Life choices ….

Or do you really think it is necessary to be rude to someone who is going to serve your country?

My oldest son, RJ, is a wonderful, funny, passionate, young man. He will be 23 in December. Earlier this year, he woke up one day and decided to join the Army. He was worried I would react badly and told him dad first to have him soften the blow with me. It was totally not necessary. Even my mom )dammit I miss her so much) was thrilled for him.

He had to make three trips to MEPS before he could swear in. The first one, they took one look at his eyesight (20/200 and 20/400 with a -6 astigmatism … look it up, it sucks!) and told him they could not take him. “What was it you wanted to do? Oh, computers. That will work. You won’t be too far away from your work. Hope you didn’t want to be a sniper. THAT won’t happen!” His paperwork got kicked to Fort Knox. Some general saw his test scores (high) and asked him to go back for a dilated eye exam. He was escorted to an eye doctor for this exam. Less than a week later, he was told he made it and to come on back to be sworn in.

He got his first choice of training … He wants to do something with computers, with a security clearance. His AIT is 22 weeks, which I have been told is a bit longer than usual. He is excited about going. He has found a purpose in his life. He has been wandering a bit aimlessly. We joked he would be living in my basement when he “grew up”. The joke is on him though … we don’t have one. ūüôā

I am so proud of him for making a decision and sticking with it. A few months ago, someone on Facebook made a snide comment about him going into the Army. That time, I was polite. I replied with something along the lines of being proud of him, he made a decision that will be good for him and give him some direction … as well as free training for a career he can be excited about and make good at (if he chooses to enter the private sector). If he chooses to stay in, he will be able to do well with that, too.

That same person made pretty much the same snide comment again. This time, the gloves are off. Here is what she posted:

Has he seen the movie “Full Metal Jacket” yet? Pillow Furnace thinks that’s a must see before anyone swears their life away to Uncle Sam.

RJ replied fairly mildly, for how pissed off I know he is. Here is the thing … is that REALLY what you say to someone who is going to fight for YOUR rights to live in a free country? Signing up for 4 years, or 5 years or even 6 years is NOT signing your life away. Even if he chooses to make a career of the military, that is something to be proud of. At least he has the balls and fire to do something productive with his life.

He is trying to make things better for himself, and the country we live in. Am I scared to death he might get deployed to a war zone? Hell, yes, I am! Even with all that is currently going on in the world, that is going to be a slim chance, based on his career path. They will want to keep him protected. His brains are helping with that. One of the kids on the bus to MEPS with him one day said, “Oh well, I wanted to be infantry anyway!” I am thankful for those who want to be on the front lines. At the same time, I am grateful that RJ is not going to be one of them.

What if everyone had your narrow mind about the military, G? Would you rather that every able body be told, “You are 18 now, you must join a military branch for the next three years”? Do you think a forced military is the way to go? Does Vietnam come to mind? Do you want to be speaking another language because we don’t have men and women willing to defend our country? In all honesty, it is not that easy to get into the military right now. They have more people that want to join than they have spaces for. RJ was chosen because of his brains and what he wants to do with them.

In RJ’s case, he knows that he needs some guidance when it comes to sticking with something. The military is it for him. He will not let it beat him. When he makes his mind up for something, for a cause, there is no changing it. Trust me. I carried this boy for 9 months and raised him for 23. I have never met a more pig-headed, stubborn person in my entire life. Seriously.

What gives you the right to question his choices? To be negative about something he is excited about that can only enrich your life and the lives of others that live in our country or whom we strive to protect? Why would you comment like that? I don’t get it. Frankly, if you have nothing nice to say, keep your mouth shut and your fingers off the keyboard. Oh wait … RJ will be fighting for your right to be an asshole to him. THAT’s what give you the right … our military.

I have friends who have been in the military. Who have made careers in the military or who have spouses who have. Not just in this country but also in others. They are proud (rightfully) to have served or to be serving their country. Your negativity, G, is not welcome. Keep it to yourself in the future, please.

public agent teen

Changes

Life has taken a big twist for me in the past few months. Mom, who moved to Dayton to live with us two years, died fairly unexpectedly on March 7th. While we knew it could happen at any time, really, and she was going to have to have surgery on her back, which would have been risky, she died before her surgery. My phone rang about 5 a.m. ¬†on March 7th and I was totally confused. I didn’t answer it. My Aunt Dott and Uncle Ron were in town and we had been up pretty late and the ringing phone, of an unknown number was just something I could not comprehend. When a voicemail was left, I was still confused and just figured I would listen to it when my alarm went off in an hour or so.

About the time I was deciding to go back to sleep, Alex came screaming into my bedroom. The hospital had called him. He stated that there was a voicemail saying something was wrong with mom. Maggie jumped out of bed and I am pretty sure she was dressed before her feet hit the floor. Before I even got dressed and before we got a hold of the hospital, I ran to mom’s room to wake up Dott and Ron, telling them something was wrong and we needed to go. ¬†¬†Alex called the hospital¬†back¬†and handed¬†me the phone. Or maybe he told me the number and I called on my phone. I am not really sure anymore.While the doctor was talking to me, telling me what had happened, I realized what he was saying. I screamed and cried and Maggie collapsed onto the bed.

Everyone was awake by now. Michael wanted to go to school and RJ wanted to stay home. There was no keeping Maggie home … and that is the way it should have been. I called my sister right away, while I was trying to get dressed and while waiting for others to get dressed so we could go. I remember walking around the house, pretty dazed and confused. My brother worked 3rd shift and was at work. I don’t even remember who called my sister-in-law to tell her. We took two cars to the hospital. On the way, I called my dad’s sister, Lynn, and asked her to come down. Now. She did. My dad and stepmom were on a trip in Costa Rica and had only been gone a day, I think. I hated to even tell them about it but I did.

When we got there, most people were very considerate and caring. I think a couple of her nurses even cried with us … she was a very good patient and they all loved her. I tried calling Mary, our minister. Her phone just rang and rang. I didn’t have her partner’s number. I texted with some friends who also know Mary and they tried calling her and Amanda, both. Finally, they got a hold of some other friends and went pounding on their door … at 7:30 in the morning. I needed Mary there.

My friend, Judi, sets her phone in such a way that only her kids and spouse can reach her during certain hours. I know her one daughter has young kids and is up early. I sent her a message on Facebook to have her mom call me. She did and she came right up. I picked up mom’s phone and noticed that her phone had called a good friend, Mari, around 5:20 a.m. I am assuming it was an accident while moving the phone around. Mari had called back and, obviously, didn’t get an answer. I called her to her tell her what happened. She came right up.

There was a note on mom’s door that said, “Please check with the nurses’ ¬†station before entering”. I guess the nurse’s aide did not think that applied to her. She came to get the vitals. I just stared at her and I think I said she was a bit too late. She backed out of the room. A while later, the cleaning lady came in. She had been told the room was ready. She was horrified and started crying. I went out into the hallway and we comforted each other … she talked about how much she liked mom and how kind she was. She had been horrified that she was told by her boss to come clean the room. I let her know it was okay and we moved on.

We spent a couple of hours there and they were kind enough to leave mom there so when Rick and Nancy got to town, they would be able to go see her. Just as we were getting ready to go, Mary was saying a blessing over mom, Kelly called. We laid my phone on mom’s chest, all held hands and Kelly got to be there as we bid mom a safe journey and sweet dreams. It was very lovely and I have absolutely no clue what Mary said.

We came back home and word spread in our faith community. Karen brought over some snacks and lunch meats, which was greatly appreciated. Judi stayed with us most of the day. Kelly arrived around 1. Phone calls were made. Plans to make arrangements were made. I was pretty much in a daze. I had sent Tony, my Team Lead at work, a text that morning that just said, “Mom coded. Won’t be there”. Later, he sent a text asking how she was doing … He lost his mom 15 months before I lost mine so he totally knew what I was going through. He told me to take whatever time I needed and to not worry about it. I had been on the new job three weeks. It was nice to not have to worry.

Mom’s memorial service was lovely. Mary said so many nice things … I don’t remember what she said but I know it was exactly what mom would have wanted. Kelly got up and talked about mom and then had us all doing the Hokey Pokey. I am sure the funeral attendants were all a bit confused. But mom would have loved it.

Maggie had a very hard time with it. She hated being home alone … because mom had always been here, in this house, with us. When mom and I would be gone when the kids got home from school, and they didn’t know we were going to be gone, I would get a phone call or a text asking if mom was with me … because if not, she had run away. Maggie had been battling migraines since early February and she has a neurology appointment on the 10th of March … which was when we had the memorial service scheduled. Since she had already had two ER trips and 1 urgent care trip, we kept it. Over the next month, Maggie missed more school and a few of those days, I stayed home with her, too.

Over the past 4 1/2 months, we are settling into a new normal. I have two kids leaving home in less than 6 weeks. One starting her junior year of high school. I miss mom each and every day … and still crying at least once a day. Most of the time, it is a brief tearing up but some days are harder than others.

July 9th would have been her 70th birthday. I took the day off work so Maggie and I could hang out. That we did … three doctor appointments for us. It was a good day, though. We went to a movie and ate popcorn for dinner. Mom would have approved.public agent teen

File this: Not Funny if it Happens to You

Maggie and I were getting hair cuts tonight when Alex called me. I declined the call and received the below text.

Right now cleaning the earphone plug on my phone it is full of dog shit cause the little basterd just had to chase and kill the leaf on the hill so he jerked it right out of my hand

I admit it. I laughed. I then read the text aloud and Maggie and Jeanna chuckled. Jeanna even said, “I believe I have heard it all now!”

I know how frustrating it is to have an expensive phone potentially not working. Alex thought long and hard before getting a smartphone. He even bought a 100 dollar case to protect it from rain, snow, sleet and flood. I guess he didn’t think about dogs.

I asked how this could have happened with his case and was told he had the headphones out for just a few minutes. I don’t think he found my comment too helpful:

This is gross but suck on it. That worked w mine.

See? His phone thinks the headphone jack is in it so won’t play sounds the normal route. The sucking trick I learned on the Internet when Maggie dropped my phone in slush.

I called mom on our way home to see if the storm had died down or not. She told us she thought he had gone to the AT&T store. I suggested a bag of rice and mom replied that she was sure it was not wet but chunky. Maggie and I howled over that, thinking about the poor person who got that customer! I mused it might be fun to lurk on their employee forums: “You won’t believe this! Some guy’s phone was literally full of shit!”

I had to pick Michael up from a volunteer opportunity to iChat. He called me and asked if RJ was doing something to a phone as he had been alerted on his phone. I started laughing and could barely spit it out. I was barely able to see from the tears. He said. “Let me get this straight …” andI dissolved into laughter again. I asked him if he wanted to know what I had I said and he immediately quipped, “Shit happens?” Glad I didn’t hit the police car next to me!

I am still hopeful the phone will recover without a chunk out of the wallet. I hope Ale. Can see the humor in it from our perspective and finds it as funny as we did. I think it would take me a couple of days …public agent teen

What is Justice?

This post was started on 1-6-2013 and I just recently found it in my drafts. I am going to work on finishing it tonight though I am again not sure where I was headed when I started this. I just skimmed the article again to refresh my memory.

I have been ruminating on recent NYTimes article regarding something called restorative justice. You can read the article here. It will take you a bit of time to read it but it is well worth the read. I will wait.

Okay, how many of you are now thinking, “There is NO way that could be me?” I volunteered for the same organization as Kate many years ago and we “met” online. We have been Facebook friends for a few years and I heard of Ann’s shooting when it happened. I could not imagine the feelings of Kate, Andy and Conor’s parents. The feelings of sadness, anger and betrayal by a boy they loved and raised.

Reading this article has really given me food for thought. Just how one finds that kind of forgiveness in their heart is almost beyond me. Tragedy has touched my life in a profound way, also through a murder. In my case, it was a young girl, just barely a teenager. I had not even met her in person before but had Facebook chatted with her many nights and she was my son’s girlfriend in Cincinnati, as two teens who live an hour apart can be boyfriend and girlfriend. Much easier in the digital age in which they were raised.

It is hard for me to think of forgiving her murderer. Of being able to sit there and hear what happened. Feel it as if I were there, because that is what parents do. I feel sick, as Michael must have, reading of him stopping on the way to the hospital to vomit. I hear what Andy may have sounded like when he heard Conor talk about what he did to his daughter, how she cried out in a vain attempt to live. I get a pit in my stomach just writing this.

I know that holding onto anger and rage only hurts me. Not the person who has hurt me. I know that. I get that. I just can’t always get beyond it. A week or so after Esme was murdered, Michael was told he could not go to the local park. I just couldn’t do it. He needed to be home. To be safe. He went anyway. I found him and I remember yelling at him and crying, “I get to be over protective for a few weeks. I GET to be this way. You can’t take this away from me. I won’t always be like this but I need more than a week. Get yourself home NOW!” He got it. And I got over that … mostly.

Tragedy like this affects your life … forever. Some things will never be the same. I look at things differently. I worry each time Maggie walks to work. Or wants to go for a run. Or a bike ride by herself.

I admire Kate and Andy and Conor’s parents for having the faith and love and desire to get to the space of forgiveness. To know that this is for them as much as for Conor … actually, it is more for them than for Conor. I actually wish more of the world could move to this space of love. ¬†It is hard for me to separate forgiveness out from punishment. I worry that forgiveness means no repercussions. This is another example of how that is not the case. Conor is serving time for his crime. If Kate and Andy did not forgive him, they would also continue to be punishing themselves. Carrying around hurt and anger does not do a body good.

Does this change what you think of when you think of justice? I used to be very pro-death penalty. Then I was very anti-death penalty. After a personal experience, I felt that I could be happy seeing that man put to death (he is on death row, if anyone wants to know). What constitutes justice? An eye for an eye? Turning the other cheek? There are many forms of justice. I hope to be able to get to this space some day myself.

Roller Derby

Stress has been the name of the game these past couple of days at work. Nothing that I won’t get over but the fun has been few and far between. Had an interesting and fun IM with my manager today about Maggie’s interest in roller derby.

When I was first approached about it, I told her I would look into it and think about it. All smart kids know that means one of two things: parents will ignore the fact that the conversation ever took place or that it is an immediate and resounding, “No!” ¬†Maggie was not going going to let me get away with either option so I did what any tech-savvy mom would do: I Googled “roller derby Dayton Ohio” and found one adult league and no junior league options. I told her emphatically I was NOT driving her to Cinci so we were good. Or so I thought.
A few months later, junior roller derby came to Dayton Ohio and she was THRILLED. I was ¬†not. I hemmed. I hawed. I asked a friend who does roller derby what she thought about my precious snowflake¬†daughter hanging out with such riff-raff¬†getting hurt by tough girls and was told, “Let her do it! She will learn so much and have so much fun!” Since I really did trust Kimberly, I grudgingly went to the first meeting. What helped is that a friend brought her daughter along as well. The girls were so excited about it and the moms are really cool, too.
What roller derby has brought to Maggie is such a sense of self confidence. Anyone who knows her well knows she is not really lacking in that area but she really does shine on her wheels. She is kind and considerate to the less experienced girls and is able to be hard (yet kind) to the girls she is practicing with each week.
My manager and I were IM’ing yesterday about Maggie and roller derby. He commented something along lines of, “What? She couldn’t pick something with less contact ¬†like badminton? Doesn’t she like her teeth?” We both got a chuckle out of that. It really made me think, though, of how much she has grown since starting roller derby. She has always been kind and considerate of others. Compassionate. This has given her an outlet for some of that and has given her an avenue to strive to do her best and beat her own previous records. She is a leader and it shows.
I started this post last night when I think I had a different point I wanted to make but was unable to keep eyes open. If I remember where it was heading, I will come back to it.

Three Little Words

Not the ones you may be thinking I mean. They could be be two words and not three. I didn’t make my kids say them when they were younger. I wanted them to mean something. We talked about them. We talked about they made others feel. How they made themselves feel.

Why are these words so hard to say to someone you care about but so damn easy to complete strangers? Bump someone’s grocery cart? Let go if a door a moment too soon? Almost bump into a co-worker around a blind corner? These words come out. Easily. Routinely.

F*ck up at home and the person hurt gets blamed. I haven’t played that game in years. And when I say it, I usually mean it and am not being snarky. I hope I have modeled that well for my kids and that they remember the apologies more than the blame.

I fell tonight. Hard. My feet went straight out from under me. I landed hard on bottom and my back smacked hard up against the half wall in the foyer. The floor was wet and had not been dried. Not life threatening (to me but it could have a game changer had it been mom or if I had smacked my head on the wall as hard as I went down or even landed differently).

No apology. Not even a backhanded one. I was blamed. Amazing how hurt and angry I am over that. Instead of a sincere apology, I was told it was my fault.

My head is starting to hurt from the jarring I took. I will take a few OTC sleeping pills and a Vicodin. Or two (they’re small).

I guess I see it like I raised my kids: don’t apologize unless you mean it. I don’t want empty words from family and friends. Say it when, and if, you mean it. I guess it wasn’t meant.

A month of blogging …

when I am already two days behind? Not sure I can do it. I have friends who have done it a few times … Reticula and Autodidactpoet¬†… are two that come to mind. I always think: how fun! I should do that … then I think, “WHEN will you have time to write? You always say you will write but you don’t take time to do it.”

I thought I would blog when I got home from Indy on Friday night. That hellish trip didn’t end until Saturday, though. Don’t get me wrong, the trip wasn’t bad … I actually had fun being in the car two hours longer than I needed to be with three teenagers. Two of them boys that I didn’t birth. We laughed. Joked. Talked about semi-serious stuff. And put the van in park more times than I care to remember while on I-70. Getting home at 1 a.m. or so, though, didn’t lend itself well to blogging.

Yesterday, my sister and niece were here visiting and I just didn’t think about it after they left. I AM going to do this. I really am. Even though I am two days behind the 8 ball. I will either post twice on a couple of days (I do plan on having a couple of vacation days this month) or I will continue posting into December.

I like blogging, even if I think no cares about what I have to say. I find, when I go back and read some things I have written, that I have forgotten what I wrote, the exact words, not the stories, and I find that I LIKE what I had to say.

I hope you like to hear from me, too.

Also willing to take suggestions for topics, though I will leave the vaginas to Reticula.

From May of 1999

We have started going through the garage … finally. We found some pictures that the kids have brought in and started looking through them. We found the pictures I took that go with this story. I read this story aloud to Michael, Maggie and Mom. I was laughing so hard, it was hard for me to read it.

BTW: I have kept Michael.

Enjoy!

 

For sale, for the cost of shipping:

*  1 large box of clothing, lots of Osh Kosh overalls

*  Enough shoes for a couple of years

* ¬†Plenty of toys — including FP, Little Tykes, some puppets and crayons

*  A Creative Memories baby album, not yet started, will include the baby
pictures and the vital stats to make it complete

*  Complete medical records/history

*  A beautiful, vibrant, creative, loving, cuddly, energetic, talkative, imaginative, outgoing, lovable, happy, redheaded, blue eyed . . . . . . . . .
..

three and a half year old!

ūüėÄ

He answers to the name of Michael.  He sometimes comes when called, likes to give hugs and kisses and be read to.

Any takers?

Today, he was eating a spoonful of peanut butter. ¬†He then proceeded to smack¬†it all over his sister’s arms and legs and face! ¬†She barely tolerates baths¬†(which is up from screaming the whole time, clinging to me for dear life) as¬†long as she just plays in there and you do NOT attempt to clean her up!

Have you ever tried to clean peanut butter off of a child who literally was¬†wearing it withOUT putting her in the tub? ¬†Doesn’t work!

While Michael is sitting in timeout, Maggie gets a bath. She doesn’t stop¬†screaming until I am done washing her. ¬†Then she plays in it for a few¬†minutes.

Get her out.  Try to dress her.  She runs away . . .. . naked.  Her new thing.  Sigh

Michael crawls into my lap and proceeds to fall asleep.  Great, a nap at 5:15.  Fun.

Maggie starts fussing as she has peed on herself and doesn’t particularly¬†like having wet legs and feet (still need to find WHERE it happened so I¬†clean that up, too!) ¬†Get Maggie diapered and dressed.

Get a diaper on her.  I go to the bathroom.  I come out, about 30 seconds later.  Maggie has a jar of peanut butter.  A large jar.  She is eating it with her hands.  Did I mention that she had clean clothes on?  She is covered in peanut butter from head to toe.

Mommy doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. ¬†So she does a little of both.

While doing a little of both, she gets the camera out.

Have you ever tried to clean peanut butter off of a child who literally was¬†wearing it withOUT putting her in the tub? ¬†Doesn’t work!

Maggie gets another bath. ¬†Since I didn’t drain the tub, I already have some¬†water in it. ¬†She screamed while being cleaned up.

Mommy puts Maggie down for a nap.  GREAT, it is now 6 p.m.  What a great time for a nap!

Sigh.

Michael is still for sale, Maggie is not.  I think I will keep her . . . . . .. for a couple more years, at least.

Who will start the bidding?

Do I hear $100?

Some days you just cannot get ahead, can you?

(PS . . . . Judy, be wary of large packages from FedEx with air holes!)

Barbara

 

“What Kind of Brother Are You?”

This is the title of a song by Joe Jencks. You can find the words here. I have it on my iPad, so if you see me at Roller Derby or some other place and want to hear it, I will be happy to play it for you. This song came to my mind after an incident last week that left me feeling like a slightly bad mom. Not as bad a mom as when Maggie started her period and, when she told me, I said, “Are you f*cking kidding me?” Maybe I will tell that story, too, in another post of what NOT to do when your daughter has her first period when you are out of town for your grandfather’s funeral and have been home from the viewing for an hour before she decides to tell and looks at you as if you asked her to skin a kitten when you ask, “Did you tell your grandma so she could get you a pad?”. Errr … I guess that about sums up that experience.

What has me thinking about this song is last week my daughter and my son’s girlfriend’s little sister were “catcalled” in a parking lot of a UDF (local convenience store). Maggie is 15 and Callie is 14. Spencer, Michael’s girlfriend, was already in the car and Michael was walking out with the girls. Now, Maggie has bright blue hair so she is used to attention around her hair. One of the guys said something about her hair and she thanked him for the compliment. They then started whistling and making other comments, though I am not completely sure what was said. Michael walked out of the store and one of the guys said, “Hey, guy, is one of those girls your girlfriend?” Michael responded, “No. One is my sister and the other is my girlfriend’s sister and they are both under 16”. The men, and they were men not teens, rolled their windows up and drove away.

I grew up in a time where things like this were common place. My dad would toot the horn or whistle when he thought ¬†girl was pretty or had a cute figure. I started to talk to Maggie about it … I said that it was not nice that this happened. I mentioned that she had worked hard to change her figure, roller derby has helped that, and that her pants were “skinny jeans” and she did have a cute butt. Callie is a gymnast so you can make inferences there about her figure. I told Maggie that while it still wasn’t acceptable, when I was growing up, it was common and she could be proud of herself for what she has accomplished. She just kept staring at me. I was backtracking but … You know how when you are saying something, and you know it is not quite right when you are saying it, and you are being given a blank stare and you keep on talking and wondering to yourself why you don’t just shut the fuck up? Yeah, that was me.

The conversation moved on. About an hour later, I apologized to Maggie for trying to trivialize her experience. I told her that I don’t know what ¬†was thinking. That what she experienced was, plain and simple, sexual harassment and that it was wrong. (At least I apologize when I mess up with the kids … lol) That it was wrong for men to behave that way and that even if she had been naked, they had no right to comment on her body. Her hair? Yes … she expects to get comments and enjoys them.

I have talked with a few people about this and it was just accepted back when I was growing up (late 70’s). It was something to brag about. To be proud of. I worked at my dad’s doughnut shop starting when I was 13 1/2. It was filled with dirty old men (and some not old dirty old men) so I was certainly used to that mentality from a young age. Even though it made me very uncomfortable at times, I was accustomed to that sort of attention and didn’t know how to deflect it. Besides, I was too meek to speak up about something like that anyway. (Oh just shut up, I know what you are thinking! Yes, me. Really. I have worked so damn hard to be sure Maggie is not meek and has spunk and is not afraid to take someone down, if need be. I have done a pretty damn good job of it, too).

Just how would those men feel if that happened to their daughters or sisters? ¬†Nieces? Mothers? A friend was in the mall with her family when her daughter was still a young teen — she may not have been been 13 yet — when she was oggled by some adult men, until her dad said, “THAT is my 12 year old daughter. Would you like to say that again?” They were chagrined. But, dammit, we shouldn’t have to worry about walking through a mall, out of a convenience store, down the street, ANYWHERE. Our daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces and friends should feel free to walk anywhere they please without fear of sexual harassment. What makes it right? What will it take for our society to become less tolerant of this behavior? Hell, I was even trying to excuse some piggish men to my daughter who was harassed.

Read the words to the song. Buy the album and listen to it (I love the whole CD, truth be told). Play it for the men in your life. Have them listen to it. Maybe if more and more men stop to think about how they are potentially making the women feel, they will stop. Or at least call others of their sex on it. It is degrading.

It would be interesting if others wanted to have a discussion about this, either here on the blog or on FB. It is so important that we, living in this country with such a culture of rape and blaming the victims of rape, start standing up for ourselves. Our sisters. Daughters. Nieces. Friends. Even strangers. No one deserves this treatment. Ever.

 

Don’t Complain, Condemn, or Criticize …

or to put it in a positive light: Praise, Uplift, Delight (as I have as my profile picture on Facebook). One thing I learned when my kids were younger was to phrase things in a positive light: “keep the milk in your cup” instead of “don’t spill your milk” or “play gently with your friends/siblings” instead of “don’t hit!” The thoughts there are that negatives are not processed in the same way. That what is heard is “spill the milk” or “hitting is a good thing!”

My faith community, Tree of Life Community: A UU Congregation, is talking about this very thing this month. Jerry Brinkman made this philosophy of Dale Carnegie his own. He recently passed away as the young age of 83. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him: those at TLCUU, those from the old St. Agnes parish he was a part of for many years, his loving family, his multitude of friends and the community at large. He was wonderful man and someone to admire. Jerry wouldn’t like us to say that about him as he was also very humble.

Some of us are working on keep that feeling alive and are taking on the challenge of praising, uplifting and delighting and seeing how long it takes us to get to 21 days. One thing that is important to note: thoughts don’t count; verbalizing them does. Mary, my pastor, talked about the minister that was the inspiration behind this. You can find more information at this website: Complaint Free World. It is very intriguing. I believe Mary has ordered some bracelets for us to wear. I am using one of my own for the time being.

What I want to discuss, either here or on my Facebook (Facebook will be easier), is the line between statements of fact and condemning, criticizing and complaining. Stating to a child (yes, I have one in mind), “Your side of the room is a pigsty with your clothes all over the floor!” is criticizing. Stating, “Please clean up your clothes” is not praising or delighting but certainly is not a negative thing either.

Relaying a story to a friend or a parent about an interaction with someone can just be a statement of fact, as long as you leave out condemnation, right? What about if you were angry or frustrated at the time of the interaction? Stating the facts, as you saw them, without saying, “And can you believe how they responded??” is just a discussion. Discussing interactions that cause you heartache, or just bring you grief, can help you understand how you reacted, how you could have reacted differently or even make you realize you are really not the crazy one (or at least not in that particular situation).

I think looking at how we communicate with everyone, whether it be a child, a spouse, a co-worker, a manager or someone you manage, is good for all of us. So many of us are seemingly completely unaware of our tone of voice, of how we sound when we answer the phone, of our constant sighing when we are responding to someone. However, other people notice it; especially the one/s we always communicate with in such a negative way.

Even our self-talk is important. Someone pointed out they made a mistake in getting to a destination and she was down on herself. She then realized she would not have been thinking those thoughts if someone else had been driving. So what? She drove two blocks out of her way. It was not that big of a deal.¬†We all do it. “That was stupid of me!” “I am an idiot. Why did I do that?” ¬†Thankfully, self talk (as long as it is not verbalized) doesn’t count against us in this exercise.

We do need to talk about negative things. Things that make us angry. Things that make us sad. We need to bring up behaviors of others that need to be changed for a variety of reasons: you drive too fast and recklessly, not studying will cause you to fail that class and not get into the college of your choice, your lack of customer service will cost you your job or that promotion you were hoping to get, etc. It is HOW we communicate those things with others is important.

Who else is up for the challenge? Who wants to discuss the line between relating an event and criticizing? Personally, I think when I relayed a story at the coffee shop last night, I did a good job of doing it without complaining, condemning or criticizing (well, at least one of the stories!) even though the story I was relaying had made me very angry. While we can’t always praise, uplift and delight in every situation, we can certainly work on not being mean and negative.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Really. Just no complaining, condemning or criticizing. Oh, I am putting my bracelet back on!