Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ripples in the Pond

I have spent a lot of time talking about Les Miserables recently.  I have read the book and seen the musical, but have not yet seen the movie (despite the presence of Hugh Jackman...be still my heart!).  I talked to an Australian missionary on the plane about it the other day and then I heard a sermon this morning about the movie and its themes. 

But what I find myself thinking the most about is ripples in the pond and how you can never know how one simple act on your part can greatly affect another person.  In Les Miserables the fact that a priest lied to the police about Jean Val Jean stealing from him affected Jean Val Jean for the rest of his life, and caused him to change entirely how he was living. 

Have you ever had people come back and tell you about conversations that you had with them that you have long forgotten?  I have, it is rather humbling to think that they remember your words so clearly: words that you have forgotten.  Do we ever really think about the power we have with our words? In the blog world that is hugely obvious.  If you have a blog, don't you look forward to people's comments?  Don't you hope to see that you sharing your thoughts made a connection with someone else?  We have the power with our words to lift people up or push them down.  How many of us remember the harsh words of a parent or a teacher? Many of us are still reaping the rewards of those words for good or for ill?  I think we all subliminally realize that our words have power, if we didn't, then why are the mean comments that are made usually anonymous?

Marlo Thomas wrote a a book called "The Right Words at the Right Time." Famous people remembered words that changed their lives and not all of them were positive, uplifting words. Marlo Thomas remembers telling her father that she wanted to change her name from Thomas so she wouldn't be associated with him.  He told her that thoroughbreds wear blinders so they can't see the other horses.  He told her to "Run your own race, baby."

Do we ever really think about the power we have with our actions?  Simple thing like having patience with someone when they are struggling.  Letting another car out in front of you even though they roared past you to try and jump the line. How about asking the irritating person you work with to a party you are throwing because you know they'll be alone otherwise?

Although I am not a Buddhist, I find I think often on a verse I read once from “A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” by Shantideva, a Buddhist master.

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

I am coming to realize that everyone will dispel the misery of the world with simple acts and that misery will be dispelled often without us even seeing our part in it and perhaps that is how it should be.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In the midst of death...life!

I didn't post on the tragedy in Newtown, it was just too hard to contemplate.  I have thought about it some now and I find I wonder why we don't give into our better natures more often.  We go about our daily lives and follow out regular trails until something like this happens and then we are motivated to do more.

I had a friend who died of brain cancer and as he was dying, I got a note from his father-in-law talking about how he (the father-in-law) had to hug everybody when he was just getting up to go to the bathroom, since he would be away from them. It was sweet and funny, but he was right.  When tragedy hits so close to home you start realize how that might be the last time you see someone, how that ordinary, regular trail day might be the last one.  In an ironic twist, that sweet man who sent me the note about hugging everybody before going to the bathroom, died this year, in the bathroom.  I only mention it, because he would laugh out loud about it, he loved irony and had a dry wit.

The play "Our Town" speaks to the preciousness of that ordinariness too. Have you seen that play?  At the end of the third scene remember how Emily asks if anyone realizes their life as they are living it and the stage manager replies that some do, the saints and poets mostly.  But I find myself wondering if maybe we all do when tragedies like this strike.  We hug our children and family just a little bit closer.  We all get caught up in the doing of Christmas and forget that the being together is the most important until we are reminded of how short life can be.

The poignant good-byes and the memorials (like the one on The Voice) make us think about what really happened. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V31EwKA6EFA



They make us take a hard look at the way we live and the choices we make.  When that tragedy happened, people were unselfish.  You hear about what the teachers did to protect the children, they gave into their better natures and some died for it. This is not an isolated incident, in every tragedy you read about the heros that are self sacrificing and do extraordinary things often for people they don't know.

I do think we are hard wired for goodness.  I know that is probably Pollyanna peaking out, but I do.  For example, have you ever thought about why lie detectors work?  They work because our own bodies betray us when we lie.  We have a stress response when we lie. We are hard wired to be truthful.  We are also hard wired to be touched in loving ways.  Babies who are not touched as much as they should be grow up with emotional, social and behavioral problems.  We don't grow out of that.  We are wired to be connected through touch and not only through touch, but also through emotions like empathy.  If we weren't, why would we care about those people in the little school in Sandy Hook? I think it is easy to forget that until we are brutally reminded.

I really don't think we can live with that heightened awareness all the time.  It would be too exhausting and the emotions would overwhelm us.  We do travel those ordinary trails and stick to a routine because we are living in an uncertain world and we have to have coping mechanisms to navigate it.  But at times like this I do find myself thinking about how if life did not have an end, we would never realize how precious it is.  We could grow contemptuous because things are valued BECAUSE they are ephemeral and because they are limited and can disappear in a heartbeat.  Why are we all especially effected by the tragedy of those children being killed?  Because of the SHORTNESS of their lives.  Everyone is talking about the plans those children had for their future:  futures they won't see.

So, the old year comes to a close and the another year begins.  We celebrate the birth of a child that was born to die.  A child who always gave into his better nature.  A child who came to show us how to live.  I think about how I will live differently in the new year and I think about how in the midst of death we are in life.  




Thursday, December 13, 2012

Second Date

So, I actually went on a fun second date.  It was a bit weird leading up to it, though.  We met for dinner last week and had a good time.  I got an e-mail the next day asking if I would like to go out the next week and what he had planned.  Then I didn't hear from him at all for a week.  I finally e-mailed the night before the date asking what the plans were.  Weird...

So, we met, it was fun, he even bought me one of my favorite treats that I had mentioned from the first date and we had a nice time. We talked about books and science and all kinds of things. 

We hugged at the end of both dates and at the end of the second date, he asked if he could call me.  I said yes and we parted.  Now, I find myself wondering, how long he'll wait to call. It is just weird this dating thing. Sigh, at least we made it through the second date and it can only get more comfortable, I suppose.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Some things just make you laugh

You know how some things just make you laugh...this does for me.

Tank



Tank makes me laugh, but the guy who shot the video makes me laugh even harder.  He is just so clever and sort of HOHy, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I love you enough to let you be angry

I was watching the movie "Miracle" last night. It is about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.  I remember getting up early on a Sunday to watch the game against the Russians.  It was beautiful hockey.  I am pretty sure I watched the gold medal game against Finland, but I don't really remember that game as much as I do the one against the Russians.  I suspect I am not alone in this. 

I also remember after the game I started looking at all the newspaper articles and the magazine stories about the team.  I think I probably still have the clipping around here somewhere. Herb Brooks was masterful in the way he coached that team.  They started out as rivals from the schools for which they played and they ended up united...often united in their hatred of some of Herb's methods.  He pushed them really hard and he had them reach their full potential.  As he said, "If they lost, he wanted them to know that they had left it all on the ice, that they had nothing left."  He could be really hard on them, at one point, he had them doing suicides, which the hockey team renamed Herbies in his honor (skate from goal line to blue line and back, goal line to red line and back, goal line to blue line and back, goal line to goal line and back) mostly because he had them doing so many of them.  He even had them doing them as punishment after an exhibition game that they lost against Oslo, since he didn't think they were playing up to their potential due to the fact that they were focused on the girls in the stands rather than the game.  Herb earned grudging respect from the team and I think they eventually grew to love the guy despite how hard he pushed them, or maybe because of it.

Ever heard of Aimee Mullins?  She was born with out fibula in her legs, so she had to have her legs amputated when she was a child.  She became a super model and athlete. She credits a lot of her success to the doctor who forced her through physical therapy who she called Dr. P. Growing up, Mullins did not like her physical therapy sessions and did not like the bands she worked with. But her physical therapist, Dr. P, once said, “wow, Amiee you are such as strong and powerful little girl. I think you will break one of those bands. When you do break it, I will give you $100.” What he did, reshaped an awful experience into a promising experience for Mullins. His vision of her as a strong girl, shaped her own view of herself. It gave her the strength to continue and gave her a new reality. She finally saw herself as capable.

I think we all wish we had someone in our lives like that.  Someone who pushes us to be our best regardless of what we may think of them in the moment.  The hard part is yielding up the control to let them do that and harder still to cooperate.   This seems to be a reoccurring theme in my thoughts.  I wrote about it in my post called This is a song about control.  There is just something so alluring about having someone cares so much about you and who you can be that they are willing to have you dislike them or even hate them or what they are doing at times, to get you to that place where you are the best you can be. I know a lot of women in this little blogosphere that have men like that in their lives and I think for the most part they realize how lucky they are in general if perhaps not always in the moment.  It's nice to see that you don't have to be a Olympic athlete or a super model to have that kind of person: one who is strong enough to work past the resistance and not give up. Someone who is willing to say, "I love you enough to let you be angry with me over what I am doing."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The moment when the mask drops

I am sure that most everyone has seen Susan Boyle's audition on Britains Got Talent. Her voice is beautiful, but I find I am more moved by the looks on the judge's faces.  I think it might best be described as joy.  So often in the world people hide their emotions.  They put up a mask of indifference; they don't want to be judged as uncool or not fitting in.  Susan Boyle is supposed to be ridiculed, her appearance requires it, but within moments her voice over powers all that conditioning and the emotions arise unfettered and it is a beautiful thing to see. 

To watch Simon Cowell, who is normally quite cynical and fairly harsh, with a smile of joy on his face, practically brings me to tears every time.  The moment when the mask drops away and he is simply basking in her talent is amazing.  How often in life do we get to witness that moment?  That moment at 1:42 when he can't hold back the joy and amazement of what he is witnessing.  His face becomes innocent and open and the age falls away.

I find myself wondering if the reason it is so powerful and the emotions can't be held back is because she is so unattractive, that the judge's expectations are low.  How can someone so unattractive have anything beautiful to offer the the world...and then she opens her mouth...that unexpected window into the souls of the jaded, Hollywood-toughened judges could have only been achieved by someone like Susan Boyle.  

That unexpected moment of beauty found in the most unexpected place is perhaps not so rare as we might think, the problem is that we don't give the unexpected place a chance to reveal its beauty.  That, I think, is the lesson that people like Susan Boyle can teach us. 

Susan Boyle


Friday, November 30, 2012

Fathering children who are not your own

The end of the semester is at hand....yipeeee!  I am free for a bit of the young people (almost adults) with whom I work.  There is a lot of fathering going around here though as the semester comes to and end.  I guess in this scenario, I am the mother. 

One of the many fathers around here, chewed out a student who is quite immature who hadn't been coming to class.  He told me he did this after he heard from me that the student wasn't coming to my class.  Not sure if said student will be straightening up, but he did come to class for a while...no sign of him today. 

Father number 2, scolded a student for turning in late work and not all of it.  He gently asked her if she remembered the discussion that they had had at the beginning of the semester about things she needed to do to over come some of her difficulties with school, then he mercifully let her leave his office.  She left pretty quickly after a comment from him about it being really difficult for her to pass given circumstances.  Father number two also said he had defended me to his class because I didn't give them credit for partly finished work.  I had covered his classes a couple of times. 

Father number three, one of the cowboys, was explaining to another student what his role as a teacher was and why he was there.  Mostly about it being his job to help them learn about how to get horses to cooperate.  All three of the fathers have children of their own.  Pretty lucky children I would say and pretty lucky students, even though the students probably wouldn't say that.

I find, yet again, I liking swimming in the sea of positive testosterone that flows so freely about me. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dolls

I didn't play much with dolls when I was growing up.  I had a couple I loved all the hair off of when I was very young, but I kind of grew out of them.  I laughed at Toy Story with Barbie and Ken.   The creators of the movie said that Ken was more of an accessory for Barbie than a man. errr. toy (hmmm...is there a subliminal message there?)  In our house Barbie dated GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip.  I guess she wanted a real man too, at least in our house she did.




 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPxHWJF3VGs

So I ran across these old commercials for dolls:  none of which I had, but they made me laugh.

This baby laughs a lot!  Maniacal, crazy laughter, baby is a bit scary!

Baby Laughs A Lot















http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5kvenmWEhFE

Baby whispers only to you! Hopefully baby isn't like Chuckie and encouraging unacceptable behavior.

Baby Secret



http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3SlqsLto-xA

A drooling pet dog...now there's something to love!

Lovin' Licks




http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8H-pwBYmRvQ

Enjoy!

Barbie

Do guys really want woman to look like Barbie anymore?  Is she passe?  I saw there is a new model that people are calling the living Barbie.  If she were really a living Barbie, she would be 5'9" tall, have a 39" bust, an 18" waist, 33" hips and a size 3 shoe, weigh 110 pounds and have a BMI of 16.24.  Would that be attractive to anybody?

I once remember reading an article about advice a personal trainer would give to the female Disney characters.,  If I recall correctly most of them needed to work out their upper bodies and gain weight.

Watched any old black and white movies lately?  Those women were skinny!  Do you think they weren't eating, or did they just have super, battle armor girdles on?

I am a huge fan of Craig Ferguson, he makes me laugh...a lot.  He talked about woman who are too skinny, he doesn't want to cuddle up with a bag of bones.  My kind of guy! I am not overweight by any means, but I don't have a BMI of 16.24 either...closer to 22, like a real woman should.

Used to be men were attracted to woman without tans (proved they didn't have to work outside all day) with Rubenesque figures (a little wider in the hip and little fuller in the bust).  Now you hear more about HWP (height weight proportional).  Is that closer to Barbie or Rubens? 

Just a few things I was pondering today.  In my line of work the guys are attracted to the woman that can carry a heavy load on a five mile hike...I don't see 5'9", 110 pound Barbie doing that...she'd probably tip over or not be able to stand up!  I'm lucky that I haven't had to deal with the body image issues that so many young woman have to deal with today!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Alpha Male

The term "alpha male" has been rather popular lately, guys seem to like taking that title and owning it, whether they are telling me about a near fight they got into or why it is that their bratty children shape up when they come into the room, when only moments before they were throwing a fit that their mother couldn't stop.  It's always said with a bit of a smile or maybe a smirk, maybe there is a bit of a brag to their words. Men can be rather obvious creatures sometimes...giggle.

More feminine moments

This is getting very weird and I am so out of my element.  I have never been what might be considered pretty.  I don't think I ever have been told that I am pretty and certainly not beautiful.  I have had my share of compliments about certain things, but for the most part I have always been the smart one.

Last night I went to an small party...maybe 20 people...I put on a dress and heels and curled my hair.  Those people at the party who know me asked if I like getting dressed up since I don't have cause to do that very often...that's how rare it is for me.  At one point, all the women were sitting at the table talking, and where was I?  I was surrounded by all the men at the party...yep...every single one of them.  They were telling me jokes and we were laughing.  It was good moment, if very brief, to be the focus of all that masculine attention.  It was innocent and lovely and quite good for my ego...now, if I could just have that happen with a group of single men :-). 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cowboy Moments

Here are some cowboy moments from my day...just a few conversations I had yesterday:

I was walking down the sidewalk towards the door at the same time a cowboy was coming from the other direction.

"You going in there?"  He asked.

"Yes," says I.

He takes a step back so he can open the door for me.

"Thank you!"

"You're welcome!"

**********************************************
I was talking to another cowboy about movies old and new.

"I hate those movies where is takes them 15 minutes to say, "I'm going to kill you" because of all the foul language they have to use to say it!" Said the cowboy.

**********************************************
One of our co-workers was telling the story of a switching one of her cousins received as a child from a mother who didn't usually spank.  The cowboy who is always talking about making a horse enjoy working with you and convincing them to cooperate came in to catch the tail end of the story and says "A switch, huh?  That'll get your attention."

Not sure if he spoke from personal experience, but it seems like he might have.

**********************************************

Just a few things that made me smile yesterday.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Being touched

I have always been a take care of myself kind of gal, I can do what needs to be done, but lately I have been examining the more feminine side of myself.  I am more drawn to wearing dresses, although, jeans are still work attire.  I work outside a lot and in all kinds of conditions, so the dresses and skirts are not dragged out that often.  I think about it though.  I think my femininity is starting to show more.  I am still capable and competent and take charge, just more feminine. 

So, here's the thing, the men I know, have started touching me more.  They are not intimate touches, not creepy or inappropriate...it is more like a hand on the back or a squeeze of the arm.  I think I may be putting out those feminine vibes and they are picking up on it.  I can't think of anything different that I am doing.  The men I am working with hasn't changed, they are just now more...affectionate?  attentive? protective?  Not sure what the right word is.  Yesterday I was at a public event, and afterwards me and two men were cleaning up, they both reached out in some way to touch me, kindly....not sure I get it, but I kind of like it.

So you ladies who might be reading this, any clues on why this is just starting to happen?  Does this ever happen to you?  And to you guys who might be reading this...what inspires you to reach out and touch a woman? 

Curious minds want to know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Submission

I heard an interesting definition of submission today.  Apparently when soldiers joined the Roman armies, they were said to submit to their leaders.  If the leader said go take that hill, they took that hill.  In one place in the bible (Ephesians 5:22) apparently the Greek has been mistranslated it actually says "Husbands submit to your wives", instead of "wives submit to your husbands.".  The explanation was that husbands should so whatever they need to to submit to the love for their wives even if it costs them an arm or a leg or an eye.  Ephesians 5:21 says submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  I kind of like that.  If a couple says I will submit to the love I have for you, despite the cost.  I will submit to you.

The idea of submission takes on a whole different angle.  What does the other one need from me?  Out of love I will do anything to give you what you need, despite the cost.  I will give you my respect; I will give you my obedience; I will give you my feelings; I will give you my vulnerability; I will give you my deepest secrets; I will give you me. Not the carefully edited version for public consumption, me, but the truly, deeply, honestly...me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

And now for something completely different

Airplane Problems

After every flight, pilots fill out a form, called a gripe sheet which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some maintenance complaints submitted by pilots and the solutions recorded by maintenance engineers. By
 the way, the airline these came from is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.

Pilot: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement. Engineers: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

Pilot: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough. Engineers: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

Pilot: Something loose in cockpit. Engineers: Something tightened in cockpit.

Pilot: Dead bugs on windshield. Engineers: Live bugs on back-order.

Pilot: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent. Engineers: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

Pilot: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear. Engineers: Evidence removed.

Pilot: DME volume unbelievably loud. Engineers: DME volume set to more believable level.

Pilot: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick. Engineers: That's what friction locks are for.

Pilot: IFF inoperative in OFF mode. Engineers: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

Pilot: Suspected crack in windshield. Engineers: Suspect you're right.

Pilot: Number 3 engine missing. Engineers: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

Pilot: Aircraft handles funny. Engineers: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

Pilot: Target radar hums. Engineers: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

Pilot: Mouse in cockpit. Engineers: Cat installed.

Pilot: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer. Engineers: Took hammer away from midget

What is love, really?


I often think of a scene from Yours, Mine and Ours with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. They have blended their families and have 18 kids.  The night that Lucille Ball’s character goes into labor, one of her daughters, Colleen, is being pressured to have sex with her boyfriend, Larry.  She is fighting him off when one of her stepbrothers, Mike, punches Larry.  He deserved it.  Frank steps in to break it up and asks what the problem is.  Here is the dialog:

Frank Beardsley:  Will someone tell me what’s going on here?

Larry: Nothing, that’s the whole problem with your daughter,.

Mike and Larry start fighting again when they hear a crash, that turns out to be Larry’s motorcycle being run over by the car one of the other sons is pulling out of the garage.


Colleen North:  Please I can’t talk to mother right now and I’ve got to talk to somebody.

Frank Beardsley:  Well, talk fast.

Colleen North: Well, Larry says he'll never speak to me again unless I grow up. He says that I'm being ridiculous and I don't love him, but I do love him. Am I being ridiculous?

Frank Beardsley: You're not being ridiculous.

Colleen North: Well, do all the other girls, like Larry says? And am I just being old-fashioned?

Frank Beardsley: The same idiots were passing the same rumors when I was your age, but if all the girls did, how come I always ended up with the ones who didn't?

Colleen North: But it's all different now!

Frank Beardsley: I don't know, they wrote Fanny Hill in 1742 and they haven't found anything new since.

They come into the bedroom where Lucille Ball’s character, Helen is lying on the bed.  Frank helps her up and starts taking her down the stairs.
 
Colleen North: I know this is a terrible time to talk about it, but Larry says...

Frank Beardsley: I've got a message for Larry. You tell him this is what it's all about. This is the real happening. [He points to his wife, Helen] If you want to know what love really is, take a look around you.

Helen North: What are you two talking about?

Frank Beardsley: Take a good look at your mother.

Helen North: Not now!

Frank Beardsley: Yes, now.
[to Colleen]

Frank Beardsley: It's giving life that counts. Until you're ready for it, all the rest is just a big fraud. All the crazy haircuts in the world won't keep it turning. Life isn't a love in, it's the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman and... ground round instead of roast beef. And I'll tell you something else: it isn't going to a bed with a man that proves you're in love with him; it's getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him that counts.
[Leaving the house, they say good-bye to the little kids]

Frank Beardsley: I suppose having 19 kids is carrying it a bit too far, but if we had it to do over who would we skip... you?

Helen North: [getting into the car] Thank you, Frank. I never quite knew how to explain it to her.

Frank Beardsley: If we don't get you to the hospital fast, the rest of it's going to be explained right here!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Allowing men to be men

So, as I have finally started looking for my man, I have started looking at the men around me.  Yesterday was very much about allowing men to be men.  It started out with me arriving at work after a very good morning of bird watching.  Lots of babies still learning about how to be adults.  One of the cowboys saw me and walked in with me, as we approached the door, he took the lead and opened the door for me, stepping out the way so I could go in first.  Funny how easy and practiced that move was for him.  Lots of guys have been bullied into not doing that, some even do the walk through first and hold the door open behind them thing, clearly not this guy.  It would never have crossed his mind to do anything than what he did  Then we proceeded on with the day.   

A man who was very belligerent came in.  He had been fired from his job because of the angry way he dealt with his fellow employees.  Bad scene.  I was helping someone else when I asked him if he was waiting for me, he stormed out cussing, dropping the F bomb.  Bad scene.  I asked one of the guys what the deal was he told me the guy was waiting for me and had been sleeping in his car for two days.  Angry guy came back in and stormed out again because I didn't respond to him as he thought I should.  One of the guys went after him and talked him down, then lead him back to my office mouthing the words sorry as he proceeded the angry guy into my office.  He then stepped back and let me handle the situation, but kept his full 6 foot 5 inch frame firmly planted in the doorway with his arms crossed.  Very intimidating  He reminded the angry guy a couple of times that everybody is frustrated at this time of year. After angry guy left, he told me if I had any trouble with angry guy I should let him know, that I didn't have to deal with that.  Big boss, another big guy, told me the same thing.

Funny, in the course of about 3 hours, I interacted with three men who were just protective enough to be a safety net without stealing my authority in any way, and one "man" who probably would never have opened a door for me and clearly didn't feel the need to protect me from his anger and didn't even feel the need to apologize for cursing or the tantrum he threw.  It may be a good thing he is here, maybe he can learn a few things about controlling his temper and really acting like a man from the real men who close ranks about me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cowboys

I work with cowboys, several actually and since cowboys seem to be good fodder for romantic stories, I thought I'd write a blog about the cowboys in my life.  I work with farmers too.  They are a whole different breed, maybe I'll write a blog about farmers too...but first, here are my observations about cowboys.

They wear hats.  All the time.  They hardly ever take them off.  I have only seen them off only when they are in prayer or respectfully remembering. The hats came off on 9/11 for a full minute.This can be a bit of an irritation in a meeting, but they are who they are and the hats are a part of that. Most of them wear felt hats when they are working and you can see where the rain fell on them. You can tell where their fingers go to pull the hat off.  They bill has just the tiniest bit of a crinkly brim in the felt.  One of them does wear a straw hat, but I think he might also be a farmer...more on that in another post.

They don't wear sunglasses.  I have never seen a cowboy with sunglasses on...ever.  They just do that cute squinty thing under those felt cowboy hats.

They wear starched shirts.  The local dry cleaner has the heaviest starch possible named after a cowboy who was thrown by a horse and killed.  It is accurate; his shirts had tons of starch, no matter how dirty or rumpled the rest of him was, his shirt was always wrinkle free.

They wear very large belt buckles.  Most of them are wearing buckles they won at rodeos.  They are practically dinner plate sized and they don't have guts that hang over them either.  Nope, you can see the WHOLE buckle.

Boots..yep.  They have their work boot and their fancy boots.  They keep them in their offices and trade them out as required.  They also wear spurs, but mostly not inside because the spurs can tear up the floors.  They're considerate that way. Their cowboy hats might block your view, but they know better than to wear their spurs inside and tear up the floors.

They are amazingly well educated.  All the cowboys with whom I work have Master's degrees. (This sentence, though stilted, is grammatically correct in honor of those degrees.)

They aren't afraid to show their emotions, just a bit.  They lose it, but regain their composure really quickly.  It is endearing without making them seem unmanly in the least.  Usually when they tear up, they are talking about how honored they feel about something.  They take things like honor seriously and honoring someone's memory by how they behave.

They are polite to a fault.  Swear words are simply not said in mixed company, even though you know when it is just the guys, they are well acquainted with the more salty language.  They are careful about how they talk about others.  They might be complaining about somebody, but they chose their words carefully to not demean the person about whom they are speaking.  Two have pregnant wives.  They talk about them being big and not being able to sleep, but comments about the hormones of pregnant women have not been mentioned.  They talk only about how great their doing and how they just couldn't be a mom, because of how hard it is.  They are supportive and affirming because they know how important their words can be. While they recognize the power of words, there is very little that is out of bounds.  You realize that as soon as you have your first discussion about sires and dams and artificial insemination.

They are good talkers...boots up on the desk, leaning back in the chair conversationalists.  Quiet and reserved?  Not so much, but they do know when to be quiet and listen.

They are all really gentle people.  They take time to talk to the little kids that come in the door and marvel at whatever stories the kids tell them.  They speak not about breaking horses, but encouraging them to enjoy work and then they extend that analogy to raising children.  They are thoughtful too.  They have a natural grace when they stand up to offer you their seat, or bring you a new plastic fork without you even having to ask because yours broke (yes, they notice the needs of those around them and try to meet those needs) or throw you a grin and a wink that is a shared groan at the difficulties of the day.  They make fun of themselves, but when they tease you, it never get vicious or hurtful.

They are team players and will try to make sure everybody gets what they want, even if it costs them a bit.  They look for ways to help, even it if means trailering a horse to drive out and help you round up the cattle that got out of the pen and they don't mention that they could have been doing something else with their time.  They figure if they can help, they should. They apologize for inconveniencing you even if they are not at fault.

Yep, I'm beginning to see how it is that there are cowboys in romance novels. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

I told you so!

So, today I am vowing never to say those words again...ever.  I am not going to even say them non-verbally.  I said when I started this blog that I would find teachers to help me be more of a swan...well, I learned a really good lesson today about those words...

So, here's the deal.  I had taken a pretty firm stand on an issue at work.  I still think I am right, but circumstances have led me to reconsider a suggestion that someone had made almost a year ago.  I discussed how my thoughts had changed on the subject and why with that person.  He agreed with me (all the while not bringing up that he had suggested it originally) and tried to make suggestions about how I might minimize the bad effects of doing what he had suggested a year ago.  He never ONCE said "I told you so." He didn't do it verbally or non-verbally.  He just smiled and nodded and agreed to help and it wasn't that condescending, patronizing nod and smile. There is another guy in my life who, while not saying the words, will nod and smile condescendingly.  He is the master of saying "I told you so", without ACTUALLY saying the words.

I liked that it was safe to change my mind and tell him so without having it thrown back in my face....I want other people to feel just as safe with me when they change their minds and come around to my way of thinking. 

It all comes down to a certain humility I think.  What other reason could there be for telling someone "I told you so," except for prideful reasons?  That kind of pride has no place in my life and I appreciate the lesson in humility.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Intuition

I believe pretty strongly in intuition.  I have found for the most part it has guided me well and never so well as with sizing up people.  My first impression about people has usually turned out to be right.  I will warn someone about someone else and then a year or so later they will come back to me and say, "You know what you said about so and so...you were right." 

There are times when my intuition is working so subtly that I don't even realize that I am responding to it.  I got a reminder of that last night.  I am looking for my guy and I have joined a few on-line dating sites.  They have led to some good dates and some nice men, but not the "one".  There was one guy that was pursuing me pretty hard.  I have been away vacationing and haven't made my schedule free enough to meet him.  Yes, we could have met earlier and my subtle intuition was controlling me without my even knowing it. Something just didn't feel right.  I see it in hindsight.  So, I was kind of putting him off but finally said yes to a coffee meet.  I gave him a whole weekend...two whole days when I was free to meet him.  I asked where he wanted to meet; he demurred.  I asked when he wanted to meet and what day...10 DAYS after that weekend passed he wrote me asking when we could meet.  I had made plans for the next two weekends and told him I would be free when I got back.  He wrote me a scathing e-mail telling me that clearly I was not interested in finding someone...blah, blah, blah...well you get the picture.  I wrote him back saying I was trying, but he was the one that didn't get back to me about meeting for coffee.

So, last night I was at a singles mixer.  I met a lot of nice people...guess who was there...yup...Mr. It's All Your Fault You're Single.  People...I dodged a bullet.  He came up to the table I was at (I don't know if he recognized me or not, but my first name is pretty distinctive and not a lot of people have it).  I conveniently had a another guy next to me who I had a great conversation with after I said a cheery hi to Mr. It's All Your Fault You're Single. He is a player with a capital P.  He was flirting with all the women there who would let him.  Bumping into them "accidentally", those sort of things.  Obnoxious is the word that comes most immediately to mind.  I am not one of those women who is attracted to obnoxious.

I am realized, yet again, that I am quiet and pretty refined.  I want a man who will treat me with respect and not get all sloppy on me.  Watching the way he treated the women he interacted with gave me a really good view of who he is as a person...NO THANK YOU!  I wish him well.  Everyone should have someone.  I am just not that someone for him.  So, intuition paid off yet again.  Thank goodness!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Discontent

Is it ever possible to be content for long periods of time?  Will we ever have exactly what we want?

I read blogs where woman are upset that their men are away, a perfectly understandable thing.  But what about the woman who don't have men and are looking?  Do the women with husbands have it better and shouldn't be discontent?  Maybe, maybe not, everybody is subject to the emotions whether they are of loneliness because there is no man or loneliness because they miss their man.  Women without men have more freedom in their personal lives since they don't have to check with anybody about what they do with their lives, but having someone to do things with is a huge thing.  Unattached women are not subject to the little annoyances that come with living with someone, but the trade off is loneliness.

I read blogs where women are worried because they don't have a job or their husband doesn't have a job.  If one of them has a job should they be less discontent than a couple who have both been out of work?  If they have a home, they are better off than people who live in homeless shelters or are on the street?  But maybe the emotions of being without a job and waiting to be homeless are worse than when it has already happened. 

I heard a man speaking the other day about losing his two year old daughter.  Would he have been better off had she never been born, even though having her die was such an emotionally devastating thing?  He said he had done nothing to deserve her coming into his life and he was glad to have had her for two short years, but when she died he said he had done nothing to deserve having her taken from him.  I guess he embraced, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord." Is his worse off or better off than someone who has never had children, but has also never experienced that kind of love? 

I heard another man who was talking about getting a horrible disease and not being able to find a doctor to help him.  It took him many months to find someone who could help him.  He started an internet service to help other people who found themselves in the same situation.  He said he hadn't given God credit for his good health, so why should he blame him for the bad health. 

I have come to the conclusion that much of life is a mixed blessing.  You probably won't ever be totally content with how things are. Perhaps we, as humans, are meant to have some peaks and valleys.  I guess the idea of not knowing when you are on the mountain until you have experienced the valley is true. 

I am trying more and more to embrace a grateful spirit and see the things that I do have and the things I should be grateful for instead of focusing on the things I don't have. I am sure I'll never to totally content with the way my life is going, but I should be happy about the good things and not discount them because I don't have everything I want. 

I remember a Northern Exposure episode in which Marilyn Whirlwind tells a story:

“My uncle once told me about a warrior who had a fine stallion. Everybody said how lucky he was to have such a horse. “Maybe,” he said. One day the stallion ran off. The people said the warrior was unlucky. “Maybe,” he said. Next day, the stallion returned, leading a string of fine ponies. The people said it was very lucky. “Maybe,” the warrior said. Later, the warrior’s son was thrown from one of the ponies and broke his leg. The people said it was unlucky. “Maybe,” the warrior said. The next week, the chief led a war party against another tribe. Many young men were killed. But, because of his broken leg, the warrior’s son was left behind, and so was spared.”

We can't see the future and the burden of today may actually be the blessing of tomorrow and we just don't know it yet.  I'm trying to remember that.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sugar

So, 60 minutes tonight was pretty interesting.  They did a piece on sugar. The piece basically said that sugar in large quantities was a toxin.  It can lead to heart disease and cancer.  Obesity and hypertension were also mentioned. 

Sugar is in a lot of processed foods and being the scientist that I am, I have to wonder if it is sugar or the fact that people eat a lot of processed foods which contain sugar is a better explanation.  There are so many foods that have sugar in them:  bread, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, yogurts, salad dressing.  I prefer the low sugar products and find I gravitate towards the natural, but more expensive peanut butters and such precisely because they don't have sugar in them.  Don't get me started on why Skippy peanut butter isn't on my ten favorite foods....suffice to say, it is too sweet!  Most people eat 1/3 of a pound of sugar a day!

Now I have often said that I could live without chocolate for the rest of my life.  It is a necessity of many people but I am more of a salty taste liker than a sweet taste liker.  I'll eat a potato chip over a cookie any day.  I know unhealthy too! I don't drink a lot of soda either, but as I drank my lemonade I wondered if I could go sugar free.  Another interesting fact is that there is nothing on the plant that has naturally occurring fructose in it that is poisonous, so when you eat something in nature that is sweet, you know you aren't eating something poisonous, so we are born liking sweets.

I have a bit of a problem with high fructose corn syrup just because of the impact corn has on our lives. If you haven't read, The Omnivore Dilemma, you should.  It will really open your eyes to the impact corn has on our lives.

There is a tiny place in Texas, called Dublin.  They have Dr. Pepper there that is made with sugar.  Droves of people go to that town specifically to get the Dr. Pepper made with sugar.  It is better, you can taste the difference, so over time I have gradually chosen to move towards sugar soda and away from high fructose corn syrup soda. 

Here's the really ugly part they discussed on the show.  They did studies that found that when they put people on diets that provided 25% of their calories from sugary drinks, that their LDL cholesterol went very high in only two weeks!  So, drinking a sugary drink may be as bad for you as eating a cheeseburger.  They also have found the spikes in insulin, in response to sugar intake may have a link to cancer.  People also appear to build up a tolerance for sugar, so the more you eat, the more you have to eat to get the same increases in dopamine levels.  It is like any addictive substance, you need to consume more to get the good feelings.

Thought provoking and interesting.  I probably won't be drinking a soda again anytime soon.  Who knows how good the science is, but as with all things, moderation can't be a bad thing.

If you are interested here is the link for the 60 minutes story:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7403942n

And here is the youtube video from the doctor they interviewed:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vulnerability

So, it is an odd thing.  I have always been the strong one, mostly because I have had to be.  I came home to an empty house starting when I was ten.  By the time anybody came home, they were too tired to deal with me, so I dealt with things myself.  For example, I can remember falling out of bed and hitting my head on the tile floor, but I was afraid to go and wake my mother to tell her.  I tried really hard to be self-sufficient and not need anybody, until lately. 

I am finding that I sort of like letting the vulnerable, feminine creature out of hiding.  Some of the guys I am dating seem to like it too...strange, because in my professional like I can't let that side of me out.  I grew up with brothers, so I always acted more like them than like a girl.  I am starting to wear sparklies and perfume and dresses, although with my job, jeans are the uniform of the day.  I am starting to feel very feminine.  I think I like it and that vulnerability shows itself at the oddest of times.   

So, tell me if this is weird or embarrassing or both:  I went to the dentist today, the dental hygienist is a guy, sort of a surfer guy, blonde hair, muscular and sort of cute (too young for me, but cute and yes when they asked who I wanted I requested him...giggle), so you know you're vulnerable, the hygienist has sharp things in your mouth and you have to trust that  you are going to leave the chair relatively unscathed.  So he is warning me when things may hurt and he is mopping up periodically, keeping me dry from the high powered water pick and I just relaxed and basked in the careful attention.  He made me trust him and I liked that kind of careful attention...I know...weird, huh?

 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Masculine Energy

So, I am currently taking a short course that is seriously making me anxious, spun up and STRESSED!  It is supposed to be an introductory class to a new way of teaching.  The problem is that most of the people in that class have already taught in this new way, many have taught the lessons we are learning and do not need to learn how to do the work.  I, on the other hand, don't know the material or the teaching methods.  So, I am ANXIOUS, SPUN UP, and STRESSED!  There is a very nice man in my class (the only one I knew prior to this class) who is doing homework with me, checking in to see how I am each morning and sharing his masculine energy with me.   I am not sure why it is working so well, but after we get done with the homework each night I am calm and de-stressed.  It is an interesting phenomena!  He has been able to talk me down off the ledge a couple of times...

Today we started in on the stuff I do know, so I will probably be more able to self-sooth, but it sure was nice to lean on that masculine energy when I needed it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Marriage

So, driving into town tonight, I heard an atheist named Kenneth Lonergan talking about marriage.  He is the writer of Analyze This and You Can Count on Me.  I find listening to atheists really interesting if they are not too militant and more open to everybody having their own belief systems and doing what works for you. I find they are often very insightful about Christianity and they give a perspective that is very refreshing. I have a friend who is an atheist and she doesn't ever give me a hard time about my Christianity, even when I talk about it.  She says that she knows it is important to me and that I never try to ram it down her throat.  I am glad that she is comfortable that way.  I don't ever want her to be uncomfortable around me because of that.  St. Francis said, "Preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words."

So, anyway, the atheist on the radio made a comment about marriage that went something like this:  "I went to a Catholic wedding, my first one, and I realized that God, the Creator of the Universe was in the room with us.  He cared about these two people marrying each other."  WOW!  Now that is some statement.  The statement, from an atheist, speaks to the lie about marriage just being about piece of paper and easily discarded.  The Creator of the Universe cares about these two people being together!


He went on to say that he wished he had belief because it seemed to make the world easier to navigate. He also said that belief in God seemed to make people's lives better.  He finds that when bad things happen to people he finds himself talking to God and saying, "I don't believe in you, but please don't let this bad thing happen."

When I hear comments like that, I wonder, "how long can they hold out against the Creator of the Universe?"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A prize To Be Won

“The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer—because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut. [. . .] He does not seek to gain his value, he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. [. . .]
Love is our response to our highest values—and can be nothing else.” [Francisco to Rearden in Chapter 4 of Atlas Shrugged]
I found this quote by Ayn Rand and it spoke to me.  I like that a woman should be looked upon as a prize to be won. I sometimes wonder if I play too hard to get, I tend to think not and having read this I realized that the man for me will not think I am too hard to get, but rather a prize to be won.  I want the man who wins my heart to be getting something of value, something I saved just for him.

Cygnet

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ti voglio bene

Driving home from church today I was listening to an interview of a Swiss Guard, Andreas Widmer, who was one of the body guards of Pope John Paul II.  He was talking about missing home when he was away from home for his first Christmas.  He was guarding one of the doors, when he got word that that was how the pope was going to be leaving.  He said he has been crying and didn't want it to be seen, but the pope was walking past and said, "Ah, you are new here.  I don't know you."  He then walked over to Andreas and stretched out his hand to shake it and he said his cover blew. The pope continued with "Of course, this is your first Christmas away from home isn't it?" He said it was the wrong thing to say to him since he started crying again. He said the pope said, "I appreciate the sacrifice you are making for the church tonight.  I am going to pray for you at Midnight Mass tonight."  He said he felt at last someone had acknowledged his feelings and his sadness. He had walked past 20 of his best buddies and none of them had said a word.

He wrote a book about his experiences and he called it The Pope and the CEO.  He talked about the leadership lessons he learned while serving as a Swiss guard.  It touched me because so much of what he spoke about is exactly what I am looking for in a mate and ultimately the woman I want to be.  I thought about the traits every human being should embrace.  He told the story above and said that here was the leader of a church who was in a leadership position at the height of the cold war.  He said that is the mark of a good leader, someone who is present enough in the moment to see how the joys and sorrows that the people around you are experiencing.  As a Swiss guard he was supposed to blend into the background, but the pope noticed his pain and responded to it, despite all the more "important" things that were going on at that time. He said that John Paul made everybody he met feel like they were the reason he got up in the morning.  Here is what he said about leaders in the book:

Effective leaders have a vision, understand it, live it, and are able to communicate that vision. People follow these leaders because their vision inspires them to reach new heights. They help people excel. They do this in four ways:
  1. They understand themselves and have clear purpose and values; on this foundation, they set their vision and goals;
  2. They take responsibility and initiative;
  3. They understand their undertaking and excel at recognizing and synchronizing talents to tasks. And above all;
  4. They engage in servant-leadership in that they understand the value, potential and aspirations of people who are entrusted to their leadership. Great leaders are coaches and mentors of future great leaders.
I liked this part too:  Practice humility – follow some simple rules: don’t follow every one of your whims, intentionally obey, endure affliction, confess your weaknesses, practice contentment, learn self-reproach, practice silence, speak simply and act humbly. Show everyone the same amount of respect.

He said that to be a leader you must know what is right and what is wrong.  You must feel it is your job to tell someone what is right and wrong.  You cannot think of only profit for yourself, you must consider profit for everyone in the company.  He spoke of servant leadership and he even mentioned that the words for "I love you" in Italian (Ti voglio bene) translate into English "I desire for you, good."  The glue that holds a relationship together is that we can trust each other.  We must have a public moral culture so that there is one truth.  There can never be a situation where someone can say, "This is my truth and that is your truth."

So, I had lots to think about on my drive home about wanting the best for the person you love; about sacrificing what you particularly want for the good of your family; about having a common truth about what is right and wrong; about trust; and about love being wanting good for the other person.

I also thought about my encounters with the Swiss guard and how good they are at their job.  I was in St. Peter's with a group of about 50 kids.  It was getting late and St. Peter's was getting ready to be closed and locked.  There was no announcement of last call to pray.  I noticed as people left, the guard just stood by the people that remained, not interfering in what they were doing or trying to usher them out.  They didn't even speak.  They just stood by and as people got up and moved, the guard moved with them and slowly but surely each person was guided out of the church and each person was made to feel as if they had the control to stay or leave, which I think ultimately they did.  I am sure they never would have been asked to leave.  They did leave and left under their own terms because of the gentle manner the Swiss guard had about them.  It was quite something to watch.


Monday, May 7, 2012

The quality of a man

Someone posed the question of how is it possible to be a servant king to your wife, I found this on-line and thought...hmmm...yes, this is it exactly.  I wonder if there are men out there who on being presented with this list would say, yes, I want to have all those characteristics for you and how many would be immediately scared away.

1. Integrity – Integrity is more than being honest. It’s a lifestyle set on striving towards moral excellence. Real men say what they mean and mean what they say. They are the same person whether or not others are watching. They are trustworthy, dependable, and unwavering.

2. Compassion – Compassion is sympathetic
consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate
it. In other words, you feel compelled to help someone who is hurting.
Men aren’t often viewed as being compassionate, but it is a trait that
helps us to become more connected to the people around us. Real men turn their compassion into service and work to make the world a better place.

3. Confidence – Real men are confident. Many
people confuse confidence with arrogance and self-centeredness. Real men know the difference. Confidence is about being self-assured and
self-aware. Confident men have faith in their abilities and knowledge.
They don’t need to tear others down in order to build themselves up.
They earn people’s trust with their radiant, inner strength. When a they walk into the room, everyone takes notice.

4. Self-control – Hardly a day goes by without a news
report about some high-profile man who has been destroyed by sex, money, and/or drugs. Too many men lack self-control, but it is the foundation
of a virtuous life. Self-control starts with focus and ridding yourself
of distractions. Doing this isn’t easy because temptations lurk around
every corner. Real men are able to tame their desires and channel that energy into positive pursuits.

5. Perseverance – Perseverance is the product of
self-control. It is courageous resistance against difficult
circumstances. Perseverance is only developed through trials. Real men endure the trials and emerge stronger. They never give up.

6. Bravery – Bravery is the courage to do what is
right regardless of the circumstances. Nothing is ever accomplished with an attitude of passivity. Real men stand up in the face of adversity.

7. Humility – Today’s breed of young men loves to let
everyone know how much swagger they have. They thump their chests and
proclaim to the world, “I’m a Big Deal. Look at me!” Real men understand the value of being humble and letting someone else's light shine. They realize that humility is more endearing than self-importance.
Humility indicates that you are ridding yourself of the poison of
self-centeredness. Besides, humility softens the blow when someone
knocks you off your pedestal.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pursuit

There is something incredibly sexy about a man seeing past your defenses and breaking them down.  I loved this poem from a song I am performing with the choir I belong to (all women actually):

He was full of tenderness;
She was very hard.
And as much as she tried to stay thus,
Simply, and with no good reason,
Her took her into himself,
And set her down
in the softest, softest place.

Sigh...

Cygnet

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Law of Allowing

Okay, this sort of made me giggle.  It is a clip about how to woman can avoid being micromanaging and controlling.   How to be more feminine.  It seems that the people in the blogosphere with whom I have recently started to interact and who have learned to cede control to their husbands (ooooppps, allow) are ahead of the curve.  I guess we are all not so weird after all. 

http://www.aol.com/video/youve-got-christy-whitman-rebecca-grado/517337745/?icid=maing-grid7|main5|video-module|sec3_lnk1|153906

Cygnet

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This is a song about control

"This is a song about control" is a phrase I use often when someone is being unreasonably controlling.  I stole it from a song by Janet Jackson.  I'm not sure which song, not that it really matters.

I have come to realize this week that "This is a song about control" really means "This a song about me not trusting you".  The first event that brought this to mind relates to the fact that I am in a singing group. The group is extremely talented despite being an all volunteer group.  We tour; we sing in different languages; we sing classical music. Many of us play multiple instruments.  We can pretty much pick up a piece of music and while not sing it perfectly, we can sing it pretty close to right.  Because of this tremendous amount of talent and ability, any director we have is going to have to be on his toes.  If he misconducts something consistently or tries to teach us a rhythm that isn't right everybody knows it.  The same goes for the singers.  If you are singing the wrong notes, the person next to you knows it and will usually lean over and tell you and that is okay because usually you know you aren't right anyway.  It is a high wire act where everybody needs to be on their game.  We have had people join us, who within the first 15 minutes or so, know that they can't keep up and never come back.  We are welcoming of everyone, but the level at which we perform can be intimidating unless you have a certain level of musical ability.

So, any director needs to earn our trust to a certain extent.  They need to prove that they are going to bring you in when they are supposed to.  They need to prove that at difficult entrances they are going to be right there because you need them.  If they aren't right there, you stop trusting them and everybody starts depending on themselves to come in and cut off notes.  What happens is that we stop singing as a group and start singing as individuals.  When this happens, the music suffers.  I have sung with symphony orchestras were the musicians are following the singers and the singers are following the musicians.  The director has been put on complete disregard expect maybe to keep time.  Not good!  The music is at its best and most glorious when everyone in the group, musicians and singers give up all control to the director, but this only happens when the director has proven he can be trusted with that much control.

This relationship is often tested.  The director who realized he isn't being followed as closely as he would like starts conducting at different speeds, throwing in unexpected rests and holding notes longer than they are written.  The people who are watching him stay with him the people that aren't watching aren't with the director and the music falls apart pretty quickly and everybody hears it.  The best directors can convey the "Pay attention to me" message without every saying a word about it.  I once had a conductor say that when you have a choir completely under your control you don't need to use words.  He said this to someone who he was teaching how to conduct.  He then proceeded to stand up and conduct us without saying anything.  It was fabulous and very enlightening about just how good he was at what he did.  Trust is the operative word here.  We relaxed and just sang.

No director can direct music that exceeds the ability of the singers, but he can make them perform to their very best.  This reminds me of a scene from All that Jazz,  a dancer kept being picked on by Joe Gideon, until finally she just stalks away, upset.  Here is the dialog:

Victoria: Well, you're right. I'm terrible. I know I'm terrible. I look at the mirror and I'm ashamed. Maybe I should quit. I just can't seem to do anything right.
Joe Gideon: Listen. I can't make you a great dancer. I don't even know if I can make you a good dancer. But, if you keep trying and don't quit, I know I can make you a better dancer. I'd like very much to do that. Stay?
Victoria: Are you going to keep yelling at me?
Joe Gideon: Probably.

This I totally understand!  It is all about trust and control.  This is about staying and allowing the director to make you better even when it is hard.

The other event happened this week.  A woman sent out an e-mail to a board that I sit upon indicating that we should have discussed a decision we made with the whole group.  What she accused us of had never been discussed (we hadn't made the decision she accused us of) and would never have been discussed without the input of the entire group, not just the board.  I was the first to respond.  I prayed and rewrote a lot, but I think it came across gently.  I hope!  What I said was that I was sorry that she thought we had let her down and I was even more sorry that she didn't trust us enough to realize we would never have made that decision without everyone's input.  "This is a song about control".  She has been a huge leading influence in the past and has only recently given up the reins of power.  She doesn't trust us.  I guess we haven't earned it and I am not sure how we can.  The horrible part of this is that not only does she not trust us, she also accuses of things of which we are not guilty.  I have written in the past about Eeyores, Piglets, Tiggers and Poohs.  This woman is an Eeyore, she usually attributes the negative motive to everybody.  So, instead of being a supportive influence on the board, she just tears at us and what we are trying to accomplish.  If she would just trust us the tiniest bit, I think we would surprise her.  If she would just soften her approach the tiniest bit, we wouldn't have her on mostly disregard.  She is who she is and I know she would like to be on the board, but people won't elect her because they recognize how difficult she can be.

Trusting in either of these cases is not about losing who you are or even about giving over your will.  It is about cooperating and keeping the final goal in mind and trusting.  That is what I am looking for in a relationship.  The best directors and husbands are not afraid of questions. They are secure enough to not feel challenged.  They have to earn that trust though and the best ones are the ones that are willing to prove themselves and be tested, because when they pass the test, that is when you feel the safest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mothering

In an effort to truly understand who I am and why I am the way that I am, I had a bit of an epiphany last night.  I was discussing how I had be treated by another person to a group of woman.  I've truly gotten over the hurt and moved on to the "they are who they are" stage.  I don't hold grudges easily, if someone has truly been horrible to me, I just avoid them and I am civil when we do end up having to be together. All of the women knew who I was talking about since she is a leader of sorts in our group.

One of the women, a mother of eight, had sympathetic consoling words for me.  I realized in that moment, that that was new experience for me.  I was being "mothered", not in a weird way, because this woman isn't my mother, but in a kind thoughtful way.  My feelings mattered, the fact that I had been hurt mattered.  Looking back, I realized that I had never been mothered that way.  I wonder if it was because I pushed my mother away, or if she just never reached out to me that way.  I do remember thinking as a young girl that my own mother spoke more kindly to the dog than she did to me.  She would have said that is because I  was hard to get along with and argumentative.  She may be right, I may have pushed her away with the way that I was.  I'm not doing that anymore, so hopefully I will have more of those comforting moments in my life.   It is an odd thing to realize that I am not used to being spoken to kindly by woman, it makes me wonder about the vibes I send out.    Maybe I'm not sending those vibes out anymore, maybe I am letting people know that it is okay to reach out to me.  I sure do hope so.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter

Easter week has always been a good time of year.  Lent it over, there are all kinds of ceremonies and traditions that keep that last week active as you remember that last week of Jesus's life.  I guess I am always rather struck by how incredibly strong Jesus was mentally and how completely in control of himself.  I like his sort of "Bring it on" attitude.  In the midst of all of the pain and suffering of those last days, he was still so aware of what the people around him needed from him.  The man is dying on a cross and he is concerned about who is going to be taking care of his mother!

I have a friend who was a Lutheran pastor who converted and became a Catholic priest.  He told me once that in his church is a large crucifix and when he is distributing communion he images Jesus up on the cross looking at the face of each person saying, "Worth it, worth it, worth it".

Another story he tells is of a couple of biologists out looking at a grassland fire.  They see it sweeping towards them and get in their truck to drive away before it reaches them.  Just as they are getting into the truck, they hear a prairie chicken calling.  They come back later after the fire has swept across the grassland and they find the body of the prairie chicken, scorched and burned.  One of the guys kicks the body over and under it are all her chicks, still alive.  She was calling them to her when she knew the fire was coming.  My friend says, that is what Jesus did.  He protected us with his own body knowing that the judgement was coming.

I can never think about the Easter season without recalling those two stories..how he took the fire and how he thinks we all were worth it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Adding to my list

I am adding to my list of the things I am looking for in a mate.  I was in a chat room today and they started arguing about religion.  One guy started it and then everybody chimed in and it just became all about scoring  points.  It also became a little bit nasty with cutting remarks and sarcasm.  I finally posted about the argument being fruitless.  I mean let's get real here, it isn't about convincing the other person, because they aren't going to be convinced.  It is meaningless arguing!  I hate arguing and debate anyway, but this just degenerated into name calling and character slurs.

So, I am adding to my list.  I want someone who can disagree without going for the throat. I also want someone who can recognize that the argument is going nowhere and walk away, even if they have more points that they want to score.  I want someone who is mature that way.  Someone who can say, I concede, let's change the subject, let's agree to disagree without getting nasty about it. 

I'm not talking about arguments where there will eventually be a resolution.  I am talking about things like "Should woman wear hats in church?"  (No that wasn't what the argument was about).  We all may have our opinions and may be convinced we know the truth, but we need to accept that the other person probably is convinced they know the truth too and while it can be discussed and debated, when it turns ugly it should be let go.  I'm looking for someone who just won't go there!

I guess the upside is it helped me narrow the field, those who went there are out of the running.  I want someone who responds kindly despite being provoked.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Confession

So, as I was commenting on another blog, I had a very interesting thought and decided I should come here to share it rather than taking over her blog (lol).

As has been clear in my blog, I am currently unattached and looking. I am also a Catholic.  That is a very male dominated religion.  Consider for a moment, the males are the leaders, but they are in service to the community.  They have a lot of power, but wield that power, for the most part, justly and fairly.  They are good listeners and they are problem solvers.  They are caretakers and take that responsibility very seriously.  They also have the power to help take away guilt in the confessional. 

The confessional is an interesting analog to a domestic discipline lifestyle.  From the blogs I have read, the format seems very familiar.  You come and make yourself very vulnerable by admitting your faults to someone that you look to as a leader and to whom you have given power. There is an implicit agreement that you will accept whatever penance (I hesitate to say punishment, although it can appear that way, in essence penance is your way of showing that you want to mend the relationship with God and get close to him again) they decide to dole out.  This happens after they listen to what you have to say, gently question you and end up with, "Is there anything else you want to say?" 

You go in knowing a couple of other things too: that there is always forgiveness on the other side; that you are not going to be allowed to hide anything, that it will all be laid out: that you are going to feel better when it is over, free of guilt; that you will have a clean slate; and that you will be cared for through the whole process.

Then there is aftercare...the forgiveness part after the penance part (even the order is the same...grin). There is a prayer that is said when the priest lays his hands on you.  I especially like the pardon and peace part....

God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I like that I can safely make myself vulnerable and be a better person for it.  Self examination is a good thing and I like that I am encouraged to do that pretty regularly!

Holy Cow!

I am in a pretty male dominated profession, which is fine with me.  Something funny that happens without my instigating it at all, is that language cleans up when I am around.  I don't complain or act shocked about language, although I never got in the habit of using those word. I don't know why it happens, but it does.  One of my colleagues came in my office after having a conversation that I could hear from down the hall.  If was not a horrible cussing fest, but there was some blue language sprinkled in.  Two guys discussing something with the secretary (another female).  So, he comes down to my office and he went from the f-word and s-word to Holy Cow!  That made me smile.  I just wonder what vibe I give off that a guy who cusses in front of another woman (so, it isn't just the woman thing) changes his language when he is talking to me.  It's not just him either, my students (mostly male) do the same thing.

Just something I noticed that makes me smile.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Who makes those kinds of threats?

So, I was out to dinner tonight at a group thing and the woman across from me told me that she was telling her husband and mother that they were going to owe her a half an hour of labor if they left trash in her car or if her husband left his tools out.  She said for every tool left out she was going to have him clean the bathroom  I don't get this.  Who makes those kinds of threats?  Especially to your mother and your husband? I didn't think I had heard her correctly and I asked, "Is this your children?"  She answered. "No, my husband and my mother."  Okay, I know I am currently hyper-sensitive to how people treat each other, but this just sounds disrespectful on so many levels. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Will the real June Cleaver please stand up!

I got a note today in my e-mail from a guy who had previously told me that he would "own" his wife and train her to serve him.  My response was, does the wife "own" her man and get to train him to "serve" her too since we should be in service to one another and to our marriage? His response was in the multiple.  First he told me that a woman should communicate to her man on all levels (ok) and June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver was the perfect wife. (??????)

I'm not sure that mold is really one that anyone can fit into anymore.  I'm not even sure June Cleaver fit into the mold that we think she did.  She stayed home and vacuumed in pearls and heels.  Does anyone do (or should they do) that anymore?  What else do we know about her?  I don't have an issue with the staying at home part, I would probably be okay with the staying at home part.  I think the wife's role should be to make the home a haven for her husband and to be a steady, peaceful rock for him.  But what exactly is that perfect wife thing?  She sought Ward's advice on things, but she argued with him.  She expected him to keep his promises and complained when he didn't.  If you think about it, June was sort of a non-entity on the show.  Her role was pretty small actually.  Do we really know who June Cleaver was?

We seem to have this idea that June Cleaver was the perfect submissive wife who only said "Yes dear".  She kept house and took care of the boys and let Ward handle the big stuff (I guess).  But did she really?  I can't remember, which tells me she was pretty much a non-entity.  Do I really want a man who wants a woman like that?

The capper on this scintillating (ooo, I probably should be careful using big words...would June Cleaver use the word scintillating?) conversation was a clip from a comedy show called "Women Know Your Place".  You should look it up on youtube.  He sent me the link.  I checked it out.  It was people at a dinner party and when the conversation turned serious a woman spoke up with an opinion, the men were not pleased.  She was taken home in tears.  Then there was  a replay of the same scene with her talking about kittens instead of giving her opinion.  It was quite enlightening.  If that is how June Cleaver would have behaved, I am no June Cleaver. I also don't think there should be a division of labor down gender lines.  You should be able to do the things you like and the things you are good at first and then the less desirable jobs should be negotiated.  Of course if one of the other spouse stays home, the bulk of the housework would fall to them, but if both people work, then that is a different story.

I guess I am just of the opinion that leaders are always better leaders when they have trusted advisers.  Those advisers are listened to and their opinion is respected.  If this guy wants a woman who has no opinions then he needs to look elsewhere.  By the way, I am not entirely convinced he would be happy even if he were married to June Cleaver.

So, now the question is....is he serious or is this all a tease?  I think I am going to need to find that out.  June Cleaver might take it all a face value...as I have said, though, I am no June Cleaver.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dominance

So, I have been dating on and off pretty steadily and I am still looking for my guy.  What I have found is that many of the men I meet are too meek to be able to handle me.  Does that sound bad? I know that I am pretty alpha, but I really, really don't want to be able to walk on the guy I am with.  I want somebody who is confident and will be able to take charge when he needs to.  I haven't found the guy that can do that for me yet.  I am not talking about domination, that would drive me nuts!  I am also not talking about controlling, that, too, would drive me nuts!

I wonder about this whole dominance thing.  I read the other day that many women have this fantasy.  For me I think it springs from the fact that I pretty much raised myself, despite wishing I had parents who would have guided me more.  I was a good girl.  I never got in trouble.  I can think of three times that I was punished.  That being said, I could have built a bomb in my garage and my parents would have had no idea.  I guess I really wanted parents who would have stepped in and helped me be a better person.  Now, I guess I am looking for that in a husband. I want someone who will be focused on me and us.  I want someone who has our best interests at heart.  Who is willing to do whatever it takes to make our marriage a success.  I want to be a better person because he (whoever that may end up being) is in my life. 

Selfishly, I guess, sometimes I just don't want to be in charge.  I have been in charge my whole life.  I have had no one to lean on for so long, that I wonder what it would be like to just let someone else lead for a while.  I had a key to let myself in the house at 10 years old.  At 17, when my mom died, I called 911 because my dad wasn't able to.  I didn't have a parent to tell my deepest darkest secrets to, but I want a person like that in my life now.  I want a guy who is strong enough to be my man, with all that I bring to the table good and bad.

I wonder if there is a man out there who feels his job is to protect, to serve, to cherish, to adore and to help me be a better me.  A man who won't resent that I can't do it all myself and it okay with picking up the pieces that I can't and don't want to carry anymore.  I don't want to need this, but I find that I do and maybe it is one of those dreams that just can't come true for me.  I'm going to keep trying though, all I have to lose is my loneliness.