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.

TOUCHING ORDINARY LIVES

Do you ever wonder about the lives you touch as you go about your day-to-day routine? It occurs to this ordinary lady that we touch and are touched by a variety of people throughout our lives. Some help us be better, stronger people, while others try to tear us down.  I would like to think that those lives that I have touched are the better for it. That sounds very arrogant. OK, so it not only sounds arrogant, it is pretty arrogant. <grin>

In all seriousness, I do not want to ever be the person who tears others down. Making someone else feel bad about themselves does not make me feel good. It does not gain me anything, at all.  Yet, there have been people in my life who have attacked me (with the intent to tear me down) as if the process is going to make them that much prettier, happier, or whatever.  It is just wrong and hate to tell you, it does not make you a better person. Just saying!Inspire

Recently, I was introduced to a woman, Ashley, who has touched my life and made it so much better. I have never met her face to face and not sure if we will ever get the opportunity to be in the same room (we live in different parts of the country). I hope we do have that opportunity, but being so far apart has not lessened the impact this wonderful woman has had on my life.  She is a strong woman, mother, wife, business owner, and friend. She is the type of woman that some will love to hate, and others will flock to, confident, happy, sexy and happy to make others feel the same.

strong womenAshley and her best friend April are the type of wonderful people that makes me feel better in my own skin.  The two are always saying things that are so profoundly true.  Beautiful women who are happy and confident in their own skin who help other women feel sexy, happy, and confident in themselves as well. Even better to me, they are both real about their body types, and are not twiglets! I know I have said before that I have a very negative self-image (working on it!) both of these ladies make it so much better! Love them.

So the following is a snippet from Ashley in a conversation that I found very inspiring. The conversation was about how once we become a mom people expect us to conform to the “mom ideal” (which is nonsense folks be who you are!):

Losing who you are is what makes you a resentful, bitter, crabby, grumpy mommy. My kids LOVE my wild hair, my tattoos, my funky clothes, my business drive, and my otherness! They find me much more enjoyable to be around when I remember to put myself on the “important too” list!!

Ladies, loving your sweet kiddos the very best means loving YOU too!!!!

The first lesson we teach our kids is how to be comfortable in their own skin! Accomplish that and you my sweet friend are a good mama!

–Ashley B

I love these very real conversations with a wonderful woman who mak1950s momes me feel better about myself. There were times when my younger self seriously believed that I had to conform to that “norm” for wife, mother, lady, blah blah blah. Losing myself was so easy and hurt more than I could have ever imagined. Let me be clear – it was not my husband (or any man) who pushed these “social norms” at me. In fact, my hubby likes me better when I am happy! Which means he likes me better when I am myself! Nope, it was me, letting those women around me put me down and make me feel bad about myself or about my ability to parent. My own insecurities drove me. I would like to think I am wiser now. I do know that we all need to be exactly who we are, who makes us the happiest. So if that is a mom in the 1950’s fashion more power to you! But don’t judge, harass, or be negative to those who have chosen not to conform to that model! Try to be a positive on the lives of those you touch.

Not an ordinary mom

Death is Never Ordinary

Each of us throughout our lives will lose to death a friend or family member. Death is inevitable. The old axiom that no one gets out of life alive is the absolute truth of the situation. From the very moment we are born we are racing towards our death. Not the best visual, I know, but still true. Yet, even knowing that death is an inevitability we are often caught by surprise. Some folks have a long life, and others are taken much too soon.

poem-of-lifeMy family recently lost a member, my cousin. He was much too young (only 55), and his loss was unexpected. He was my cousin, but also one of my best friends. We did not live in the same state, did not get to see each other very often face-to-face but we talked at least once a week for the last 35+ years on the phone, text, instant messenger or Facebook.  I remember reading a long time ago that a cousin was God’s promise that you would have a friend for life. R has always been the embodiment of that promise. He has always been the best friend a person could have. He was funny, cheerful, loving, irreverent, bawdy, loud, and persistent. God, he was so easy to love.

Oddly, we were not “born” into the same family. I met R while I was a teen, when my aunt married his Dad. I am pretty sure that R never met a person he could not get along with. It always amazed me how he could pull the most reticent person into a conversation and get them to laugh. The most outrageous things would come out of his mouth at times. He told me once that since we were “step-cousin-in-laws” that it was ok to flirt and be bawdy around me. I remember laughing until tears streamed down my face. Like he needed a reason to flirt? Be bawdy? Not ever! Not sure he had any filters – but he was never mean. From the day we met we were family.

tucked-safelyI remember when R was getting ready to propose to his wife, he was so excited. He was so proud on his wedding day. Then the kids started coming along, and with each one that excitement and pride grew in him. R was definitely a family man. And he loved to brag about his kids. Every achievement was proudly proclaimed. I loved listening to him spout off about how wonderful his kids were. Family for R was pretty broadly defined, eventually everyone he met became part of his extended family.

Often very early on a weekend morning, I would login to Facebook and R would be online. He would send me a message “Good Morning Beautiful, what are you doing up this early?”… Which is funny when you consider that my time zone was three hours ahead of his. Did he ever sleep? R and I would talk about everything and nothing at all. His family, mine and our extended family. I read one of the posts in Facebook after his death that said R was the family historian. I find that insightful. He always knew everything going on. A one stop fount of information. I think he had this information because he genuinely cared, and would ask the right questions. I know he always asked about my kids/husband questions that showed he listened to previous conversations and that he was genuinely interested. He will be genuinely missed.

Death hittimelimits hard.  I find myself lost in thoughts about this wonderful man who was taken from us much too soon. I reach for my phone early in the morning to see if he is online so I can tell him some silly story or another. I have lost others, my grandparents, a son, and a few friends to war. So, I know that this dark time will slowly fill with light again.  It just takes time. Even more than 10 years later I still occasionally reach for the phone to call my grandfather to ask his advice or share something special in my life.  Life goes on, and we keep living, sometimes one breath at a time. So, R, my cousin, my friend, I love you and will miss you until the time we meet again, Rest in Peace.

Ordinary Holiday Season

The holidays (Halloween through New Year’s Eve) are traditionally a time to spend with family.  They are a time of giving and sharing. It is also a time of huge commercialism and excess, but that is a story for another day.  Families gather together to eat, catch up and celebrate.

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Family is an interesting concept to this ordinary lady.  Most define family very narrowly as those who share a common ancestry, blood relations, or marriage relations.  32 plus years living and working with the military has changed my definition of family, made it much broader. While I still see family as having a relationship to me through blood or marriage, it is also much more.

Family are the women/men who waited with you for news of our deployed soldiers who are currently under a communication black out. (For those of you non-military types, communication blackouts are not good things. They usually happen as a result of a fatality, or increased hostile presence in an area – which can lead to fatalities. Communication is blacked out until either the hostilities decrease or the next of kin is notified.) Family are the men and women who served down range with you or a spouse.  Family are the folks living in the Government quarters on either side of yours who routinely lend you sugar, watch your kids while you run an errand, or mow the lawn for you while your soldier is deployed.  Family is the single soldier so far from home that he just needs a place to “hang” for a bit and eat a home cooked meal or who spends two weeks in your home taking care of your kids while you finally get an adult vacation. Family is the soldier I never met, whose wife died delivering his twins at the same time I lost my son, whose babies received my expressed breast milk (for months) because it would not dry up and it had to go somewhere.family

Family are those that we share our fears, tears, joys, and lives with, blood related or not.  No matter how you define family, take a moment this holiday season and think about those who cannot spend time with their “families” including military, police, medical services, fire services, etc.  Those folks are out there doing a job that is often thankless. They deserve our respect and remembrance that they are working and away from family so we can spend time with our families. fireman-christmasremember

The holidays are a time of celebration. Many cultures during this time of the year celebrate a specific holiday such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, and Kwanzaa (just to name a few). These holidays have a variety of similarities (families gathering, food consuming, and gift giving/receiving) and a variety of differences or practices.  This ordinary lady is utterly fascinated by the different celebrations. All so similar and yet so different from how I was raised. Yet, each is spectacular in their own right.

Through the military, I was given the opportunity to learn about different cultures up close and personal.  Variations in holiday celebrations are always so fun. Over the years bits and pieces of different traditions have found their way into our own family celebrations. I believe this has enriched our own traditions.  Never at any time have I ever feel offended by someone else’s beliefs or traditions. Instead, I have always felt flattered that others wanted to share their traditions with me.  I know that I do not have to believe the same as someone else to have RESPECT for their traditions. How did we get to this place where everyone is offended by everything?

This “offended” attitude is very clear especially in the various holiday greetings. I cannot image why someone would be offended by a sincere greeting of “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” even if you are not Christian or Jewish. The greeting “Happy Holidays” is bound to start offending some folks soon, then what do we do? Bah, it is all nonsense. If you are offended, then just be offended, quietly! Last time I checked no one has died of feeling offended.offended

So I say to everyone, try to practice tolerance of the beliefs of others, suspend your need to be offended that others have different beliefs. Say, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah,  Merry Yuletide,  Feliz Navidad, Fröhliche Weihnachten, joyeux Noël, Mele Kalikimaka or any appropriate greeting, not to offend others but as a sincere desire for others to be happy.  I promise that I will not be offended by any holiday greetings given to me.

May you all find JOY in this holiday season!

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 Veterans Day

fb_img_1464382185932A short message from an ordinary lady who is a veteran and is married to a veteran. Today is Veterans Day. A day established to commemorate all US veterans and victims of all wars. Originally called Armistice Day which marked the end of hostilities of WW1 that occurred at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. This day is celebrated on the anniversary of that end on November 11th.

I would like to thank all those who are serving or have served in the military, past and present. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed though at times it seems that way. Know in your hearts that many people support and appreciate all you have done or will do.  Thank you for your service.fb_img_1464392643289

I would also like to thank the families of all our services members. The mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters of all who have served or are serving, I thank you all for your sacrifices as well.  For all the “important” dates you have spent without your soldier, sailor, airman or marine, I thank you. Being left behind can be even more thankless than those that are wearing a uniform.  Your sacrifice has allowed our veterans to do their jobs and invaluable task. fb_img_1464640977105Thank you for your service.

To all those who are not personally touched by military service, spend a few minutes today and reflect on what your lives would be like if not for our service members, past and present.  If you see a veteran today let them know that you appreciate them even if it is only with a smile.

Happy Veterans Day!

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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!