More on Attitude

School starts next week for my 9 yo daughter (she has Down Syndrome).  She’s the first of mine to attend public school (started in pre-K).  All the rest were homeschooled from K-12.  Rosemary’s in public school for lots of reasons.  It is a good place for her, and good for them (staff and schoolmates) to have her there.

But it’s really rather funny.   Some of her teachers, and some of the other parents are younger than my oldest (32 in 3 days).  This bothers me not at all.  I was thinking about it, though.  A person COULD be concerned about what others think, they COULD be embarrassed (even ashamed?).

Sometimes I’ll be out somewhere with Rosemary and my married daughter and her two (ages 11 and 12).  Many folks assume Rosemary is my daughter’s child, not mine.  No big deal.  But again, in that situation one COULD be offended or feel bad.

My attitude is kind of like: think what you will, bothers me not.  The only one I am truly concerned with pleasing is God.  I also care about what my husband and family think, but that is a fr second to God’s “approval”.   (And rarely does it cause problems in the family, even if they disagree with me.  And even more rarely do my husband and I disagree on things.)

One could go through life trying to please others, seeking the approval and confirmation from others.  What a waste.  And so much energy.  And you’re not following your own path, then, but one laid out for you by someone else.  And many people DO live this way!  How very sad!

One can serve others in their life, this is a great part of what life is all about.  I might choose to go to the restaurant my husband likes instead of the one I want to go to, just because I love him.   I might do his laundry, cook for him, mend his clothes and so on, to serve him, and out of love.  This is good and kind and noble.

But if I change my Thanksgiving Day plans and go to my mother-in-law’s house (just to please her) instead of staying home with my family as I had planned and WANT to do, and I volunteer at ____ because someone wants me to, and I ______ because then so and so will like me, perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

Serving others out of choice is good.  Serving others out of a desire/need for approval isn’t.  be who you are.  Love who you are.  Go ahead and strive to be better, that’s good.  But do it because YOU want to do it.

Overpopulation fact

I don’t know where you all (you all meaning any readers) stand on the theory of overpopulation, but here’s a quick fact I’d like to share.  When I first heard it, I didn’t believe it   I did the research and calculations myself (easily done, obviously true factual information available, information not in question by anyone).

If you took ALL the people in the whole WORLD, and grouped them into “families” of 4 people each and gave each family a house on a 6000 square foot lot (typical city size lot), how much space would it take to house everyone?   (This assumes no square footage for streets or parks, just lots with homes.)

EVERYONE, every person in the world, would fit into a space the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.  That’s IT!  (Don’t believe it?  Do the math… 6 million people, google square mileage of TX and OK, convert to square feet, divide… that’s it.)

Personally I think a major problem lies in allocation of resources, and helping people to help themselves.  Governments are often not very effective vehicles to “help the poor”.  I speak not only from what I have learned, but from personal experience.

We spent 2 1/2 years in Venezuela running a children’s home.  Shortly after we got there the government came in to build us 2 large bathrooms, a boys and girls, with multiple showers, urinals, toilets and so forth.  John, my husband, being in the water business, had brought along a water meter and one of the first things he did was measure how much water we got daily.  I asked the engineers how much water 8 showers, 4 toilets and a multiple use urinal would take.  They said about 8000 liters daily.  I said, “STOP!”  The most we have every gotten in one day in the last 2 months has been 2000 liters (and often less than half that).  This is NOT going to work!   Oh, no problem, we will build you a water tower and truck you water each week.  Yeah, sure.

They built it all.  We locked 3/4 of it off, turned the urinal into a laundry sink AND built a couple of very deep outhouse holes a good distance away from the home (like 30′ out, the old ones had been right next to the home).  My point is the government thought they were doing something good and wonderful for the poor kids.  Poor planning.

Anyway, sometimes we need to look beyond the “facts” as they may be presented.


Knocking Yourself

Lately I have had some pretty lofty goals for myself (mostly health related).  I have  been doing well with them, but not 100%.

I had a friend down this weekend.  She had a hard life the last few years (divorce after 29 years of marriage, annulment, and more).  I commented to her that she is still beating herself up over mistakes made and that serves no constructive purpose.

We talked about a young man we know who is turning his life around and getting things in order (he is 22).  One of the people he lives with continually slams him for mistakes.  he still makes mistakes, but has come so far and is doing so many good good things. (Like he shared with me a written list of goals he has.  GOOD goals.  And ones he’s met, such as paying back $3500 of a $4000 debt in one year.)  I lamented with my friend how sad it is that the roommate can;t see all the good, just focuses on the bad.

Ummm… duh!  That is exactly what **I** have been ding with me the last few weeks.  So I set these great goals.  And most days I meet them 50-90%, probably averaging around 75-80%. That is GOOD!  That is much better than before I had set the goals.  yet my thinking each night has been, “Oh, I blew it today.  I didn’t  ___ or ____.”  Maybe that’s true but I DID ___, ____, ___, ____, AND  ____!

Time for me to turn my OWN thinking around and focus on the good done each day!  And stop knocking myslef.

Where are you at?



What you say, your attitude (Story/ Sean)

Here’s a story I wrote some time ago. It keeps popping up in my head. I think there are good lessons to be learned. So I’ll share it and some comments.

He was pushing Sean in the baby swing, while Patrick was climbing on a dome type structure a little ways off. Suddenly Patrick yelled for help. Steve gave Sean a good push and walked over. “Help, I stuck.” Steve looked carefully, he was not stuck, per se. He was at a point about 3’ off the ground, clutching the struts tightly, afraid to move. Steve was real big on letting the kids figure things out themselves, encouraging independence. He asked “What can you do to get yourself unstuck?”

“I dunno. Help! I fall!” Steve looked pointedly at him, then at the ground. He said, “And what happens if you fall?” Patrick said, “Owie!” Steve asked, “Big owie?” Patrick shook his head no. Steve continued, “So, if you fall, you fall. No big deal.”

“Is there maybe something you can do with your hands or feet to get yourself unstuck?”

Patrick looked at where his hands and feet were, and then slowly, carefully, moved his feet and inched his way down. All Steve said was, “You saw what you needed to do to get down, then you did that. You moved your feet and hands so you could climb down. You figured it out.”

Steve always tried to describe what he saw, instead of outright tell them something was good or bad. If they could learn to see things, they could provide their own judgment and learn not to rely on others for what they thought. By describing what had happened, Steve was letting Patrick form his own unconscious judgment. Hey, I DID figure it out, and I DID get down. I can do things. I am capable.

Steve thought this was much better than him saying something like, “Good job.” He also let his boys know that there was nothing wrong in failing, in falling. That was okay. It meant you were trying. As long as you got back up, didn’t let the failure defeat you, it made no difference. It was just a learning experience. In his opinion, way too many people were afraid of doing things for fear of failure. He didn’t want his sons to be afraid of failing.

Steve went back to pushing Sean. Patrick played a while round the base of the dome. Steve watched out of the corner of his eye. He climbed back up a little ways, maybe 2 ½’. And fell. Steve said nothing, pretended he didn’t see it. Patrick looked his way, rubbed his knee, sat a few seconds on the ground, looking at the dome. Then headed back onto it, climbing- cautiously- about 3 ½’ this time, up and down successfully. When he finally got back down, you could almost feel the satisfaction he had, the confidence in having accomplished something hard. Steve smiled.

A woman walked over to him who had been sitting and playing with her young (maybe 1 year old) daughter in the sand box. “Hi, I’m Melanie. That was really interesting.”

He extended his hand, “I’m Steve. What was interesting?”

“The way you handled that with your son. Most parents would first of all have said, ‘BE CAREFUL! DON’T FALL!’ And then they would have plucked him off when he asked for help instead of letting him figure it out. Are you a child psychiatrist or something?”

Steve laughed heartily, “No! I just think it’s better to let them work things out on their own, as long as they’re not in any serious danger.”

I think the way this was handled is good for us to do as parents, as friends, and even with ourselves. (It really does become second nature when you do it enough.) Also note that Steve didn’t solve the problem for the boy, nor tell him what to do. When he was stuck, he merely offered a little guidance.

(I posted this originally for my writing group/ course, so the following example pertains to that, but could apply anywhere in life.) So why has this been on my mind all day? I think it might be helpful for us to consider how this might work with the little voices (liars) we have in our heads and our writing.

Example: a person thinks they aren’t a writer (or a good writer). If they stop a minute and think about – and describe- certain scenes, they might come up with something like this: the other day when I was telling my friends that story about ____ they were really interested. They paid attention and listened. What I had to say was worthy of their time and attention. And they laughed at the funny parts.

So your own judgment could be something like: I can tell stories well, hold people’s attention. What I have to say is valuable. I speak coherently in front of small groups of friends. (Try to use words more specific that “good”.)

Relating this to writing, you might ask yourself how you can transform those positive traits into print.

So, the process is describe, then form your own judgment.

Note: if need be, a description may not necessarily be positive. Sometimes we need to face things we aren’t good at and deal with that. I prefer to focus on the good, the positive as much as possible.

I was thinking more about this last night. What the common response might have been: “Be careful, you’ll fall.” That reply really is rather negative when you think about it.

First off, simply saying. “Be careful,” implies you’re not being. Chances are good most of the time we ARE careful about our actions (certainly we are likely to be careful if climbing on a jungle gym, I’d think). So you are in a one sense belittling the person (or YOURSELF) that they don’t know enough to be careful.

Second, “You’ll fall!” Well, one of two things here (or both). You’re projecting your fear of his falling onto them, planting that idea into their heads. And you’re again assuming they are not capable of doing the task. Negative thinking all around. It even presents the (erroneous, I think) idea that falling is bad. So they fall, big deal. Most of the time, for most of us, our falls are small ones. Small falls, before we get in too deep can serve to teach us things, and not be permanently damaging. The kid who falls a few times off a 3’ jungle gym will figure out how to do it so he doesn’t fall. And then go to 6’ and higher. Or if he is truly not the athletic type, and can’t get it, possibly abandon jungle gym climbing and move to swings. Or wait until he is older, more coordinated. Or have someone show him how (or watch the other kids).

I used a story to illustrate this, but really, how often do we do this? It’s the little liar (voice) at work. This may show a way to treat our kids and others, but also ourselves. Maybe as a challenge today try to pay close attention to what you say to yourself. Are there any phrases like:

I can’t do this/that.
____ won’t like it.
That won’t work, no way to do it.
It won’t be right.
He/she can do it better than me.
I’ll “fall”. (This can be said in MANY ways.)

(Think about what you say to yourself as well as what you say to others.)

1/10 th mile

One tenth of a mile. Not far. I try to walk 3 miles a day. Sometimes I do it all at once, sometimes I spread it out. (I think walking is good for fitness, I’m not much into the, “You must do it all at once to get aerobic benefits and you must ___ and ____.” My goal is to get my 3 miles in, 5-6 days/ week.

I don’t walk real fast, but I can do 1/10 mile in under 2 minutes. It’s pretty dog gone easy to do 1/10 mile. Repeat 30 times in a day and I’ve done 3 miles.

I like watching the Olympics. I need to share about our “TV situation”. We don’t watch TV. We do HAVE a TV for occasional movies we get (usually borrow from the library). We live rural. When the antenna is hooked up, we get one channel (which happens to be NBC, the Olympics channel). So when the Olympics are on, someone goes and climbs on the roof, attaches the antenna wires to the chimney and feeds it in through the window. Then it gets attached to the TV. Hey, it works. (And we have no cable bills, nor temptation to watch “garbage”.)

Problem: the antenna cord isn’t very long, the TV is in my bedroom (by the window). My treadmill is on the other side of the room, around the corner. Watching the Olympics while treadmill walking would be good. I could move my treadmill but that’s too much hassle, plus there is not really room over by the window. So here’s what I do. I treadmill walk with the Olympics on. When the good stuff comes on (there is so much commentary that simply listening to suffices) I go and watch.

However, then during the breaks and commercials I go ad walk. I can usually do at least 1/10 mile during commercial breaks. And they have lots of those. Before you know it, my 3 miles is done. (I do NOT spend all day watching the Olympics, usually some in the afternoon or only evenings).

My point is that you can get a significant amount of exercise in in a day by doing little spurts of things now and then. 1/0 mile here and there. If you’re going upstairs for something, do a double or triple trip, going up and down 2-3 times instead of just one. Takes but a minute. But ALL those minutes add up. Go for it!