Be Back Soon- What I’m Doing Right Now

Among other projects I’ve been designing on Zazzle. Remember all those past New Year’s Resolutions I posted on this blog? Well, I’m finally getting to the “making art” part. I even have made a studio for creating some hardcopy original art. Tat will make it to the net in the new year 2013.

Here’s my ever-improving work at Zazzle:


make custom gifts at Zazzle

I also had to deal with a particularly bad hacking job on my sites which are hosted by Netfirms. I am very put out with that host, as this has happened in milder ways often this year. But this last time I had to completely reinstall software and recover and rewrite all the articles.

I’m going to deal with this in such a way that I won’t have to stop my writing to recover from such things… in the coming year. I am determined to keep my blogs alive.

Catch a Good Social Habit

Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard, found when examining data from a long-term study of the residents of Framingham, Mass., health habits can be as contagious as a cold virus. By his calculation, a Framingham individual’s chances of becoming obese shot up by 57 percent if a friend became obese. –People Who Forget To Die

Be Careful Who You Listen To

This good advice comes directly from my experience on this blog. When I was in my heyday of blogging here, I did make some communication mistakes, with people, with writing, with rankling some readers, but I was honestly me and just wanted to speak opinions on the issues and topics I wrote about. Those topics could be just about anything. I had been on lists previously to blogging so had a fairly thick skin when it came to opposition and the psychological games that are sometimes played online (if you wonder what I’m talking about just look through advice on dealing with the many guises of trolls)

jekyl and hyde

You might be interested in reading “Things I learned in Forums” and “I n The Spirit Of Harmony

There are many types of disjointed negative people who troll the internet, but it seems they are not as visible to me now. I suppose it is because I have simply stopped giving much of my opinion and become somewhat apathetic about some of the former topics I once blogged passionately about. It also made my writing a bit more boring on those topics, so I stick to just sharing some the introspection for now… like this post. I also don’t “engage” nearly as much as I used to…

Anyway, back to the story…there was a story? yes. A blogger making a name for himself rating other blogs and bloggers decided he didn’t like me too well, and at some point said I was third rate or second rate or something like that. I don’t remember the actual verbal weapon he used, only now I can see the long-term damage. Sometimes these words are wielded with psychological knowledge and intent, but it is always difficult to say when it is all happening behind the screen.

Perhaps it was the timing or who knows, really, but the problem was that somewhere inside myself I listened to him. I shouldn’t have, and there was no real authority for him to have that sort of power over my own opinion of myself, but as those things sometimes go, it did.

I think its power came from somewhere deep inside myself where I was convinced that yes, I was no more than second or third rate as a person , and might as well give up blogging my opinions. Of course, I didn’t altogether, but you might say that is when the wind went out of my sails on this type of blog. The first of many climate changes to my life. I had had about enough of the interminable religious arguing that some Christians enjoy, politics became toxic and polemic. I am sure that contributed to the loss of interest in internet crusading. I went back home, you might say, to deal with the fires of my crumbling hearth and home. I wrote mostly about gardening.

How many times have I seen a talented blogger fold because they were harried or harassed by comments and unkindness? Many a time, in fact it was almost the norm for “blog-life”. I still hear complaints about rude, troublemaking feedback from people who I wonder are simply new to the way the wild world of the web interacts (which is simply an exposure of how real people often act and react – they are just more invested in hiding it in real life). It isn’t easy to see either intent or effect of words on the internet medium. Jekyll and Hyde

This is not an obscure thing that happens on the internet or elsewhere in life. Everywhere there are people who thrive on saying negative and discouraging things. Not just criticism, which is sometimes necessary, or voicing different opinions and perspectives, but those who belittle and wish to cripple others in their endeavors. I suppose there is more than a little envy at work.

The trouble is that many of us have been exposed to influences that assess, ascribe to us, or even assassinate our character and value as a person. And we become marred in our own image of ourselves, while vulnerable to those who can damage us and discourage us from following our dreams or building something worthwhile.

Those people speak into our lives and we let them.

That is why I think we should be careful who we listen to… even if we think we are armored against them, even if we think we are confident, strong people. We should be careful who we allow access to the place inside where our identity is formed. Of course, a person heals over time, and with efforts, but it is a lass of time and of momentum in life to step into the snare of harmful,negative people.

As an antidote I truly believe we should find those, including what God says of us, who will help us find our true core, the identity of ourselves as we are meant to be, as we best are. It isn’t a matter of surrounding ourselves with “yes-men”, but of being discerning, careful who give heed to in our lives.

New Moons

CURRENT MOON
moon phases

Today is a new moon, on October the fifteenth of 2012, a Monday. We don’t think of new moons in our modern age, although we might still observe a full moon just because we like the way it looks or we equate it with a time when people act oddly. But it used to be that a new moon once had significance.

Since the Hebrew year was marked as a lunar year, the new moons would mark the beginning of a new month, and had the spiritual significance of new beginnings, considered Holy convocations in some instance; especially the first new moon of the new year.

There are questions about just what constitute a “new moon”. In the Lunar calender that didn’t seem to be so much of an issue since it was defined as”The New Moon is the beginning or the first day of the month.” We can guess that it is the transition from the full moon to the crescent, presumably with a specific point, such as the visible crescent. However it was, the moon at the beginning of its new phase was the beginning of a new month and so the “beginning” had a certain importance.

During the New Moon observance in ancient Israel the shofar was the blown. It was holy, a Sabbath Day. Worship, singing, and sweet incense was burnt to mark the observance.

A beginning was an important event, taken seriously, entered into joyously.

Today is the change from the month Tishrei to Cheshvan and it has two days set aside:”two Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) days for the month of (when a month has 30 days, both the last day of the month and the first day of the following month serve as the following month’s Rosh Chodesh). So the two days celebrated this month are the 16th and 17th of October.

What In The World Am I Doing?

That question could take all sorts of tones.

I feel more in control, while at the same time less controlling; which I think is the natural turn of that correlation. controlling people are that way often because they feel so insecure about how little control they have in their lives. It seems to be a way of achieving sense and order inside a very chaotic existence.

But the more sense one makes of life, the less need to orchestrate everything, and manipulate. Oh yes, I like it!

To be my usual didactic self…

  • I am putting together my plans of resuming the age-old efforts at decluttering.
  • Tightening up my blogging plans and efforts, which hallelujah, means more posts
  • Paying more attention to the world of stocks, hoping to make up for the fact that I have not had a paying job for the majority of life as a SAHM
  • Finishing up my homeschooling career this coming year
  • Changing my life. Focus on exercise, eating better, drawing- then painting, reviving spiritual life.

This starts to sound like a list of New Years resolutions, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is the influence of Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, which fall in September, thereabouts. We think we change times and seasons in the modern age… but we don’t really. The times of sowing and harvest, of moons and observations somehow remain and exert their influence even when we blithely ignore them.

Better to celebrate, to flow within the natural course of life, then always reinvent. Just as a general statement, mind you?

Intermissions

I’ve taken long intermissions on this blog. This isn’t uncommon with the blogging world, and often it signals the eventual Sleeping Beauty death of many blogs. For me, the long intermissions are more of a type of contemplation. This blog was never primarily about popular topics, although that sometimes became the gist of posts when my eye turned that way, instead the TrueGrit blog remains a repository of my private thoughts and opinions posted in a public forum.

I don’t always want to expose my broken heart. I don’t always want to exhibit disappointments or explain causes for anger. There is often a feeling of responsibility to give something of value and, therefore, optimism or resolution. You have to be in a certain state of mind to write that way, to prevent falling into some sort of false and hypocritical form of writing. Personally, speaking, that is.

And the truth is that once one distances from a blog that is personal in nature, more and more of the posts become exercise of the imagination. I mean that I imagine the post I will write, but then let too much time pass and it never actually materializes. Like much of my life, at times.

I have moved away from the tolerance of living that way. Dreams are all well and good in their place, but then one awakes with an actual hunger in the pit of an actual stomach. I think that is where I am in life right now. If I can incorporate a blog (and there are now many tools to help a writer with that) with living a busy real life… since that is where more of my efforts are propelling me, then it will grow. Otherwise the idea of folding it into a past chapter of life will finally be decided.

I don’t want to end this chapter quite yet. I just want to change it into a better form, more in keeping with today’s realities.

Life has many intermissions. Some we call vacations, some we call sabbaticals, some we call other names, and they are bridges between our active choices, but never a timeout from life… since life marches on and recruits each intermission into its history. Very often, as I have on this blog, we simply stay in a state of indecision which is not an intermission at all, but a passive type of decision- allowing something other than our active choice take the helm.

All I know right now is that I don’t want to live within the intermission, but to direct, act, and produce as creatively as possible a cohesive whole. Is life a journey, a stage, a destination, a plan, a What? Perhaps a continuum that somehow encompasses bits of all those concepts.

On Parenting

Not having blogged here seriously for a long time, I am not going to apologize for that now. You may find some of the reasons if you read between the lines- or maybe not.

warning: this may turn into a long post. it will certainly go deeper than I have on this blog for a long time. you may not want to read what I have to say. don’t say I didn’t warn you

How did I find myself inspired to write here today? On this topic? I visited the blog of a long time blogger who has become a new mother. She said this:

Looking after a newborn baby is really, really hard. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done. It’s mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting, and it’s relentless. People keep telling me that it gets better or easier. I hope so. I’m pooped. ~Meg Pickard

When I read that, I remembered back …way back to my first introduction to motherhood, and yes, that is very much a description of how I felt at the time. I don’t know if there was a generation more unprepared for parenting than mine- at least among those who were like me.

Why do I think that?

  • We had jumped from ‘Leave It To Beaver’ and ‘Father Knows Best’ to ‘The Brady Bunch’ and ‘All In The Family’
  • Smart Girls prepared for careers, not families; and Supermom wasn’t going to show up until much later.
  • We had come from smaller families, and didn’t help raise siblings, and our moms and dads were all getting divorced. At least in my circles. Elsewhere in America, too, if the statistics tell the story.

How did this play out for women like me? We were sorely under-prepared for taking care of babies. We were socked with that relentless exhaustion and tried to play catch up with learning how to change diapers, adjust to feeding schedules, and generally learn parenting and household skills on the fly.

Humans are survivors- and women like me and our babies survived. From our survival lessons came the supermom syndrome. Which, for me, translated into a frenzy of trying to make everything “work”. And if you were like me you could make everything look pretty good…. on the outside. A house of cards, if you will.

This is getting ominous sounding, don’t you think? Well, in some ways it was, but in others- there were good times, there were some things I would do again, but the overall tone of life? No. Perfection makes a hard taskmaster, and I would trade that for making “Nurture” the keynote of our family. As it was, the keynote was more of “Accomplishment” as framed by my environment.

The reason I would change that focus and tone might be found in the name of a category I have on this blog, one that I haven’t yet found heart enough to fill up, but perhaps this post will be filed there,”Broken Heart Devotionals”.

Because another hard truth not told to new parents is the fact that not only can you fall deeply in love with your babies, but that they can grow up and break your heart. Not all of them, not inevitably, but it is one of the possibilities. And a parent needs to recognize that. It could change our focus and remove some of the deception that seems to infect every generation in some way or another.

I’m not going to get all sappy here, and I am certainly not going to imply that this is the inevitable outcome. Perhaps for some it isn’t in the cards, not even as a possible condition, I don’t know. I do know that when such heartbreak hits, it can come as a complete surprise… the same arrival of surprise that the exhaustion brought to an unprepared, naive mother in those first few months. With the same impact to your psyche, and your sense of what life should be.

Do not mistake facing reality for regret. There is no regret in the wonderful people that came into my world. I am happy for each individual child being a part of my world and the world at large. There is only sadness that I didn’t understand that nurture and tenderness, taking time for small moments, and living the love I felt for those people was more important than anything.

Anything.

And if I were to sum up my advice, thoughts, and stories on parenting in one thing it would be be that last paragraph and its emphatic underline.

But I have more to say. Just don’t let go of that one nugget of truth, which is the only real piece of advice I wish to pass on.

Sifting Through The Sand Of Motherhood

Sand, because motherhood will both polish you and wear you down. It will get in your shoes, but it is also lots of fun to play with. In the right conditions it will focus you on the truly important things of life, even if a little late.

To go back to that mother’s observations which I began with:

It’s also really boring much of the time. No-one tells you this. In fact, I think it’s probably frowned on to say it. But if you’re used to being surrounded by agile minds conducting fascinating thought-experiments and verbally jousting at work every day, looking after a baby gets pretty tedious rather quickly, especially when they’re too young to play or engage much with their surroundings. There’s something about the relentless monotony of routine (is it feeding time again? So soon? I could have sworn we just fed a few minutes ago…), and the fact that your brain has been sucked out of your ears by exhaustion, and the need to be constantly entertaining or on the move. It’s knackering.

I see some things have not changed much from my generation. I think we gave that attitude to the next generation as something of a legacy. Perhaps it was the gleam in the eye of our divorced mothers, and we inherited it ourselves? It said, “Smart girls are bored by the dailiness of the life of Motherhood”. Not that this was the essential point of Pickard’s post- it wasn’t. I simply plucked it out as saying what I, and many like me, felt- to the letter. Or thought we felt because we were supposed to feel that way as modern, hip, thinking women. and whether you think a certain way, or think you ought to and subscribe to it- it boils down to the same thing.Many of us Baby Boomer mothers struggled with it in one way or another.

I think it is ‘Supermom’ residue, personally. which is the opposite of “Earth Mother” persona. E.M.’s have to live in this society,too, so I don’t think they get off scot-free. They are, however, more apt to take time for their mothering, as part of their identity.

It’s Not All About Mothers

Mothers are not all there is to the forming of a child’s life, and psyche. But I do think, that like fathers in their way, mothers of my generation went sort of AWOL. And we got mixed up about what makes a good mother. We got too much into the debate over working and not enough into the conversation of what loving a child looks like.

And even if mothers do things right, it doesn’t insulate them, their families, or their children from the vicissitudes of our society, which has lost its mooring. Really, it has. No one can even define the semantics of our roles or actions in any substantial way today.

But thankfully, one thing stands against all the assaults and assails of whatever is wrong with us as individuals and as a society, and that is that “Love Never Fails“.

It really doesn’t. If you really love your child or your spouse, or any relationship with true care and concern for them as a human being, as someone that matters, then you will go a long way toward nurturing that soul. And they will thrive from it.

Don’t get sidetracked about what that love looks like. Don’t get fooled by some made-up experts rules. Do things that puts the wellbeing of that person on the top of your list.

Being a Christian, I don’t think there is any defining lesson on what that looks like more than you might find in I Cor. 13, the Love Chapter of First Corinthians. I don’t think we can make up what love is like any more than we can make up what nutrition our child needs. There are certain hard wired realities in humans and in life.

We could be more wise about disseminating real facts on that. Just like real facts on neo-nate development. Certain things happen and develop at certain stages, humans need certain things to thrive. Lets be very real about what those things consist of and how to properly deliver them to each other and to our families.

Love has elements of attachment, elements of freedom, and elements of hands-on actions. There are many recipes for a healthy relationship, and part of life’s challenge is to use the elements in a way that produces a whole human being.

For those who found themselves in Hell’s Kitchen, there is a new day to work at creating a life of Home cooked, life giving, wholeness making Love. It will be seasoned with humility, because it is hard to start over, to let go of preconceptions, and to admit we make mistakes.

But I’m very hopeful we can do this.


All right. I guess that is all I have to say about being a parent, and what I hoped to communicate. Til later, friends…

Do You Like Quotations?

There are those who make the case for quotations. I simply enjoy them, since I like a well turned phrase, and if it holds a nugget of wisdom or inspiration- so much the better.

I suppose some find quotes of nominal interest, but for those who collect, or simply enjoy, the occasional fine quote. I am giving your a few gems today.

“I walk many times in the pleasant fields of the Holy Scriptures, where I pluck up the goodlisome herbs of sentences by pruning, eat them by reading, digest them by musing, and lay them up at length in the high seat of memory by gathering them together, so that so, having tasted their sweetness, I may less perceive the bitterness of life.” ~Queen Elizaebth I

I found many times this quote of Queen Elizabeth the First was often given while severing off the beginning part (to suit modern tastes no doubt); but if the whole is taken, it makes much more sense and has much more to offer.

“The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages may be preserved by quotation.” ~Disreali

“To know how to wait is the great secret of success.” ~De Maistre

“Pride, the most dangerous of all faults, proceeds from want of sense, or want of thought.” ~ Wentworth Dillon

“Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.” ~Shakespeare

Your Beliefs Make and Break You

It is surprising how certain core matters pop up in the most unexpected places. I was reading a marketing article, because I am sales challenged to a certain degree. Like what is probably true for the vast majority of people in my culture, I don’t like to sell. I feel forced to learn how, especially now that I am trying out different business avenues online (Zazzle, for instance). Plus I like reading marketing and social media articles. Throw in some pop psychology and you’ve got my attention.

This thought grabbed my eye:

Beliefs form a fundamental part of our psychological make up and are the building blocks of our personality. Our beliefs dictate how we see the world and therefore, every single decision we make while interacting with our world.

Beliefs start and end wars. Beliefs make and break relationships.

Sales Psychology

This has been my conviction for years, although I phrased it in a slightly different manner.

This is why I think ideology is so important. Francis Schaeffer articulated a lot of this for me when he explained that one of the reasons it matters to understand the art and innovative thinkers of your generation is because it is the seedbed of what your culture will reflect in the next generation (that is to say, ‘what they will believe”). With enough push in thought forming mediums, a culture will change… even in what once seemed to be an “unthinkable” way.

It explains to me why visionaries are so important, whether they are initially accepted or not.

We might be seeing this more clearly than ever when the accelerant of the internet made consensus change work in ways that are now described as “viral”.

What we believe not only influences everything around us, it creates a future.

I’m just going to let this sink in without further comment, until this very broad idea finds the specific application I want to think about. It applies on so many levels… like what we think of ourselves, what we choose for our families, how politically manipulated we become, all sorts of thing from business to what we think of our future.

Related to this is whether we believe something reality based, or we believe a lie… about any and all of these things, because not all beliefs are equal- or morally neutral!

Eyes and Health

As a person with long standing and increasingly poor eye health I was very interested in this news about the massive rise in Asian myopia, the suspected cause, and suggested prevention. Consider how much outdoor time your children get during the day…

Professor Morgan argues that many children in South East Asia spend long hours studying at school and doing their homework. This in itself puts pressure on the eyes, but exposure to between two and three hours of daylight acts as a counterbalance and helps maintain healthy eyes.

The scientists believe that a chemical called dopamine could be playing a significant part. Exposure to light increases the levels of dopamine in the eye and this seems to prevent elongation of the eyeball.

BBC Science Report

Additionally, more than one study has found, this helpful eye health fact:

An analysis of eight previous studies by University of Cambridge researchers found that for each additional hour spent outside per week, the risk of myopia reduced by 2%.

Exposure to natural light and time spent looking at distant objects could be key factors

More info on eye health

With the added benefit of proper amounts of vitamin D (we usually are woefully deficient) and the implications of that deficiency in such maladies as diabetes make it even more important to make sure we, and our children, get more time outside in the sunshine.