What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

27 March 2018

Together. Apart.

Source.
I put this book on hold at the library before Ash Wednesday, thinking it would be a good Lenten read. My turn to borrow it finally came up yesterday, with less than a week of Lent left to read it in. Oops.

I'm staring at the cover, now,* instead of reading it. For a few weeks I've been in one of those seasons when I walk through a dense fog of numbness, and while on so very many levels it's better than some of the alternatives, it means that words like Life Together jangle around in my head and can't find a place to belong. What does life together mean when you are forever apart?

I know that's not what the book is about. I don't know how familiar I'll be with the words inside until I open it up and read it, but this is a book Chadwick loved and talked about often, so I'm sure I'll meet some old friends inside. I know this isn't a book about that relationship. It's about community, and I'm nothing if not wildly enthusiastic about embracing my community. But this is something Chadwick and I shared--one reason I never read it was because he loved to tell me about it. And now I'm about to read about being together, alone.

I thank God every day for the community I have. A church family who are some of the best on the planet, coworkers who I don't understand how I'm so lucky to spend every day with. (We have a some of new folks who have absolutely brightened my past couple of weeks. To say nothing of the ones I already knew were bright.) I don't know how this happened, but there's a part of me that thinks that life together is already going pretty great, and I'm not sure how one little book will make it any better.

So. I'd better crack this thing open and find out. I'm sure the library still has a waitlist of other people who need it, too.

Maybe one of them is you. What's your community like?

*Unrelated tangent: there's an actor who I like, who I follow across all his public social media accounts, who has a strange relationship with commas. Sometimes it's all I can do to hold back from telling him that I'm taking all his commas away until he learns what they're for. Other times, like now, I find the urge to slip in an extra comma à la that guy too strong to resist. Sometimes it's more comforting than frustrating, so I can see why he's embraced it.

12 March 2018

Start Again

Do you make Daylight Saving (no really, there's no 's' at the end) resolutions? Because I'm thinking it should be a thing.

In all my years of living in places
that observe Daylight Saving Time,
I've never been more ready for more of
this than I am this year.
 Bring it on, DST. Source.
I mean, if you did make a New Year resolution, we're two and a bit months in, and that's a great time to reevaluate, refocus, and perhaps redo. If you didn't, now's a good opportunity to consider what you'd like to do with all the non-winter days ahead of us, perhaps especially things that go well with longer sunlit evenings.

And here's a bonus for folks like me who enjoy hibernating in the winter months: Saving Time lasts 8 months. So if I make a Saving Time resolution, then I can make a Standard Time resolution for the other four months, when the days are short and my motivation to do anything at all is low. Managing my own expectations, as it were. Plus, that beats the rush for the next round of New Year resolutions--I'll be saying, "Already been going on this one for a couple months, thanks!" while everyone else is writing their hot takes on why they set goals instead of making resolutions.

I'm thinking today of my wise friend Ruthie's words about Lent a year ago: "I love that the opportunity keeps coming around. ... I love that even if you've forgotten New Year resolutions, you can start again with new habits/determination/focus to be a better you." Indeed--even if a DST resolution isn't your thing (and seriously, when it's abbreviated that way, it kinda sounds like a drug), maybe there's another time that is. New year? Beginning of summer? Beginning of the school year? Random Tuesday?

Whenever you start a new goal, Ruthie's point still resonates-- you can always start again. Don't give up.

11 March 2018

Halfway

Lent always last a couple weeks longer than I think it will. It's not like I go into Ash Wednesday unsure if Lent is the same length every year, or like I don't know when Easter is, but I still always get a couple weeks in and think, "We're about done with this, right?" Case in point: I almost wrote this "halfway there!" post last week.

So, we're halfway through Lent now, and as spring creeps closer and Easter is almost upon us, I'm seeing more than usual the wisdom of having Lent as a pre-Easter preparation rather than before other Christian holidays. Last year, my first winter back in the Midwest after a 20-year absence, was barely any kind of winter at all. I said then and am still saying now that last winter was God's way of easing me back into the climate that I fled for good reason, but this winter has been a little bit closer to the early dark and freezing temps and one-warm-day-haha-fooled-you weather yoyo that I remember from my childhood. And it is wearing me down.

People were walking past these daffodils
like it's no big deal! Like the winter is not
sucking their lives away! I don't know how
other people do it. I saw these flowers and
did quite the happy dance right there on
the sidewalk.
The past week or so I've been eagerly checking every bush and tree that I walk by for signs of new life, and I'm finally seeing signs of reawakening--some tiny buds here, a set of early leaves there, and reliable bulbs like daffodils and lilies saying "ready or not, here we come," to the ambient temperatures and shooting out of the ground right on cue. These signs of life are giving me strength to journey on, and also to walk through the streets of Cincinnati singing "Wick." (No word on how my fellow citizens feel about my musical interludes. I like to think of it as a public service.)

Lent begins in the darkness of winter, at a time when the sunlight- and warmth-loving among us (me) are just about ready to throw in the towel and go hibernate for a few weeks until the weather gets its act together. But to take on Lent seriously is to push myself even when it's hard and I want to give up, so that on Easter Sunday and beyond I can rejoice at the new growth and rebirth taking place in my own life, for having gone through the hard days and persevered through the struggle. And then I'll look around at the trees and flowers and all of creation rejoicing with me.

Halfway there, friends. Let's persevere through these last few weeks of winter together so we can rejoice together in the spring.

03 March 2018

Skilled

Today's post is inspired by a Facebook post I saw this morning. Now, I normally try not to respond to those, because Facebook is the waste treatment plant of the internet. The post I saw, though, was interesting--it was about "adulting" classes (in quotes because while I think that word is fun as slang, I don't yet know how I feel about it being a real word) for young adults who lack life skills. Examples in the video included changing a flat tire, boiling an egg, folding a fitted sheet, and hulling a strawberry (I don't think I'll ever need that last one, but YMMV).

And while it's easy to say, "kids these days, amirite?" and roll right along, the truth is that skills have to be learned. We aren't born knowing anything. Every skill that I have, I've learned along the way, either from someone teaching me directly or by trial and error. There's nothing inherently irresponsible or shameful about not knowing a thing, and it's silly to expect that people will learn everything they need to know in the first 20 years, some of which years were spent pickup up random things and putting them in our mouths.

By the way, the person who I saw share this on Facebook was not being snide about adulting classes. It was when I made the mistake of clicking through and reading some comments that I decided to write an entire (long) post about it.

XKCD is a marvelous gem of a website. Source.
I remember my mother describing a personal finance class she took in high school, in which she learned to create a budget and balance a checkbook, a class that was long gone by the time I went to the same school 20 years later. There just wasn't room for it in the curriculum. And now, 20+ years later again, schools are even more pressed for what's included and what's not. New information comes at us constantly, testing is ever more intense for teachers and students, colleges have high demands for admission so students are swamped with extracurriculars--who has the time for a life skills class in school?

And the culture we live in bears some blame. I knew a dude a few years back who told me that he didn't teach his kids life skills because he wanted to keep them dependent on him, so they would come home for the weekends when they went to college. That was his plan for keeping his kids out of trouble, and I doubt that he was the only person who thought this was a good solution. I think of him often when I see the local college students struggling in Kroger, because I wonder if their parents ever let them into a supermarket before. My own father refused to teach me any mechanical things (including driving a stick shift, when I specifically asked him to teach me) on the grounds that "girls don't need to know that." Please, please, parents--do not do this. I get that your lives are already overflowing, the world puts way too many unrealistic demands on you, and that the years are short. But please try not to shortchange your kids this way.

There is a certain kind of human, and I'm related to an unfortunately high number of them, who believes that some things are just "common sense" and people "shouldn't need to be told that." However, that's just not true. I agree that there are many things that are caught rather than taught as one grows up--the aforementioned supermarket example springs to mind--but to presume that everyone caught the same information, or that we all have the same kind of upbringing, or that the human brain has a built-in program for knowing exactly what to do all the time, is just to invite frustration and misunderstanding into life.

By the way, as an adult I've had to learn how to drive a stick shift (at age 30) and how to change a flat tire on my bicycle (at age 34). A few months back I asked my brother to show me how to change a flat tire on a car (at age 39), although since I haven't had occasion to practice that one I'm sure I'll have to ask him again. (Mad props to my brother for being a lot more gracious and mature about that request than our father was. Maybe have a young widowed sister has helped him see the world in a different way than was possible for our father at this age.)
↑ This applies to more than just literature.

Repeat after me: There's nothing inherently irresponsible or shameful about not knowing a thing. It is okay to ask for help and seek out the skills that you're lacking. In fact, it shows incredible maturity to do that kind of self-assessment and look for self-improvement. What is shameful is mocking or belittling someone who's doing their best to fill those gaps. Everyone has something they don't know or haven't learned to do yet. Let's move forward together with that in mind, please.

01 March 2018

School of Listen Up

I'm going to talk a little bit about School of Rock, and it will contain spoilers, so I'll do my usual things that I do so you can get away quickly if the musical is coming to you next and you've been avoiding internet reviews and whatnot. (By the way: this is not a review. I don't really do that.) I did not see the movie that inspired the musical--folks seem really keen on asking that question. I'm sure it's great, but I'm not a movie gal.

Okay, that should cover the few lines that pull from Facebook. Everything else after the jump.