The atomic era exhibit at a local museum showed me some fascinating elements of the life of another generation.
We are still talking about guns. The discussion on guns misses the point entirely, in my opinion.
I read about murders and assaults in the news nearly every day. Outside of war, most of them involve only one or two people. The police always check out family, friends, and business partners first. What does that tell you?
Why do people kill each other? Why do they assault each other?
There are a few reasons — including greed — but mostly it comes down to strong feelings that people don’t know how to handle.
I have been reading the stories for as long as I can remember…
A young woman was killed because she turned down a marriage proposal.
A girl’s hair was set on fire by a peer who was not invited to a party.
A man set his son on fire because of a divorce/custody dispute.
The stories are different but they are all the same.
People who cannot accept emotional pain. People who cannot live with having been wronged. People who judge others, who blame others, who want to punish others.
These are the people who commit violence on a daily basis.
Gun regulation is easier to accomplish than emotional regulation.
But…emotional regulation is the only solution.
Teach your children how to process their feelings. Teach them that they are stronger than they think. Show them examples of those who have overcome adversity, those who are happy in spite of all that has gone wrong with their lives, those who are loved when they thought they were unloveable.
Teach them the meaning of the word NO.
Teach them to work through their disappointment, shame, or humiliation.
Teach them that pain is temporary, just like joy.
Teach them that others are vulnerable, just as they are.
Teach them that anger can be productive or destructive.
Teach them that negative emotions are part of life and must be recognized and managed.
I am reflecting on the nature of gifts.
I favor practical gifts, both for myself and others. Give me something I can use and I am happy. Children generally do not favor practical gifts.
My theory about children’s negative view of “needed” items: they view “needed” items as things they receive outside of gift giving, and therefore feel they have been cheated out of a “real” gift.
On the other hand, as adults, we buy our own needed items and it can be a bothersome errand. As I do most of the shopping for the family, I view a practical gift as a time saver (no shopping!) and money saver (I don’t need to buy it myself), plus a space saver (it will very likely already have a place in the home, especially if it is replacing an old item of the same type). That is a lot of saving! What could be better?
When it comes to children’s gifts on a budget, need can intersect with fun if one thinks creatively.
For example, if my kids need shirts because they grow like weeds, I give them gifts of shirts representing their special interests (Star Wars, for example) and these shirts become favorite shirts instead of rejected “needed” items.
Some of my favorite practical gifts I have received in my life include: soft socks for sleeping in, moisturizing cream and bath products, a GPS, cookware and recipes, blankets and bed sheets, Christmas tree ornaments, a CD of “calming” music, storage containers, a leather change purse, hand knit scarves and gloves and hats, and baskets with favorite food items.
I recently received a creative “family” gift from my sister-in-law: a “movie night” kit, with a movie rental card, popcorn, soda, candy and so on. Great idea, right?
I recently read about some special quilts given by a widowed father to his daughters, crafted from portions of selected clothing belonging to their late mother, so that they may feel close to her and remember her every time they use them. Sentimental and practical all at once.
My best gift giving advice: think of what will be meaningful and useful to the recipient. Don’t try to impress. Small and sincere does the job. We can all tell the difference between a gift that expresses the care of the giver and a gift that expresses, “Look at this flashy item I found on sale!”
I have been reflecting on the fundamental differences between different people and what happens when we make the mistake of thinking everyone is the same — or that they should be.
I am an introvert. Some people do not know what this means, although nearly half the population is introverted. We don’t call attention to ourselves as extroverts do. A book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking gave me much to think about.
I was still thinking about the book when I watched a film called The King’s Speech. In the film, two sons of a king are both unsuited for the throne they stand to inherit. One is unable to sacrifice his personal desires for the sake of social rules. The other is uncomfortable with public speaking, due to an unfortunate lifelong stuttering problem.
As I watched the streaming film, my internet connection became repeatedly interrupted so that I could watch only a few moments at a time. The screen had a stutter of its own. This affected my viewing of the film, but added, I think, another dimension to it. I felt that I had an additional understanding of the frustration of the family and friends of the title character, listening to his fractured communication, as I watched the fractured film. The idea of being a king or queen would thrill some but horrify others. I fall in the latter category, in case you can’t guess.
A friend of mine wrote something about the harmful nature of “unsolicited advice“, which is another way of saying “telling others how to live their lives”. I responded that I think unsolicited advice often comes from those who believe others will benefit in the exact same ways from whatever worked for them. If a woman has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of pregnancy and parenthood, she may think that every woman should become a mother. If she has achieved much wealth and personal satisfaction from working in the financial sector, she may think everyone should apply for such employment. Well intentioned advice, perhaps, but thoughtless, unhelpful, and self-centered.
Should we all live the same life, hold the same job, raise our children the same way? I do not believe so. Do we all have the same inclinations, abilities, and traits? Of course not.
I like the title of the book Quiet because this is a term that has often been used to describe me. “You’re so quiet.“
The term is accurate, and yet it is used almost exclusively by strangers. Anyone who knows me feels no need to describe me this pointless and impolite way. It would be like commenting on my obvious physical characteristics. Imagine someone who has known you for years saying, “Your hair is so brown!” or, “Your feet are so small today!”
Those who do not know me, unless they are quiet themselves, often see my quietness as a reflection of my mood or my response to them. Am I depressed? Am I bored? Do I distrust them? They do not consider that quietness is simply a part of my innate character. They certainly are not complimenting me, with the exception of one or two men from foreign countries in which quietness is a more desirable trait than it is in this culture.
We are all different.
Some are loud, some are quiet. Some constantly seek more in life, while others are content with whatever they have. Some are anxious, some are calm. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some are big, some are small. Some are dark, some are pale. Some make jokes, others are serious.
We all contribute something different to the world.
It has recently come to my attention that I am not the most spontaneous person in the world.
I thought I was spontaneous, but then my husband suggested an activity in the afternoon and I had to ask questions before considering the activity. He gave up fairly quickly.
I felt guilty when I saw how easily he gave up. Obviously he had been down that road before and knew it wouldn’t lead anywhere.
I thought to myself, ‘I want to be spontaneous…I just need advance notice first — you know, so I can plan ahead.’
I noticed the contradiction. Plan ahead to be spontaneous?
I know I used to be more spontaneous when I was younger. When I was eighteen, a guy told me he liked the fact that he could call me up and invite me out and I would be ready in ten minutes. Now I need to know what is going on, how long it is going to take, and what the weather will be like.
Is it maturity? Is it anxiety? Am I just no fun any more?
I blame children. I see the results of their spontaneity. Chaos, everywhere I look.
Once, a neighbor boy pulled the fire alarm in my apartment building. I think it was the loudest thing I have ever heard in my life, aside from monster trucks driven indoors. We all milled around outside at sundown, children without coats, a woman with a towel wrapped around her hair, waiting for someone to end the horrifying noise.
Another time, a different boy in our apartment complex found a large sheet of glass and broke it. I don’t know where the glass came from, but I know where it ended up: everywhere. In the parking lot where all the kids play Nerf gun wars. In the grassy area where people walk their dogs. Endless shards and shards and shards of glass.
I called out to the boy, ” Don’t you know any better than to play with broken glass?” and he dropped what was left and ran off. I spent the next hour or so sweeping up, filling half a bucket with glass fragments, abandoning the unfinished load of laundry and the boneless chicken breasts baking in the oven. My husband had to come out and ask me what all the timers were for.
Hey, maybe I am spontaneous after all.
Just not in a fun way.
I’ll have work on it.
I hear that snow, also referred to as “winter” in this region, may occur soon. How soon? Who knows?
2. Appropriate Footwear
Clothing is on my mind each time the weather changes — especially now that I live in a different climate. In California, I wore open shoes unless it was raining. Sandals, thong toed footwear (my toes being the only place thongs are allowed), clogs, and a variety of other open-backed shoes — these are what I wore in my daily life. I own one pair of athletic shoes (seldom worn before I moved) and one pair of rubber rain boots. I also own a nice pair of wooden-heeled leather boots which I acquired shortly before the move and which would almost certainly be ruined by inclement weather.
My current plan is to wear my sneakers every day, but I expect this will cause shoe odor rather quickly.
3. Ability to Drive Safely in Snow for Sustained Periods of Time
I am proud to report that my first real snow driving experience, which occurred in a nasty snowstorm in Wyoming during the trek to Nebraska at the tail end of last winter, was a success.
The snowfall was such that I was unable to see the road. I drive a white car, which also happens to be low to the ground. On the plus side, I (accompanied by a child) was driving behind a very tall rental truck driven by my husband (accompanied by another child), and I was — fortunately — able to see the top two feet of the back of the truck’s cargo area. I followed the roof of the truck until the rest of the world eventually reappeared and my sanity was restored.
I exaggerate. I was sane while driving. In fact, remaining calm in stressful driving situations is one of my specialties. I will, however, admit to a case of nervousness in the above situation. If I had been unable to see the truck roof, I would have been altogether uncertain whether to continue, or to simply stop in the middle of the white oblivion and hope that people (wearing appropriate footwear) would say nice things about my son and me at our funerals.
Again, I exaggerate. I think I would have continued to drive very slowly into the white oblivion, hoping to stay on the road I couldn’t see. I shouldn’t joke about snowy burials because my husband reads my blog and he won’t think it is funny. He worries, you know.
4. What People With Appropriate Footwear Will Say at Our Funerals
Just kidding, Honey.
5. The Location of My Camera Cord
I’m sure it will turn up somewhere, and then I can post digital photos again. In blog posts, for example.
6. Many Other Aspects of My Life
Life is always “to be determined”.
People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.
This is such a deep truth.
Whether we feel joyful, inspired, manipulated, bored, angry, loved, disgusted, or wounded… we remember.
Why did that person make you smile so much? It may be hard to say, but you want to see that person again, don’t you?
What was that fight about? You aren’t sure, but you are not looking forward to talking to that person.
I have been thinking about communication recently and I believe that this quote is the simplest, clearest guideline I have ever read regarding interpersonal communication.
Sometimes I fail in this area.
When I was young, I was very quiet. As I aged and gained experience, I decided to sacrifice some of my caution and privacy and become more open and more casual in my interactions.
Sometimes I think I need some of my caution back, not only to protect myself but to protect others.
I may say the right words with the right intent and still fail to interact in satisfactory way. My timing may have been off. My tone of voice may have been wrong.
By the way, although I am writing about my own social weaknesses, this post was not inspired by my own failures but by someone else’s failure… someone made me feel unimportant . I know it was not intentional, and I know it is not actually true, and yet…there is the feeling in my memory.
I want to create positive emotional memories in others. I am challenging myself to remember Maya Angelou’s words and use them to improve my relationships and first impressions.
My life has undergone significant changes this year. So has my body. Most of my clothes are two sizes too big.
I can’t afford a new wardrobe. I was smaller and then I got bigger. I thought I would never be smaller again, so I got rid of my smaller clothes. Now I am smaller but I can’t get rid of my bigger clothes. This is a problem.
Who wants to hear someone complain about losing weight? Not very many people. Of this I am certain.
I am happy to have a more active lifestyle, which is cheaper than a gym membership and more effective.
I have stairs in my life. I have a job where I can’t sit down or stay in one place. I have laundry facilities outside the home. I don’t know where various things are at home, so I spend a fair amount of time walking in circles, looking around and inside and through and under and behind. I am using all of the prepositions I can think of.
Months after moving, we still have Mystery Boxes. If you have ever moved, you probably know exactly what Mystery Boxes are.
We also have a shortage of furniture. We left things behind. Big things. Things that held smaller things. Where do the smaller things go when they are no longer held by the bigger things? They go on the floor. I can’t afford to get new bigger things to hold the smaller things. This is a problem.
These problems are not big problems.
I have loose clothing. I need to step over things on the floor.
These problems are small.
“Let it go. Whatever it is — It’s not worth it.
Focus on your goal. Whatever it is — It IS worth it.
Your mind can only process either one or the other — now, you tell me, which one’s worthy?” — Jared Blake DiCroce
I like the way Jared summed up this simple philosophy. (To read more advice from Jared, click on his name)
After so many recent changes in my life, I have come to realize that very little matters to me anymore — or rather, the way I view the things that DO matter has changed dramatically.
Freedom and independence matter.
Doing what is right matters.
… Frankly, anything that does not contribute to the above list is worthless to me now!
Moving away from your home, your state, your work, your friends, and your family isn’t easy.
Everything is new.
The excitement of change comes with a price: stress.
I am taking some lessons from the trees in this new climate.
In the first photograph you can see a skinny tree standing beside a house on the right. On the day I took these photographs I watched that skinny little tree — standing taller than the house — bear more and more snow as the day went on, gradually bowing under the increasing weight until the tip dragged on the ground. I thought the trunk might break. The homeowner soon tramped out and whip-lashed the flexible branches, freeing the snow and allowing the tree to spring back to its original posture. I noticed that the tree stayed upright after that, regardless of the continuing snowfall.
The first wet snow sticks and pulls everything down. If this initial weight is released, further snow slips off more easily.
I might need some help shaking off that first snow, but I will stand tall again.