If…question 1

A month ago I was seeking a book of questions for blogging ideas at a garage sale and shockingly I found one. The book is called If…1&2 (Questions for the Game of Life) by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell. It contains hundreds of questions and I hope to answer them.

  1. If you were to be granted one wish, what would it be?

Aside from wishing for a million more wishes, I would wish to live in an utopian world where everyone lives together in mutual respect, peace, and harmony.

I want to live in a world where countries are not at war with other countries.

I want to live in a world where people are helpful and kind towards the needs of others.

I don’t want to live in a world where I am right and you are wrong or you are right and I am wrong constantly yelling louder instead of showing respect for our diversity.

I want a Facebook where I can look at cute kittens and never see fights about politics or religion. I should follow the ethics of my chosen beliefs and so should you. Differences are met with listening, understanding, and respect. No one really wants a world where everyone looks the same, thinks the same, and is just like everyone else anyway.

I want to live in a world of justice, fairness, and equality. No one is bullied and no one gets special treatment. Violence is not tolerated and everyone speaks quietly.

I want a world where family is not fighting against family. A world where marriages last and children born are wanted and raised in loving homes. No selfishness and no sibling rivalry. Grandparents are good role models.

I want a world where authority is respected, laws are followed, and there is a sense of order without corruption, abuse of power, or cumbersome useless rules.

I want a world where elders are respected and worth respecting. The young not harshly judged for their immaturity, foolishness, and inexperience by older folks who have long ago learned those lessons.

Yeah, I know, it’s starting to sound a bit like a Beatles song.

What should be taught?

The day I received the diagnosis of arthritis, I mailed a package. In and of itself, this fact is not very blog worthy. I mailed the package at a store which has a counter for the post office.

There was a young man, an employee of the store, that took my package. He inspected it and told me he could not read my handwriting. Specifically he could not read cursive. He needed me to translate what I wrote. I knew my cursive was not bad because back when I was in grade school my mom made me copy out of the encyclopedia (which for many years I worried I was guilty of plagiarism) so I wouldn’t have the cursive chicken scrawl of my dad. Since then no one ever said my cursive was illegible. In fact, most people said my handwriting is pretty good for someone who is left handed.

Young people are not being taught cursive in school anymore and now some of those children who weren’t taught are in the work force can’t read mail. How scary is that? I lamented to my best friend. I felt like I aged 10 years in just one day. She said someday no one will be able to read the documents our country are founded on such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. As if anyone is going to read them anyway. Someone must carry on the ancient art of hieroglyphics. That in and of itself is rather scary to me. If only a few are left who can read and translate they can have the power to make it say whatever they want it to say with no one the wiser. History is already being ‘changed’ because we don’t like it. How are we supposed to learn from the mistakes our country made when it was young?

My best friend also said alphabetizing is no longer taught in school, something we learned in grade school. She said she volunteered to hand out the baseball uniforms for her son’s baseball club. She had some high schoolers help her and they had no idea how to put the uniforms in alphabetical order by last name. First you start with A… Gone are the days of massive card catalogs at the library. I can’t even remember the last time I went to the library to find something out. That used to be the only place we could go to find answers. When is the last time you looked up a word in an actual dictionary or looked up something in an encyclopedia? Is alphabetization still something that needs to be taught?

Are there skills you think should be taught in school or removed from the curriculum? I always thought everyone should have some basic skills such as simple car care, budgeting, how to fill out forms such as taxes, how to balance a checking account, basic cooking, repairs etc…

One thing I found frustrating when my kids were in school is that they taught math differently. It was the same problem with the same answer with a different way to do the work making it almost impossible for parents to help their kids if needed. If something works, why fix it? Do we need countless useless updates? Is that really progress? I guess I am a stick with what works kind of person. Don’t change things for the sake of changing things.

Back when I was in high school, I took a class called shorthand along with a classroom full of girls. I should’ve taken typing instead. But shorthand was the rage. We could take notes super fast in little scribbles like on the doctor’s prescription pad. Oh wait, do doctors even do that anymore?? What a waste of time that class was. I even thought so at the time. Do you even know anyone who writes in shorthand anymore? If so, I bet no one can read it if some people nowadays can’t even read cursive. It took as much effort as learning a foreign language without the benefit of learning one. I think that’s one class we can ax. (It was probably already axed 20 years ago).

These are just some of my basic observations and thoughts without being an educator. What are your thoughts? Are there things no longer taught that should be taught? Are certain classes outdated? Should we change things that are tried and true for the sake of progress?

Timshel

I first heard of the concept Timshel in the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It means thou mayest in Hebrew. Timshel is saying we have a choice between good and evil. You can choose the path you take. Will others rejoice upon our passing or will there be great sadness based upon the choices we made in how we love one another. I know I am not giving the 600 page book justice with my mere 600 words.

I wouldn’t consider the book to be a happy story. But it was a feel good book because of its realistic perspective. Some of the big themes dealt with relationships between siblings, sibling rivalry, and the parent/child relationship. One of the things that really hit home for me was the struggle the characters experienced within. If my parent chooses evil, what does that make me? The book brings up the thought that although your parent may choose evil doesn’t mean that you are destined for the same choices. They have a choice just like you do.

I won’t lie to you, I sometimes struggle with this. I try hard to be a good person, but plenty of times I fall short. My dad did a lot of evil things. Does that make me evil even though I did not make the same choices he did? Sometimes I see him in myself. I hate to be reminded of him when I look in the mirror, how I talk, or how I walk. But it’s there. I have to wonder if that is the only thing there. Maybe he passed his evil down to me.

Logically, I know it’s crazy to think that, yet sometimes I do. The weight of his decisions has brought many people down. My mom is really struggling with her mental health over it. My brother Luke will not have his kids around my dad. I rarely see my brother and haven’t seen him, his wife, or my nieces yet this year. My dad is not invited to holidays. He is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. We always wonder if and when the police will be back to my parent’s house. But those are all just the external things which make life difficult and complicated.

I think the internal pain is worse. The anxiety that somewhere deep inside I might be guilty just for being his daughter like choosing evil is an inheritable trait. Sometimes I have to keep telling myself I am not responsible for my parents. I am not responsible for my adult children. I am responsible for me and my choices alone.

I don’t have a dad I can be proud of. He has brought nothing but shame to the family name. I wish I could say his choices affected only himself. If the evil choices other people make cannot be attributed to us then neither can the good. Having a child who chooses good does not equate to having good parents any more than having a child who chooses evil equate to having bad parents. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we need something or someone to blame for the bad choices others make? It’s true some people have more obstacles than others. But is that really a good excuse? Maybe they just made a bad decision because that is what they wanted to do.

My grandparents were wonderful people. My dad, not so much.

Timshel. Everyone has a choice.

Again, I would highly recommend reading East of Eden. It’s very well written and thought provoking. It had a lot of interesting twists and turns in the classic drama by John Steinbeck. I’ve read several other books by the same author decades ago, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath were among my favorites. I hope to read more of his books in the near future. They always have a way of making me think about things differently.

Fortune cookie wisdom #49

Good beginning is half done.

I suppose the wisdom of this fortune cookie could be taken in several different ways. For me, when I think of this, I think that my life is half over. As a middle aged person, this makes perfect sense. Of course, if my life is half over as of today my life would end at 95. I think I would be lucky to live that long as right now off the top of my head I can’t think of any family member that did.

I know it sounds morbid, but as I age sometimes I wonder how long I will live. I keep telling myself I have plenty of time left so I don’t waste time worrying about it. With a family history of dementia, I also tell myself that I probably won’t even know I’m dying which in a strange way is comforting. On some days I feel tired of living, but on the flip side the thought of dying is utterly horrifying to me. I like to be told what to expect but no one living knows, or even understands the dimension of time on a continuum. When did time start? Not even the smartest person can tell us that for sure.

What happens after we die? Again, I have my own beliefs, but no one living really knows. Wow, I wasn’t planning on getting all philosophical on this fortune cookie. But that’s what I like about the fortune cookie posts, I really never know where it will lead me.

On a side note, I am all out of fortune cookies…so I guess it might be awhile before I do a post on fortune cookies again. To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure where I am going to go from here. Is there anything you would like to hear more about?

I think my thinker broke

I think my thinker broke. It’s actually amazing how much overthinking I do when I am not focused on a bazillion problems. I analyze absolutely everything.

I’ve been very motivated this week to write some rather interesting blog posts and I’ve pretty much spent every minute available working on my book. It’s strange, I’ve been waking up at the crack of dawn (okay, okay in the dark of 4 or 5 AM) with ideas that won’t leave my head. Better than worries I guess.

It’s late Friday afternoon. It’s time to turn the brain off and pour a drink. I’ve had a productive week.

Cheers to the weekend!

Fortune cookie wisdom #32

Either you can or you can’t. Either way you are right.

I really like the mindset of this fortune cookie. But I think it’s more important to have realistic goals and expectations.

For example, Paul’s step-dad Darryl is having knee surgery in a couple weeks. He said the recovery time for the surgery is 6 weeks. But he said his recovery time will be 3 weeks. I’m concerned he is setting himself up for disappointment.

Sometimes I wish I could do what I wanted without having to be mindful of whether I could do it or not.

If only it was that easy.

Fortune cookie wisdom #30

Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.

Wow, just wow. There is something very satisfying about this fortune cookie. But perhaps it is a bit too harsh, too deep, for a fortune cookie. Maybe they should have cut it off at the feel good time is precious message. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard the expression that truth is precious before.

I’ve heard that the truth is painful. But precious? I really like the idea. But is the truth more precious than time itself? I really have to think about this one. Maybe the truth is more important if it goes beyond our lifetime. But what is truth anymore anyway?

Fortune cookie wisdom #25

“You should let go of negative things today.”

Whoops! Too late! Maybe tomorrow.

This morning started with my husband and I having a ‘friendly’ debate. I wish it ended that way. It wasn’t anything horrible but in my mind it boiled down to one thing, trust. I told my husband that in life there is only one person I can trust and that one person is me. I suppose you could say it’s a trauma response and it probably is.

Then he asked me an important question. So you trust yourself over the experts? Great thought provoking question. Husband scores the first points. He said, “I missed the day you received your medical degree.” It’s true, I didn’t. But I don’t trust doctors because….a million reasons….I don’t trust easily.

Who can you trust in a world where you can’t trust anyone, could never trust anyone even the people who were supposed to look out for you??

We started talking about where we get our news stories, how everything is so biased it’s hard to know if something is real or trustworthy. I get ads on social media for things that support my views already not things to challenge me to think differently. I am more likely to open my pocketbook to causes near and dear to me.

Let’s talk about the vaccine. Yup, I just went there…We both wish there was reliable and accurate data out there. Back in the day we could go to the library and find a journal article backed up by reliable sources. We could do our own research. Now we can just go online and read something by someone like me who doesn’t really know a damn thing about anything and call it research. Or maybe we could watch a video on Tik Tok. That’s accurate, right?

And who are the fact checkers anyway? Why do people get banned for expressing their viewpoints that don’t conform to popular opinion? I don’t know about you, but it sure makes me more interested in hearing what they have to say.

I’m sick of people taking sides and blaming each other. What good does that do? For months and months I heard about nothing but the Delta variant and how unvaccinated people were to blame for its spread. Family and friends were turning on family and friends. Now I don’t hear anything about Delta unless it has an 8 or 9 after it.

Does the vaccine work or not? I really want to know. I don’t want to hear research brought to us by the big drug companies. I don’t want to hear conspiracy theories. I’m sick about hearing stories of the Polio shot success. I don’t give a crap about a girl who flipped off anti-maskers. I wish the only thing I ever heard about a mandate was about a group of guys that go out for beers on a Saturday night.

All I care about right now is how effective is the vaccine. All I hear when I turn on the TV is how COVID cases and deaths are still on the rise and how safe the vaccine is. Booster shots and masks. Is it just me or is almost everyone still living in fear? Not travelling. Not seeing certain relatives. Still fighting with the opposing view. Vaccine safety is very important, but to me the most important question is how effective is the shot. What’s the next step?

Where can I get some real unbiased news?? We are supposed to make life changing decisions based on trust in politicians, drug companies, and crazy cousin Bob’s conspiracy theories on Facebook?? Is this all there is? There should be some accurate unbiased data by now. Where is it and how can we find it? I really hope someone erases this from our history books someday. I can’t imagine what future generations will think of us.

So much for letting go of negative things…maybe tomorrow.

Special treasures

The washcloth I used to wipe the tears from her eyes last week was the same one I used to wash off the makeup from my face last night.

It was a wedding gift; a peach towel set. So special that it was rarely used for the first fifteen years. Why do we do that? Set aside clothes too special to wear until they no longer fit, or are out of style. The crystal wine goblets, the fancy china, the expensive dry clean only clothes, the silverware set from great-grandma… Why do we wait for a tomorrow that never comes today? Why are the best things just uselessly taking up space? What would happen if we used it? Are we so afraid that which was once special will become ordinary?

Who even gave us the wedding gift anyway? That memory long forgotten. Even our wedding attendants long gone, dead or otherwise. At the time it seemed like our friendship would last forever. Once it also seemed that our love would always stay young just like we were.

But now I use that washcloth to wipe the tears off my daughter’s face. Tears from love that was there for but a moment and is gone. Tears on a washcloth given to us by a guest long forgotten. If I don’t remember who gave the gift, do they ever give it a thought?

I thought I would remember every detail of our wedding day forever. But everything not written down gets washed away from our memory by time. Even as I write this, will this post be remembered? It’s nothing special. Will anyone even care that once I received a wedding gift that I thought was too special to use everyday? It was waiting for over a decade in the back of the closet for that perfect guest who never showed up.

Time stops for no one. It doesn’t even slow down to let us savor our best moments a few minutes longer. Sometimes we don’t even realize they were our best days until they are gone. If only I’d known that would be the last good visit before grandma died. I would have enjoyed it more. We would have eaten off of the fancy china and I would’ve worn my dry clean only dress.

Someday I should pull out the fancy china and crystal wine glasses that have been on display but never once been used.

Who cares if the special washcloth is used for makeup and tears? Life is meant to be lived today not just in wait for a tomorrow which might never show up.

Thinking about personality

One of the first things the residential facility wanted us to do as parents was to take a free 16 personalities personality test. I got the same results as I always do. There was also an extra personality subtype designated as an A or a T. The A is for Assertive. These are the kind of people that know what they want. The other type was T for Turbulent. These people tend to be a lot more indecisive. I don’t know about you, but I think being labeled turbulent has a rather negative connotation. But anyway, since I am not a T what do I care?

It was no surprise to me that I am an ISTJ-A. Yes, a confident introvert. My husband was under the misconception that all introverts lack confidence because they don’t speak up. Then he bought a book about introverts and learned what all introverts already know which is that a lot of introverts are not introverts because they lack confidence. For the most part I don’t really care what people think so why would I waste my time talking.

What did surprise me is that I am now more introverted and less of a thinker since last time I took the test. I used to be a strong TJ and now I am strongly IJ which is a little scary. Why am I less of a thinker and more introverted? Has the pandemic changed me? Do I seek out thinking less because I don’t know what to think or believe anymore since free thinking appears to be frowned upon in our society as of late? With the pandemic I am spending gobs more time alone and guess what? I kind of like it.

One thing is consistent for sure. I am still a strong J. My life is comprised of rules, structure, order, tasks, and routine. I’ll have you know that when I say rules, I mean MY rules. I hate being told what to do. But I am super anal with my rules. For example, it really bugs me when people leave lights on in rooms they are not in. My husband will shoot holes in my beliefs because he asks me how much electricity do I think it takes to run my hot tub. If I really cared, I would care about that more than if he left a light on or not. But like always, I totally dismiss his criticism because it does not align with my anal set of rules.

But let’s talk about my husband. He is an ENTJ-A a.k.a. the confident commander. He is all structure, tasks, leadership, and efficiency. Yikes! Between the two of us, we are probably the least sensitive parents out there. We are all honesty and truth. Sometimes the truth hurts. But neither one of us gets hurt easily. Instead we get angry and upset with each other if we are not on the same page. Thankfully most of the time we are.

One other thing that is strongly engrained in my personality type is avoiding of all conflict. This causes pain for me because my honesty and truth creates incongruency within me with my strong desire to avoid conflict. Sometimes in order to avoid conflict I am not honest with other people. I feel this way a lot with my mom. I want to be honest with her about some things but she is very sensitive and I know it will hurt her and cause conflict between us. I could be as peace loving as a hippie but even they would kick me out of their group because I am much too anxious and anal which apparently is not as fun as I thought it was.

My daughter Arabella took the personality test in residential and it was no surprise to me that she is an ENFP-T. What does this mean?? It means that her personality is the exact opposite of mine. To go even further, her personality mirrors mine in the percentages of each trait. She is as extroverted as I am introverted. I am an extreme J (96%), and she is an extreme P (98%). She is a social butterfly, spontaneous, carefree, fun loving, hates rules and structure, and is ready to go anywhere the wind blows her. I mean, how is that even fair? I need to parent a child that does not respond well to my personality style. It’s not much better with Paul.

We are all order, tasks, and structure. In her mind things start when she gets there. There is no having to be up at a certain time in her world. We are not very sensitive to her whims of emotion. If you have to be there at a certain time, you have to be there. I share a lot of personality traits with my oldest two children, but Arabella is alien to me. I am hoping that this knowledge will help us somehow bridge the chasm between us. How do you parent a free spirit when we as parents are all tasks and structure even the military would be envious of? I am hoping to find out.

I wish I knew a lot of these things sooner. Both Paul and I lacked healthy parenting role models. We did the best with what we were working with and from where we came from. Since I am all rules and structure, I have learned that not a lot of people are as anal as I am or are anal in the same ways. I have this mindfulness. Even though I think I have the right way, I can understand that other people do not follow this right way. What a shame, really. LOL!!

As a rule, I tend to put people in boxes. My best friend is spontaneous and carefree which is a great balance. However, sometimes I get irritated with her because while I spend a lot of time planning events she is very last minute and changes everything. Instead of getting annoyed, I put her in the spontaneous box. If this is a pattern of behavior for her it makes it easier for me to understand and deal with it if I understand that.

I also put my mom in an anxious/irrational box. When she acts in ways that are counterintuitive to reason I can understand without getting worked up. For instance, I had a really hard time with her not wanting to leave my dad after he broke the law. Instead he became the love of her life. This is not rational or sane. Instead of letting it drive me absolutely crazy, I put her in the irrational box. It helped me to deal with her better within the constraints of my personality. It became her rule and routine.

Well, I am done thinking for today.