America: One big fun house mirror.

President Trump’s latest undignified, poor impulse control theatrics has the media trotting out the “beneath the dignity of the office” line. Indeed, before i heard any news report, I even used the words: “That is so undignified”.

All it took however, was one good cup of coffee and clarity took hold. This is who we are, and by we I mean collective America; undignified, impulse driven, show boating, shameless, and daring anyone to confront our right to do what we want, when we want, and how we want. Of course we elected a president who does exactly the same.

One would certainly hope that by 70 years of age, a bit of maturity would kick in, yet I am reminded of one of my stepmother’s cardinal sayings: “Wisdom done not come from age, wisdom comes from God.”

That a media and corporate complex which relentlessly pushes exactly this type of emotion-driven, flesh-fueled approach to life would start to yell “undignified” when the man the people they service elected behaves in precisely the way they prescribe and reward crystallizes how distorted our self- images are. It’s as if we’re surrounded by fun house mirrors with no sense of how the behavior we condemn is part and parcel of American life.

This is occurring as I am reading books that touch on these themes as well. One of them is very recently published, and I have been dissecting and writing on it chapter by chapter.

The next installment includes a chapter on how unbecoming, unchaste, and embarrassing behavior is the new normal as a direct result of the current technology. The Anthony Weiner incident is used as a prime example, which speaks for itself.

For every person who understands full well that their antics are on display, there are others who find themselves having their naivete and sense of intimacy betrayed by people they thought they could trust. In a sane world, most people would refrain if only for fear of public shame, but that no longer exists either.

The other book, Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch, was published in 1978, and yet somehow, with no knowledge of what life would be like in 2017 he tapped into the pulse of what we see today. America has been headed for this, complete with a nutty, no holds barred, undignified commander in chief for quite some time.

The president’s antics are simply an extension of the way many Americans live their lives and share their thoughts; unfiltered and without reservations for all the world to see. The pause button has been disabled until after the fact and when it’s too late.

So pardon me if once again, I find my outrage meter mysteriously on the fritz at the latest round of American pearl clutching. My ironic humor meter, however, is working just fine and we got a good laugh this morning here at our house.

” The major challenge the contemporary woman faces today is not equality but rather identity.”

This echoes thoughts I have been lately pondering.

Two-Cent Woman

Related image

The following quote is one I read on facebook this morning…..

Cardinal Scola of Milan argues that the major challenge the contemporary woman faces today is not equality but rather identity. Women will always fall short of the mark if they only compare themselves to men’s essentially masculine achievements. Women will never realize what their own unique feminine contributions to family, society and Church may be if they continue to measure themselves only by the standards men have achieved. Women must look into their own minds, souls and bodies to discover what contributions that they, and they alone, can offer to society. Someone asked Napoleon who was the greatest woman in history. Bonaparte answered, “The one with the most babies.” The emperor might have given this answer with his tongue in his cheek but his response is absolutely correct. Motherhood is the unique female contribution to society, family and Church…

View original post 934 more words

Friday Frivolities 6: Getting real edition

I’m a little under the weather today (the past few days, actually) and the down time is frustrating because I haven’t done as much, but it’s also been an opportunity to think about some of big questions and important principles.

Too much self-analysis is antithetical to Christian growth.

With a birthday approaching, this is a contemplative time. The Benevolent Dictator and I have hit this phase of life with reverence, gratitude, and awe which makes for a stronger connection.  Birthdays invoke more evaluation of where we are and how we live than either New Year’s or anniversaries. Primarily the questions revolve around, “Do our words and actions impart life to the receiver?” Life is not interpreted in our house as 100% good feelz. Sometimes (oftentimes?) Truth stings.

There’s a delicate balance to be struck here, and it’s something I consider a lot of late. The key to seeing things from a realistic perspective is by looking into the mirror of Scripture. Nothing is better for both the comfort and humility needed to live a sane, healthy life.

The second point piggybacks on the first: giving the direction, opinions, perspectives of my husband a place of preeminence is a key factor in growing and accomplishing goals as well. If it were not for him I would have run myself into the ground by now trying to play *super wife*.

So basically, looking at the mirror of Truth and being open to the man’s guidance is better for me than leaning into my own understanding of myself. To thine own self be true is suspect counsel, at least in my book.

Character is the thing we do when -we think- no one is watching.

This is cliche, and we’ve all heard it, but it’s very easy to forget in a world where technology provides ultimate “privacy”. And yet,  the only place you can be -99%- certain no one is watching is in the privacy of your own bedroom or bathroom. We have simultaneously more opportunities to do things in secret and just as many opportunities to get caught.

For me, this admonition is more aptly applied to making sure I do what needs to be done even when it’s inconvenient or I won’t suffer in the short term for neglecting it, but the principle is the same whether it’s about doing the right thing or not doing the wrong thing.

I have long lamented American obsession with propriety over piety, but it’s always good to be cognizant of the fact that even if no one else in the world can see what we’re doing, we know when we’re doing something wrong, and when we’re not doing what’s right to the best of our ability.  Both are damaging to one’s soul.

Conventional Western medicine heals trauma, but it exacerbates lesser ailments.

Did I mention I have a birthday upcoming? 46 I will be. I’m totally cool with that, which as I mentioned earlier, didn’t happen over night. There are a lot of factors that have aided in my ability to embrace 46, not the least of which is that life is peaceful, marriage is blissful, and health has been pretty good on the main. It also helps to get incredulous responses to revelations of your age, your children’s ages, or the length of your marriage.

However there are *things* that come with middle age and they often assert themselves in ways that demand they be addressed. So we go to the doctor. One of the sticky points in our relationship is that the Dictator has a bit more faith in the word of doctors than I do. My less than formal research tells me we are not at all unique in this regard. More time to read and research makes housewives -in general- more crunchy about these things than our husbands tend to be.

Recently however, we found ourselves on the same page on a suggestion offered by a doctor that neither of us liked. It was a surprising irony as I’d already determined not to rock the boat, but he did it for me. It just smacks of the same old tendency we have in our overall culture of treating the symptoms rather than healing underlying issues.

Band-aids on bullet holes and an old fashioned game of kick the healthcare can. It’s the Western way!  Of course, you can’t sell as many pharmaceuticals with a focus on real healing, now can you?

That’s enough musing for one Friday. Sorry if it’s lacking appropriate frivolity.

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

 

 

 

 

 

Internal robo-responses

Respond-with-message-300x233

A running joke started here recently with regard to robo-messages. You know them, the instant message responses on your phone that you send when you can’t answer someone’s call at that moment:

  • Call you back in 15 minutes
  • Can’t talk, text me
  • What’s up?
  • Driving, call you right back
  • In meeting
  • Running late- be there soon
  • Sorry, I’m on a call right now
  • Send me an email

I have two personalized ones on my phone:

  • Homeschool in session, will call back at lunch.
  • In class- teaching

It just occurred to me that it is more distracting and requires more effort to push that message to someone while you’re driving than it would take to just answer the phone. That one is not a good idea. At all.

 

As is often the case when something hits the forefront of my thinking, the running joke has sparked a tip toe through the tulips of random thoughts. Specifically, the things that pop into my head when I get a call or a message from people in particular:

  • Oh, gosh. What’s wrong now?
  • She always makes me laugh
  • Hope my brother’s daily verse is a good one (as if there is a BAD Bible verse)
  • Please Lord, don’t let them have been in an accident
  • I do NOT feel like hearing about her drama of the week.
  • Whatever else this might be, it won’t be boring…
  • She always encourages me
  • Let me get prayed up before I call back.

In other words, I have a real problem with attaching assumptions to people and while I’m blessed that my internal robo message is as likely to be good or neutral as it is bad, I should work on jumping to conclusions.

There have been times when I was dead wrong.

Tell the truth. You have robo-thoughts/messages too. I know you do.

 

Thinking about what we think about

That might sound redundant, but it really isn’t. One of the reason I was so animated by the post I reblogged on Saturday is because I read it on the heels of similar thoughts. As is often the case, the spark which ignited this particular train of thoughts started with something my Benevolent Dictator said.

We were riding alone in the car recently, and it was quiet. It’s rather nice to be able to spend time alone without feeling a need to fill the blank space with noise and words just so that one or the other of us can feel *okay*. Sometimes it’s nice to just think. As we approached a red light the man said to me, rather out of the blue (with a disarming smile), “We have had a good life.” I could only agree, and added that we’ve also mostly had a good time, even when things were hard. And the silence returned.

I was not only encouraged but struck and blessed by this living example of one of my favorite verses of Scripture offered as I am working and praying diligently to master my own thoughts. Winnowing my thoughts, if you will. There are at least a few things my man could have used that time as opportunity to correct, admonish, or guide me about  doing them better. Instead he was considering how blessed we are. I wonder how often Christians actually think about what we think about.

Our culture has trained us to think of ourselves primarily in terms of what we do. How much we do, how well we do it, how much better we do it than others. Christian culture does this as well, but we’re mostly conditioned to think in terms of what we don’t do. You know, the *big sins*. Christians don’t steal, cheat, commit adultery, fornicate, drink (I grew up Baptist), dance (I grew up Baptist), or listen to worldly music (I grew up Baptist). I wanted to include lying, but it’s one of those things that get little more than lip service. I think my point is clear either way. To the extent that we meet the requirements of our “good Christians don’t do checklist”, we feel free to rest on our self-righteous laurels.

We give short shrift, however, to things we do that are equally sinful and even more damaging, because they are things which are harder for those on the outside looking in to see and identify. Rather than feeling compassion towards sinner and the struggling we take the position of the Pharisee, smug in our righteousness, good health, prosperity, and comfort, never really stopping to consider what these kinds of thoughts reveal about us, our lack of gratitude and our misunderstanding of grace.

Every moment we spend judging, criticizing, or comparing is a moment we are not spending focusing on the noble, beautiful or true. Crouching criticisms, comparisons and judgements in religious sounding jargon doesn’t change the what they are. Lipstick on pigs, and all that good stuff.

The question of course becomes, “How do we winnow our thoughts, training them and directing them into the place where they produce positive action rather than passive, smug self-satisfaction?”

I’m still working that one out in my own heart, but I wonder if we will ever reach a place where we commiserate and bond over the good, beautiful things rather than the bad*? It seems like a tall order which, at least for me, weighs on the heart a little.

*I have some thoughts about this in the lives of women in particular, but it will take some time to work them out enough to articulate well.

 

 

Winnowing Your Thoughts

Reblogging this because it- amazingly!- it dovetails quite well with something I was hoping to write Monday, but may not have time to do justice. It occurs to me how little attention we pay to the ways we think and the unseen impact our thoughts have on our health, vitality, and ability to extend grace to others.

Annasach

You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious. You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, “What are your thinking about?” you can respond at once (and truthfully) that you are thinking this or thinking that.

-Marcus Aurelius

Of course, I have written already that it matters what you fill your mind with, but this appeared on one of my feeds and I just had to grab it. The untrained mind will produce an untrained life. Mind training is not easy and probably never perfected, at least for just about everyone, but the benefits are still significant.

The physical act of truly tidying – i.e. discarding first what is unnecessary and burdensome – mirrors the philosopher’s thought quoted above. In fact, I see little difference between the two. They…

View original post 23 more words

Friday Frivolities 5: A hair raising edition

This is a hair raising edition because I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair this week. It’s not all I’ve been thinking about, of course, but it occupied more mental space than usual.

~It started last weekend when an older male relative asked my husband why- given his relative “youth”- he won’t dye his hair or beard. He has a fair amount of visible gray. He said no. The hair grows back too quickly, making it a frequent endeavor, and a waste of time. Most importantly, he’s fine with his gray hair.

The man countered that it just helps make a guy more attractive, no different from what a woman does when she wears a little blush to spruce up. My husband replied, “That is exactly my point. ” His pithy end of the dialog made me laugh but also made me think.

I’m thinking a bit about my own gray strands, which I usually color every 6-8 weeks for the express purpose of covering the gray strands peeking out in front. I’ve pondered it for a while now, even reviewing a book on the topic. Lately, I’ve been going longer between colorings because it does take time I need to spend on other things.

I almost never get around to coloring without going at least a couple of weeks with my visibly gray strands, which kinds of defeats the point of coloring in the first place, no? That’s an awkward angle, but the point is the gray hairs, not my big eyes. I couldn’t figure out how to do one and not the other without an even weirder picture.

Some days, I don’t mind them. It’s only a little, and only visible when I wear my hair pulled back, such as it is now. Other days it bothers me and it’s those days I find myself getting the color in. It’s funny the things we lament that previous generations of women never thought about. I just don’t want to find myself at 65 or 70 with a full head of black hair thinking I’m fooling anyone. 25 years seems like a long time from now but time passes quickly.

~This next bit is about growth of another sort: Veggies! I may not the worst gardener who ever planted a bed, but I am no doubt in the lower 50th percentile. Nevertheless, and with a lot of helpful tips and reminders from the man, I have been able to grow and harvest some good looking vegetables so far this summer. Here is yesterday’s take:

wp-1498054881202.jpg

Two eggplants, and three tomatoes. I didn’t have eggplant Parmesan on my menu for this week, but I may have to consider a menu change.

~My word for the summer is “productive”. As much as we’re told about wife and motherhood being hard jobs, for me the reality is that a plan and a some focus can do wonders.

**Caveat: I am NOT referring to mothers of babies and preschoolers here. My “baby” is 9.**

The challenge, or at least my challenge, has been to resist the temptation to coast, doing what I need to get by (“good enough is good enough”) without stretching myself in ways that will force me to grow.

With that as my focus, it’s been remarkable that I have done twice as much around the house and errands, taken naps and walks when I need them, did some things to stretch and challenge myself and still indulge in occasional 30-45 minute time “wasters” such as writing this post*. It’s been a good season.

~Lastly, I mentioned a while ago that I was reading up on how to start my own SCOBY to make kombucha at home. It turns out that this was not as easy as The Kitchn made it appear to be. The main problem was finding a pure, unflavored bottle of kombucha to use as a starter. I went to every natural food market I could think of in our area and not one had a kombucha that was unflavored.

Fortunately for me, I have the hookup with good friends who are into this kind of thing and one of them gave me a SCOBY, which has brewed enough kombucha to make another SCOBY. So I have the makings of a SCOBY hotel on my hands. Problem is, everyone in my house thinks it looks disgusting:

wp-1498074999260.jpg

The brew still tastes good, and it’s good for me, too.

Have a great weekend!

*I don’t really believe that writing this post was a waste of time.