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What I really really want…

Preface.  I didn’t think I’d ever write this publicly.   I was commenting over at E’s place and… now is the time.   It’s a lot more naked than I customarily get on this blog.


What are dreams made of?   For me, dreams are made of beauty and goodness and truth – and purpose.

I want what I have wanted for years – a place in the country.   Somewhere I can have my friends over for ages if they like.   Somewhere I can grow my food and chase rainbows and dance outside my front door without alarming my neighbors.   Without seeing my neighbors, please.  (One of my least favorite things is that exiting my home makes instantly visible – even in my backyard.  Heck.  Even in my patio, if my neighbor is on the hill.  Those of you private people are shuddering with me, yes?  I had a neighbor once that I realized could see *into my home* and was watching me my nurse my daughter on my couch *in my living room*  -justugh-)  I want to do proper preps.  I know *how* to do most of this stuff, and what I don’t know, my husband seems to (I don’t know how he know, he just does.  ‘Tis a mystery.  What neither of us know, my farm-girl mom has done).

I ache to spend my days working with my hands and my heart.   Once upon a time, my husband and I did a lot of hospitality.   Our home was a home for broken hearts, a place of peace and safety and love.  It got to be a bit of a joke between the two of us, but we loved it.   I want friends to visit and stay with me.   I want to feed them.  Feeding people I love is very nearly the Prime Directive.   Loving them as they heal is one of the things I have been for.  I don’t know if it still is, but I wouldn’t mind finding out.    I *enjoy* loving people.   That is definitely a thing I am for.    Healing people might be.   (No I don’t have the gift of healing, yes, I’ve pursued that).

I want room to have an extra house on the property for my folks to live.  I’m an only.  They’re in their late 70s.  I’d like them nice and close and convenient to keep an eye on.   My grandpa had dementia.  I learned a lot of anti-lessons, and I have some very strong preferences here.

My husband is brilliant with his hands and loves to fix stuff.  I’d love to see him have all the room he needs to spread out and fiddle to his heart’s content.  To see him pursue his real interests.   I want to see what’s in his imagination, hidden by all this concrete.  I want to see him in a job where he’s properly appreciated.   I want to see him stretch his wings and fly.   See him play.   Grow things together.   That would be a goodness.

I’d like to see my kids fledge somewhere they could start their lives close to home.   Grandbabies someday would be a goodness.

I have some things to say in writing.  That would be nice, to feel like I made a difference in the wider world.   I’ve done rather a lot of research.  It would be good to get a few books out in the universe… and it would be Much Better to have proper work that I do, a way to contribute financially and bear some of that load.   Imagine, if I lived somewhere it snowed, I might have to stay out of the garden and be at the keyboard for a few months/year.  And at my sewing machine.    I’m well suited to shifting my pursuits seasonally, it keeps me focused.   I found out that I’m pretty decent at public speaking and not in the least afraid.   I would like to use that.

I would like to do the things I am good at, the things that I love.   I enjoy working for purpose.

I want to spread beauty and love and God.

When God wills, dreams will come true.

 

Braxton Hicks

Have you been outside lately? -sadness-  Welcome to our new normal.

This is now a meme.

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I wrote this in 9/2016.  You’re welcome.

Hands, Heart, Hearth

Do you ever try to figure out how the stuff in Revelation is going to go down and the World will just blow it off like, “Yeah, it sucks… but whatevs”.   I’ve had a theory for a while that things are just going to continue to get worse and worse until life as we know it will be so bad that the judgements of God will just be … worse.  Well, of course that’s very much like labor pangs.  They start out light and build up.

Anyway, I decided tonight was a good night to spit this out on paper.  This week has been rough as I watch the world get worse and worse and more and more hateful.   Please feel free to discuss in comments!!

2 Thessalonians 2: 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is…

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Book Review: Two Books from the Thirties

Ah, intellectual hubris.   You’re about to get a smack-down.

I’ve just finished reading the two last books on my second pile of “to-reads”.   I picked the list from a few lists from other folks, just sifting through my interests and their recommendations.   The third pile will show up whenever Amazon decides to deliver books again, they’re muttering about the beginning of May.

The first book I picked to read made my list under mild protest.   It’s on **everyone’s** “must-read” list.   I figured it would be quick, light, and I’d get through it, perhaps with some insight for my sometimes socially awkward self.

Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – pub 1936.  I had a friend tell me he thought it was trite.   No, it’s not trite.   You can’t call the origin of all the business advice you’ve ever received trite – it’s the original!  I ended up taking pages of notes from this book.  I *am* socially awkward and clumsy.   I need the help.    Did I read things I already know?  Of course!   Most of this book has made its way into standard “how to be a good employee” advice over the course of nearly a century.   But I read things I didn’t know – and I heard the advice in my bones in a way that it hadn’t come through in the copies.   It’s well written, if light (think Chicken Soup for the Soul level of writing, or Reader’s Digest), and it makes good points, points to take seriously.

The second book I figured, “This guy is a bit outdated, but he *is* the most famous in his field.  He’s got to have some great insights on my subject matter, and I’ve always wanted to read some of his original work”.     “Civilization and Its Discontents” by Sigmund Freud was originally published in German in 1930.

It was awful.   Most of its conclusions were … silly.   I mean, I know Freud was the dude who came up with oral and anal as descriptors of people, but keeping a straight face while the bathroom habits of toddlers are taken seriously as the causes of behaviors in adults is a tad difficult.  This book in particular is his rant against religion as a cause of human behavior.   The work stands up far more interestingly as a piece of history (an example of thinking of that era, something that influenced behavior and popular culture for decades after) than as ageless wisdom.  I mean, people DO still do therapy (unlike phrenology, which I would otherwise liken this to) but it’s come a long, LONG way since Dr. Freud.

And that leads us to a discussion about the divide between intellect and wisdom…. one of these books is wise.  It’s stood the test of almost a century, and its advice is still extremely useful.    The other book is written by one of the great minds of the 20th century (or at least one of the most famous) and it’s so dated as to be absurd.  If I’d written that paragraph at the beginning of this post and told you to guess whether it was Carnegie or Freud… I think you, like me, would guess the other way ’round.

Wisdom lasts.  Even if it’s written in short words in an easy-to-read format.

Continuous Grace

I was going to link the song, “I get knocked down, and I get up again” but it has all the drinking references so … nah.  But that’s what this feels like.   You get your feet properly under you and -wham-  you get knocked for a loop.  Then you take a minute, get your feet under you, and stand back up.

I read my own last post, and … yeah.   That.  Mercy and Grace and leaning on God.  Yep.  But God’s pounding it into my bones.  I.Cannot.Do.This.On.My.Own.   Total dependence on Him.  And… a lot of revealing of sin I didn’t know I had.   Stuff that needs dealing with, when the sun comes out again.   Well, that’s what storms are for – to reveal what needs fixing.

The mercy and grace for others I’m learning is a thing based on my own stupid flip outs (hey guys – sorry!).   Well, *I* don’t think the stuff I’m flipping out about is stupid – but if it’s not your flavor of fear, you probably do.    And likewise.  I am still not worried about getting Covid.  I tell y’all – I had something very similar last summer.  It REALLY SUCKED.  My whole family had it.  But … it really sucked and we got through and we’re here and … yeah.  Whatever.  You know?

But my fam is basically healthy.  I wouldn’t want my dad to get this, or even my mom.  (Dad almost-got TB and used to be a smoker, both of my parents are in their late 70s).  So – I get you, people who are afraid of the illness.    And I’m getting pounded to get that mercy into my heart, not just in a polite smile.  (Things I’ve learned:  It’s really hard to be merciful when you’re angry).

We have to be willing to love – agape – people who aren’t just like us.  To get into their heads and see their hearts and love them.  Maybe love ’em in spite of what’s in their hearts.  But at least go there and say, “but for the grace of God go I”.

I dunno.  Real talk, I’m ready for this to be over so I can fix the roof and prepare for the next storm.   But I guess I’ll just keep putting out buckets and paying attention to how the wind sings through the eaves.

Still learning.

Mercy in a time of fear

I’ve been sorting out my responses to the crazy going on… it’s not like I’m not stressed, although coming down with Corona isn’t what fusses me.  It’s the other humans.

I have to admit, I have lacked grace.   I have let a lot of anger come into my heart and take up residence.

I don’t like it when the people around me aren’t chill.  I feel like I have to DO something to fix… when sometimes, that’s not my job.  I want us all to work together!  I want us all to be positive!  Let’s make the best of things and help each other!    Rah!

-puts down her pompoms-

But the folks who don’t have hope – those folks aren’t cooperating.   They’re sitting in fear, feeding it.   No amount of pompoms and positivity is going to change how someone whose hope is in this life feels when mortality knocks on the door.

I’ve been letting other people set my emotional tenor.  My reactions to other people’s reactions.

I’m not going to beat myself up – in the flesh – because it is natural that my flesh responds like this.  It is natural to pick up the vibe when you’re in a crowd (well, not in a crowd, in the grocery store separated by blue tape on the ground).   That’s flesh.   Okay.  That’s MY flesh.  -deep breath-  But from where should my attitude – and my actions – originate?   Not my flesh.  Not MY strength.   God.

I’m going to have to lean very very heavily on Him to get through this with mercy.    To speak, act, and THINK  with grace.

It’s time to give up doing on my own strength, holding on to my own ability to self-control, and turn myself over to God.  That’s my self-control now – controlling my thoughts enough to say, “God’s ways, not my ways” and asking for His perspective.

I’m not going to do it on my strength, and I’m not going to try to grit my teeth and force it.  I know where I stand – and I’m angry.   I’m hurt.  That’s as it is.   I can’t fix me, but God can.  I choose to let Him do what He will.

Ecclesiastes 7: 9-10 Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.

We’ve been put here for such a time as this.   Time to play the cards we’re dealt.

Book Review: Social – Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect

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“Why do we do what we do?  What are humans hungry for?  Why?”   Lieberman wrote a book taking a physiological tack at the human problem.   What is this social urge?  Where does it come from?  What makes our brains do the things they do?  He did testing with MRI machines and looked at which parts of the brain lit up for various events.

Lots of items of interest in this book!   I picked up any number of great nuggets of information, including the fact that, “Our brains evolved to experience threats to our social connection in much the same way they experience physical pain”, as well as confirming other reading I’d done about the approximate maximum size a person’s friend group is (150 – not much different than Aristotle would tell you).   It’s INTERESTING how much of our energy we put into other humans, and how profound our need is for other people.

Reading fiction and avoiding botox is good for your social IQ, and a mirror can help you with your efforts in self-control.   Change in your personal income doesn’t actually make you happier.   Watching people makes you better at figuring them out, which makes you better at life.    Some very interesting observations about the autistic community.

So what have we learned thus far?   PEOPLE ARE IMPORTANT.  Community is important, incredibly important.   But what do we do about that?  Hmmm… well, first one identifies the problem, then one works on solving the problem.   That’s not what this book is for, although it did have some interesting things to say on theories of education.  (Teach them WHY and WHAT will follow – this is true for me, I do much better if you tell me “why”).

Having given Bowling Alone five stars, this book gets four.   It didn’t go in depth as much as I’d have liked on the results of the tests, preferring discussion of the brain itself.   There were any number of paragraphs and pages that could have been twice the length they were!  Not bad info, just… hello – can you expand on that a bit please?

Would you be interested in this book?   If you’re interested in the info nuggets, yes.  I think if you were just there for the nuggets, you could easily skim the other 1/2 the book about the way the testing was set up and which bits of the brain did what.  Grab it from the library sometime if you’re bored.

Book Review: Bowling Alone

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20 years late to the party is better than never….

It’s the habit of most of my readers and friends online to discuss the whys and wherefores of community involvement, religious involvement, and “how did we get into the mess we’re in”.   This book looks at the correlative and causative factors in the demise of community involvement (from politics to religion to the Lion’s club) and gives some theories about what we might do about it, now that we’re here.

A short quote to sum things up:

“To predict whether I am likely to give time, money, blood, or even a minor favor, you need to know, above all, how active I am in community life and how strong my ties to family, friends, and neighbors are.”  (p. 120-121)

In other words, being a member of the Bumble Bee Association makes you more likely to vote or pick up trash – even those things have nothing to do with the Bumble Bee Association – at least, it does if you have to go meet with the other association members, not just cut a check and put it in the mail.    It’s extremely good for your children – and the other children in the neighborhood:

“Statistically, the correlation between high social capital and positive child development is as close to perfect as social scientists ever find in data analyses of this sort”.  (p. 296-97).   Correlation is not causation – but if you have that strong a correlation, it’s certainly worth sitting with!

Having social capital is a strong predictor of your income, your happiness, and your health.   Yes, joining a club is good for your health!  VERY good for your health.  Disturbingly so.

“Statistically speaking, the evidence for the health consequences of social connectedness is as strong today as was the evidence for the health consequences of smoking at the time of the first surgeon-general’s report on smoking”  (p. 327)

It’s not surprising that social capital benefits society.    It did surprise me how far the tendrils creep.  It surprises me further that this isn’t being trumpeted – perhaps that’s because the three things that seem to have the strongest correlation with a reduction in social capital were:  1) Watching TV as your major source of entertainment* 2) Increased commute times (even by as much as 10 minutes) and 3) Living in major urban areas (at least outside of close-knit neighborhoods, which have – to be fair – largely disappeared anyway).  Women working outside the home was somewhat correlative, but not causative – PT working moms were the most involved, more so than fully SAHM or WOHM, both of whom saw equal rates of decline in social connectedness.

That might be cause for some behavior change – if we took the information seriously.   You can’t do this alone – you can’t make social capital by yourself.  But you can take advantage of what appears, and you can encourage others to do so. .. Can you not?

The book itself was 400+ pages of social research with charts and discussion.  As a sociology nerd, I enjoyed it but it was …. long.   I recommend it to those prepared to do the work.   Or even those prepared to scan and snag ideas.   To those looking for a fun read?  Nah.

Data is always good.   Has anyone else read this?  I know I’m really late to the party.   What did you get out of it?

 

 

*This would, I should think 20 years later, include watching Youtube videos online or gaming as your major source of entertainment…. but I don’t have data.  In June, an update with a chapter about the internet will be available.