Monday, December 28, 2009

Going the extra step

NOT even miles...

Sometimes I get "brilliant" ideas. They're really cool--to me. I get ideas, get going on them, and then I wither when... it comes to involving others in my plan. What if they don't think it's brilliant? what if it's not? It's probably not... probably been done... I am probably just an idiot to think it was ever even interesting in the first place... then it dies, a lonely grey pile of dust, to be swept into the cobwebs of my mind.

Do you have some great idea? Perhaps this is the big year to make it happen. Write it down. Consider it. Get a buddy. Do some research and make it happen! Even if it doesn't make you independently wealthy, it's a growing experience!

Scrapbooking and Faith

While you are busy wracking your brain as to how, exactly, you are going to improve over 2010, here's an idea that gives a little twist to journalling, scrapbooking, even blogging. All these things and more can be combined into Faithbooking.

Faithbooking can be "a creative expression of a family's spiritual journey". This would be the place to put those faith building events that can be passed down to encourage generations to come. Baptisms, births, miracles, blessings can all be recorded here. When a child brings home a Sunday School paper with a picture of God, this is where it would go. This isn't the summer sprinkler pictures we show our friends, but the more spiritual side of our family.

Pages can be done by every member of the family or with contributions from each, verbally or in the form of a picture, piece of fabric, poem, ribbon, keepsake,... only you will know what is appropriate for your family memory. There could be one assigned record keeper or anyone could be allowed to contribute, or there could be regular times when certain questions are posed and answers written, testimonies recorded. Notes taken in church with the thoughts of the person taking them would also be appropriate here.

This year would be a great time to start a Faithbook together. It's a great way to focus on what's really important. :D

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brotherhood of the Scar

I had no idea there would be so many positive things coming out of my surgery.

I was a big fraidy cat to get it done. My doctor was amazing, my care impeccable, my recovery immediate and my scar is healing. Everything went well. I had two disks taken out and fused. That means they put in a metal bar and screwed it to my vertebrae and replaced the squishy disks between the vertebrae with plastic. Since my squishy disks had all squished out, my vertebrae were out of place and sawing on my nerve. The surgery completely fixed this. But I digress.

Now total strangers have a commonality that completely circumvents convention. The man pumping my gas the other day (I accidentally pulled into full service, which was worth blogging about all on it's own!) and the bright young accountant I saw at the office both immediately felt at home with me and showed me their scars.

It was really cool, having total strangers completely lower any barriers to chat about something meaningful to them. Really cool.

I mean, I chat. To anyone, about anything. I talk to people in stores, in waiting rooms, at libraries (SHHHH!!). It's one of those things. Out going, yes. I love chatting with people.
I even (sigh) facebook. But that's what I dislike about digital social networking, it's easy to know about everyone's every day life without having any idea of their real stories. What makes them real?

The Brotherhood of People with Cervical Fusions is awesome. How long did you take to feel better? Who did your surgery? Which disks? How long before you were back to work? How are you doing now? Did you follow doctor's orders? What else happened when you got your nerves back? They just jump into these questions. I went to church for three months and hardly anyone mentioned the enormous neck brace I sported. Like it was embarassing and not to be talked about. But those who have BEEN there have no trouble asking the cool questions and delving right in. Of course there are two reasons for this.

They care, because they have had it done too.

They know, they can see the scar, so they identify a commonality.

So many times we go about our shallow little lives without delving into others' reality. Never finding commonalities. And we are less because of it.

How much more wonderful the relationships where you know about each other enough to be sorry they got a diamond, or glad they're pregnant... how would you know? On Facebook or in person when you discover someone is pregnant, you wonder, is that a good thing or is this going to be a huge problem for them? Is this planned or is this going to destroy their relationship? What do I say? So you say, Wow! which, in and of itself, isn't much of a comment, but does show you read the post. (I don't like diamonds, by the way. How would you know? Send pearls! Or colors!)

So many times I find myself inadvertently offending someone because I didn't know enough to comment correctly and they choose to answer defensively. Look, if you REALLY know me, you'd know I do have opinions, but I wouldn't hurt your feelings on purpose for anything. I respect you and how you feel, completely. Politics, religion, idiology, morality, I can put all that aside and still love you and care about you.

We just need something in common.

Thanks, brothers and sisters of the Cervical Fusion. I love all of you, too. And thanks for the lesson.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Seize the Day

My insurance company is awesome. I love them and they send me stuff that's actually worth reading. In the latest issue they list 18 things to do before you turn 18. I'd list them here but they're copyright protected. Bummer. But it made me remember another magazine, Family Fun, which listed things you should do this summer, and rated them as far as difficulty, helpfulness, etc. They were things like, learn to do a cartwheel, whistle through your teeth, tie a bowline....

So many times we let the time pass, handling what we have to, and without a plan, we waste a lot of time. It's important to set plans and learn about things that are important to us or when the opportunity arises.

My youngest son just learned there is a fencing expert in our church. What a great time to learn how to do some cool swashbuckling moves! We have a child who will be moving away from home. When he does, we'll be learning all about his new home. This is not as spectacular, but it's part of the whole "Seize the Day" idea. Take those moments that are there for you and make something happen!

Sometimes YOU are the one who has to make them happen. Some opportunities fall in your lap, granted. You recognize them and appreciate them, that's super. But sometimes you have to reach out of your comfort zone, make sacrifices, make changes in your routine, and grab something less substantial but more meaningful.

If you're bored, try to discover why. Are you unable to do the things you want? How can you change that? Can you do something else? When I lived at Fort Bragg we were completely broke. I was clipping coupons and spending every "spare" dime on food. Sometimes we went without things. We didn't have cable, the dryer died, the stove burned up, the air conditioner didn't work. I had a little child and was pregnant. Gas was a luxury saved for getting Daddy to work and all of us to Church Sunday. I realized I really missed shopping. Grocery shopping with a little kid and pinching every penny buying the worst cuts of meat (could never afford potatoes or beef at all!) was just not very fun. The Library was too far away to justify the gas. There was, however, a book exchange, and I did have some extra books. I took some down there and traded them for "new" books. It wasn't SHOPPING shopping, but I did get to take my time selecting interesting books, looking at them, and picking the prizes to take home. The book exchange only charged tax, which was far less than a dollar a trip. It satisfied my need to "buy" something, got me out of the house, gave me a purpose, and helped my reading hobby. It also helped me weed out books I really didn't "need". I looked forward to these trips and really enjoyed them.

With fewer resources we learn to make do, we learn to be creative, and we learn self sufficiency. I would never have learned to change the oil on a car if I'd had money to pay someone else. I would not be so good at building a fire if it hadn't been the only way to heat my house. I would not appreciate hand me downs as much if I had been spoiled with name brand new clothes all the time. I would not have appreciated nature as much if I hadn't taken the time to go in my back yard and hang clothes.

It's important to have times in your life where you have to "make do" and times you have to do things that are hard and uncomfortable. Asking directions in a foreign country, changing a tire, working a job you don't like all build character and give you something they search for a lot these days, self esteem. If you know you can handle things yourself, and you don't have to rely on someone else, the government, your church, or friends, it does give you a sense of self that is stronger. This works as a family too. If you and your spouse can handle the vicissitudes of life together, it makes your relationship stronger.

So no matter what your circumstances, Seize the day! Set some goals for yourself. Here are some things to get you thinking!

Do a good turn daily (okay I totally stole that from Boy Scouts!)
Learn something new daily
Learn how to do something well
Pick a family to shower blessings on. Have them over for dinner. Give them presents. Include them in family fun times. Bring cookies.
Find someone who knows a skill who will share it with you.
Make a Christmas ornament.
Choose a hobby or talent you'd like to master and read about it on the internet, at the library, talk about it with friends and total strangers, and see how far you can go. Find out if there are any competitions locally, and see what it takes to enter.
Start or add to your own blog. You have something to say!

If it's career oriented, cooking a special meal, learning how to jumpstart your car, or learning more about local politics, it's making you a more informed and more interesting person, who has confidence and abilities. Confidence is attractive. See, reading -- and acting upon-- this blog may make you more beautiful!