20 Takeaways from the Pandemic of 2020

It has almost been impossible to not think about some of these things in the past several weeks, and it was helpful for me to put them all in one place. I hope you find it helpful somehow too.

  1. We are all interrelated. In a few months, what started with a virus in a few animals in China has impacted the entire world in so many ways. It saddens me that it takes things like this to bring us together, but perhaps it is the wake-up call that many of us needed to remind ourselves to try to put our differences aside and focus more on what we have in common and how we can help one another instead of put each other down. We are all humans.
  2. Human interaction is very important. In this time where we’re forced to be away from friends and family, I hope people realize how important it is to actually spend time together face to face off our devices and not take that opportunity for granted because we are not meant to live in isolation. However, I am glad there is technology that allows us to keep in touch from afar and that people are making the time to reconnect with people they haven’t talked to in a long time. I also hope that families who don’t typically eat meals together but are doing that now realize how valuable that time can be and continue doing so when this is all over.
  3. Sometimes it’s good to distance ourselves. On the flip side, it can be a good thing to step back and take a break from our busy lives and focus on what is best for ourselves and our families. Having a simpler schedule and prioritizing what is really important and what we can do without is necessary every so often.
  4. What and who is essential? That is the question of the year and is different for everyone, but it’s something we’ve all had to think about as businesses gradually closed and we have been asked to only leave the house only when we need to shop for essential items. Can we survive with out sports and other forms of entertainment? Yes. Do we want to? No. Can we do without people in the medical profession? Absolutely not. Should hair salons and barbershops e considered essential? Can we get by without our favorite brand of cereal or chips or food prepared in a restaurant? That seems to depend on whom you ask and can be different for different people. It’s definitely something to think about.
  5. Sometimes less is more. I like that this has brought us back to living a more simple life like it used to be before we have everything we could possibly want at our fingertips and technology to keep us occupied. Spending quality time with family, making more home cooked meals, having to cut each others’ hair, making an effort to call (or at least have a Zoom meeting) with family and friends, not having every food come prepackaged and ready to go from the store, making do with what we have at home, pulling out board games and jigsaw puzzles to stay occupied, and maybe planting a garden are not necessarily bad things. It does seem like we’ve gone back in time to when gas prices were lower, people didn’t travel as much, parents were more involved in their children’s schoolwork, pollution was not as bad, schedules were not as busy and people more time at home together as a family, and so many other things. I hope at least some people make a conscious effort to not jump back into the crazy schedules that they had before the pandemic, now that they have experienced what life could be like without that.
  6. Gratitude is important. With so many people going the extra mile right now to make sure we are staying healthy and getting the food and other supplies we need, we do need to stop and be grateful for those people and any other positives that we can think of. It’s easy to get lost in the negatives and get in the mode of complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves, but thinking about and expressing gratitude often combats that. I’m glad to see professions like health care providers, teachers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, and many other everyday people just doing their jobs getting the respect and praise that they deserve for a change. Athletes, musicians, actors and actresses, and many other professions often get put on a pedestal, so it’s nice to have less focus on those people right now and the true heroes are getting a turn in the spotlight for a change.
  7. Planning ahead is always a good idea. Whether it’s having money set aside in case you end up suddenly out of work, planning out meals and grocery shopping for at least a week at a time, or not waiting until you’re down to the last roll of toilet paper to buy more, thinking ahead and preparing for emergency situations or even just the case that you might not be able to get something or somewhere or do something you typically do is always a good idea. We can’t plan for everything, but not leaving everything until the last possible minute or doing everything on a whim doesn’t work well in these situations. Not living beyond your means is part of what makes planning for emergencies possible.
  8. This is not the time to be selfish. It amazes me every day but particularly now how many people typically put themselves first and don’t feel like the rules apply to them. Whether it’s hoarding toilet paper and other items, looking to make a profit with those hoarded items, leaving used gloves on the ground in parking lots, not staying home and practicing social distancing, protesting stay at home orders because you need a haircut, or any number of other things, I really wish that we lived in more of a cooperative society where it was the norm that people made decisions based on how it will impact the greater good rather than the competitive society that we seem to have where too many people put their own needs above everyone else’s. It would also be nice if there were fewer people complaining because of petty little things that they can’t do or have and instead look at the big picture and see how things for them aren’t really all that bad. They could be dying or have a loved one dying or be on the front lines risking their life to help save others. It’s all a matter of perspective.
  9. We need to be empathetic. It’s obvious that there are so many people who can’t seem to take direction or who don’t like following rules or being told what to do. Their ego is too big, they are too selfish, and they lack empathy or compassion. Unfortunately, it is because of these people that we will all be in this situation a lot longer than we could be and that more lives will be lost. When you plan and participate in a protest that deliberately blocks the roads needed for healthcare workers to get to the hospital to save the lives of others because you don’t like staying home and not being able to do all that you usually can, that’s just plain stupidity. This is not the time to be complaining about your rights being taken away when you’re really just being inconvenienced. It’s a time to put your wants aside and think about the needs of others who are less fortunate than you are.
  10. Thank goodness for those who are stepping up and pitching in. On the other end of the spectrum are the people who go above and beyond and have been donating their time and/or resources to help others. There have been so many examples of this during this time. I just wish it wasn’t only in these times of crisis that more people are able to put their differences aside and work together so that everyone will benefit. We need each other more than we realize a good part of the time, and we all need to give back to the community and help those around us, especially if it means we will be helping save lives.
  11. New ideas and ways of doing things are popping up everywhere! From so many people learning how to work from to home to companies shifting over to making very necessary products like hand sanitizer, masks, and ventilators, it’s refreshing to see how quickly it is possible for these changes to be made, especially thanks to all the technology we have available today.
  12. There is no time like the present to focus on reducing and reusing, not to mention being resourceful. I think most of us are reasonably good at recycling but maybe not so good at reducing and reusing. Now that supplies are more limited, incomes are not there for many, and it’s safer to stay at home rather than make trips to the store for everything we need, it’s a perfect time to be less wasteful and figure out how to use what we already have at home.
  13. Creativity is a blessing. One thing I am grateful for is all the ways we can be creative to not only keep ourselves occupied and protecting our mental health but also to lift each other’s spirits and stay connected during this difficult time. I love seeing stories about people in Italy making music together from their balconies, musical groups who have put together performances through Zoom, and so on. It is also a reminder that we are all interconnected even though we are apart and still need each other.
  14. Science is real. For those who don’t believe in global warming or vaccinating their children or science in general, I hope this has opened your eyes that we can’t ignore science and that what we choose to do or not do really does have an impact on the health and well-being on everyone around us as well as the environment.
  15. Getting outside is important. It is good for our brain chemistry, which affects our mental health, to experience and appreciate nature. So I am glad there are still ways to do that while still observing social distancing rules. I’ve noticed a lot more neighbors making a point to take a walk every day and more kids playing out in their yards. I’m anxious for it to get a little warmer so I can spend more time outside enjoying a nature trail or being by a lake or otherwise experiencing nature.
  16. The uncertainty is challenging. One of the most challenging things about this pandemic is that so much is unknown. Things change every day, and we don’t know how long it will be before we can get back to “normal,” let a lone what the new normal will be. Plus, what happens in the future depends a lot on what everyone chooses to do now, and it’s difficult to sit back and watch others ignoring the mandates, knowing it is impacting how long we are in this limbo state.
  17. Patience is really a virtue. In today’s world with everything at our fingertips, it has seemed for a long time that too many people don’t know how to be patient because they don’t have to be. We’ve all had to miss out on a lot of important milestones for ourselves or our loved ones, gone without things that we are used to having and being able to do, and had to figure out how to do a lot of things differently. For those who can’t seem to handle that without complaining about how much you’ve had to give up, take a look around you and take a look at history, and I hope you will see what true sacrifice is all about. A few weeks at home with all the technology we have available is nothing compared to what our ancestors went through in previous pandemics and times of war.
  18. We are resilient. As much as it feels like there is no end in sight, we will be in isolation from our friends and loved ones forever, and many people and businesses are struggling financially, we will hopefully be stronger and better humans on the other side. We are way ahead of the game with regards to technology, communication, science, and other resources than previous pandemics and other times of crisis, and we will get through this.
  19. Look for the positives. As they say, hindsight is 2020. The year 2020 will definitely be one to look back on and remember. Clearly, there have been many negatives including the number of fatalities, the economy coming to a halt, people not being able to earn an income, the protests potentially delaying us trying to get back to normal, and so on. But I certainly hope that all of the positives that have come out of this will be remembered for a lot longer. And I hope those positives will be passed on to future generations as well.
  20. This is an opportunity to reboot. Perhaps this is the wake up call that some of us needed to put things in perspective and re-evaluate our current situation, our viewpoints on certain issues, and our priorities. I sincerely hope that when this is all said and done, we all take fewer people and things for granted, we think more carefully about how our decisions and behaviors affect others, we are more appreciative of one another and all that we do have and can do, we see that working together instead of against each other is possible and preferred, and we learn from our mistakes so we don’t have to be in this situation again in the near future.

If you made it to the bottom of this, I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. My heart goes out to anyone who has lost someone they know due to this nasty virus.

Sticking To Our Guns

The phrase “stick to your guns” originated as a command given to sailors who manned guns on military boats, meaning they were to stay by their posts rather than seek cover, even when the boat was under attack.  Today it means to hold onto your convictions and stand up for your beliefs, even when others disagree or the evidence points to the contrary.  Unfortunately, it seems like too many people are choosing to stick to their guns these days, whether it is over issues of national importance or in their personal lives.

It’s one thing to be stubborn and insist on having things go your way frequently, but it’s another for a person to insist that he or she is right or has all the answers and correct viewpoints all the time too.  Some people just need to be right all the time, which makes them very difficult to work with and be around.

Unfortunately, I have plenty of experience with people like this, and there’s not a whole lot anyone can do to get them to consider that anyone else might know more about something than they do or be better at something than they are.  And forget trying to get them to see a different perspective.  Once they’ve made up their mind about something, it seems they only see and hear things through a filter that supports what they originally decided was the correct viewpoint or interpretation of a situation.  That makes it even more difficult to get them to see things differently, because they have built up a mound of incorrect evidence in their own minds.  Plus, the more anyone tries to convince them that they are wrong or maybe partially wrong, the more they dig in their heels and insist they are right.

Ironically, when it comes to an issue of national importance, gun control is a perfect example of people “sticking to their guns.”  I’ve seen plenty of statistics comparing the fifty states regarding gun violence vs how strict their gun laws are, which show that states with stricter laws have less gun violence.  I’ve also seen similar statistics about other countries such as Japan and Australia where they have much stricter gun laws than the United States and hardly any incidences of gun violence. I’m a numbers person, so that’s what helps form my opinion on various matters.  What I have NOT seen is statistics backing up the notion that more guns = less gun violence or more guns = a safer society.

I am also thinking about how the laws have changed over the years pertaining to what we are allowed to bring on an airplane. Each time there is an incident involving a box cutter, knife, bomb, or anything else, the rules and regulations get stricter and stricter. Even a dog getting put in an overhead bin gets a new law passed within a few days.  No one balks at these laws and we all follow the new procedures, even though it makes packing for and boarding an airplane take longer.  That’s because we know that planes are now extremely safe, and there is no need to fear getting killed or injured on an airplane or having it hijacked.  People are not insisting that we all be allowed to board the plane with a knife, gun, and box cutter, just in case anyone else on the plane pulls one out so that we can defend ourselves.  And no one is insisting that stewardesses be armed with these weapons, just in case, either. Furthermore, no one is thinking that because they are not allowed to bring guns or any of these these items on a plane, that they are not allowed to possess them at all, ever.  Their second amendment rights are not being infringed upon.  But, when it comes to common sense gun laws outside of a plane, somehow the same reasoning goes out the window.  Then it makes much more sense to many people that any limitation on gun sales is somehow infringing on their right to bear arms, and that more people carrying guns, particularly teachers, makes much more sense.  I don’t get it, and the statistics don’t seem to back those ideas up, but the more anyone tries to convince someone who thinks along these lines, the more they “stick to their guns.”

It seems like there are so many issues today where people dig in their heels, regardless of what the numbers indicate or the majority of people agree with.  The need to be right overshadows the need for facts or considering other positions or viewpoints.  This only leads to us being more divided and less united than ever as a country.

I think the same can be said for our personal lives too.  There is too much conflict because there are too many people not willing to listen to others because they are already experts on everything and have a difficult time admitting that maybe they aren’t.  Or maybe it’s just people in my personal life, but I don’t think so.   If you are one who tends to do more talking than listening and who needs to be right or have all the answers, perhaps it would be worth making the effort to be a better listener and consider that other people sometimes have a good idea or a valid perspective too.  Being open-minded is a good quality in my book.

Walk Out vs. Walk Up

The National School Walkout Day was this week, a day that was intended to be partly a memorial for the victims of the Parkland shooting and partly a day for teenage activism against gun violence.  I saw many different videos and descriptions of how various schools chose to participate.  I also heard about districts that threatened suspension for any student who did walk out.  Some schools had very organized events supported by administration, while others were more of a protest handled strictly by students.  As usual, there were very opposing views of what they day was all about and how it should be handled.

Likewise, I saw many social media posts urging the students to INSTEAD “Walk Up”, meaning walk up to someone who typically sits alone at the lunch table and invite them to sit with you, or walk up to someone and just say something nice, or anything along those lines.  The idea being that many of the shooters in these mass shootings have been loners who are angry because they have been excluded and are trying to get even.  So if we all make more of an effort to be more inclusive, then perhaps that will be a preventative measure.  Even without factoring in the shootings, focusing on being more kind and inclusive is always a good thing, so I like the idea.

What I don’t understand is why it has to be one OR the other.  What’s wrong with the students protesting peacefully in order to have their concerns and opinions heard AND making a conscious effort to be more inclusive and kind?  The two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with so many issues today though, where so many people focus on one particular facet of what they believe the solution should be and don’t understand that one thing alone is not going to solve the problem.  Gun violence is a perfect example.  Stricter gun control is one option that seems to be successful in many other countries, which many people support.  But there are plenty of people who believe the answer is more guns.  And there are those who think we need to focus on bringing attention and more resources to mental health issues.  Then there is the devaluing of human life because of the exposure to violence and trauma either in real life or in video games, television, and movies that many think is the biggest contributing factor.

The problem is that there is not necessarily one thing we can blame and that needs to be changed.  We don’t have to focus on guns OR mental health, for example.  It all needs to be addressed.  But when people retreat to their corners and only want to focus on the one issue they think is most important or the only solution, then we will not make as much progress with this issue as we need to.  Or any others for that matter.  People need to be more open-minded and more willing to consider ALL of the aspects of this or any other issue that needs to be addressed and make it a priority to set aside our differences and work together to make some significant progress.  If we all continue to “stick to our guns” regardless of the evidence to the contrary and only focus on one aspect of the problem, we will go nowhere.

Incorrect Assumptions

I realized recently that the people in my life who think I spend a lot of time correcting them or others are the same people who frequently make incorrect assumptions about plenty of things.  Sometimes the incorrect assumptions are made about details pertaining to logistics, situations, or decisions being made.  Other times they are about my intentions, what I am thinking, what I am trying to say, how I will react to things, and so on.  Very few things bother me more than being completely misunderstood, having my intentions incorrectly being perceived as negative when they are not, and being accused of things I am not doing.

It’s very frustrating trying to have a conversation with someone who constantly interrupts me in order to respond defensively because they THINK they know what I am going to say and that it will be something negative, especially when I am not ever given the chance to say what I had intended.  Perhaps they think I am trying to tell them they won’t be able to do something they want to do, or sometimes they are assuming there is some hidden negative implication like I am trying to tell them they shouldn’t be doing something.  Often it is perceived that I am trying to criticize someone or control a particular situation when that is not my intent at all.  Not even close.  It is equally as frustrating to have a conversation with someone who responds to most of what I say with assumptions that are very incorrect, rather than ask questions and listen to all of what is being said before jumping in with the assumptions.  That means I spend a chunk of my end of the conversation correcting the misinformation they created and believe to be true.

Unfortunately, too many people listen to others with whatever filter they have formulated in their head based on their perception of the person or situation, and they hear only what they want to hear and see what they want to see that backs up their opinion or preconceived notion, which just adds to that incorrect perspective.  It’s very hard to undo that, especially if that person is not open-minded and objects to hearing anything that will negate their viewpoint.

Ironically, I don’t like having to correct people, but the perception is that I do because it becomes necessary when people are making such incorrect assumptions so frequently.  So it has become one more incorrect assumption that all I want to do is correct people.  When it comes to my intentions that are being questioned though, I am going to correct someone every time.

I’ve come to REALLY appreciate the people in my life who respect me enough to listen when I talk and take what I am saying or asking at face value without adding their own interpretation of what I might be implying, when in fact, I am often not implying anything at all.  Some people just like to find negatives where there aren’t any, and I don’t enjoy being around those people very much.  I’d rather surround myself with people who actually bother to hear what I have to say without putting words in my mouth or thoughts in my head that they will then hold against me … forever.  That leads to a lot less stress, drama, negativity, misunderstandings, misinformation, and necessary corrections.  Life is a whole lot easier when we give people the benefit of the doubt and are willing to hear each other out.

Ambition

I am always impressed with people who have dreams or goals and manage to make everything happen the way they envision things, or just have a “to do” list and get things done.  They have ambition, self-initiative, and usually good time management skills.  I can never seem to be as productive as I would like to be, so I guess I’m partly just envious.  I know people who get more done by 9 am than I do all day long sometimes, but then again, I’m not a morning person.  They wake up on full throttle.  I have no clue what that feels like, and sometimes I spend more time thinking about what needs to get done rather than actually doing things.  I get great satisfaction out of checking things of my “to do” list and want to get things done, but I can’t always make things happen in the timeframe I would like to and should be able to, but it’s sometimes due to things out of my control.  Other times it is not. I can be very focused and productive though with the right motivation.

What really impresses me is when other people are willing to tackle projects or do anything that is out of their comfort zone, which seems to be a key factor sometimes.  They’re not afraid to try something they’ve never done before or figure things out as they go.  They just take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and run with it.  Continue reading

Impulse Control

I am astounded sometimes by the lack of impulse control so many people seem to have these days.  I certainly expect children to not be able to refrain from giving in to every impulse they have because they haven’t learned not to yet, but it amazes me how many adults never do.  The number seems to be on the rise.  So of course, I shouldn’t be surprised that teenagers who are learning by example seem to have difficulty with this as well.

Now that I am back in the classroom at the middle school level, it seems to be the biggest challenge.  Many students can’t refrain from sharing every thought that comes to mind at any time.  Or they just get up out of their seats and wander around the classroom if they feel like it.  They don’t understand that sometimes they need to wait to go to the bathroom because they’re going to miss some important instructions or information if they don’t. Any question is fair game at any time, even if they could easily figure out the answer for themselves.  There’s no sense of whether they should or shouldn’t do or say something because it might not be an appropriate time.  They can’t seem to do anything without talking while they are doing it.  And they don’t ask permission either.  They just do it.  It makes me wonder if anyone at home is teaching them to be conscious about this, whether this has just become more acceptable to more people, or whether it’s not really a choice for more people (because I know that is difficult for people with ADHD, for example).  It’s probably a combination of it all.

I wonder what kind of adults they are going to be if they have SO little impulse control as teenagers.  Thank goodness it’s not ALL of the students.  That gives me hope. However, when you combine the lack of impulse control to do the things that they want to do with the lack of motivation to do the things that they need to do, then I worry.  I see that in my own kids too.  I can be impulsive sometimes  and end up doing things that I hadn’t planned on doing (like when I sit down to write these blog posts), which prevents me from doing the things I should have been doing, but I manage to get done the things I really need to do and eventually find the motivation to get the rest done too.  It takes me longer than I would like sometimes, but life can’t be all work and no play.  It’s a balance, and it seems like too many people can’t seem to find that balance because they’re too impulsive.

Unfortunately, I think the vast amount of information at our fingertips and number of ways we can entertain ourselves with some sort of electronics these days plays a role in that too.  It’s too easy to impulsively pick up our phones and start scrolling through whatever social media accounts we have or text someone just to say hi.  How many times a day do we all do that?  Too many.  I’m guilty too.  It’s that instant gratification that’s hard to ignore. Unfortunately, I think that’s part of the problem.  We’re so used to instant gratification that we can’t go without it for very long.  So now those middle schoolers who were already hard enough to manage years ago because they are still children who need instant gratification are even more difficult to manage now.  They can’t wait to share a thought or ask a question because they thrive on instant gratification that they are so used to getting, now that they all have their own phones or other electronic devices.

It’s something we all really need to be conscious about … how impulsive we are, and can we set a better example for our children and help them learn to not be so impulsive themselves.  My job would be a whole lot easier if more people did that.

Timing Is Everything

If only I had a quarter for every time this thought has popped into my head over the years, especially recently. Sometimes it’s because of good timing, and sometimes not.

There are occasionally those days where things start going wrong, and they just keep piling up.  I have a near miss car accident, something around the house stops working right or breaks, my sink backs up, the kids are argumentative or throw at me some last minute plans that I have to accommodate, and so on.  I find myself asking why it all has to happen in one day.  I’m already frustrated from the first couple of events, so I don’t always react too well to the rest.  Each thing on separate days would be a little easier to swallow.  But then I find myself thinking at the end of the day that I’m glad it all happened in one day so that I can put it all behind me and move on, hopefully having a completely different kind of day the next day.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to have that happen.

Then there are the times where I am thankful for good timing.  Something good happens when I least expect it, and I find myself thinking, “Wow, just what I needed! Perfect timing!”  I might come upon some information at the right time to put it to good use, or I’ll have a conversation with one friend that coincidentally helps me with a particular situation.  Maybe a friend or relative will check in with me to see how I am doing, and it will be on a day when everything is going wrong.  The best example is meeting new people and feeling like they came into my life right at the right time. Sometimes I don’t always realize right away how good the timing is, but I get it eventually. The relationship I am in now is a perfect example of that.

Unfortunately, there were several years where it was pretty doom and gloom for me with more significant things going wrong all at the same time.  My kids were a major challenge, my marriage was falling apart, I was having various health issues, and so on. Those things were more long term and harder to put behind me and hope for a better tomorrow, especially dealing with all them at the same time.  Some of the time I could stay positive, but often it all got to me.  What helped was focusing on the things I could be grateful for, especially those little things that happened every so often that seemed to be good timing, like a friend checking in on me or my mom offering to help with something or just listen without offering any advice.  I think that’s why I tend to check in on my friends and family members pretty regularly because I know what a difference that has made in my life.

Life definitely has its ups and downs, and timing is sometimes not good at all for certain things.  Just when we think things can’t get any worse, it does.  We need those times to appreciate the better times, so it’s often a matter of perspective how we choose to look at situations and react to them.  We can’t always see that though while in the midst of the storm, whether it is a hurricane or passing shower.  But hopefully after it has passed, we can find the rainbow and appreciate the sunshine.  There’s never a bad time for those!

Honesty

Honesty is something some of my family members seem to struggle with, whether it is out and out lying, being deceitful, or purposely withholding information to be manipulative.  I have a child who prides himself on how sneaky he can be getting away with things, and he very much reminds me of his dad who has modeled that behavior for him over the years.  And he learned it from his family growing up, along with how to manipulate people, which he has also tried to pass on to the kids.  I’m sorry, but that isn’t a family trait to be proud of, how good of a liar you are or how good you are at being deceitful.

The thing is, there’s really no need for all of this.  Part of the problem is there is an assumption made that whatever it is that they want, they are going to get told no, so then they start scheming to figure out how to get what they want at all costs.  It’s more important to get what they want regardless of how many lies they have to tell in the process.  I am always more upset at the lies and the scheming than whatever else.  And much of the time, I would be agreeable to what they want in the first place, so it’s really not necessary.  I am a very straight forward person who doesn’t like to play games, so I would rather just have them tell me what’s going on or what they want and talk about options than to deal with all the dishonesty.

Another part of the problem is that they expect to always get what they want, which can’t possibly happen.  But I would be more apt to have it work out that they get what they want if there was more of an effort on their part to be honest, work together, and not react like a spoiled kid when they don’t get their way.  My work has been cut out for me trying to teach the kids that it’s better to be upfront and willing to compromise and earn what you want than find an underhanded way to get it with what their dad and his family has modeled for them.

Unfortunately, this is not just isolated to my family members.  I have experienced this with other people as well, even people who I have hired to do work at my house.  A big part of having integrity is has to do with how honest you are and whether you are willing to admit that you made a mistake, especially when you are providing a service for someone.  Trying to cover up your mistakes or keep from being caught in a lie, especially if it is going to make someone else look bad in the process, is never a good idea.  It’s even worse than just plain lying in my book, but I have been on the receiving end of that too.

None of us are perfect and never tell a lie, and sometimes there is a good reason to keep a secret or withhold some information to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to protect someone somehow, but just to be manipulative and get what you want is not a good reason.  Every time we as parents tell a lie in front of our kids, no matter how small it is, is setting the example for them that’s it’s OK to do that.  So we need to be very conscious of how often and in what circumstances we are doing that and then explain that to them as well.  If we are always trying to get away with things and not follow the rules or are trying to cheat the system, then we can’t be surprised when are kids end up doing the same thing.

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The Dance of Non-Verbal Communication

I have been taking a couple’s dance class recently, which has been making me think about the importance of non-verbal communication.  It is absolutely imperative in social dancing.  The man has to clearly communicate what he wants the woman to do, and she needs to be able to interpret things correctly in order to follow his non-verbal directions.  That is such a perfect metaphor for any kind of relationship because both communicating and interpreting are very important.

Some people give off very few non-verbal cues as to what they are thinking or feeling. That makes them hard to read and can lead to confusion, playing guessing games, or even tip-toeing around issues because the other person may not know how that person will react.  That’s been my experience, anyway.  On the other hand, I have experience with people who give off almost too much non-verbal communication.   Continue reading

To Work or Not to Work?    

That is a big question for many people.  I am talking about whether or not to be a stay-at-home mom (or dad in some cases).  For me, it was an easy one.  I knew long before I even thought about getting married that when I had kids, I would want to stay home with them for a while, and I am grateful that it has worked out that I could do that for as long as I have.  I was a teacher before having kids, and that is definitely not a 9 to 5 job.  For me, it was more like a 7:30 am to 10:30 pm job, plus overtime on the weekends. I am the type of person who puts their all into whatever I do and wants to do well at it, so I didn’t want to do either one or probably both poorly.  And for me, being able to be there for my kids was priority.

While it has been challenging, I have no regrets about that decision.  I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about calling in sick when my kids were sick or take off work for their numerous doctor and dentist appointments or my own.  I enjoy being able to make them lunches in the morning and see them get on the bus, and they don’t need to come home to an empty house.  They appreciate the fact that I can pick them up from school when they stay after so they don’t have to be on the late bus for an hour.  I was there for all their important milestones and could easily attend field trips and other events at school during the day.  And I didn’t have to worry about what to do with them over the summer while I was a work. That’s something I know a lot of parents struggle with and feel guilty about.

There are some down sides to being a stay at home mom though.  Obviously, not everyone can afford to not work, so I have been fortunate in that regard, but we definitely had to pinch pennies and watch what we were spending to be sure we weren’t spending beyond our means. There is also not necessarily a lot of regular interaction with other adults, unless you find ways to make that happen.  I ended up getting very involved with my children’s pre-school and volunteered quite a bit at the elementary school.  I have also done a lot for my neighborhood. These activities have been a source of interaction with others and have also helped fill the void of feeling like I am making a difference somehow, other than being there for my family.

I have mixed feelings about the example I am setting for my kids, particularly my daughter, with not working.  I like that they are learning that family is important and should be a priority, but I also think having a mom who works sets the example that you don’t have to give up your dreams and aspirations, and you can be whatever you want to be and have a positive influence on the world around you.

Now that my children are older, I have come full circle to my original question…to work or not to work?  So now I am trying to navigate getting back into the work force. Teaching is not a field that is easy to jump back into after having not taught for almost 18 years.  A lot has changed in that time.  I contemplated getting a job that has nothing to do with teaching for a while, but I eventually decided to be a substitute teacher even though it is not reliable and doesn’t pay that well.  I do like the flexibility of the schedule, which has allowed me to make a more gradual transition back to work and continue enjoying the benefits of being a stay at home mom just a little longer.  I really wouldn’t trade that for anything.

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