Don’t Follow That Chicken

I saw a t-shirt this week that read:

I want to live in a world where chickens can cross the road without anyone questioning their motives.

That sounds nice…except I think sometimes we need to question why, if only to help ourselves. After all, you wouldn’t want to follow a chicken if it’s on the wrong path, now would you?

With Angie still in Texas and my relatives visiting from out of town, this has been a very trying week. I’m not complaining. I refuse to let anyone steal my sunshine, but even so, it has been difficult not to crumble or explode at certain times – especially when you are constantly bombarded with other people’s “expert” opinions.

On money…

On what to eat…

On consumerism….

And my personal favorite, on food waste…how is it even possible to be pro-food waste anyway???

Caught on tape! You never know when someone will be playing with their camera.

Though I can’t fathom locking a child (literally) inside the house 24/7 so they aren’t kidnapped, chopping up a 12-year-old’s food so she doesn’t get cut using the knife, or telling a 14-year-old to get the brush so I can comb his hair before we go out, did I say anything about my uncle’s stellar parenting skills during his visit? Nope, not a word. Did I call his kids little hellions when they walked across my mom’s couch in their tennis shoes and chipped her 30-year-old maple coffee table throwing a cell phone at one another? Nope, I did not (though my mom did have a few choice things to say).

I don’t agree with the way my uncle is raising his children. I think it’s wrong and I truly believe they are missing out on the joys of childhood and learning to do things for themselves. But it’s not my circus and those aren’t my monkeys!

My opinion is just that – mine – and it will serve no purpose in sharing it with someone who did not ask for it. It will, however; serve a huge purpose in my own life. Having opinions (or making judgments) about what’s wrong in the world around us is how we ensure that we live our best life. And really, our lives are all that we can control anyway. It’s important – in my opinion – to question the way in which others do things, to sort out what feels right (or wrong) in our hearts, and choose our own direction based on those observations.

I share our choices (and the reasons behind them) here on this blog. I don’t feel the need to pull out a soapbox when guests are in town and wax philosophical on the state of the world. But maybe I should. It really is hard sometimes not to say something, especially when you’re digging through the garbage to fetch plastic water bottles for recycling because your out-of-town guests refuse to use the bin next to the trash can. Or when you bring fresh corn, tomatoes, and peas to dinner and it gets shoved in the refrigerator in favor of frozen French fries. Or when you watch your aging mother do 2 loads of someone else’s laundry every day because one outfit is not adequate to make it through a day of watching TV.

Or maybe I really should have spoken up when my uncle told his son that I was a Communist because I don’t eat meat. At least I could have corrected him – that would be a vegetarian, Cuz.

Like I said, it was a trying week and I’m glad it’s over.

On the morning that they left, my mom called to say that my cousin said to tell me goodbye and he loved me. Of course, my heart melted. I am human and deep inside I know that they are not bad kids. I know there is hope for them yet and I know this because of something my cousin said one night after I left. He told my mom that he liked having me around. When she asked him why, he said, “Because she’s calm.”

It really is true; you never know who you’re setting an example for.

I could have easily gotten into an argument with my uncle. He likes to agitate people, including his own kids, to the point that he provokes an argument. He and my mom argue all the time. But I chose not to. I find his behavior unacceptable and I choose not to repeat it. Does that mean I wasn’t frustrated? No. Does it mean that I didn’t want to say something? Sure, I did. Being calm isn’t always easy. Not responding to a bully isn’t either. But in the end, it’s what I can live with. Being at peace with myself and my actions if more important than debating someone else’s opinions. (And let’s face it, that’s like beating your head on a brick wall anyway. If our own opinions are unlikely to change, why expect someone else’s to?)

So, what does all this have to do with chickens crossing the road again?? Nothing really. I just liked that t-shirt.

Life’s Better in the Garden

I had the greatest of intentions this week. I even spent 2 days working on what I hoped would be a really stellar post about our progress through the exercises in Tanja Hester’s book, Work Optional. Since finishing the book a few weeks back, we’ve been nothing but excited about the prospect of creating an even more fulfilling life than the one we already enjoy. We made all the lists, we drew our interlocking circles, and we came up with a mission statement for our work optional project, and, then it happened…

I was on our weekly “team meeting” conference call with the draft of my blog post in front of me. I felt like something still needed work but it was hard to pinpoint what it was. Yes, I was writing while conferencing. Anyone who has ever attended a remote meeting knows that these are the most boring parts of any job. So I say my part, then I tune out. The rest is just background noise to me anyway – the planning of events I will never attend by people I will never meet, in an office I haven’t stepped foot in in nearly 8 years.

Somewhere amid the drone of voices, I think it hit me. Angie and I had crafted the perfect work-optional “vision” but our actual plan to get there was as weak as my mom’s decaf coffee. I had given us a year to “figure things out” and “get better prepared” while still maintaining status quo at a job that stopped being fun a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. I just don’t like all the other stuff that comes with having a job. Every Tuesday I get off the phone and say the same thing – “I don’t know how much longer I can do this” and every Thursday, I get up and do it all again. Not anymore. We need a better plan.

So… I wadded up the draft of that other post and threw it in the trash. Maybe in a few weeks (when we return from our first-ever trout fishing trip), I’ll dazzle you with the pretty charts we made (a newly updated version of them, of course). Right now though, we need to rethink our strategy and give it some real teeth.

In the meantime, we’re going to take you to our happy place – the garden. Enjoy!

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