Phone

People. Turn your phone off. You can survive without talking on it all the time.

Show respect to the people around you by not sharing your personal information as you yammer on the phone. Be kind to the person behind the counter and don’t talk on your phone while you are checking out.

You don’t need your phone on all the time. It is ok to turn it off. Or at least turn off the ringer. Trust me. You aren’t going to get a call from the Pope. It can wait. Nothing has to be dealt with right away. It can go to voicemail.

You look crazy when you have a Bluetooth device in and you are using it. You look like you are talking to yourself.

My husband gets so upset when someone calls when he is driving or we have just sat down to eat supper. I tell him to not answer. The phone is there for him – he is not there for the phone. He is slowly starting to understand that it never is an emergency and people can wait. If it is an emergency, they need to call 911.

I once worked with a guy in his 20s who had a hard time grasping that he could not have his phone at the front desk. He said “what if my family needs to get a hold of me?” They can call the office phone and ask for you. He didn’t grasp that he wasn’t the person they would call in an emergency anyway. He was the one who constantly needed to be rescued.

I’m in my 40s. When I was growing up, nobody had cell phones and we did just fine. If our parents needed to reach us at school, they called the office. If our friends needed to call us, they called our home. If we weren’t there, our parents took a message. It wasn’t ever something that had to be dealt with right then.

It isn’t really that urgent now. Nothing has changed, except we have been trained to think that we have to be connected all the time. We are being programmed to do a lot of things all at once, and we aren’t doing any of them well. We’ve forgotten that tools are there to serve us. We aren’t supposed to serve them.

People will call the library to renew their items. I’ll ask for their library card number and they’ll explain that they are driving. They can’t give me the card number because it is on their keychain, so they can’t safely look at it. I tell them to call back when they are parked safely. There is nothing that needs to be done while you are driving that is more important than driving.

I know people who use the time they are driving to make all their calls and pay all their bills. What did they do before cell phones? Everything got done. Somehow we have forgotten this.

I think we have lost something in our need to multitask. We have forgotten how to remember what we were going to look up. We have forgotten how to take the time to be courteous to the people around us. We have forgotten how to do anything later and let things wait.

We have become addicted to doing everything right now, when really nothing is that pressing. The phone uses us more than we use it. It has convinced us that we have to have it. Consider turning off your phone, for even one hour. Do you feel twitchy’? How about a day? A week? Getting nervous yet?

Perhaps we need to start a 12 step program for cell phone addiction.

If you feel you have to use something all the time and it is something that you lived without before it existed, that is a sign of a problem.

Sure, cell phones and smart phones make things easier in certain ways. But they don’t seem to really improve our lives. We seem to have trained ourselves that we can’t do without them.

We’ve done the same with fast food and prepared meals. We’ve forgotten how to do things ourselves. We’ve forgotten how to take care of ourselves. In our “need” to multitask and do everything right away, we’ve forgotten how to do anything well.

Our lives have become like fast food by using cell phones. It is fast and not real. We have sacrificed quality for speed. Faster doesn’t mean more efficient.

Multitasking is newspeak for screwing three things up at once.

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Flannel

There is nothing inherent to being a lesbian that means you have to buzz your hair and wear flannel plaid and combat boots.

To be lesbian means that you have already worked up enough energy to get past a lot of social rules. You know that your truth is different from the prepackaged life that is being pushed on you. So when you decide to admit that you are gay, and yes, I say admit, not choose, why would you then go with a stereotype?

Lesbians come in all shapes and styles. There are tall ones, short ones, city ones and country ones. There are upscale lesbians and ones who live in trailer parks. But the ones who really make me wonder are the ones who wear the guise of, well, lumberjack.

I don’t get the stereotype of lumberjack lesbians. I don’t get it when a lady has the body shape of a linebacker. She no longer looks female. In part, I do get it. She doesn’t feel she has to dress to attract guys. But she is trying to attract girls who also don’t like guys. So it seems counterproductive to dress and look like a guy.

And if part of being a lesbian is getting past social expectations and living life the way you are called to live it, wouldn’t it make sense to create your own image? Now, maybe that requires even more energy. Maybe the “look like a guy” look is a temporary phase. Maybe it is a transition period, a time to regroup and build up more energy before launching into the next phase.

Life is a series of metamorphosis. We evolve from one state to another, and often announce it in our clothes and our hairstyles. Sometimes we change so subtly that only strangers notice that we are different.

It is hard to be who you are truly made to be. The social expectations try to cram us into impossibly uncomfortable shapes. Society would rather us fit in than stick out. I’m all for people finding their true voice and vision.

But I do wish women would try harder than the flannel, boots, and crew cut look. It doesn’t say “strong woman” It says autopilot. It says conformist. It says boring.

Part of being an individual is looking the part. I expect more from people who have already bucked the role that society expects of them.

Kindergarten 10-23-13

Today I was supposed to work with the same three that I’ve had the past few weeks, but I only had two. I didn’t have enough time to work with three, and I decided to skip one of them.

The list had V, the girl with the recovering mom, J, the boy who is severely delayed, most likely from dyslexia and/or a hearing problem, and S, the ever-smiling Hispanic boy. The list was in that order. I normally go in order but today I just felt differently.

Sometimes when we work with kids the goal is to build up their confidence. They need to work with easy things to get the confidence to do harder things. Perhaps that is what I was doing with myself. I just could not face the disappointment of seeing how far one of them had slipped over the fall break. He had just not been doing well before, and I didn’t know how to handle it if he had gotten worse.

These kids had just over two weeks off. I had a horrible feeling that they did not practice their letters or numbers over this time. I was honestly afraid. Sadly these feelings were borne out with V. She can recite her numbers to 20, but still can correctly identify maybe 5 letters. This will not work.

I’m sorry for her situation. I really want things to be better for her. I have no control over her home life, but I will do my best to teach her the letters and how to read. Reading is the way out of that hole. If you come from a terrible beginning, reading is the key out. Reading is the difference between poverty and success.

Then I worked with S. He did much better than V.

I skipped J. He did so badly the last time that I just didn’t have the heart to work with him. Perhaps this isn’t fair. By definition he needs me more. But I can’t do all the work. He has to do some of it. His parents have to do some of it.

Children require an immense amount of work. They can’t be ignored until they go to school, and expect the teachers to do all the work. Perhaps parents do this because they were treated the same way.

I don’t care. Don’t have children if you aren’t willing to raise them. Raising them means a lot more than feeding and clothing them. Raising them means teaching them values and morals. Raising them means teaching them how to be independent.

His parents are young and not together. It shows. He is very scattered and controlling. It isn’t his fault that his parents weren’t ready to be parents. He is the one who is paying for it.

As I was leaving, all the kids were lining up to go outside for recess. They were putting their coats on. I helped one with the zipper on his coat (always tricky at any age) and noticed V needed help with hers. I asked her if she would like me to help and she said no. She tried to work it but it was being difficult. I asked her again, and again no. She wanted to do it herself, and I respect that. But by the time everybody was filing out of the classroom, it still wasn’t together. It was too cold to not be zipped up. She said she would just hold it together.

There is something to be said for helping yourself, and there is something to be said for being OK with asking for help.

Recovery – you have to want to get well.

I know a lady who spent $8,000 to learn how to eat.

She went to a group of chiropractors who have cross trained in nutrition. I’m not sure why this particular paring is becoming common these days, but it is. It seems odd that regular doctors don’t seem to care about nutrition, but chiropractors do. Mine does. I’ve heard of others who do. This seems odd because chiropractors aren’t seen as “regular doctors” in many people’s eyes, so even going to them for what they normally provide is seen as suspect.

Sadly, the nutrition part isn’t covered by insurance, so it was all out of pocket. This too seems odd – it is far cheaper to teach someone how to prevent disease rather than “cure” it after it has set in. But this is a foreign concept to insurance companies. They would rather pay to get you well than to keep you well.

She didn’t have to spend any of that money. She could have done what they did for free. They put her on an elimination diet. Strip away all the stuff that usually causes problems, and stick with that for a few weeks to get all the junk out of the system. Then start adding back suspicious things and see if there is a problem. The usual stuff is all processed food and anything with gluten.

We have a winner. She was gluten intolerant. The funny/sad part is that she had figured that out on her own years back. She had gone gluten-free and done much better. Her weight had gone down and her joints didn’t hurt. But she had dropped it. She thought it was too hard.

She did the same thing this time. She said that it was too hard to go gluten free on a fast-food diet. She drives a lot and works a lot. She is too tired to cook when she gets home so she gets food on the way. But this makes no sense. There are plenty of gluten-free options these days. Everything is marked whether it is gluten free or not. It isn’t a special diet – it is pretty mainstream.

The point is that she wanted a magic pill. She wanted something simple and fast and easy. It requires work and sacrifice to make any important change, and that was the part that she found too hard.

It reminds me of when people started to notice that I’d lost weight. They (always large themselves) asked me what was my “secret”. I told them – eat better and exercise more. Their faces always sunk. They wanted it to be something simple like “eat two grapefruit a day and keep on doing the same old things you were always doing”. It doesn’t work like that.

Anything worth having requires work. The easy way is rarely the healthy way.

The point is that if she wants to get well, she has to choose. Her health has to be the winner. If she cannot eat healthy and work the way she is working, then she has to find another job. Or she has to figure out that she can cook up a large pot of food that is healthy on her days off and freeze it and reheat it at work.

The point is that she doesn’t want to take care of herself. She is a miserable person. She sleeps all the time on her time off. She has admitted that she hates everybody and has no friends.

I cannot imagine living this kind of life. I cannot imagine anybody wanting to be in this life, just going through the motions. She goes to work and hates it. She goes home and sleeps. She is escaping everything. She is trapped in her body and in her life. I can’t comprehend why anybody would want to stay in this situation. By her choice she has said that miserable is better.

She was hoping to be able to retire when she gets to be 50. She didn’t check the retirement rules correctly. Sure, she can retire, but she won’t collect her pension until she is 65, and then it willl be greatly reduced because she didn’t work long enough.

She wants to retire early because her husband is significantly older than her. She is concerned that by the time she is able to retire, he will be dead. She would like to spend time with him now. The problem is, the way her health is going, it is highly likely she will die before him. The sad part is, she already has, she just doesn’t know it. By refusing to take care of herself and sleeping all the time when she is home – she has already decided to not participate in life. She is already not alive.

I hate this. I hate all of it. There is no reason for any of this. There is no reason for her to be miserable.

Sure, it is hard to swim upstream and take care of yourself. Sure, it would be great to have everything done for you, and done well. It just doesn’t happen. Nobody is going to exercise for you. Nobody is going to turn off the TV for you. Nobody is going to make you take care of yourself.

She reads a lot of books about health and talks like an expert on it, but still won’t do it. I feel like I’m just standing by, watching her drown. I can’t save her. I want her to choose to live, and live well. Right now she is just mimicking life, just going through the motions. She has to want to live. I can’t instill that in her.

I’ve realized that this situation is just like any other addiction or mental illness. If you don’t want to get better, no amount of outside intervention will help. You can only be committed to the mental hospital if you are a danger to yourself or others. Nobody can put you on the path to recovery – you have to do it yourself. This applies to regular life as well. She has to want to get better. I’d hoped that spending all that money would be the incentive to start taking her health seriously, but it hasn’t worked.

So I wait, and pray.

Life wasn’t made to be endured.