Attitude Shift

Side by side photos: bad attitude vs good attitude

To do lists – sometimes I write them, other times I have them in my head. Recently, I was mentally going over all that I had to do: “I have to _________, and then __________, and then _________.”

I was feeling just slightly negative – not that I particularly disliked all the things I had to do, but these things just made me busier than I wanted to be – they interfered with my doing other things that I would have preferred to do.

And then I had an attitude shift, simply by changing one word! Instead of “I have to…” I thought, “I get to…” All of a sudden, instead of feeling burdened by my to do list, I felt joy.

Changing that one word, for example in “I have to go grocery shopping” to “I get to go grocery shopping,” brings on an attitude shift that is beneficial to me and others around me. The change is from a duty to a privilege. I get to go to a store and select food to bring home for my family’s nourishment.

I get to clean the bathroom, eliminating germs for my family’s well-being (my children get to do this as well!).

When I make a discovery such as this concept, I share it with my children. My son was not happy when I told him we were going to work on French. “You get to do French!” I told him enthusiastically. “You have a mom who cares about your education and your future, and she is spending time with you so that you can thrive! You get to do French!” I’m not quite sure that he has caught it yet, but I get to keep teaching him to have a good attitude.

Whether from “having to do laundry” to “getting to do laundry”, or from “having to pick up this child from a lesson” to “getting to pick up this child from a lesson,” the reason we have to get to do things is because we have things (clothes, homes, people) in our lives. And that is a blessing!

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Dare to be Different

My father (may his memory be a blessing) wanted us, his children, to think. He valued discussions. When he explained to us children, his and my mom’s beliefs of atheism and evolution, he concluded with, “But when you grow up, you decide for yourselves.”

As I grew up, I did think. I considered things, I thought, I explored, and I came to a different conclusion than my father: faith in God. And not just that, but a belief in the Messiah Yeshua. It turns out my father didn’t like that conclusion at all. Furthermore, he was afraid that my children, who were naturally brought up with my husband’s and my beliefs, would blindly follow in our faith, so he urged them to read widely from a variety of views, and to think!

Thinking is a value that both my husband and I share. We do not blindly follow a crowd, even if that crowd is “our” crowd – our faith crowd, our ethnic crowd, our homeschooling crowd, our…

And that can be unpleasant, because it is much more comfortable to fit in really smoothly. But we can’t, for the life of us, fake it. We do not buy wholesale whatever someone says. We give it thought, and if we disagree, we disagree. In some cases, we can just keep our opinions to ourselves, and that is the appropriate thing to do. In other cases, it might mean speaking up.

Having a different opinion, however, doesn’t mean we judge, hate, or despise people holding different views. I am ready to assume that most people have good motives and intentions. I am ready to love them regardless of beliefs or views that are different from mine. But in being true to what I believe, and more accurately in Whom I believe, I will dare to be different, even if I am shunned, or despised for it.

Things Are Often Not What They Seem

20170213_074321.jpgRecently, when I came home from doing errands, I was greeted by the concern of a family member, who told me they had seen worms inside the lid of  a container of leftover fried rice we had eaten for lunch, as well as on the lid from the kidney bean can I had used in the fried rice.

I was appalled. I knew I should look at the “evidence,” but I didn’t even want to face it. So disgusting!

I finally got up the courage to go and face this repulsive situation. I took one look and was filled with relief! The “worms” were nothing more than leftovers of the basmati rice that I had made two days before. When I emptied the container of rice, I didn’t wash it out before putting the fried rice leftovers in it, as the fried rice was made out of that same rice. The “worms” on the can lid were grains of the rice that were on the end of my cooking spoon as I scooped out the kidney beans from the can.

So many negative emotions were unnecessarily felt due to this situation not being what it appeared to be. Happily the facts were examined, and great was the relief all round to find out that it was not what it had seemed.

Life is like that. Things are not always, in fact, things are often not what they seem. Someone might feel slighted when they see their friends all huddled together talking, and then stop talking when they appear, when they are actually planning a surprise for that friend.

I have often been mistaken regarding something involving my children when I don’t know all the facts. Once all the facts are explained to me, I see my assumptions have been based on what little I saw or heard and that these assumptions were wrong.

This is aggravated when we come to a situation with our own prejudices. I see this in politics all the time. Recently, I saw an outcry on Facebook about something a certain politician apparently said. It so happened that I ended up watching this very speech of the aforementioned politician and was surprised to find out how much this comment had been taken out of context and blown up out of proportion, and that all the good things he said in the speech that didn’t fit the narrative of those who hate him, weren’t mentioned.

I knew this already, but this was another reminder. I will have to hold off believing and making a judgement on what I read or hear, whether it is positive or negative, regarding someone I support or oppose in politics, unless I have ample first-hand evidence, such as seeing a whole speech and not just a clip or quote or knowing more facts). Things are not always what they appear, and we would do well to humbly acknowledge, that in spite of all the “information” out there (that is not necessarily accurate), we are not experts, or even very knowledgeable about all these things that we tend to think we are.

But politics aside, in our dealings with people (or with leftovers!) it is good to remember, that things are often not what they seem. Further investigation is often the best course of action, and of course, giving others the benefit of the doubt is always wise.

Little by little

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I won’t go into all the reasons/excuses, but both our front and back yards have been quite neglected. While at the beginning of June, I weeded the earth in preparation for the pretty flowers that I planted , I haven’t kept up with the weeding, and the result is what you see above. Then there are trees and bushes that have not been pruned in longer than I care to admit, making our yard look not unlike a forest.

Kind of overwhelming to think of taming all that! I mean, who has that kind of time or energy?

Happily I discovered something: If I do a little bit of weeding or pruning every day, it makes a difference! I have begun weeding or pruning around ten or fifteen minutes most days, and it is incredible what a difference it is has made in my flower beds, as well as the other areas which are gradually being tamed.

It actually makes me excited to go out there daily, because I am seeing results from each short session, and I am sorry if, for some reason, I don’t get to do yard work on a given day.

It also makes me look at my life as I consider what other big tasks, projects, or life changes I can make by consistent, small amounts of time or effort.

Little by little. Just ten minutes turned the above weedy patch of earth into this:

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What big changes can I, you, or we make in our lives; or in the lives of our families, communities, or in the world – simply little by little?

The Emperor Has No Clothes…

emperors-new-clothes

…but if he self-identifies as one who is wearing clothes, then he is. Who am I, or anyone else, to say that he is not wearing clothes?

Because, dear reader, he is actually, factually not wearing clothes. They are not there. That is reality. And I stand with that little boy who did not give in to peer pressure, nor to political correctness, and shouted out the plain truth: the emperor was not wearing clothes. He was deceived.

When we self-identify with something that is not reality, it is nonsense. None sense. And we hurt ourselves. When we support others’ delusions we are not helping them. That is, we are helping them hurt themselves.

A person suffering with anorexia self-identifies as an overweight person, and starves him/herself. If we just leave this person in their delusion, supporting their identity as an overweight person, and don’t step in to try to get them help, we do them a great wrong.

When I was a child, from the age of nine to eleven years old, my best friend was a girl newly arrived from Japan. I wanted to be Japanese. I thought, “When I grow up, I will dye my hair black, get contacts to make my eyes dark brown, become fluent in Japanese, and I will be Japanese. If it was 2016, I would have “self-identified” as Japanese. And people would be told to support me in this. But the truth is, I was and am not Japanese. I am Jewish. And when I got over my wannabe-Japanese phase, and embraced who I am, that was the healthy, sane thing to do. I am fulfilled in being who I actually am – a Jewish woman.

Supporting humans in their wannabe delusions, whether they are people wanting to be cats, thin people thinking they are fat, or girls wanting to be boys, is not helpful.

Living in reality and helping others to do so is the kindest, most loving thing we can do.

When the emperor is walking around in his underwear believing he has clothes on, rather than perpetuating his delusion, those around him should kindly, gently, lovingly help him to see that he is unclothed, and get him something to wear.

I Should Have Kept a Record

20160229_080139-2A couple of weeks ago, I saw the hand of God. Not literally, of course – God is Spirit. But what I mean is, I saw God’s work, right before my eyes on the computer screen.

Let me explain: a few years ago, my son had a tooth come out in the middle of the roof of his mouth instead of lined up with his other teeth. This necessitated immediate orthodontic work – expansion appliance, braces, etc. Eventually, the tooth was brought into line and all was well.

But this past November, Natan’s orthodontist saw another lump in the roof of his mouth and upon examining it, told us that another tooth was going to come out in the roof of his mouth. Oh no! More discomfort, pain, not to mention money.

I prayed. I asked God to move that tooth over to the spot where it was supposed to be. I wrote down this prayer, because I thought that God would do this and I wanted it on record that I had asked and He answered. So, over the next few months I continued to ask God concerning Natan’s wayward tooth.

A few weeks ago we went to the orthodontist. He looked in Natan’s mouth, saw the lump, and sent him to have his mouth x-rayed. The assistant came back with Natan and the orthodontist looked at the x-ray on his computer screen. And looked. And looked. “I wasn’t expecting this,”, he said. “That tooth is now is positioned in the right place.” (I could see this on the screen.) “God, Mother Nature, or the Powers that Be moved that tooth,” he continued.

“It was God”, I assured him. “I have been praying since the end of November that God would move that tooth.”‘

The orthodontist acknowledged that it was God, and that he was trying to be politically correct. The lump where the tooth had been was empty, and the tooth had taken a journey to the correct spot. He knew that teeth in that kind of position don’t take such a journey on their own.

Some days later, I was taking a walk and thinking about all the answered prayers, all the times over the decades that I have been a Believer where I have seen God’s hand at work. So many miracles, so many acts of God, whether providing for a need, giving much needed wisdom, changing circumstances, healing an illness or medical condition, freeing someone from an addiction, bringing reconciliation to estranged loved ones…the list goes on.

I regretted that I hadn’t kept a record all these years, because all these things could fill a book. And in that book, I could have one chapter just devoted to all the dental provision/work that God has done for our family.

God, my dear reader, is great! And what’s more, He cares!

 

 

Try, try again.

IMG-20160214-WA0003This past weekend we went to a family camp, where my husband, Alan, was the speaker. It was great: I skated, hiked, did some indoor activities, and had many good conversations. And what a delight to have all my meals cooked for me!

One of the things I tried was archery. I wasn’t very good. At all. There weren’t long line-ups at the time that I was there, so I was able to keep trying. Looking at the photo, I am reminded of the saying that I heard a lot as a child, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”

There is also the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” I don’t know if practicing certain things would insure my perfection in them, but I have no doubt that it would make me better. I enjoyed shooting those arrows, and wish I would have had more time to practice.

When I stop to think about it, there are so many, many things I would love to improve in – things that are more important than archery. Things like mothering, wife-ing, not letting other people’s moods affect me – the list can go on.

I could say with something such as archery, “I’m just not very good,” or I could practice and practice, perhaps get some advice/pointers, and practice some more. I would improve. Similarly, I could also say regarding one of my weak areas of mothering such as consistency, “I’m just not consistent; it’s just the way I am.” Or instead I could work and work at being more consistent. I believe I would improve. In fact, that is one of the areas I am working on, and I believe I am improving.

Let’s not give up on those things we want to get better at, whether it’s a skill, or a character quality, or…

For those of us who know God, we have His help. That is an advantage. In the Scriptures I see that while we are to put in our maximum effort, still it is God who empowers us.

I don’t have to be satisfied with my personal status quo. I can pursue excellence, even in my weakest areas. One day I may actually hit the bulls-eye!