Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Processing . . . Please Wait

You know how sometimes you give your computer too many things to do at once and you get that error message in one form or another?  You've sent it into crisis.  Or you've confused it.  Or there are just more demands than it is capable of accomplishing.

Why don't humans have a screen where we can display such messages?

I would guess we've all been there.  So much going on, people pressuring you for a decision or action, and things moving so fast that you can't follow it all.  Knowing that to just say yes will get them off your back, but will likely cause major upheaval for you in the future.

At those times it would be nice to have those words flash above your head so that others would know that one more request won't do any good, it will just make things go even slower.

But there are other times when we, as humans, need additional processing capabilities.

In therapy the word processing is used a lot.  Processing is something that therapists help people do.  It's basically a way to try to make sense of something that doesn't seem to make sense.  Or figure out why you did something -- or why someone else did.  It's somewhat ethereal and undefined.  It can be difficult to even know you're doing it sometimes.  And it often happens when other people are around and they have no idea what's going on. 

I don't think it's any big secret that I've had lots of therapy.  I've had several different therapists and their techniques are all a little different.  But the goal is always the same.  Heal whatever is broken, or learn what you need to know, so that you can find peace.

So the things that need processing, therapeutically speaking, are things that keep you from having peace.

Sometimes these are obvious things.  Sometimes they are even simple things.  Or sometimes they are kind of hidden things, that maybe you are not telling yourself, that you are afraid of.  Things you don't ever want anyone else to know.

For me, now that I've processed most of the big things, I often just have a sense that something is wrong.  I don't necessarily know what it is, but something is off.  I've learned to respect that and process it.  Sometimes I have to just let it simmer in my brain for a few days, hoping it will swirl into something discernable.  That it will congeal into legible patterns.

After as much therapy as I've had, I can do a lot of this on my own.  But sometimes I still need someone else to walk with me.

You see, it can be very scary.  And very confusing.  It helps to have someone there who can see things from a distance to help you put it into perspective.  And who comes from a different background (or education) and can tell you about how things can be different.  And who can call you on it when you try to chicken out.  And who can help you find your way out of the darkness when it seems to be pulling you under.

It's kind of like being a kid with a sliver that's causing infection.  It hurts.  You're pretty sure getting it out will hurt more so you pull away and try to avoid dealing with it, hoping it will just heal on its own.  But eventually it has to come out or it can't heal.

And it works.  It does heal.

I am grateful for therapists.  I am grateful for the incredible capacity of the human mind (and soul) to heal.

And I am processing . . . please wait.

Mornings Suck!

I'm sorry to be so crass.  I could sugar coat it.  I could say that mornings aren't my favorite time of day.  That they are a struggle.  But it wouldn't change the fact that mornings suck!  And I mean bad!

I hear people talk about the joy of watching the sunrise.  I hear people talk about that blissful time in the house when they are the only ones up, private time to enjoy before they wake everyone else.  I hear people talk about being so grateful for another day.  Welcoming it with excitement and vigor.

I hate these people; they're so irritating.

These are the people who schedule early morning games for my children ON SATURDAYS!  These are the people who decided that my kids should start school at 7:30 a.m. -- even though studies show that children aren't really awake enough to learn productively at that time of day.  And can't you just hear some snotty, bright-eyed morning person saying, "The early bird gets the worm,"  with that big, I've-been-up-since-five grin on their face?

Well, maybe that's true.  Maybe the early bird does get the worm.  But I stay up late and I get cookies.  Which would you rather have?

I can enjoy the quiet time, when I'm the only one awake, at two in the morning.  I can watch whatever I want on hulu without interruption from my sleeping family.  I can be grateful that another day is over and I didn't kill anyone.  I can revel in my internal rebellion against the clock of modern society.

I haven't always been comfortable this way.  I tried to conform.  Especially while living with my father, who has always gotten up at 4:00 a.m. without need of an alarm clock.

But I'm a grown up now.  Or at least, a legal adult.  I get to decide when to go to bed.

If only I could really decide when to get up.  I still have kids who are school age, who still haven't mastered the art of getting up and out the door without me. 

But there will come a day.  There will come a day when I don't use an alarm clock.  When I sleep until my body tells me to get up.  When I finally feel rested.

Okay, I may be delusional, but it gets me through.  I have to keep believing that there's beautiful darkness and quiet at the end of the tunnel.

Until then, mornings will continue to suck.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Politics *shudder*

I understand that politics are a necessary evil, like gynecologists.  But it doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

I remember my high school U.S. History class with Mr. C.  The U.S. Constitution was definitely the most intense section.  He felt strongly that we should not enter the world without a knowledge of our rights and responsibilities.  We pulled the constitution apart in that class, not arguing positions, just learning what it said.  I learned how the three branches of government are supposed to work together, how different people are elected, and so much more.  We put together a Constitutional Journal, with a copy of the constitution and many supporting and informative documents, for our personal use (I kept this for many years).  And when it came time for testing, it was enough to make some people cry.  About 14 pages of fill-in-the-blank and essay.  We reviewed for two class periods in preparation.  We had to write word for word the oath of the President of the U.S. and the Preamble.  It was awesome!

I registered to vote as soon as I was 18.  I voted by absentee ballot my first eligible election day.  You see, I was in a political science class and was busy on election day doing exit polling for that class.  I was young and naive.  I imagined two good men (late 80s, hadn't seen lots of women in politics yet) running against each other, trying to do what they thought best.  I imagined a respectable contest of presentation and preferences.

That was a long time ago.

Today I see it differently.  I see so much deal making, palm greasing, and back stabbing.  I understand that sometimes you have to cut a deal to make something happen.  I'm okay with that.  Give a little to get a little.  Take the bill that's less than perfect to get a step closer to what you're going for.

But politics is so visceral today.  People get so angry with those of opposing opinions.  Blocking bills and appointments just to get more leverage.  And our politicians are always running for something.  They are always worried about public approval.  They spend so much time trying to keep everyone happy that they get paralyzed.  They go into politics hoping to change things only to find out that you play the game or you go home.

Everyone has a poll.  There are numbers to support anything.  Spin is a glorious thing, a way to prove whatever you want.

I will tell you a little secret about polls.  Their accuracy is dependent on many factors.  They can be read many ways.  And you can even create a poll designed to get the responses you want (push poll).

All a poll will give you is numbers.  Let's say it is a clean poll (not a push poll), with a large sampling, and an error margin of +/- 3.  That's a pretty good poll.  But all it will give you is numbers.  The numbers are facts.  What they mean is opinion.  This is why opponents use the same polls to back up different points of view.

And they will do so vociferously.  With great volume and energy.  And frequently in anger.  This is the part I really don't like.  I do not like arguing.  I do not like the anger and disdain with which politicians or their representatives so often treat each other.

And I do not like the way close friends or family members become enemies, shouting at each other, because they don't agree.

Politics can be discussed passionately AND with respect.  It just doesn't happen enough.

And so, while I have strong feelings politically, I generally don't talk about them unless I am asked.  And sometimes not even then.  I do not feel a desire to convince others to agree with me.  I do not intend to defend my political positions to anyone.  I will use my vote as I see fit.

If someone wants to have an open discussion with both of us honestly seeking to understand each other, I am in.  If someone just wants to make their points, prove their own superiority, count me out.  I know my rights; I have the right to remain silent.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Things I Am Teaching (or not) My Kids

My job right now is mother.  I do not work outside the home.  I quit my job in the summer of 2007, when my health wouldn't allow me to both work and mother.  I had to choose.  And I decided that someone else could do my job at work (even though I loved it) but no one could take my place at home.

I do not take this job lightly.  My time with my children is limited.  There is so much to do, and I can't do it all.  So I have to choose.

And since my health went down the toilet, some of the choices have been easier.  There are things I just can't do anymore.  And there are things that are just not worth my energy to try.  At least to me they aren't.

My kids are older.  They are ages 11, 13, 15, 16, 19.  This changes things as well.

So as my own boss, I will take this opportunity to do my own annual review.  How am I doing at my job?

My main assignment, as I see it, is teaching.  What am I teaching my kids?

I am teaching (or trying to) my kids the following:
     They can make their own choices.  I have always encouraged them to choose for themselves whenever possible.  I believe this is a skill that takes time to develop.  They must practice before they leave home or how will they hold their own in the outside world?  Sometimes, when they are not sure, they try to get me to make the decisions for them.  It would be easy to do so.  But then, if it goes badly, they can blame me.  I tell them that it is their decision and they are perfectly capable of making it.  I hope they believe me.
     Feelings aren't bad.  They aren't right or wrong.  Listen to them.  I want them to respect their feelings.  I want them to know that it's okay to be angry or sad.  It's okay to be unsure.  It's okay to have a crush.  It's okay to want to do something stupid.  Feelings aren't actions.  They help direct us.  I want them to listen to their feelings and then decide how to act.
     Trust your instincts.  When your gut tells you something isn't quite right -- believe it.  Even if you can't explain it.  Even if it means giving up something you wanted to do.  Even if it might be embarrassing.  Your instincts are strong.  The more you trust them, the happier you'll be.  They will protect you.
     Think for yourselves.  Look for options.  Ask questions.  Commercials are a great way to teach this.  Everything looks so good.  But will it live up to the promises?  People in this world want to tell you how to think.  But most of what you hear is only opinion.  And guess what.  You get to form yours.  If you are presented with three options, and none of them seems right, look for a fourth (unless it's the ACT).  If it seems like there's only one way out of a situation, try seeing another.  It's okay to ask others what they think.  It's okay to let others' opinions influence you.  But the power to think and to choose is so important.  Don't give it away.
     Color outside the lines if you want to.  Sometimes we get stuck in imaginary rules.  Imaginary guidelines.  We think he have to do this and we have to do that.  But most of the time, we really don't.  You can choose to do a passable job on your homework instead of perfect.  You can choose to only give 80%.  Some jobs really don't deserve more effort than that.  And sometimes, with enough thought and experience hopefully, you can break the rules.  Especially the unspoken rules that we let decide our lives.  As soon as you hear yourself saying, "I really should . . ." ask yourself why.  Did you tell someone you would?  Is it for your benefit?  Or is it just an expectation imposed on you by your social circle?  You get to choose how to live.  You get to choose to do stupid things.  You get to choose to eat birthday cake for breakfast.  You get to choose to wear those ugly shoes that you love so much.  Don't feel locked in by the lines; consider them a suggestion.
     Serve others.  Give.  Of your time.  Of your money.  Of your stuff.  I've tried to give them opportunities to do this.  I've encouraged them to look for opportunities in their own lives.  And I've watched with joy as they've chosen to do so on their own.  Few things will lift your own burden and sorrows better than lifting someone else's.
     Take a mental health day.  Give your mind and body the rest they need.  Feed your soul.  I have been blessed with great kids.  They have really been so easy.  They are good people.  And so, sometimes, when they are beyond stressed or so tired that they are near tears, I send them back to bed.  "Mom, is it okay if I just stay home today?  I'm really worn out."  I ask what they'll be missing, to see if they are avoiding something.  I ask how badly it will affect their grades.  We discuss.  We choose.  They go back to bed.  They aren't punished for this.  They aren't shamed for this.  I love that they are listening to themselves.  And we have built a system of trust over many years.  Sometimes, the answer is no.  But they don't usually ask unless they really need it.  And I want to respect that.
     They are responsible to ask for what they want or needKid: "Mom, I'm thirsty."  Mom: "Oh, thanks for the information."  Silence.  Kid: "Mom, will you get me a drink?"  Mom: "Sure.  Thanks for asking for what you need."  This is the basic back and forth that has happened many times.  But I also teach them to use this in larger ways.  When no one is inviting them to hang out with the group or a friend has hurt their feelings, I tell them that they can decide to do without or to speak up.  I do not want my children to go through life blaming other people for not reading their minds.  For not giving them what they need without expressing those needs.  It's great when someone meets our needs spontaneously.  But it's not to be expected and lack of it is not to be punished.  If you want or need something, say so.  (But know that it doesn't guarantee that you will get it.)
     They are in charge of their dreams.  When they were little, we went through a nightmare phase.  It seemed like a couple at a time were afraid to go to bed because of nightmares.  I wanted to empower them.  So I gave them dream assignments.  I looked at my cute little four-year old boy and told him to dream of dragons and castles.  I looked at my beautiful six-year old daughter and told her to dream of butterflies and rainbows.  Their faces lit up.  I saw their minds working, painting these pictures.  In almost every case it alleviated the fears.  They were in charge now.  And sometimes they changed their assignments.  "No, I want to dream about fairies and fireflies."  Great!  And this power to be in charge of their dreams is still in play, although it's taken on a broader shape.  They get to decide what to do, what to be for themselves.  And they are responsible for making it happen.  And when they need help, and ask for it, I will be there.  I will support them all the way as they reach for their dreams.

My kids are not the best cleaners in the world.  They are not the best cooks.  There are many things that I'm not teaching them that I feel bad about.

But I believe that if I teach them to think, serve, and trust themselves then they can do anything!

So I would say my review went well.  I give myself a raise.  And my goal for next year:  teach them all how to scrub the toilet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Glory in Teenagers!

Those teenagers.  Those rebellious, argumentative teens.  It's like aliens have taken over their bodies.  Our children used to worship us.  They used to listen to everything we said.  They used to think we knew it all.  They used to want to be just like us.  Now they fight.  They argue.  They question.  They challenge.  Isn't it horrible?

No.  I don't think it is.  I think it's wonderful.  I think it's a beautiful age of discovery.  Finding out who they are for themselves, that they don't have to be the person everyone else tells them to be.  Learning to think for themselves.  And, yes, challenging everything!

For the life of me, I don't understand why everyone has such a stereotype in their heads about teens.  Why is everything they do that you don't agree with labeled rebellious?  Do you understand that is an opinion and not a fact?  As soon as you change your perception and see a desire to learn and grow and become instead of fighting your every wish, it is no longer rebellion.  It's defining themselves.  It's growing up.

I believe we get so frustrated because we sense that we are losing control.  We are no longer in charge of what they do or who they choose as friends or what they wear.  They don't want to follow our rules anymore; they want to make their own rules.

But I have news for you.  It's not our job to control them -- it's theirs!  I believe it is our job to support, guide, teach, protect . . . but not to control. 

We spend so much time teaching them to be polite.  To do what they're told.  To not ruffle feathers.  And then we expect that at eighteen they will magically be able to go out into the world and be independent adults.  We've tried to micromanage every decision for them, and now they're on their own.  Good luck, son!

Eighteen is an arbitrary number for adulthood.  The legal age in this country for various things has changed over the years.  The age to smoke.  The age to drink.  The age to be legally accountable.  The age to have sex.  These all change depending on society's current view.  Is this because one generation of children is more (or less) mature than the others?  No.  It's because adults have decided they got it wrong before and they are trying to fix it.

Do we really think that just because they are young and inexperienced, they have no good ideas?  That they can't discover new truths?

In my faith, we believe that Joseph Smith (a fourteen-year old boy) restored Christ's gospel to the earth.  That he resisted the growing push to join religion.  That he questioned.  And that he received new truth.  A truth his parents and grandparents didn't have.

It's a good thing his parents didn't write him off as a rebellious teenager.

I think there's too much polite in our world.  I think there's too much "go along to get along" attitude.  I think there's not enough challenging of the current system.

As if the adults are doing such a great job running things.

Our teenagers argue with us.  They challenge what we say.  And they question everything.  And that's exactly what they are supposed to do.  That is how they define who they want to be.  And if we can just ease up a bit and look for the glory in teens, we might find that we like them.  A lot.  I know I do.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Double-dog Dare You!

What's the difference between a dare and a challenge?

When my kids were young I taught them that a dare is just a way for someone to get you to do something stupid you would never have done otherwise.  It's often for that person's entertainment at your expense.  Sometimes it's dangerous.  And it's almost never for your benefit.

But what about a challenge?  When someone issues a challenge, it's usually something you wouldn't have done otherwise as well.  Only you can decide if it's stupid.  And they believe it will be for your benefit.

That said, I have been challenged.  My good friend, Karen at Kazzy's Ponderings, has challenged me to write more often.  She has given me the Prolific Blogger Award and challenged me to be prolific.

Write more.  Hmm.

Am I up to the challenge?  I . . . think so.  Am I willing to try?  Yes.  Am I nervous?  Yes.

My posts are long and I don't want to overwhelm people with too many.  To write more means to write even when I don't feel like it; this means a greater chance that I'll tick people off.  And what if writing more means that I short-cut, that my writing suffers?  I don't want to write lame posts.

These are chances I'm willing to take.  I do like to push myself when it's something that appeals to me.  I do like making myself do things that scare me, when it's healthy.  And I do like to write.

As part of this award, I am to award it to others.  I choose the following:

Singing Devil - her posts are not as regular, but very entertaining and well written; I anticipate that she will post more when the semester ends and she has a little break from college

Crazy Eight - she's recently committed to one a day, I'd like to support her in that; plus, she's awesome!

Wardle's Wit - she adds humor and reality to parenting (and pictures)

Open Source Sonnets - a sonnet a day, c'mon, that deserves an award

Crank Up the Asay! - a bit of an irreverent look at life at BYU, with a bit of snarkiness

Pitatewer by Beth - a somewhat cynical look at life (a girl after my own heart), with some baking thrown in

Deeper Shade of Soul - the ups and downs of being a wife and mother

These are the rules:
1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers.
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award (see above).
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to this post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we can get to know the other winners.

I accept the challenge and throw down the gauntlet to these fine writers.  C'mon, I dare you!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Tease of Spring

It's spring!  No, it's not.  It's spring!  No, it's not.  It's spring!

But is it really?

According to the calendar, yes, it's finally spring.  And for all those who eagerly anticipate her arrival it's a day to rejoice.  The long, cold, dark winter is finally over.

But we all know that spring's arrival doesn't come like the flipping of a switch; one day it's cold and the next day it's warm for good.  Here in Utah, spring is a tease.  She knows we are waiting.  She knows the power she holds over our minds and bodies.  So she teases us.

Usually some time in late February we have a glorious spring day (yes, I know it's not really spring; I'm talking about perception here).  Maybe we have two or three in a row.  It feels so good to be warm.  Everything thaws.  Maybe we take the opportunity to get something done in the yard, a little winter clean up.  We walk around like we are in control because we don't even need a jacket.  Some brave souls even venture to try shorts.

Then we are slammed with another snow storm!  Cold and more cold.  Back to the coat instead of the sweater.  Back inside.

But spring is not done with her little dance, so a few weeks later we get another false spring.  She is totally toying with us and our emotions, but we give in and succumb to her lure.  We buy it.  We revel in it.  For a few days.

And then it hits again.  It seems like this storm is worse.  It's like winter knows his time is almost past, so he has to give us one more big show.

But it is truly spring's turn on the stage.  So she gets to decide when to push him off.  She's here again.  But will she stay?

There's a rule around here that it's not really safe to trust spring until after Memorial Day, at least not if you are a gardener.  There is still a good chance of another freeze.

But for now, I'll take it.  I'll trust her.  I'll welcome her.  I'll sit in my sun-warmed car and let her melt my bones.  I'll throw on a light jacket or sweater and sit out on my lawn chair and read in the sun.  I'll watch the daffodils push their way out of the ground to offer her their worship.

And if she fools me again, I'll be okay.  Because it's only a matter of time.  While she likes to tease, spring is too much the diva to give up the stage for long.  She'll be back soon and she'll put on a fabulous show.

And I'll be watching.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm a Blurker

Okay, I admit it.  I lurk.  I stalk.  I read and run.  I am *dun dun dun* a blurker.  A blog-lurker, if you will.

Why do I do it?  I am a blogger.  I know how much comments can mean to the author.  So what is so hard about taking a minute to add a line or two of my own thoughts on the issue or my praise for the insight or just two thumbs up?

Good question.  I have pondered this.  And the answers are as varied as the blogs I follow.

Sometimes many people post on the same day and I'm short on time.  Sometimes it's because I'm not in a writing mood -- not even a comment.  Sometimes it's because I'm very snarky at the moment and don't think the person would really like my snotty little comment.

And sometimes, often actually, it's due to my nature.  I have a tendency to play devil's advocate.  All the time.  With nearly everything I hear or read.

Now you may think that what you say couldn't have another side, there is no argument to be made, it's just you expressing your feelings.  I think you'd be surprised at the things I can find to argue with.  Stupid things.  Very unimportant things.  Not at all productive things.  But once that thought enters my mind I have difficulty letting it go.  Do you really want me to comment on your post telling you all the things I disagree with?  That's not very supportive or helpful.  If the post seems to truly invite contrasting opinions, rest assured, I will probably offer mine.

I am also not one to give the courtesy comment (like a courtesy laugh).  If it comes from me, I want it to be my genuine feelings not just ego stroking.  I apologize if this is difficult for some.  There are plenty of people out there who will tell you what you want to hear and make you feel good.  I will only be one of them if the planets align.  It's who I am.

I try to comment on the first post I read so that the author knows I'm following them.  Afterward, it's usually just as the mood moves me.

So, if I've ever commented on your blog I'm probably still following you.  If I don't comment it's not because I don't like it, just because I didn't feel like it.  And if I do comment, you will know that I am completely sincere.

And thanks for all the comments on my blog.  You're all a better audience than I am.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Others See

We all project an image.  An image of ourself that we want the world to see.  We know we'll be judged, so why not choose the terms?

I wonder how successful this is.  I wonder how often others see us as we want them to.

We walk into a new situation.  We're a little nervous.  Never been here before.  Never done this before.  But we don't want anyone to see that we're nervous, so we project confidence.  Does it work?

We are asked a difficult question.  One that we don't really want to answer.  The answer might not be okay, or we just might not want to share the information with this person.  So we dodge the question.  We redirect.  We move on as if it doesn't matter, as if it's trivial and not worth discussing.  Does it work?

Our life is falling apart.  It's the worst day we can remember having.  Everything seems to be going wrong.  Our heart is breaking.  But we don't want anyone to know so we pretend that all is well.  We hold it all together in public and do our falling apart in private.  We try to fool everyone into believing that we're fine.  Does it work?

And what if it does?  What if no one takes the time to push beyond the exterior we present to find out how we really are, who we really are?  What then?

And what if our carefully crafted exterior is so successful that we start to fool ourself?

What's so wrong with being who we really are, even when it's not what others want to see?  What's so wrong with being vulnerable and needing help?  What's so wrong with being unsure?

What's so wrong with being us?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser

There is a part of my brain that will always be two years old.  Lots of "wassat?" and "why?"

So many things intrigue me.  Sometimes I don't even finish figuring one thing out before I'm moving on to the next.

A recent example.  I was walking uphill on a sidewalk.  The sidewalk, residing in Utah, had obviously shifted some due to the freeze/thaw cycle.  So rather than be flat, like when it was laid, you could tell the ends of some blocks had risen above the ends they met on the next block.  But this was a public sidewalk and needed to allow for travel without tripping.  So the ends that had risen above the others had been trimmed, shaved down, if you will, to make them level again.  I found myself fascinated with that.  How did they do that?  I'd love to watch it done sometime.  I'd love to see the machine they use to do it.

I am also always curious about words I don't know.  My kids ask, "Mom, what does this word mean?"  If it's one I'm not familiar with they groan when they hear the familiar answer, "I don't know.  Let's look it up!"  And if they get away without being forced to hear the definition, they can be sure to find it in their email.  Dictionary.com is one of the sites I visit most frequently.

I also love learning about science.  The human body:  Why does this cause this?  Space:  Scientists discover a new phenomenon.  Psychology:  They are working on the new DSMV and it's online; I can read it just for fun to see what's new!

It also happens when I'm watching movies.  She looks familiar; what else have I seen her in?  If I can't figure it out quickly, I often stop the movie and go look it up on my other favorite site, IMDB.com.  Look up the movie.  Look up the character.  Look up the actress and find out what else she's been in.  Ahhh . . . satisfaction.  I can watch the movie now.

I'm always researching something.  Studying something.

Yes, it gets irritating to the people around me. 
     "I don't know -- I'll look it up!"
     "Please don't.  I don't really care that much."

This I don't understand.  I don't understand how people can have a question, not get the answer, and not care.

But when they have a question, who do they go to?  Who do they believe is the repository of all knowledge?  Who do they treat as a walking dictionary/thesaurus/encyclopedia?

That's right.  Me.  And that's okay.  Because every question I get that I don't know the answer to is another opportunity to learn.  And I am so very curious!

Monday, March 8, 2010

On Egocentricity

I am egocentric and self-centered.  Well, duh.

I readily admit that I am both of these things most of the time.  I hope that it's not to the extent that others don't matter and that their feelings aren't important.  But I can honestly say that I am the center of my own universe.

I am self-involved.  Everything I do involves myself, so . . . how can I be otherwise?

The truth of who I am is so much more than what others see.  I live inside this shell of a body.  I cannot leave this shell and live.  So I must experience life from the inside looking out.  As we all do.

Everything I do is colored by my own experiences, my own thoughts, my own beliefs.  No matter how hard I try to understand what another person feels, it is still a guess.  Because I cannot spend time in their shell.  I cannot truly know their thoughts and beliefs like they do, from the inside out.

And I've tried living my life centered around other people, always putting their wants and wishes ahead of my own.  This is not a healthy way to live.  Nor, do I believe, is it how God would want us to live.  My life revolves around me.  God wants me to take care of me.

It is important to try to see through someone else's window.  It is important to serve and to give.  It is important to let someone else be the center of my universe for a time.

But ultimately, I am responsible for me.  For how I think.  For what I do.  For all I accomplish -- or don't, as the case may be.

I believe egocentricity is part of our human nature.  I believe it is a part that we too often work so hard to overcome that we don't see the value in learning to school it and use it to our benefit.  Like all tools, it can be used in good ways and in bad.  Your choice.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Game On, Girlfriend!

There is something truly magical about ladies' game night.

These became a part of my life many years ago, when my kids were still young.  A few friends and I discovered that we shared a common interest in board games.  Our lives were crazy busy.  But somehow, we found a way.

With much planning, scheduling, and sometimes begging we each arranged for a night off duty.  I can't tell you how much that meant at that time.  And it still means a lot.  A night when everyone you are with will be reponsible for herself.  No worries, just play!

Each game night is different.  We play at different homes.  Different people come.  We play different games.  Sometimes we talk more than we play.  But one thing is the same.  Every time.  It feeds my soul.

With no fragile male egos to get in the way, the dynamics of games change.  While we still trash talk (in a very toned down, not at all serious, way), we also rejoice in each others' successes.  We laugh at each other and at ourselves.  We can get fiercely competetive one minute and console each other the next.

And the biggest difference from those game nights with the guys -- we talk.  And talk.  And talk.  About anything and everything.  We talk about potty training and gardening.  We talk about religion and politics.  We talk about parenting and marital struggles.  But more importantly, we listen.  We listen to each other.  We commiserate.  And we love.  We love each other freely, even in the midst of battle.

Cliche' though it may be, there is power in the sisterhood of women.  And I am grateful for my sistas -- thanks for hangin' in the hood with me.