Honeycutt