Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for March, 2014

Dear “Ban Bossy” Friend,

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First, I want to you tell that I admire you. You are a strong role model for young girls and boys, and for me as well. I’m inspired by smart, hard-working people who have accomplished a great deal. I am sure that in your lifetime you have come up with thousands of great ideas. In my opinion, this is not one of them.

Here is what I know about your “Ban Bossy” campaign. You do not like the word “bossy”. You do not want people to use the word bossy, and you especially do not want people to call girls bossy. You have proven statistically that women make less money than men for the same jobs. You also say that women have less opportunities than men.

You want to create a better atmosphere for young girls. You want girls to be able to own their leadership skills and seek roles of power. You want that to be the norm, not the exception. You think that when girls are called bossy, that may shake their confidence. Being called that word may make girls question their leadership skills, and it may prevent them from becoming what they otherwise could be some day.

You tell us that you remember a teacher telling your friend she should not hang out with you, because you were too bossy. That hurt your feelings. You don’t want that to happen to any other young girls, so you inspired a large group of intelligent, accomplished and beautiful (Hi Beyonce) women to join you in your “Ban Bossy” campaign.

If your campaign succeeds, the word bossy will officially be out. We may call some girls things like, “works-together-impaired” instead (I made that up. Do you like it?), but we will not call them bossy.

Do I have that right? I don’t want to misunderstand you. If I have the facts right here, then I want to ask you something. Do we really need to make this a thing? Because I don’t think we need to make this a thing. This isn’t a real thing.

After reading what you had to say, I believe you have identified a real problem, but you’ve come up with the wrong solution. And, honestly, I don’t even think you’ve identified the problem correctly.

You say women make less than men. That’s the part of the problem that I think you have right. That stinks. I’m not lying. Thanks for addressing that, because someone should.

You also say women have less opportunity than men. That’s where we disagree. I know that I have optimistic DNA. I’m a half-full kind of girl, and I guess I’m glad for that. But, I just really wish I could meet you in person so that you could explain to me what you are talking about. I don’t understand.

You think women in the United States have less opportunities than men? They do? Where? Who? I am 42-years-old, and I have seen no evidence to support your theory. There’s no way I am going to believe it just because a bunch of influential people tell me I should. I’ve always preferred a more common sense approach; an approach based on what I know to be true.

I have only worked for strong, smart female bosses in my career. Every day I work with female Financial Analysts, CEO’s, Transplant Surgeons, Department Heads, and many other high profile positions that are held by women. Where is this alternate reality you describe? I don’t live there.

I would like it if you would please stop saying women have less opportunities than men. It hurts my girl ego. I know I don’t know you, but I’d also like to ask you a personal favor. Will you please not say that in front of my daughter? No one has ever told her that before, and I’d like to keep it that way.

What I’m going to say next may sound a little harsh, and I’m sorry for that. I know you’re really just trying to help. I am being honest. When you start talking about girls having less opportunities than boys, you sound like you’re feeling sorry for yourself. I rarely get annoyed, but when people feel sorry for themselves for no good reason, it’s nails on a chalkboard for me. Know what I mean?

I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, and I don’t want my daughter to either. Why would we? It’s always been my belief that we have every opportunity to accomplish whatever we’d like. All that is required is a willingness to learn, work hard, treat people well, and look out for the interests of others. Same is true for my sons. Now you are telling them otherwise.

The other part of your campaign that is troubling me is this problem you have with the word bossy. I’m sorry that teacher hurt your feelings when she called you bossy. She wasn’t being very nice. But, I’m still not on board with banning this word.

Bossy is a great word to call boys who are always trying to make the teams on the play ground; telling people what position they have to play in the outfield, and deciding who’s playing with whom.

Bossy is also a great word to describe girls who try to tell other kids who sits where, who can be friends with whom, and what game they’re going to play next. I guess you could say those kids are being obnoxious or overbearing, but bossy is shorter; easier to remember.

If a teacher or other children tell my daughter she is being bossy, I assume that means my daughter is not being perceptive. She is not reading the situation well and her success in her relationships is being hindered by her selfish instinct for immediate gratification and to have her own way. Those are not the characteristics of a tremendous leader. Those are the characteristics of a really sucky boss! She is acting BOSSY. I’m okay with that word.

If a teacher tells a girl student that she is acting bossy, I don’t think the girl’s future seat in the Senate is in jeopardy. There are tons of reasons a young woman can decide to not pursue a position of power.

I had every intention of being a successful career person when I was in college. I was sure that my career would always be my highest priority. I scoffed at women with lesser (as I defined it then) ambitions. Then I held our first born son. I distinctly remember looking into his eyes when he was a few weeks old, and immediately altering my life plans. My priorities shifted. That doesn’t happen to all women, but it happens to some. It happened to me. I’m pretty sure I would be ruler of the free world right now, if that wouldn’t have happened. Dang it, Eddie!!!

Do you think I sound sexist? Do you think I shouldn’t say what I just did because I’m implying child birth affects mothers differently than fathers? Hmmm…I’ll have to think about that. I always want to hear people out. If I’m sexist, I’ll own it.

What I think I am is a realist. I love my children intensely, but I don’t love them more than my husband loves them. I don’t know why he never once considered staying home for eight years to be with our pre schoolers, but he didn’t. I did. I jumped at the chance. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.

I know a growing number of dads are making the same decision, but they’re still outnumbered by moms. Taking almost a decade off will impact your career. It will. And it isn’t like when you step back into your career, it’s neat and clean. You can’t leave the kids behind. Those suckers are attached for life.

Kids take up huge amounts of brain space in their moms’ heads. It’s hard to remember that you meant to be a CEO when you’re trying to remember to pick up birthday treats and schedule everyone’s dentist appointments. My feminist friends may shudder, but I’m not going to make stuff up, just because it sounds better. I’m telling the truth.

I’m telling you all this that you never wanted to know about my personal life to say that I think the problem you define is complicated. There are more male CEO’s and more males in congress than women because sometimes life is complicated, especially for women. Some women NEVER get side tracked from their careers, but a lot of us do. A lot of us are just fine with that too. We choose other opportunities. At no time did being called bossy influence MOST women’s trajectory. I feel pretty sure about that.

You remember being called bossy, right? Did it alter your course? You are extremely successful and have a lot of power.

I’d be so behind your campaign if I thought we lived in a part of the world where men felt superior, just because they’re men. Believe me, I would. I know that reality exists for some women and girls. It haunts me. Those men are, sometimes I just feel like a swear word is appropriate. I’ll just say that those men are a word that starts with “d” and ends with “bags”. (I’m sorry, Mom, but they are.)

If my daughter and I lived in a world where men tried to dictate our choices, if men tried to tell us to wear a sheet over our faces, or that we couldn’t go out in public without them, I’d be rising up, baby. I’d be rising up. I’m talking full scale rebellion, guns-a-blazing, karate chop to the necks of all the men around me, poison their pancakes type of rebellion. If that were my reality, I’d be telling my daughter to NEVER accept that nonsense as truth.

We don’t live there though. We live here. We live here, in an awesome place where my daughter can consider hundreds of options for her future. She can decide what she wants to do some day, and she can do it as long as she is willing to work hard enough to get there. She is the only person who can limit her potential. (Sure. God can change the course of things any moment He chooses, but that’s a point for another day.) That’s what I have told her. That’s what I’ll keep telling her.

I will also tell all my children not to be bossy. If I see any of them trying to tell people where they need to go, what they need to do and wear, I’m going to tell them to stop. I’m going to say, “Children, quit being such little bossy boss bossaounds.”

If my daughter tries to tell me I can’t use the word bossy, because she is a girl, and her teachers said some smart women say that word discourages girls from becoming great leaders. I’m going to tell her that is a campaign for a made up problem. That problem is not real. I’ll say stop feeling sorry for yourself. Accept responsibility. Be nice to people. Work hard towards whatever it is you’d like to achieve. You have every opportunity to get there.

And THAT is what I wanted to say. I hope I don’t sound too bossy.

Your Friend,

Miki Smith

Scott’s Favorite Holiday

NCAA Wrestling: Division 1 Championship

This past weekend was Scott’s favorite Holiday: NCAA Wrestling Championships. When the tournament has been as close as Iowa or Missouri, Scott will take our boys out of school and they go in person. I just know those trips are going to be at the top of our boys’ lists of best childhood memories. I still don’t know exactly why.

Scott is in charge of those trips. I’m not involved. It’s a good way for me to see how things would be run in our family in my absence. Not the way I’d like them to. Let’s get that straight.

Nary a hotel reservation is made, nor a single preemptive thought is given to what will be eaten or worn on these trips. I used to let this lack of preparation worry me, but now I have been forced to admit that sometimes you don’t have to be one bit prepared to have the time of your life.

Scott started going to the NCAA Wrestling Championships with his brothers many years ago, before we had kids. He and his two brothers(and sister) have always been in agreement on a lot of things. One of the things they agree on is that there is rarely a good reason to part with money. Wasting money on a bed, blankets and pillows seemed especially frivolous to those brothers.

The brothers would attend the tournament in Iowa City and just knock on the door of some people they vaguely knew when it was time to catch a few hours sleep. Those stories horrified me.

Scott was telling our kids the other night about the time his brothers and three other guys went to the tournament together. When they decided it was time to get some sleep one of the guys they were with said his friend “Sheila” said they could crash at her place.

They went to the apartment building and knocked on her door. They knocked and knocked. Then they started getting a little annoyed. I mean, she DID offer. Finally, a strange guy, who had obviously been sleeping, came to the door. Oops. Wrong apartment.

They eventually found the right apartment. They knocked again. Another strange guy came to the door. “Sheila’s” friend in the group said to the guy, “Sheila said we could stay here tonight.”

The guy’s like, “Whatever,” and let them in.

The six guys walked in and laid down on the carpeting (which you know for a FACT “Sheila”, the girl who lets large groups of strangers sleep at her house, keeps meticulously clean). They slept until it was time to go watch wrestling again.

I told Scott it’s funny how one person’s nightmare can be what another person considers a good time.

I’d like to post some pictures of these epic trips. Because Scott definitely always remembered a camera. He took a lot of pictures, and developed the pictures right away. The pictures he took look magical they way he displayed them in his scrapbooks. That’s not true. But, you knew that.

Scott’s to do list before these trips did not include remembering the camera. His to do list included one item: watch wrestling. The rest of the details he figured out as he went along.

Now my boys have similar fun NCAA Wrestling Tournament stories to tell. They talk about how hard they laughed, how awesome the wrestling was, and how great it was of their dad to splurge and buy them a piece of gum. To share.

They’re old enough now to be able to tease their dad for his funny ways; I sense that they are also being groomed. I would guess they’re quite likely some day to submit their own children to the same atrocities of cheapness come NCAA tournament time.

This year, the tournament was too far away for Scott and the boys to attend. Instead they hosted an NCAA Wrestling party at our house. Scott said he wanted it to be like the Super Bowl party he had this year. He called me one day in January and said, “I want to have a Super Bowl Party.”

That probably sounds like a normal comment to you. It made me stop what I was doing. I’ve known Scott a really long time. I’ve never heard him suggest having a party. Ever.

I asked, “What did you say? Did you just say you want to have a party? That is awesome. Who are we inviting?”

“Zeke,” he answered.

That’s for real. That conversation happened.

“Zeke? Zeke is the only person on your guest list?” I asked. “What about Eddie? Doesn’t he get to come?”

“He can come. He just doesn’t sit still, and always gets bored after a while.”

So, Eddie’s out. Zeke’s in. And that is what Scott calls a party.

They had their party, and it got a little crazy. I won’t give away all their secrets, but let me just say some some gum was split and some soda was had.

NCAA Party

*Eddie, some wrestlers and a giant chocolate bunny crashed Scott’s party. More proof that the best fun isn’t always planned.

You’ve Got Your Dog Lovers, and Your Dog Likers

Dog lover quote

We have more dog lovers in our house than dog likers. It’s 3 and 2. Zeke, Olivia and I love dogs. We believe Reggie is a card carrying member of the Smith family; he deserves all the love, rights and privileges due a member of our home. Scott and Eddie like Reggie. They show Reggie affection, but they think he is a pet.

Reggie has been having some health problems lately. The vet said Reggie’s problems are with his heart, and his problems might be serious. We don’t know yet. We’re still trying to figure out what is going on and why.

The anxiety this is causing the dog lovers in our house is pretty consuming. Zeke and I slept in the living room with Reggie the other night. I was on the couch, and Zeke was on the floor. We had tons of blankets laid out, because we wanted Reggie to have plenty of places where he could try to get comfortable. Olivia didn’t join us; she knew that kind of vigil would cause her unbearable stress. She was right. I was up almost the entire night. I felt like I did when I was hovering over one of our fragile newborns.

reggie

Eddie was not aware of the sleeping arrangements when he went to bed. He came out in the middle of the night for a drink of water; he got a good fright instead. It was quiet and dark. He walked to the sink and leaned under the faucet to drink some water. I popped my head above the couch and said, “Hi Eddie.” Eddie can jump really high.

Eddie asked us the next day why we think it’s necessary to have 12 people hovering over Reggie all night long. He exaggerates. It was only two people. And, yes, it is necessary.

Poor Olivia, Reggie is like part her little brother and part her baby boy. She’s been so anxious about Reggie’s illness, like any good mother would be. The other night she was having a hard time controlling her emotions. I told her she should just go to bed early, and try to get some rest. Then I told Scott to go say something to her to try to make her feel better. A few minutes later I heard Olivia crying and yelling, “Daaaaddddd!!!!”

Scott came into the kitchen, and had me to face. “What did you say to her?” I demanded to know.

He said, “What? I was trying to make her feel better. I told her to remember that all dogs go to heaven.”

I thanked him for taking the time to think back on all the things he ever learned from posters he’s read, and delivering that heart-warming and frightening piece of parental wisdom. Scott’s a dog liker, not a dog lover. It’s hard to explain the way it is to him.

While Olivia, Zeke and I have been evaluating Reggie’s every move and intake of oxygen, Eddie will come through the kitchen and give him a playful belly rub. Eddie will say, “Oh, he looks fine to me. He’s just tired.”

Forgive me if I seek a second opinion.

When Eddie and I were talking about Reggie’s illness and how strange he’s been acting, Eddie told me, “I think he’s fine. He just needs to get some rest. He slept all day today.” Eddie should know. He’s the one who is home with him most of the day.

I said, “Eddie, Reggie wasn’t even here today. He was at the animal hospital the entire day.”

Eddie said, “Oh.”

Dog likers, not dog lovers.

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10 Signs You May be Too Nice:

When I was a teenager a lot of girls liked guys with swagger; guys who always had just the right thing to say at just the right time. I didn’t. I liked the boys who were nice.

One spring weekend before my freshman year of college I was at party with Scott. We were not dating. This party was at a typical, worked over apartment complex designed for poor college kids. We were outside at this party, and there were some little kids running around. These kids must have lived in an apartment somewhere else in this complex. They looked a little down on their luck.

It was evident that this party was not an appropriate place for these kids to play; whoever was in charge of supervising them was doing a poor job. Some of the college kids at the party were annoyed, and started being a little mean to those little kids.

Scott was not annoyed. Scott was so nice to those little kids. I remember watching him as he engaged them in conversation. He asked them about school and what they liked to do. Then the kids asked him to play, which, of course, he did. He ran around with them outside, playing tag and probably giving them the best fun they’d had in a while. Yeah. That is the weekend I decided I might be in love.

One of the biggest reasons I fell for Scott was because he was so nice. I’d like to think he felt the same way about me. We really like nice. But, do you know what can happen when you put nice with nice? You get too nice. Too nice might be better than too mean, but, still, you CAN be too nice.

From experience, I can tell you that there are signs to watch for whether you are being too nice. You can read about these signs below, unless you don’t want to, then, of course, you don’t have to. I wasn’t trying to sound bossy. I’m sorry If I did. You can read whatever you want. I’m not in charge of you. You don’t have to listen to me:

You lie. This is actually more my deal than Scott’s. If he has bad news for you, he’ll avoid saying anything. Not me. I’ll lie. If you just missed every single note in the solo you sang, and you ask me how you did, I will tell you that you sang beautifully. If you have a horrible perm and half your hair fell out, and you ask me how it looks, I will tell you that it looks great. I was thinking about doing the same thing with my hair. If you served me a dinner that tastes like poop casserole, and you ask if I liked it, I will tell you it was delicious. You must give me the recipe. If what you need is the ugly truth, you’d better ask someone else.

You believe lies. Some people don’t just lie to be nice. Some people make up big, strange lies about things that never happened. Or, they do bad things when no one is looking, and then they lie and say they didn’t. Nice people believe those lies. It can take nice people years and years to figure out that someone is lying.

Do you know what a sociopath is? One thing a sociopath does is they tell lies more than they tell the truth. They make up lies for no reason at all, and they believe their own lies. It is proven that sociopaths seek out people who are too nice. It will take a person who is too nice a really long time to figure out that some people just lie for fun.

Your dog is in charge. When I do my Saturday cleaning, I usually mop the kitchen floor and strip the bedding. Except if our dog is taking a nap. If our little dog is lounging comfortably on our bed, or sprawled on the kitchen rug, that’s too bad for me. I wait until he decides to go somewhere else. it seems kind of mean to make such a cute little dog move when all he wants is a nap, doesn’t it?

cavalier

You eat cold food, or bad food, or raw food. This one goes in Scott’s corner. If you are a server at a restaurant and you serve Scott a cold hamburger or hot lemonade, he won’t complain; he won’t ask you to take it back; he’ll leave you a big tip.

You buy a time share condo. Almost. We go to Branson, Missouri on spring break most years with my parents. Every year, my parents take one for the team. They subject themselves to a time share sales pitch to earn our family free tickets to this awesome amusement park. Scott and I didn’t think that was fair of us to make them do that every year. Last year we said we would go instead. My parents were adamantly against this idea, especially my Dad. He told us we didn’t know what we were getting into, and that, frankly, we were just too nice to make it out alive.

Well, he was almost right. Scott and I went into this thing looking like baby kittens to a hungry pack of wolves. We started out with this giant group of people. Almost all of them were released eventually, except us.

We own a small home, we have had a lot of doctor bills, and we have absolutely NO business even talking about buying a time share. But these guys really wanted us to buy one. So, it’s worth considering, right? Plus, they could make a nice commission, and that would be good for their families. They told us that if we really valued family time, a time-share was in our children’s best interest. See how they care about us?

The whole thing was ugly. Scott and I would take turns playing good cop, bad cop. But, in reality, what you had was good cop, good cop, and those guys knew it. We wasted most of the day there. We told them that we really appreciated all their time and hard work, but we never make quick decisions. When they finally realized they weren’t getting our money, they told us to leave. I’m so glad we didn’t buy a condominium just to be nice.

time share

You want everyone in the world to be happy. If they are not, you are sure that is on you. If someone seems quiet, or grouchy, you rack your brain trying to think about what you may have done to offend this person. True, you don’t know them. True, you’ve never spoken with them. But there most be something, or they wouldn’t be acting that way.

You feel sorry for the bad guy. Sure. You always feel sorry for the main character. You want to the main character to be saved, and the bad guy to get caught and be punished. Until he is. Then, you start feeling a little sorry for the bad guy. Because he’s being punished. Just like he deserves. It’s hard to live like this.

You put your life in danger to avoid the risk of being rude. In my career, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with people from other countries. I love it. One time I was working with this joyful, generous and intelligent little man from very far away. I drove him around one day and we took care of various tasks related to his citizenship here. The next time we met he said, “This time, I drive. I practice. You see, I very good.”

He was good. He was very good at driving in to oncoming traffic, ignoring stop signs, and driving dangerously beyond the speed limit. I tried instructing him, but the language barrier was a problem. Especially, since in my intense state of terror I was just blurting out nonsense, in a language he didn’t understand. I guess it wasn’t my time to go.

It was so scary that once we ran our errand, I got back in the passenger’s seat and let him drive me home. I thought if he didn’t think I felt safe, that might hurt his feelings.

You won’t end a conversation. This one goes to Scott. I am perfectly capable of saying, “Well, I’d better go, I have to get dinner started, the kids need my help with homework, or the house is on fire.”

Scott can’t do that. If he is outside and our elderly neighbors are bending his ear, he will let that house burn. While he is talking he will break in to a cold sweat thinking about all the things that he should be doing, and he will let the children play with knives. What Scott won’t do, is tell that nice neighbor that he’d better be on his way. That wouldn’t be very nice.

Little old lady (1)

You have the smartest come backs. In bed at night. When it’s too late. Remember those sociopaths we were talking about? When I worked for a different company one of my biggest clients was a sociopath. That’s fun. He was an awful human being, and I don’t mind saying it. Can you just let me get out some of the frustration now that I couldn’t release then? Thanks. Here it goes: He was cruel to the people who worked for him. He lied more than he told the truth. He was unfaithful to his family. He was completely and totally inappropriate to women. He was disgusting.

I would lie in bed at night thinking of the most clever, witty and even scathing ways to put him in his place. Then I’d see him, and not say anything at all.

This therapy session feels good. Let me tell you more. I will tell you that this guy grossly abused drugs, alcohol and food. I might have felt sorry for him, except he was just so mean. I will also tell you about the times I had to sit with him while he drew out our meetings much longer than necessary. Instead of getting to the point and taking care of the business I had with him, he’d sit on his cell phone, screaming at people on the other end while I watched. He liked an audience.

All the while he was screaming he would be jamming huge handfuls of Lucky Charms in to his mouth, so many Lucky Charms that crumbs would be all over his face, and many of them would land on his big, huge belly. It was a horror show.

Can’t you think of just a hundred clever things to say to this guy right now? Like, I should have said, “Treating people poorly will not help you in life. It will hurt you. You’re focusing on all the wrong things, and your letting your family down. Plus, you’re making very irresponsible nutritional choices, and it sure wouldn’t hurt to consider starting some kind of fitness program!”

He would have felt THAT right between the jelly rolls. Check…and mate, fine sir. You just got served.

Wow. That just got a little real. I’m sorry if that made you uncomfortable.

See how bad I am?

Being nice is awesome. I love it when people are nice. But, you really can be too nice. I see little flashes of too much niceness in my kids sometimes. I want them to recognize it early, so maybe they can know when a backbone is required. Once they do, I hope they teach their parents.

How to Raise Unspoiled Americans: You Can’t

This past weekend we had a Saturday with nothing scheduled. My daughter and I were home alone. On Friday night I was a little giddy with the anticipation of unscheduled time ahead. I got carried away and made the mistake of telling my daughter that maybe we could go shopping the next day, but then we didn’t.

You DON’T do that. You don’t mention the possibility of shopping to an almost 13-year-old girl, and then not go shopping. That’s like telling a heroin addict you’ve got heroin, but you’ve decided not to give it to them. Those jokers will shoot you down.

I woke up on Saturday and it was sunny. Sunny enough for me to see we were living in a sticky, ratty raccoon’s nest. I just picture raccoon as not being very good housekeepers . I’m not sure they deserve that.

I needed to clean. My daughter needed to help. That’s fun news to break to your almost-13-year-old daughter. I wish you could have been there.

“Ahh, good morning, Sweetheart. I am sorry, but I decided that we are NOT going to go shopping after all. The good news is that you DO get to scrub the toilets.”

I like my daughter. For real. I’m sad for her that she does not have any sisters, but happy for me. She’s my best friend. We have tons of fun together. I have told Scott that I think we won the baby girl jack pot when she was born. She’s nice. She likes to follow the rules. She’s not very sassy, and she seems to have a pretty soft heart. But, she is almost 13. Sometimes she can act like it. Sometimes almost 13-year-olds can act like sweet, precious, fuzzy little hellcats. Especially when you back out on their shopping trips.

That morning I started to think about all the shopping trips my daughter has taken. She has friends who’s mothers are saints. I.AM.NOT.KIDDING.YOU.SAINTS. These women have demanding jobs, busy husbands, multiple, busy children AND they take their daughter and her friends to the mall to browse around all day. They all walk around looking for bargains. These moms usually spring for ice cream, or some other fun treat. My daughter adores these moms. I do too.

So far, Scott has hosted one of these mall browsing outings for the girls, but I have stayed away from it. It sounds just so painful. I’ve told my daughter and her friends, “Listen, I don’t think I can actually take you to the mall all day, but we COULD do something more fun; like run over my foot with the minivan.” No takers so far.

Let’s be truthful with each other. I’m not staying away from the mall because I’m standing on moral high ground. I’m staying away because it sounds super boring. I’m selfish. That’s it.

But I do have to wonder what my daughter needs at the mall. What do I need at the mall? Both of our closets are full. Do we need shoes so that we don’t have to go barefoot to school and work? No. We probably have 40 pairs of shoes between the two of us. Do we need belts to hold our pants up while we work? No. We probably have 20 belts, and we don’t do really hard work. Do we need coats to keep us warm? Nope. There are dozens and dozens of those in our house.

I tried cheering my daughter up on Saturday with a little mini sermon. She really looked that gift horse in the mouth. I tried explaining to her that like many Americans, we misuse the word “need” every day. We do not know what “need” means, because every day when we wake up in a warm house, with food to eat, clothes to wear, school to attend and freedom to say what we want and to worship whom we please, all our needs are met.

When all our basic needs are met, we make up new ones. We say, “I need another pair of leggings; I need a new hair cut; I need a new painting for that wall.” We add layer after layer of things around us. All of our stuff surrounds us. All of our stuff is insulation that protects us from ever having to feel the pain of a real need. If we don’t ever have to experience real need, then we can’t help being spoiled. It isn’t really even our choice. It’s geography. It is cause and effect. But we can at least acknowledge we are spoiled. We can do that much, right?

My daughter broke in right about there and said, “I’m going to go clean the toilets.”

I think I totally inspired her. I know it wasn’t because she just wanted me to stop talking. There is no way an almost 13-year-old would do that.

I’m being a little silly. This video is not silly. It’s sad. I found it on a blog I like to read:

http://stuffchristianslike.net/2014/03/07/civil-war-london/

I pray for peace.

Hey, Strict Christians, Stop It.

strict teacher

I think you and I both know that I don’t really know what I’m doing here. We’ve established that, right? I like to write. I like to be silly. I like to write silly stories. I especially like to write about my family. I like Jesus. Sometimes I write about that too. Sometimes people read what I write. Sometimes they even like it (love you Mom and Dad). Some people don’t. That’s all I know. So, let’s get that straight, before you go off believing I think I’ve got answers. I don’t. I mostly have questions.

When I have time, I like to read other people’s blogs. I think it might help me figure out what I’m doing. I especially like to read blogs from people who share my faith in Christ.

I read this one Christian blog about bikinis. This author had a humble tone. He was kind of funny too. I bet if I met him, I’d really like him. He thought Christian women have no business wearing bikinis.

I do agree that Americans are way over the top with their supersized food and undersized clothing. We’re just a, “go big or go home” type of culture. That attitude probably doesn’t always serve us well. Moderation is pretty cool.

The last time I went on a tropical vacation, I think my swim suit would have received a Vatican stamp of approval. In fact, it was so modest, I felt sort of outlandish in that environment. So, it’s not like I disagree with this guy based on my personal preferences. Yet, here I am, disagreeing with him.

I don’t want people to tell me what to wear. I really don’t. I have never thought about telling other people what to wear, but I wouldn’t want to do that either.

When I was a freshman in college I went to a sweet little Christian school that was not meant for me. This was a really good school down South. Many humble, Christ-like people graduated from that school. Lives were changed there. They had some rules.

One day I went to the cafeteria for lunch. I was stopped at the entrance. I was told I couldn’t enter the cafeteria because I was wearing a knee length skort. Yep. You’re reading that correctly. I was once a sinner, and wore skorts. You might think that’s just a fashion sin. At that school they thought it was a sin sin.

I was so ill prepared for rules at that age. I remember it took me a decent amount of time just to absorb the information from the dress code enforcer. I stood there at the cafeteria entrance, waiting for him to smile. I thought he might tell me he was joking. I thought he might say he just wanted to see how I would react if he acted in a way that was unreasonable. He didn’t do any of that. He was serious. He was unreasonable.

I didn’t get it. It was such a nice school. Why were they being so weird? At 18-years-old, I had no personal experience with adults trying to micro manage my choices. I was not used to it. I did not like it.

On a spectrum of typical family life, I would compare my upbringing to the Waltons or Little House on the Prairie. We lived pretty innocently. So why don’t I remember having a bunch of rules? I don’t think we had a firm curfew. Nobody told us who we could be friends with, what to eat, drink, who to vote for, or what to wear. Everything my sisters and I knew about our parents confirmed their Christian beliefs. Why weren’t they strict? Isn’t that a hallmark of a Christian household? If it is, it shouldn’t be. Being strict doesn’t work.

That’s saying a lot, isn’t it? I’m usually more diplomatic. Let me rephrase. In my experience and time on this Earth, I have not seen evidence that being strict works. Better?

I can only know the stuff I know. What I know is that I have too many adult friends who went to strict, Christian schools when they were young, or had super strict parents. Now they reject Christianity. I have so many of these friends that I’ve come to a conclusion that there’s a connection between being strict and rebellion. Those adults I know are hurt and bitter. They want nothing to do with Christianity. That makes me sad, because it is my belief that Christianity isn’t what hurt them. Weird people who are strict did.

Did feeling judged for wearing a skort help develop me spiritually? Let me think back. I remember being embarrassed and my feelings were kind of hurt. Nope. It didn’t. I asked my self what good can come from all of that. I still do.

When I was a young mother, a really nice mom gave me a book. She said it was a great read, and would really help me learn how to discipline. I respected this young mom, and I suck at discipline; two good reasons to read the book.

I have never hated a book more in my life; I am talking about real hate. Usually, I work at keeping an open mind. I’m slow to develop strong opinions. I instantly had a strong opinion on this book. My opinion was that it belonged in our trash.

The author and his wife had a lot of children. The author’s philosophy involved breaking the child’s spirit. He compared children to horses. He spanked a lot, with a switch. He described what kind of switch to use. I’m sorry. That’s hard to even write. Did I mention what an awful book it was? Like reading a nightmare.

He said his oldest children were proof that his methods worked. They never questioned him, and they were always, instantly obedient. His methods proved to me that he’d actually scared his kids to death. Congratulations. He calls his methods discipline. I call them something else.

I felt sorry for the children in that book. And there’s nothing funny about adults hitting kids in to submission. But the methods discussed became a joke in our house. I found them so absurd.

When I described what I was reading to my children, their eyes became wide. I think they started behaving better just hearing about this guy. So, I guess he helped me after all. Too bad, I think he is so, so wrong. I’ll keep my naughtier kids with unbroken spirits, thanks anyway weird, strict guy.

My parents were not weird. They were calm and respectful. They gave us room to make mistakes and disagree with them. They heard us. Kids want to be heard. They gave us plenty of work to do, and we couldn’t afford to be spoiled. They never told us what the rules were for being a Christian. Their Christianity was personal. It was a relationship between God and them, and it happened in their hearts.

I’m trying to emulate that combination now that I’m responsible for my own kids. I can’t really know if it’s working, can I? It’s too soon. And you should know that just because I think out loud, in public, doesn’t mean I’m right.

I just know that I won’t be telling my kids that there are rules for being a Christian. I will tell them that being a Christian does not happen from the outside in. It happens from the inside out. It is a condition of your heart. It’s a personal relationship between you and God. Your personal relationship with God will help you make decisions about what you should say, do, eat, drink and wear. We don’t get to decide what God is telling other people about all of those things, and other people don’t get to decide what God is telling us.

I find talk about clothing and spankings tedious, really. I’m sorry for that. I would rather talk to my kids about being kind, faithful, humble, patient, self controlled, and joyful. I’d like to model that too. I want to tell them that they are going to have to determine for themselves whether they believe Jesus has the power to affect their lives. I want to tell them that’s what I believe, and that is what I have experienced. I want to tell them that divine relationship will be a solid foundation for building healthy human relationships and weathering life’s most violent storms.

I want to talk to my kids about all that, but mostly I want to show them. After that, my job is done. Then they get to decide what they want for their hearts on their own, and my job will be to love them no matter what.

I don’t want to try to control people. I’d be terrible at it. I do want to celebrate faith. My Faith is my light house.

A sweet friend sent me this song, listening always helps me celebrate! You might like it too.

Rocking Retirement

You know what day is coming soon in Wisconsin, don’t you? The day we have to put away our sleeping bag coats. Guess what happens then? Everyone gets to see what you’ve been hiding under there all winter. You’re gonna be sorry. You’re gonna be very sorry you haven’t been walking the dog a few blocks in the morning, and doing 4 squats every other month while you stand at the copy machine like I have. That’s just how I roll; I’m hard core.

Oh sweet mammacita. Don’t make me put my sleeping bag coat away. I have an idea what’s happening underneath my coat, I’m just not ready to see it, think about it, or take its picture. I’ve gotten soft. I’m so far from the fit specimen I was in my competitive speed skating days. When I was training for the Olympics. The nice thing about blogs is you can just make stuff up.

I’ve never been a super fit specimen, but I have always attempted fitness. I actually am fairly interested in fitness, health and nutrition; always have been. As I’ve rolled into my early 40’s my philosophy on health and fitness has changed.

I want to tell you that I’m not vain, but I always feel weird when I lie. I’ll admit it. I feel compelled to be my best self. For as long as I can remember, I have probably spent a disproportionate amount of time thinking about how to pull off being my best self. I am relieved to say that I don’t usually think about these things in relationship to other people. People who are very healthy and fit inspire me. I just feel competitive with myself. I like thinking about my highest physical goals and how to achieve them.

My highest physical goals have changed. I still want to be strong, and I still want to be fit; not just because I want to feel comfortable in a swim suit, or see a nice number on the scale (you’re right, those things are cool too). I want to be strong because I have a vision. I have a vision of this retired lady. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I didn’t know this lady existed. I never thought about her. Now I do.

This lady is busy. She is excited about life when she wakes up in the morning. She chases her grandkids (if she doesn’t have any, she finds someone else’s) around and has the stamina to watch them when their tired parents need sleep; she goes on short term mission trips to help women and children in third world countries; she’s still curious and tries to learn new things; she enjoys adventures with her husband like hiking and kayaking; she enjoys her husband. You know. Like a friend. Let’s not be gross.

This lady feels good. She does not take pills just to keep her body going. She can tell she’s getting older, but only before bed, after a long, productive day. She wakes up refreshed.

cheerleader

I want to be that retired lady, only I might join a basketball league instead of the cheer squad. Do you think it’s possible? I do. But I need to revamp the routine.

Hear me on this. I’m not looking for the Fountain of Youth. I don’t want to look younger than my age. And, I am not afraid to die.

I love that song that goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” Wait a minute. That’s such a good song. I need to sing it out loud. Okay, I did. I wish you could have heard me. That was outstanding. I gave myself the chills.

That song is what I believe. My time on Earth is temporary and short, relative to eternity. But, I also think I’m here for a reason. I like it here, and I want to make the most of the time I have. Being the best version of whatever age I currently am, is one way to do that.

In an effort to be the best version of the retired person I envision, I decided to preserve my joints. I quit running several years ago. Before that, I had run regularly since my freshman year of college; a long time. I eventually started training for half marathons and then a marathon. My hips and knees started to hurt. Not in a good way; in a bad way. In a, this-will-eventually-require-surgery-way. I could tell I was sacrificing my joints in pursuit of my running goals; and why? So I could run the slowest half marathon in the history of the world. That’s silly. I just needed to get a little older before I figured that out.

I quit the marathons and I started walking every day. That felt much better. I also did a little homemade yoga, cross-fit and good ol’ fashion strength training. I like that mix.

This winter has been sooo fleepin’ cold; my 30 – 45 minute walks have turned into 5 – 15 minute walks. My strength training, yoga and cross-fit have almost disappeared, except for the 4 squats by the copy machine. Those are intense.

That kind of fitness regimen is NOT going to help me achieve my vision. I’ve got the nutrition thing worked out. That’s important. You know what they say; you can’t out exercise poor nutrition. I totally agree. We could eat all the garbage we want, work out for hours every day, and be just as skinny as we’d like. That kind of skinny has nothing to do with longevity and good health. Longevity and good health are what I’m after. It’s the fitness portion of my plan that has been unraveling. Now I’m back.

I told Scott that I was ready to get back in shape, and I could use some help. Why did I do that? You DON’T do that. You NEVER ask Scott to help you get in shape, especially if you don’t like working very hard, and I don’t.

Scott gave me a note card. He said, “Write this down. Do 20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 jump squats, 20 push-ups, and 20 jump lunges.”

I asked, “When you say 20 lunges, do you mean 20 lunges on each leg, or 10 on each leg?”

He said, “10 on each leg.”

I said, “Oh, that’s a relief. I was thinking you meant 20 on each leg, and that would be really hard.”

He said, “Finish that cycle. Repeat it two more times.”

Then I said, “I’m filing for divorce.”

I made it half way through one cycle. Guess what? It didn’t actually feel too bad; until I woke up the next day. Oh, dear, sweet, mother of pearl. Pain. Pure pain. I thought about just cutting my legs off to get some relief.

Those legs were perfectly innocent. They were very happy to slowly walk a few blocks each morning. Then I had to get all crazy on them. They did nothing to deserve that, and they really didn’t understand the point.

Those legs are starting to toughen up. I’m still not up to even two cycles of that leg work out though. But, I’m back. Maybe I won’t ever achieve my vision, but I won’t let it be because I didn’t try.

And another thing I won’t do is ask Scott for more tips on getting in shape. I don’t need another note card. The next one might say, “Run to nearest tall building. Take body to top of tall building. Throw body off tall building. Repeat twice.” I’ll figure this one out on my own.

healthy retired lady 2

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