Friday, January 13, 2012

What THE??

1. I started a list of movies that I would like to see, and quickly discovered that all the titles start with the word “The!” The Guard, The Descendants, The Help, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and The Iron Lady. There are also several others currently in theaters (which aren’t necessarily on my list), such as The Darkest Hour, The Adventures of Tin Tin, and The Devil Inside. This unlikely coincidence got me wondering, what’s up with the current use of the word “The” as the opener for movie titles? Is this common, and I just never noticed it before, or is there an insurgence of such titles? The writer of this blog wants to know, what THE??
2. Have you ever had your eyes checked? Well, I’m certain that at least once in your life, you’ve held a little plastic paddle over each eye and read a chart of letters from across the room (which they still do for kids, BTW.) But, have you ever placed your chin on a little tissue paper-covered plastic ledge, leaned forward just until your forehead touched a cold metal bar, and then proceeded to read letters through little circles of glass, while those circles are clicked backward and forward on an archaic-looking metal instrument, and you’re being asked “one better, or two better?” I did this very thing just last week, and I have to say, “What THE??” Seriously, is this still the best technology we’ve been able to muster for analysis of our eyeballs? It’s 2012 folks – why isn’t there a machine that can take a high resolution, 3D snapshot of our eyes (like those fancy new ultrasound photos) and have it calculate exactly what it is that our baby-blues (hazels, in my case) need? There’s WAY too much room for error in this “one better, or two better”, bug-eyed, archaic-looking metal instrument way of doing this! Again, this is 2012 people – our pets should be wearing corrective lenses by now!!
3. Were you in THE red reading group or THE blue reading group when you were young? Were you in THE tiger math group or THE possum math group? If you were in any “group(s)”, I bet you remember EXACTLY what they were - and what the titles REALLY meant. You may even still believe that those groups identify your ability-level and influence how you feel about yourself today. Our educational system still sorts and labels students to attempt to teach to their appropriate level of ability, and continues to plant these artificial identifiers in kids’ heads. Today I learned that in Japan, kids are not lumped by ability, but rather are taught based on their desire and dedication to “learn.” The idea is that anyone can do it if they work hard, and make the effort. In the US, you either have “it” or you don’t – and we make sure you know whether you have it or not, thus puncturing any desire, hope, motivation or confidence you may have had, before you learned you didn't have it! We send kids backwards before they've even had a chance to move forward.
What THE??

Monday, December 26, 2011

Time to Reflect...and Learn!

As the year 2012 knocks at the door, I want to pretend I’m not home so it will go away. I want to freeze time. There’s still so much to accomplish in 2011; and with only five days left, I’m feeling the pressure. However, the work that I still need to do is all about learning.
Of course, learning takes place every day of our lives if we let those lessons seep into our conscience. My learning has been especially rich and extensive in 2011. And, there’s still SO much more learning that can be compacted into the next five days, which would leave me ready to start January one fresh and renewed.
I know I contradict myself – stating that every day is about learning, but also stating that I want to squeeze all my current lessons into the next five days so I can begin to LIVE those lessons on January one. This is one of my lessons, I suppose. How to accept that the growth and learning is a constant in our lives, not an end point?
When you learned something in school, you had an end point to that lesson – usually reflected in a test of some sort. Did you absorb the information and turn it into a real lesson? Or, did you just pass the exam only to forget it weeks or years later? School didn’t do a very good job of teaching that learning was a cumulative process. Or maybe I just didn’t pass that part of the lesson?
There’s no end point to learning. One can stop and take stock of all previous learning (and one SHOULD do this regularly), but one must also keep those lessons ever present in the mind so that exponential growth can occur. The best lessons build upon one another; old becoming new again, new coming from years of old lessons that have finally gelled. Real lessons are ALWAYS built on cumulative experiences and information.
Maybe life and learning is like a big ball of twine. Every moment of life that we experience moves us further along the strand, while it wraps itself around us like a cocoon. The challenge is in not letting the layers of twine paralyze us, but instead seeing that they can hold us to the lessons we’re meant to learn.  The cocoon of twine will trap even the strongest of us if we let it feel like a restraint instead of a lesson (or lessons) to be learned. How easy it has been for me to WANT to free myself from the restraints before the lessons have been learned, but that’s only because my perception has been one of restraint, instead of seeing it as a jacket for growth. The layers of twine are really our life lessons that MUST be acknowledged if we hope to become all that we are meant to be.
Having taken this time to reflect on the amazing learning that has taken place in 2011, I think I really am ready for 2012 to come through that door after all, because I sense it will be one of my greatest years of growth and learning yet! I’m eager to learn all the lessons the year will bring, but even MORE excited to apply them to my everyday living so I can be the best ME –-- the ME I’m really meant to be!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grace

Today I heard something that’s still lingering deep in my soul --- words spoken to me during a period of deep emotional pain. “Always carry yourself with grace; hold your head high and show your grace.” What a blessing I heard in these words!
The source was a woman who originates from the Southern US, where women are told, even trained, to always be graceful and gracious. As a Yankee, I certainly never learned such a thing. And as a self-avowed realist and a true believer in speaking one’s mind, I have rarely ever paused to consider how to be graceful or represent Grace. What’s so great about Grace anyway? What does it even mean?
Here’s one definition I like, “elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.” Being INTERNALLY beautiful and elegant in ones actions and thoughts is resonating with me as I write this blog. This isn’t just some New Year’s resolution fodder, this is about LIFE!
I was MAD today! I was HURT today! I was CONFUSED today! And, I was reacting in my all-too-typical fashion by passive-aggressively pondering how I would approach this painful situation in my life. Then, this Grace word flooded into my ears and began reverberating through my entire being. It made sense. It’s how I want to approach all the tough situations in my life.
I choose to walk the path of Grace; will you walk there with me?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Commitment

A commitment is a pledge, vow or promise. It’s a dedication we consciously make to other people and to certain responsibilities in our lives. Some commitments are entered into with an expected timeframe, such as marriage (that until death thing) and child-rearing. However, most commitments don’t come with a definite end point. We don’t take a job knowing when it will end (unless we work as a temp), we don’t enter a relationship knowing the exact span of time we will be together, we don’t buy a house knowing at what point we’ll decide to move on.
All of us have differing pre-conceived beliefs and opinions about how long a commitment should last. If you spent your entire childhood living in one home, you are likely to think that a “normal” length of commitment to living in a home is 20 or more years; however, if your family moved around a lot, your idea of a “normal” length of home-ownership may be closer to three years. Early family experiences are powerful shapers of one’s ideas about commitment.
I believe that making a commitment is important; a commitment to a relationship, a commitment to a job or career and a commitment to friendships. However, the length of such commitments will vary for each of us and that rich variation is what’s “normal.” Every individual has unique needs and desires that dictate how their life will look.
What I find to be SO much more important than the length of one’s commitments, is the dedication and effort put into those commitments regardless of timeframe. A 20 year-long job or marriage that has lacked engagement, growth and energy is less admirable than a shorter commitment in which you gave it your all and found that you simply needed more. And while that marriage until death commitment thing has been deeply ingrained in our psyches, I choose to believe that it’s far better to live a happy and healthy life than it is to stay in a marriage that's devoid of love and caring.
Some people fear all commitment because they don't think they can live up to other's expectations. Some people make endless commitments yet find it difficult to identify which ones are truly meaningful because they don't want to let anyone down. Each of us must decide for ourselves what our commitments will look like, and how long they will last. There's no "normal" length of time for any commitment, you must find what's right for you!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kid Gloves Vs. Warm Woolen Mittens

We've all heard the phrase "to treat with kid gloves" used to describe a need for gentleness and ease of touch. What's interesting is that kid gloves are made from the hides of young lambs. I'm doubtful that the former, natural owners of these hides were treated with the same special kindness that's used to describe such treatment of others.

I have owned a few pairs of kid gloves throughout the years. Sadly, I have never previously pondered their origin. I only wondered and marveled at their softness, lively dyed colors and snug fit. Would I feel better wearing them if I knew with certainty that the young lambs who sacrificed their lives for this human luxury were killed in a humane and spiritual manner? No! I don't need to wear these gloves, when there are so many superior and kinder versions - namely fleece and wool.

Fleece and wool kindly weave warmth and softness over us in times of chiliness. This is a far superior way to keep our hands and fingers happy in winter months. Therefore, I commit to fully reject kid gloves in favor of kinder, gentler sources of warmth. I also recommend a revision of that well known saying to better align with its meaning. So, from now on, I will be saying "to treat with warm woolen mittens" (Julie Andrews knew!) They're one of my favorite things and they're how I choose to treat others, and how I'd like others to treat me.

Stay Warm...
Kim :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Three

Three is on my mind today. And it's a perfect topic for my third blog post.

The struggle of three - the third-wheel, the odd-man out, the triangle dymanic (I made that up) - it's what happens when three people try to be best friends. One of the three always ends up feeling left out at some point. Three doesn't work well when going to amusement parks - one must ride alone. We all know that even numbers are just plain easier!

One of my 7 year old daughter's BFFs told her (and me) today that 3 just doesn't work out. This was her explanation for excluding my daughter from the ever-important tire swing play at recess. My daughter's other BFF is the third in this triangle.

Jealousy, insecurity, fear of loss - these are the heightened sensations of threesomes. Three causes pain and hurt!!

I remember this struggle all too well from my own 9th grade BFF threesome. I had two BFFs and the three of us were a well-balanced triangle for a short period of time; until the angles between my two BFFs grew larger than those with me. I don't remember how the shift occured, but suddenly, I was the odd-man out. I hadn't done anything to make this so, it was just the triangle dymanic playing out in our threesome. The angles are rarely equal. Even when the triangle appears on the surface to have equal 60 degree angles, those 180 degrees are often acquired by variable and differing angles. Sixty degree angles of precision are impossible to achieve in real life, when feelings, emotions and human interactions act to constantly influence the triangle.

The twist that I find so interesting is that in the world of design and writing - three is supreme! Odd numbers create visual interest and generate dynamic movement. Three is beautiful and energetic in its inherent lack of balance and equality. The Rule of Three tells more... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_three_(writing)

This is the story of LIFE. Nothing is ever equally distributed. We resist that discomfort. But the beauty of that discomfort if what makes life so fascinating!

My daughter is just beginning to learn about this triangle dynamic. But I have finally learned to relish the lack of balance in three and appreciate the interest it can bring to one's life.

So go and embrace three --- sometimes you ride with your friend, sometimes you ride alone, and someday the three of you will laugh about it over a glass of wine (all-the-while wondering why you weren't the first one of the two BFFs who was called about this get together!) What's up with that?

Kim :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Do You Want to KNOW?

I was just reading a report from Harvard’s Kennedy School that ponders our movement from Gov 2.0 to Society 2.0. In the report, the discussion of Facebook, Twitter and other social media led one city’s mayor to query WHY people want to know what everyone else is doing from day-to-day. This is a common question – at least for those who haven’t yet waded into the technology of social media. Once a trepidatious foot has been dipped in that water, however, one quickly becomes fully immersed in the fluid trivialities of others’ lives.

Those of us who are regular and familiar users of such technology have already discovered the strange pleasure in reading about a friend’s remodeling project, a cousin’s party exploits, or an acquaintance’s gourmet cooking adventures. On its face, those appear to be rather dull topics that probably wouldn’t inspire hours of deep dialogue at a face-to-face gathering. So we ask – why do we want to know?

These daily “posts” on Facebook and Twitter are really just an extension of the random conversations we would be having with one another if we had the time to get together. These are the types of conversations that we typically don’t think twice about as we maneuver through our lives. Yet, these small and even meaningless bits of information work as super glue to connect us.

In his book Bowling Alone, Putnam posits that communal disconnection started to occur in the sixties and seventies with a decrease in bowling leagues and other social activities that had been the informal cornerstone of American engagement and community-building for decades.  Disengagement from others’ lives and a loss of community occurred for many reasons, such as the increasing complexity and demands of family life. This doesn’t mean that people no longer wanted to be a part of a community or no longer wanted to know what was happening; they just didn’t have the time. Long gone are the days of aproned-mothers gathering at a neighbor’s clothes line to connect about their lives, and unawares – build their community. Now we have Facebook and Twitter. It’s our new “clothes line” – our new neighborhood coffee shop, new local bar, and new bowling alley. 

Technology has only made it easier to know all you ever wanted about everyone and everything, and with less time invested. This “knowing” is what helps build community and connection. We don’t have time to chat at the clothes line anymore (let alone time to actually get the clothes off the floor and into the washing machine), but there is time to check Facebook a few minutes each day. That’s a good thing! Because, those of us who are fully immersed in this type of social media will tell you that the little time invested in reading about the happenings in our friends’ and family’s worlds, and to comment on one’s own world, works to bring us  closer together and re-formulate “community.”  It creates a sense of “place” in this ever expanding cyber world.