Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Expressing Ones Self

I was reading through some recent facebook friends posts, twitter posts and blogs I subscribe to and it made me think about what I write and how I communicate. I paused and asked myself “are you a thoughtful communicator?”

Arianna Huffington said, "Self-expression is the new entertainment. This is why millions of people blog.”

Having a 13-year-old son who is all about self-expression I have started reminding him of something I heard a long time ago. Before you broadcast the first thing that comes into your head ask yourself these 3 questions.
Is it true?
                            Is it necessary?
                                                      Is it kind?

Too often the statement that is screaming to get out of our heads may be true and necessary but it is certainly not kind. What do you do then? If you are wise, you let it take another spin on the “filter train” to remove the harshness of your words like an oil filter removes the grime from the oil that keeps our cars running smoothly. Sometime back a person received an accounts payable statement from our company. Not having a clear understanding they sent back a seething email full of misunderstanding, accusations and venom. After a thorough explanation to what the statement was for, the person sent back a very kind apology. The fact that they didn’t have enough information and understanding was easily remedied with a simple explanation. The fact that they spewed ugliness cannot be easily forgotten. This person, who is generally a kind and a very bright individual, is thought of differently now. They could have held off sending the email, read it one more time, gave it a bit more thought and asked for an explanation rather than telling us off.

It has been said that some just like to hear themselves talk. It doesn’t matter what they are saying as long as they are the person with the floor. Watch any political debate and we see this played out.  But I know people whom that could be said of and it spurs me to be acutely aware of what I say.  For some more than others it is a necessity to speak out, speak loud and speak often. We all have the need to be heard, understood and acknowledged. I have said this before and will say it again because it is true and often ignored.  But sometimes when those needs are not being met we tend to sensationalize our statements to gain the attention of another who we want desperately to hear, understand and acknowledge us.

Reading twitter posts, facebook friend’s entries and blogs has kept me more informed of things I never dreamt possible. I probably spend more time than I should. People fascinate me and learning inspires me. But occasionally I read something that doesn’t sit well with me and I choose to take myself out of the author’s sphere of influence. With family, friends and associates who we interact with every day we can’t always choose to disassociate with them. It then takes a special grace to then say only what is true, necessary and kind.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pumps and Pearls Not Required

Saturday I needed to clean house. On any given day at any given time I need to clean one or every part of the house. I had my list made of what were priorities to get done. So I started out with a load of laundry in the washing machine and from there you could find me vacuuming, mopping, back to laundry, cleaning the bathroom, baking muffins, although not at the same time as cleaning the bathroom, dusting, more vacuuming (you know we have 2 black fluffy pets), more laundry, general tidying of misplaced items, shampooing a throw rug, giving my children my undivided attention and was warm and affectionate to all. Okay that last part? Not so much.
As I review the list I feel quite accomplished until I remember I didn’t get 2 out of 3 bathrooms cleaned (although I delegated one of them to the kids to do), didn’t take library books back which means I didn’t take the recycling to the community bins, still need to wash bedding, have not a clue what we will be eating tomorrow or any other day next week. Taxes, bills, filing, etc etc there is still so much more that I should, could and need to get done. That’s when it hit me, I need is a 1950’s stereotypical style housewife.

I wasn’t born until 1960; though nothing much had changed in the early 1960’s with respect to the role of women in the home. Just look at the TV role models. Margaret Anderson from Father Knows Best, Donna Stone from the Donna Reed Show or how about June Cleaver from Leave It To Beaver. Those women had homemaking down to an art form. My personal favorite though was Laura Petrie from the Dick Van Dyke show. She still kept things running smoothly at home although there were the occasional mishaps. A bit more real woman and slightly less wonder woman.

How would life be different for the 3 of us at 1929 if every day there was someone devoted to the care and keeping of home, family and community? For one thing, I doubt a 1950’s housewife would ever have to do a load of laundry at 5:30 in the morning so her son would have a clean school uniform that day; stop by the store to grab some convenience item dinner because there is nothing to eat at home; search high and low for an insurance bill that should have been paid yesterday; put wrinkled pants in the dryer with a damp towel because there is no time to iron; pour bleach in the toilet until there is time to properly clean it (whenever that may be); use body soap for shampoo because she forgot to get any at the store the last 3 times she was there; leave a sink full of dirty dishes; drop into bed without washing her face or brushing her teeth because she can’t stand up for another minute; miss an appointment; fail to get to an appointment on time… Oh no, the 1950’s housewife would never do any of the above and I have done all of the above and more, which is why I think I need a housewife.

Over lunch today I steered the conversation with my mom and dad to this topic. I asked my mom, because she was a 1950’s housewife, about her life then. She said she knew where everything in the house was all the time. Every year she cleaned out every drawer and cabinet. I guess spring cleaning actually meant what it implies. Friday was house cleaning day and it was done without fail. She grocery shopped, with a list and planned menus once a week for the whole week. I have no memories of her frantically trying to find an overdue library book or in the middle of making cookies and having to run to the store for butter. Even after she started working a job outside of the home the habits and organizational skills she developed didn’t miss a beat. Instead of house cleaning on Friday, it was moved to Saturday as was grocery shopping. She may disagree with me but I am pretty sure she still knows where everything in her house is. Heck I call her and ask her if she knows where stuff in my house is and she usually does. I think she has some kind of magical powers that she didn’t pass on to me. She says she doesn’t clean house like she used to but it looks clean and tidy to me.

Eventually when my mom worked outside the home full time my sister and I were responsible for cooking dinner some evenings. We went to the grocery store to do the weekly shopping. Saturday was cleaning day and the duties were divided up amongst us all (I have a picture in my mind of my dad vacuuming). Now, the children at 1929 do help out. Allison grocery shops, will put dirty clothes in the washing machine, cooks and other things to help but she also works and goes to school (taking a crazy number of hours this semester too). Drew’s consistent chore is cleaning out the dishwasher and walking Kiva in the mornings. There are a couple others that I admit, I am just not as good at enforcing. When I get home the last thing I want to do is to do housework so consequently, I don’t. Granted, I could work on being more organized. Really I have the books. I have watched the shows but dog gone it I just don’t do it. But I do love making a list though.

I know, not every household ran like clockwork in the 1950’s any more than everyone in the 1960’s was a hippie or 1920’s a flapper. Nonetheless, if anyone knows where I can get a June Cleaver to run the day to day management of my home, please send them on over. Pumps and pearls not required.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lessons from Rockin Robin and Friends

Every morning, depending on my route after I drop Drew off at school, I drive under an umbrella of trees where a multitude of birds reside. The sound is simply quite heavenly. All the chirping, singing and chattering with a bit of squawking is a harmonious staccato of loud and soft, high and low, strong and weak. One of the fascinating things is that it doesn't matter if it is raining or if the sky is clear, the birds are there making their sweet sounds.

This morning as I was driving and the sound was incredibly loud I got to thinking about the birds that live there. I thought about the verse in Matthew 6:26 about how God takes care of the birds as a confirmation that God will take care of us because we have more important things to do, like being about the business of God. I think for some that verse has been quoted as an excuse for laziness. On the other hand Jesus is basically forbidding those who follow him from making these needs the object of anxious care and, in effect, becoming their slave. So, as invited to do in this verse, I looked at the birds. They don't worry about where they will live or what they will eat but every day they go out and gather their food. They build their homes and make sure they are suitable for the need that home is designed to fill. And they do it without the means to reason or think. Amazing.

I am a proponent of social services. I believe we should provide help and assistance to people whose lives are affected by something that prevents them from having the ability to gather the necessary provisions. BUT we should not make it more attractive for people to continue to receive the aid than it would be for them to provide their own. This is not a political essay so I'll stop there.

Every day the birds know what to do and they do it because that is what they were created to do. Have we allowed cares and anxiety to distract and divide us. Is our vision blurred and our conscience repressed so much that we do not see and can not do what we are pre-wired to do? Have we let cares flood our lives to where worry is the looking glass we peer through first thing in the morning? And if worry is what greets us each day, how does that change how we carry on the business of living for that day? Do we greet people differently? Do we tell ourselves stories in preparation for the people or events that we have coming up. How many of those stories are false? And if they aren't false are they limiting? Drop the story telling. Look at each situation with anticipation. Greet each person, whether you have been privileged to know or meeting for the first time, with eagerness to know who that person is at that moment and what they have to offer. Usher in each day with the understanding that we all are constantly changing.

I would love to be privy to the bird chirp communication I hear coming from the tree tops. I probably would hear the latest scuttlebutt about the injustice on Jaybird Street. They seem to be Rockin with Robin...tweet tweetly-tweet.