Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In Which I Ruminate On Newfound Ideas

The past year has been full of changes for me. I've experienced things that have forced me to challenge the way I live and think. I've had a lot of my ingrained beliefs about things turned upside down. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least. Things are still changing for me almost daily. I've become a different person in a lot of ways. I hope that the changes in me are for the better.

I've found how much I value humility. It's interesting to take a group of thoughts, pet peeves maybe, and shuffle them around, examine them, really get to the root of them and discover just why you have such strong feelings about them.

I have found that cockiness ruffles my feathers. A lot. Even if the person really is all that they claim to be, constantly reminding everyone of their ultimate superiority makes my opinion of them plummet. Listening to someone brag on and on about themselves is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

There is a profound difference between quiet pride in a job well done and peacockish arrogance. That difference is humility. There is nothing wrong with self confidence. For me, the line is crossed when it is repeatedly rubbed in my face how great a person is.

Conversely, it is refreshing to spend time with a person who, while aware of their strong points, is also conscious of their faults as well. No "I'm the best, blah, blah, blah", just humble confidence and realness.

On the other side of the coin, negative people are difficult for me to tolerate as well. I have a relative who one of my sisters refers to as Old Lady Gloom and Doom. It doesn't matter what sort of silver lining she has discovered, she will find a cloud to go with it. It may be prudent to be aware and prepared for life's unpleasant surprises, but there is much good to be found if one is willing to look.

I know that I do my fair share of complaining. Sometimes it's hard not to. I think that there is a difference between venting frustration or confiding fears and constantly complaining about how horrible life is. I have a facebook friend whose status updates are almost always complaints. Her teenaged son is making poor choices, the government has let her down, she threw out her back, the rain has made her depressed. I think that at least nine out of ten of her updates are negative. I commented about it to my husband and he asked "Why is she your friend?"

Good question.

Maybe it's time for a little pruning of the acquaintance tree. I don't think that there is much to be done there, as I already only associate with people that I enjoy being around. Maybe it's time for me to learn more tolerance and compassion. I have been guilty of arrogance and negativity. I know that these are the stronger traits that show instead of what is really behind them: fear, uncertainty and sadness.

People who don't know me well think that I'm very quiet. I think that a good number of people who do know me well think the same. I disagree, but that is most likely because I can hear my constant stream of thoughts so, to myself, I seem very obstreperous. I bring this up because I want to touch on the subject of opinions. I have them. You have them. Everyone thinks that their opinion is correct. That's kind of the point of them, you know? I don't mind hearing the opinions of others. Sometimes I ask to hear them. It's interesting to hear what other people think. I like to have my mind opened to other ways of thinking. Everyone is entitled.


I do not appreciate having my opinion run down. Disagreed with? Okay. Like I said, you're entitled. But just because my opinion differs from yours does not make me stupid, deficient, uninformed or inferior to you in any way. I will listen to your opinion and then I will probably keep my mouth shut. Arguing my point will just use time and energy that I'm not willing to spend just to make myself feel worse.

My husband has told me that I need to stand up for myself more, and he's probably right. The problem is I don't usually realize that I should have defended myself until well after the incident has occurred. That usually happens later on as I'm reflecting the situation and how it made me feel. Then I think "I should have said something!"

I have become more vigilant. I am making sure that if someone says something out of line and I feel that correcting them or expressing myself is appropriate, I'll do it. Some of the people that I associate with say or do the same sort of thing over and over again so I even have things prepared to say for the next time they run me down.

If you're still with me, thanks for reading this little glimpse into the inner workings of my psyche. I find it fascinating how much I continue to learn and grow every day.

I'll step off of my soapbox now and maybe soon we'll get back to the sort of goofy poppycock that you have come to expect from me here.

Any fellow synesthetes out there?

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Profound Lesson in an Unexpected Place

A couple of days ago, Morgan took the two older kids with him to run some errands. Mike had Scouts and Noel went along because, well, let's just say that Mommy needed her to go be with her daddy. Adam caught on that they were leaving just as they were walking out the door and decided that he wanted to go with them. By that time, it was too late to wait for him to get ready to go with them and as the door closed he began to cry.

I picked him up to try to calm him but he would have none of it. I tried my full bag of tricks. "Let's go read a story." "Where is your train? Do you want to play with your train?" "Ooh, look! SpongeBob is on!" "Do you want a cookie?" All I succeeded in doing was making him cry and scream even louder.

So I threw up my hands and walked away. I do that sometimes. I figure if nothing that I'm doing is helping, it's better for there to be distance between me and the tantrum or else pretty soon I'll be on the floor kicking and screaming, too.

I went about my business, tidying the house, folding laundry and keeping Jack out of trouble. Adam screamed and cried for thirty straight minutes, I am not even kidding. Finally, on one of my trips through the living room, I glanced over to where he was laying on the couch. He had reached that point in crying when his breath was coming in big gulping hiccups between each wail. The look on his face was one of such anguish that it literally stopped me where I stood. My kind Heavenly Father chose that moment to offer some gentle teaching. I was reminded of the times that I had found myself in the depths of despair - lonely, hopeless, and wishing for any sort of comfort. I remembered the times that I had literally begged through prayer for Him to send someone to me. "Please let someone call me or knock on my door. I need some comfort right now!"

I was humbled. I offered a quick prayer of repentant thankfulness and then gathered up my sweet little boy in my arms. We sat together on the couch, snuggled under his favorite blanket. I "sshhhed" and whispered calming things into his baby soft hair. He squirmed around until he finally found a comfortable spot on my lap and soon his cries had quieted into an occasional hiccup. After cuddling for about fifteen minutes, he climbed off of my lap and went into his room to play with his little brother.

I stayed on the couch and pondered what had happened. How many times have I pleaded for help and then had that plea answered? How many times have those within my sphere of influence, my children especially, pleaded for help, only to have me place my needs and desires ahead of others?

Sometimes as a mother you really do need to walk away. Sometimes it really is best to get some space between you and the child who is misbehaving. But I had passed the crisis point and was just ignoring him because he was irritating. There was nothing keeping me from offering him the comfort that he needed and which I was capable of giving except my own selfishness.

I marvel sometimes at the times and places in which my Heavenly Father chooses to teach me. It was a lesson I'll not soon forget.