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Posts Categorized: Self-Control
When I was in elementary school, a lady at church had weekly choir rehearsals for children who sang in the kids’ choir in Children’s Church. I remember going, sometimes, and what I recall most is learning the round “Scotland’s Burning.”
“Scotland’s burning! Scotland’s burning! Look out! Look out! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Pour on water! Pour on water!”
We were pretty good at it.
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I spent most of the day outside Monday, and I felt calmer and more focused and more centered and, just happier.
I know that things, politically, running-for-officewise, are only going to get worse, as state and local campaigns begin in earnest in the coming weeks. People will be arguing and blaming, exaggerating and posturing (see definition 13), and, well, lying (not everybody, but some of the bodies). Things will become more and more tense as we wend our way to November. By election day, I know that I’ll be weary of it all.
I think we could all benefit from spending some time out of doors.
All the candidates, over the next weeks and months, should be required to spend time outside. Even those candidates who have to be guarded by Secret Service agents. Maybe especially those candidates who are under guard all the time. You can’t tell me that the Secret Service folks don’t have the power to empty out a park so that a candidate can walk around, safely, enjoying the trees and the flowers and the clouds and the blue sky, completely uninterrupted for an hour or so each day.
AND, don’t tell me that they don’t have time for wandering around each day. As busy and overworked and over scheduled and frazzled as they are at the end of every day? They NEED an hour of contemplative, uninterrupted thoughtfulness. It could be the key to making some good decisions, formulating some helpful strategies. And if it happens outside, all the better.
It could be early, early in the morning. Watching a sunrise or two each week? Who wouldn’t find that inspiring! It could be late, late at night. Tracking the phases of the moon over four weeks time? That can only improve a busy, over-worked candidate’s appreciation for orderliness and careful planning.
We, as the ordinary folks who are the targets of all the television, radio, and online politicking, deserve messages from people who have put in thoughtful, sensible, and honest information that will actually HELP us make good decisions. And candidates can’t be thoughtful if they’re spending all their time in planes, trains, and automobiles, and inside halls, auditoriums, and smoke-filled-rooms.
Here’s the scenario I want to hear about: A candidate gets out of a heavily guarded limousine, on the way to a political function. At the door, the candidate is stopped and a federal official says, “I’m sorry. You can’t speak here, yet. You haven’t logged in your hour of outside time today.” It’s akin to toddlers and naptime. They’re just so much easier to deal with and so much more pleasant to be around if they’ve had their afternoon naps. Same with a candidate, I think. Sooo much nicer after an hour outdoors.
Umbrellas and rain boots are all right. Big coats are okay; winter’s on the way. And they don’t even have to walk around. They can sit comfortably in a nice, covered pavilion. They can relax, resting on a little bridge. However, riding from hole to hole in a golf cart can’t count. (Honestly!)
AND–they have to be alone. COMPLETELY alone. No aides. Nobody with papers in their hands. Not a schedule in sight. NOTHING. Just the candidate and the sky and the clouds and the flora and fauna of wherever they happen to be at that point in their political travels. Trees or large cactus plants. Ocean or creek. Trails, lakes, little ponds. Flowery meadows, flashing seas,* purple mountains majesties, amber waves of grain.** Whatever nature happens to be wherever they’ve traveled to or wherever they live. An hour. Every day.
Now that’s some campaigning I can get behind.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11 (New Revised Standard Version)
One hour. Outside. Every day. Alone. Okay. Maybe they don’t have to actually be completely alone. If security isn’t an issue, there can certainly be other people in the park—picnicking, hiking on a trail, lolling by the beach. But nobody else who’s part of the campaign and all its parched places. At all.
*From the hymn Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, text by Henry Van Dyke
** From America, the Beautiful, text by Katharine Lee Bates
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I like to shop at Target. And how I understand that they are using all sorts of marketing techniques (which I know I don’t even recognize) to get me to shop there. I just know that when I walk in the door, I want to shop. But I’ve been a little reluctant to venture in the place for the past couple of weeks. (Oh, I’ve gone, all right. I just go fast.) It’s BACK TO SCHOOL time!!
And because many, many people feel the same way I do about Target, there are lots of moms and dads and teens and kids milling around. In all areas of the store, not just the school supply aisles. (Yes, I saw the article last week in the paper that said that Target’s sales had slipped the past quarter, or so, but, frankly, it looks like we’re making up the difference here in my Target.)
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Well, at our house, it’s the grandchild. He’s our one and only. And it’s just as great as people have said it would be, and as I suspected it would be. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t have our moments…
But for every disagreement there are many, many more moments of delight and joy and charm.
And of course, at grandparents’ house, things can be a little more lax. Vegetables at most meals at home. Vegetables at some meals at Mimi and Grandad’s. At home, a regular, specific bedtime routine beginning at about 7 o’clock: bath, book, bed. In Waco, well, at 7:30 or so, it’s: bath, ice cream and Nutty Bar, two or three or four books, and bed. And things rock along pretty well for all three of us.
A few weeks ago, some folks across the street cut down a tree in their back yard, doing some work before getting the house ready to rent. The limbs and leaves and lengths of trunk have been out on the curb for weeks, waiting for the city to come and pick it all up. Meanwhile, I sent David there a couple of weeks ago to get two of the trunk pieces for Peter to use for woodworking. The garage gets pretty warm right now, but Peter did spend a little time out there with his new tools.
We went to Target Thursday, mainly for a prescription and some groceries. You can get everything you need there for a great lunch!
After post-lunch “quiet play time” in the living room (which is essentially Peter’s room, as it is where he sleeps and where all the toys are), I went to release him from there and we ended up playing for the next couple of hours. At one point, we pretend rode the TRE, which is a commuter train in Fort Worth that Peter and friends took a ride on for Peter’s birthday celebration, back in January. We walked around the house, on the TRE, and ended up in the guest room which was the “sleeper car.” (FYI, the TRE is a commuter train and doesn’t have a sleeper car, but, apparently, according to Peter, it should.) By then, I was pretty happy to lie down and close my eyes. After all too sort a time, Peter left. Eventually, I went off to locate him, imagining all sorts of unsupervised devilment that might be happening.
But he was sitting quietly in the living room, putting the cards from a Dr. Seuss game in a plastic bag that usually holds colored large craft sticks. He was a little miffed that I showed up, and he tried to send me back to the sleeper car, but I insisted that I had some chores to do. He was exasperated that I would not stay put. I have no idea what he had in mind for his next activity (w/out Mimi’s supervision).
For dinner, his idea was that we should have a BIG grilled cheese sandwich, that everyone could share. I couldn’t quite figure out how to do that, but I did make some homemade bread in the bread machine (oh, yes, I did, because it makes a taller loaf and I could make a bigger grilled cheese sandwich than usual). So, the three of us shared two big grilled cheese sandwiches. And ate the rest of the cucumber.
Then he and David went to the Mayborn Museum, which is open late on Thursdays, and they always do that when he comes. (I’m not the only pushover in the house.) Friday morning, we’re going on a first-thing-in-the-morning-before-the-temperature-gets-unbearable trip to the zoo, to see the elephants, giraffes, and orangutans, which we didn’t see last month when we went. Then, a stop by the zoo’s splash pad to cool off.
Saturday is supposed to be much cooler (well, in the 90’s instead of 104). David is supposed to help Peter practice kicking a soccer ball into a tiny, preschool-sized soccer goal, because he’s going to play soccer this fall. April ordered cleats for him, and they arrived this evening.
Grandparents are proud
of their grandchildren,
and children should be proud
of their parents.
Proverbs 17:6 (Contemporary English Vesion)
And my favorite thing he said this trip: When I went to get Peter on Wednesday, I had lunch with him and Kevin and April at their house. At one point, we were talking about our respective Sunday School classes (their kindergartners and my 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s). I said to Peter, “In a few months, you’ll be four!” “I know,” he said. “I’m so excited about being 4 years old.” “You’re really growing,” I said.
He became quite serious, and said, (with sort of choppy, delineating hand motions) “First you turn one. Then you turn two. Then you turn three. Then you turn four. Then you turn five. Then you turn six. Then you turn seven. Then you turn eight. Then you turn nine. Then,” (a brief pause, for dramatic effect, I suppose), “you turn ten.”
Kevin and I waited for a moment, then Kevin, said, “And then what,” expecting some more numbers, because Peter usually counts pretty reliably to about thirty. Peter looked at him, shrugged his shoulders a little and said, “Then you die.” I’m so proud.
I got the new tidying book, Spark Joy, from the library. It’s what I took with me to the urgent-care center last week. I read about half of the introduction and got re-tidyized. I know I’m not doing it the official TIDY way, but I absolutely canNOT take every item of clothing out of my closet and drawers, pick up each individual item and hold it close to me to determine if it “sparks joy,” and then put it in my closet (if it gets a “yes”). Conversely, I do NOT have time to hold each reject, one at a time, close to me and thank it for being part of my wardrobe and wish a fond farewell as I put it lovingly into the Goodwill bag. I certainly can, however, identify the places in my home where, when the tidy bug bites (as opposed to those other kind that send you to urgent care), I need to treat it. And the tidy bug has noticed my office/miscellaneous storage/can’t-find-any-place-else-for-it closet.
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I’ve looked at, and used, some of the YouTube tutorials about knitting, especially the ones showing how you graft one side of an object to another. I can sit and start and stop the video as I work my way across a knitted teddy bear’s head, for example. Watching someone, at least for me, is way more helpful that merely trying to follow written instructions. Last year, I saw one for a cute cake that looks like a Canadian flag when you cut out it into wedges. So all this past year I’ve thought that maybe I could make something similar, but for a July 4th cake. The tutorial made it look easy (don’t they all), but she did mention, at one point, that she had to make SIX cakes before she got it right. I neglected to take that into consideration.
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I know the mechanics of putting up a toilet paper holder and a towel rack. It’s just not something that I do all that often. Or, actually, ever. But when our house got painted, at the suggestion of the guy who wrote up the contract, I did remove all the door and drawer knobs and handles and took down the wall-mounted towel racks, hooks, and toilet paper holders. My doing that (and replacing them when the job was done), saved lots of time for the painters. So I very much understand about how those racks go up. There’s a metal plate that gets attached to the wall. Then, the arms of the racks are slipped over those plates. There’s a tiny little set screw that gets tightened up against the bottom of that plate, and that holds the ends in place.
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JoAnne says that one of the most influential books she’s read, and she read it as a child, was Cheaper by the Dozen (not anything like the movie with Steve Martin). It’s about Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and their family of twelve kids. The Gilbreths were Motion Study experts, pioneers in the field of being efficient at work and creating a work environment that eased physical stress. Books about being well organized have been popular best sellers for years. And still, lots of us struggle to reach that elusive goal.
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