I've been struggling lately with that enigmatic concept: balance. I hate it. It doesn't really make sense. How can I maintain this balance-thing when I don't even understand what the term means?
The visual I have is one of those old-fashioned scales where you have the things you need to accomplish portrayed as little weights. We carefully place them on the scales in such a way so they maintain an even keel. (Sorry, mixing my metaphors there.) So we can keep placing more or more on as long as we keep them 'in balance'? And when is it unbalanced? When the weights fall off? Or when it's just barely off horizontal? Does anyone really know?
What about the idea that we are one of those circus performers that balance all sorts of things upon our chins? (cue calliope music) They must be placed just so in order to keep them from tumbling down. We are also limited by the length of our arms as to how much we can place upon the pile. (Unless we have help, but I really don't want to go any deeper in this analogy, if that's okay with you.) It sure seems awful precarious, doesn't it? Is that really how I want to live?
In any description of balance, there is an accompanying element of instability. If I misstep, will it all come tumbling down? And won't my neck get sore keeping it in that position all...the...time?
I'm exhausted just reading about it. How can people really aim for this as their goal?
I've decided that being a world-class cagola player or a side-show extraordinaire is not what I want to strive towards. Especially since I'm not the best at choosing which things are most important to place on my balancing piles in the first place. So I've made this agreement with God: I give him the multitude of odd-shaped pieces that I'm failing to balance on my own. He then picks out which ones are just right for the day and as I go along, He's right there beside me, carrying them Himself, letting me know what's important. I go to bed at night with peace. And that's a big thing for me.
Now don't get the wrong idea. I suck at this, too. I often forget to ask for His help (or maybe I'm "too busy" to stop for a ridiculously short few minutes) and then I'll spend the afternoon engrossed in Pinterest (which I love, but isn't really the best use of my time usually), kicking myself when the kids are still working on their school while I'm finishing dinner at their bedtime of 8 o'clock. But luckily I've got a God who believes in second chances (or third...or fourth...or thirty-fifth...) And being a crappy God-relier (yeah, 'relier' is a real word, I looked it up) is 1000x better than balancing the world and her seven continents on my chin.
(Dang it! I just spent the last 20 minutes looking at Pinterest because I checked to make sure the link worked right. Grrrr...that site is a giant time-sucking lamprey eel...of awesomeness!)
I've finally gotten an iPhone.
The other afternoon I looked down and the battery was at 82%. My first thought?
"Awesome! I've been really productive today!"
How sad is that? A high battery shows that I haven't been messing with it much, thus I've been busy doing the things I need to get done.
My iPhone battery readout can now act as a productivity meter.
Too much time on Words With Friends or perusing the Interwebs and not only does my battery life drop like a well-oiled cannonball, but so does my ability to check off those super important "To Do" boxes.
"Let's see...54% battery at lunch time? I've wasted half my day today! Whip crackin' time!"
"2pm and my iPhone is at 91%!! (in the words of my consultant husband) I'm practically at Full Utilization!"
I'm not sure how I feel about this. We have a TV in our bedroom and upstairs in our Family Room (where I rarely go during the day) and no cable. This is on purpose. With no TV in our common areas, I accomplish much more. Now I've invited a pocket-sized So-Much-More-Than-A-TV into my life. One I can carry with me EVERYWHERE. It's up to sheer willpower now. There's no Removing The Temptor.
If I ever check out this one friend's wall on facebook I can't help but feel jealous and insecure. She's beautiful, successful, has way fewer kids than me (so her life is obviously easier than mine (that was sarcasm, if you didn't know)), is skinnier than me, has more money than me...I'm sure I can come up with more.
It's ridiculous, I know. It's juvenile, I know. It's like she makes me feel like I'm back in high school again with all those "Am I good/cool/skinny enough?" thoughts. I hate it. I have actually outgrown those insecurities. (Thank you, God!) But for some reason this one person drags it all back up again. The crazy part is that I'm completely aware of how skewed online personas can be, since most people only report the rosy everything's-going-good stuff. I know that everyone has crap they have to deal with and everyone has different strengths. We really can't compare ourselves since God made us all with unique purposes. That knowledge is all up in my head, but when she's on the screen, I can't feel it in my heart. So what to do?
Right now it's blaringly obvious to me that I need to get some Divine help. If anyone can get this ridiculousness sorted, it's Him.
And why did I even post this for the world to see? Ummm...the good answer is "If it just helps one person, it's worth it." Yeah, right. But the real answer is, "I just had to get off facebook because of her and I'm tired and should be in bed and felt like posting some honest/transparent stuff."
I flirt with the idea of doing a completely anonymous blog. (My friend said she was toying with the idea and that got me started thinking about it.) A blog that is linked to an unknown email and which has no outward connection to me at all. It would be a faceless voice in the blogo-void. I could say anything I wanted about anyone and no one would know.
In having a known blog I have to use restraint in posting. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I think twice before blabbing all about this funny thing to happened to the people near and dear to my heart. But an anonymous blog? No such restraint would be necessary. No one would know who was typing, nor would they know who it was about. Ah, the bliss.
But that got me thinking more. What good would this do me? And the more I thought, the more I realized that it would be more harmful than anything, at least for me. It might be freeing to type whatever I want, but self-control and restraint are two virtues that most people, especially me, need to exercise. And if I'm spilling my guts to the interwebs that can do nothing to help me, will I really want to repeat the whole thing to God who can actually do something about it?
So my answer is no. No anonymous blogging for me. But it was a nice thought while it lasted.
I've been enamored with India lately. The food, the cinema, the culture...it's fascinating.
I've been cooking out of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks and my only complaint is that my husband doesn't like curry. *heavy sigh* Fortunately he's a non-complaining, adventurous sort, so I can overlook his curry-hating shortcoming. (For the record, Madhur's Moghlai Eggs from either Quick & Easy Indian Cooking or Simple Indian Cookery (I can't remember which) are amazing!!)
And while they are cheesier than all get out, I have fallen for Bollywood and Hindi cinema. For one thing, I love learning about the culture. Sure they're not entirely accurate, they are movies after all, but I have been able to glean certain cultural aspects. For instance, it is a sign of respect to an elder to touch their foot with your hand.
I also love how clean the movies are. The conclusion of the movie, the resolution to the romantic turmoil that we have witnessed for the last three hours (that's usually how long they are) is that the lovers embrace with a very emotional, intense...hug. The first time this happened I felt a little ripped off. I mean, they should kiss, right? Then it happened again. And again...and again. I realized this is just how it is and now I'm used to it. The newest movies aren't as conservative, but when compared to what Hollywood has become...it's a nice change.
Two of my favorites: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (this is the longest running movie in history, over 15 years in the theatre. First half is pretty cheesy but if you can survive it, the 2nd half is good.) and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (If you read the Netflix description it will give you the wrong impression (like most Netflix descriptions). This is a beauty-and-the-nerd story and has nothing to do with age.)
I just finished watching the PBS mini-series, The Story of India, and realized that in all of my 16 years of formal education the only things I learned of India's history concerned the British Raj and Gandhi. Those events are such a tiny fragment of what has happened in that region and I find it sad that the only things I know are those that are connected with the West. Well, it won't happen to my kids. They aren't only going to learn about one half of the globe for two reasons: 1) I want them to be knowledgeable about all of God's people, all of Earth's citizens, not just those from the West and 2) I want to learn it, too.
One more thing...Did I mention the colors? How can you not love a culture that embraces red, fuschia, turquoise, orange, and yellow? And the spices...have you smelled cardamom and cinnamon? Oh! and the masala chai? How can anyone not love a cup of that brewed deliciousness? (For the record, 'chai' means 'tea', so saying, "chai tea" is like saying, "tea tea." Pretty silly, right? Technically you should say "masala chai" which means 'spiced tea.' But of course, Americans don't know that and if you said, "Can I have a Masala Chai?" you'd probably just get a silent, I-Don't-Know-What-You-Are-Talking-About stare.) (Great recipe right here.)
I've also have been reading travel websites (good one here) about all sorts of things like the realities of seeing India's poverty as well as how to ease yourself into Indian food. Now if I only had multiple thousands of extra dollars to get there...
We went to a small, local, organic dairy (small = only 11 of the 23 Jersey's being milked when we were there) a few days ago and bought our first raw milk. It was a bit jaw-droppingly spendy at $10/gallon but we were willing to try it out after reading all the nasty crap about today's milk industry of pasteurization and homogenization. Also, my husband can't drink milk or eat too much cheese or ice cream. He can eat things baked with milk like muffins or cake, but he can't have milk-based soups or gravies. We had heard that people who have milk issues can dink raw milk so we thought we'd give it a try.
The verdict? Oh, dear Heavenly God. Raw milk is so much better than you can imagine. (That might be a tinge overexagerrated.) It smells better and tastes better. At first we couldn't quite figure out what was so different, taste- and smell-wise, but then it dawned on us: pasteurization! Pasteurization is cooking the milk and while we've never noticed it before (since we had nothing with which to compare it) it is an obvious flavor when it is absent. Store-bought milk tastes like cooked milk.
Perty lil' Jersey
The kids all thought the raw milk was much better and kept asking us, "Can I have a bowl of cereal with the real milk?" (We still had a little store-bought milk leftover, which we were making them use up first.)
The best part of all was that my husband can drink it and it doesn't upset his stomach at all. We did a little research and found out why. When milk is pasteurized it kills all the bad jumk but it also kills the good stuff. One of the "good guys" that are killed are enzymes that help your body digest the milk itself. So when my husband was drinking store-bought milk, he was getting the milk but without the enzymes to digest it. (Apparently some people just don't have them. Sorry, Hubby.) Raw milk has the enzymes so he can drink it just fine.
Overall we are so pleased that we will be making budget adjustments in order to accomodate this new expsense because we think the benefits of raw milk so outweigh the cheapness of that pasteurized store-bought stuff that used to be milk. It's still hard to swallow the $10 price tag, but hey! as soon as the cows come off their winter feed the price drops to $8! Which, although still expensive, isn't too much of a jump from organic milk...
Now this accomplishment may not be a big deal to some, but to me it's huge. I finished a project that ended up taking two years, ten months and 24 days. I finished it. FINISHED IT! Do you understand?
I started this babette blanket in February 2008 with a bag of yarn and a dream. A thought. An aspiration to make something substantial. And though it has been taken up and put down more times than I can count, by gum, I've shown this Babette who it was dealing with.
The weather conspired. (Have you ever tried to crochet a nice heavy afghan in the middle of a humid Houston summer?) So I had to take multiple months-long breaks. And then tragedy struck more than once. For example, with only two more yarn ends to sew in before the triumph of completion I realized that at some point I had snipped a strand in the middle of one of the squares and it was trying its best to covertly unravel itself. No need to fear, I knotted that traitor back up. But it was similar circumstances that tried to hold me back. I was not held down for ever, though. Not this time, baby. Oh no. You are the beginning of a new trend. Oh yes. I've got plans:
Nothing will ever go undone again. Ever. I will finish it ALL.
Okay, I might be getting swept up in the superlative moment, but I'm so proud of myself for actually finishing this thing that it's downright shameful. Sorry. But if you really know me, you understand and will even forgive me. I've got to revel in it while it lasts. Who knows when the next triumph of self-discipline and pure unadulterated will power will rear its glorious head?
So you might be asking, "What lesson can I glean from this tale of overcoming triumph?" Only this: If I can finish an entire afghan and have it not end up wadded into a ball in the back of some forgotten cupboard only to be found 50 years later when relatives are cleaning out the estate of their dearly departed Tricia, anyone can finish anything. And that's the God-honest truth.