Ordinary Idioms

So my mind wwalkaboutmindent walkabout recently. Actually, for this ordinary lady, the mind taking a trip is not an uncommon occurrence. I will start down one path (at work or home) and the train of my thoughts will branch off again and again until the original topic is lost.  Tangential thinking I call it. Wandering far afield might be a better explanation.  What can I say, I like where a tangent can take me. Sometimes the trip is fun or vastly amusing. My recent walkabout mind trip was while listening to a guy talking while standing in a checkout line. The guy two customers ahead of me was talking, and talking, and talking. He talked to anyone and everyone. This guy’s speech was filled with idioms. Fairly positive that not one sentence he spoke was a direct statement.

So I am considering all the idioms this man was using when questions started popping into my head. Has anyone ever noticed how often we use animals in idiomatic speech? Where did they come from? Do most of them even make sense? How many have I used? That last question started a list in my head.

  • Blind as a batcatgottongue
  • Busy as a beaver
  • Drunk as a skunk
  • Gentle as a lambsickasadog
  • Poor as a church mouse
  • Scared as a rabbit
  • Stubborn as a mule
  • Black sheep of the family
  • Bull in a china shop
  • Cat got your tongue
  • Cry wolf
  • Let sleeping dogs lie
  • A dog’s lifebullinchinashop
  • Hold your horses
  • Sick as a dog
  • Raining cats and dogs

(The above is not the complete list in my head by any means, just what I could remember when I sat down to write.)

Blind as a bat – point of fact, bats are not blind. That is correct, bats can see, just not perfectly in complete darkness (who can). Bats compensate for the complete darkness with a really great echo location system. So this idiom makes no sense, yet I have used it.

Drunk as a skunk – cannot remember the last time I have seen a skunk belly up to the bar. I did a bit of research on this without definitive results. Some speculate that the term comes from “stinking drunk”. So stinking becomes skunk, because the poor maligned skunk sprays a foul spray when scared or annoyed. Again, illogical, yet I have used it.

Poor as a church mouse – do any mice have riches? Why is a church mouse so much worse off than a field mouse? At least the church churchmousemouse has a roof over his head.  I would think that makes him better off. Yep, I have used this one as well.

Bull in a china shop – Mythbusters busted this one! Amazingly enough the bulls were very delicate footed in the mocked up china shop.  They nimbly avoided the shelves even when multiple bulls were pushed through the shop.

Raining cats and dogs- do not get me started on this one? Was there a tornado? Hurricane? I could not find an origin for this idiom, though some believe its origin is in that after large storms dead animals are washed up in the streets, ect. Reallyrainingcatsanddogs this idiom is sort of gory if you really think about it. Yep, use this one too, but thinking on it might need to remove this one.

The examples can keep going and going. The point this ordinary lady is getting at is why do we need to use animals in our expressions? Ramblings of a mind on walkabout.

Ordinary Change

I think it is human nature to develop a routine then work to stick to that routine.  That we later come back and complain about the routine of it all is also human nature. For myself, I love a good routine.  I really am not a huge fan of constant changes in my routine. Change is hard. Change is distracting.  Change adds fear and uncertainty to this ordinary lady’s life. Change means I need to engage my brain when I really just want to keep on keeping on!  So change sucks all the way around.agstickfigures8

All of that being said, my entire adult life has been dominated by change: active duty Army, wife of an active duty soldier, mother, business major, and the list goes on. Considering how much change bothers me, I am amazed at how adept I have become at dealing with change.  I still whine when something changes but I can deal.

What is it about change that strikes fear into our hearts? For me, the fear is rooted in the uncertainty of the future.  Since I do not know what will happen I do not have any control over the outcome.  Let’s just say I am a bit of a control freak, and move on.  Seriously, I need to be the captain of my own fate. If things go wrong in my life it should be my fault, not some elusive change to blame.  It is really hard to maintain my control freak status while standing in a tornado of change all the time but I persevere. I am no quitter!

Actually, because I am not a quitter is probably why I have always managed to deal with change.  Just too stubborn to know when to quit, that is me! Long before Tracy Lawrence sang his “Time Marches On” refrain “The only thing that stays the same is everything changes”, it was evident to me that change is a constant and unavoidable.  I had to learn to deal with change or I was sunk.  Is it wrong that some days I want to be a quitter? Just curl up with a good book, a glass of wine and quit the world and all the messy changes! I guess that is a nice vacation from reality, but not a long-term solution, more’s the pity.

I have discovered there is no shortage of advice on dealing with change, just Google “dealing with change” dealing-with-changeto see. Some of the advice you can find is decent enough, some not so much. Honestly some of the advice is a bit silly like “accept uncertainty”. If it was easy to accept uncertainty we would not be afraid of change! Or “create a mental script to help reassure yourself” really? I am pretty sure I talk to myself enough now and if I start answering myself the men in the little white coats are sure to make an appearance.littlewhitecoats

The best advice I ever got about dealing with change was from my grandmother what seems a lifetime ago (I was about 14). She told me to let myself feel whatever it is the change is making me feel (angry, sad, scared, glad, etc.) but don’t let feeling those emotions stop me from succeeding. Being successful is not emotionless, it is about accomplishing a goal in spite of the emotions or because of them. She also said that change, especially big changes will make us want to hide from our emotions and the changes but that would be counterproductive. Tackle the biggest, hardest tasks first so that the smaller easy tasks are a reward as we move through change. Never give up. Grandpa was a bit less wordy, he said, just get it done girl, get it over with and be done!  I miss grandma and grandpa every day.

Change is hard. Change is inevitable. But change is not always bad. I do tend to get stuck more on the bad parts of change instead of the good. However, some of the biggest changes in my life were also the most wonderful things that could have happened to me. My family (husband and kids), all three are never-ending sources of change and disruptions to my life. Yet all three have brought me the most joy in my life.  My career is a source of near constant change and yet is immensely satisfying.

I never planned the path I am on, change brought me to this path.  While I will never be completely comfortable with change, I am willing to keep embracing the changes. That really is the key for this ordinary lady, be willing to embrace the changes. Sure, I will whine, get frustrated, angry, annoyed or pissy when a new change comes around but once that five minutes is over I will move forward and get it done! You do not have to like change to live with it.

Ordinary Boredom

I believe that at times we all get annoyed with the sameness of our days.  We get bored. Then we treat boredom as if is a flaw in our lives. At which point, we immediately set out to fix the flaw by filling our time with work, hobbies, etc.   Why is boredom a flaw?bored-smiley

Ordinary people live ordinary lives that are sometimes boring or at least not exciting.  I am not sure when the culture developed that we need to be entertained 24/7.  Why does an ordinary life need shaking up? This ordinary lady’s life is routine, now. I get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to bed, and start over the next day.  I entertainmeknow it sounds boring, right?  However, I am seldom truly bored.

It has only been in the last few years (since I became an empty nester) that I have been able to embrace a routine. I have embraced my routine as the gift it truly is in my life. I was a stay at home mom until both boys were in school full-time. Then until they were in high school I only worked the hours they were in school.  Young kids make creating and sticking to a solid routine difficult. Back then, I never had time to be bored! Kids always have something that needs doing inside and outside of the house.  I used to pray for boredom.

Now, I love the quiet moments that I did not have in the past. My down time is truly mine for the first time in a very long time. I have learned to live inside my own head and to appreciate down time. Therefore, I am not bored.

I read an article about boredom recently that made me smile. The author’s message really resonated for me. The article is entitled: “Boredom is not a problem to be solved. It’s the last privilege of a free mind” by Gayatri Devi.  Devi says to embrace your boredom, let it teach you about yourself and the world:

       So lean in to boredom, into that intense experience of time untouched by beauty, pleasure, comfort and all other temporal salubrious sensations. Observe it, how your mind responds to boredom, what you feel and think when you get bored. This form of metathinking can help you overcome your boredom, and learn about yourself and the world in the process.

Devi’s advice seems so simple – embrace the boredom and figure out what effect feeling bored has on you. How do you feel or think when you believe you are bored. An adult might find this challenging but not necessarily impossible. The tough part is getting out of our own way to embrace the bored. For myself, I love embracing that down time and just living inside my own head, letting thought just flow away. As a parent, I could only wish my kids had this freedom.

So, how do we teach kids to deal with boredom? I know with my boys that it was muchkeeping-busy easier to fill those “bored” moments with tasks such as cleaning, coloring, cooking, or reading. Busy was just much easier than bored as a parent.  Whom am I kidding? Busy is safer! The amazing thing to me is that kids today have so much more than I had when I was a kid. They have masses of technology driven, mind numbing, time-wasting bits of drivel to fill their lives. I had the outdoors and a garden hose! Yet, I hear constantly the “I am bored” refrain from a “kids” young and old everywhere I go.

One of my friends had a fantastic response to his son’s “I’m bored” comment. He said, “How can you be bored when you essentially have the knowledge of the whole world in your hand in the form of a cell phone?” While his son did not appreciate the response, I certainly did. With a phone in your hands, you have games, books, magazines, newspapers, etc. Truly enough technology to keep anyone busy, yet it never seems like enough.

technologyoverloadSo why are kids, young and old, more “bored” now than in the past? I am not sure there is a clear way to answer this question. This ordinary lady thinks it is because everything is too easy now. We “have the world” in our hands and do not need to work as hard to accomplish or know things. Therefore, we do not appreciate our down time the way we used to.  This generation is about instant gratification, which we will not find by embracing boredom.  I say embrace the boredom. Our busy technology driven lives are not making us happier or healthier.  So slowdown from occasionally and let your brain shut down.  It certainly could not hurt!