The “New Me” (but not really) or “Why I Look Different” or actually: “On Values and Beliefs”

 

Let me tell you a story. A true story. One day (forty years ago, when I was nineteen), I was visiting friends and family in Toronto. I was going to my aunt’s for supper and we arranged to meet at the hospital where she worked, so that she could give me a lift to her home. As I stood waiting in the lobby, I noticed an old woman coming toward me. When she was standing in front of me, I realized it was my aunt. The last time I saw her she had black hair, but apparently she had stopped dying it and it was now white. She looked twenty years older. At that moment I thought, “When I start going grey, I will dye my hair.”

Fast forward to about thirteen years ago, when someone referred to my three-year-old as “your daughter,” but then looked at me and said, “or your granddaughter.” I was shocked since I didn’t think I looked old enough to be my daughter’s grandmother. Sure I had the odd silver strand in my hair, but…

That made me decide it was time to dye my hair. I began with a nice, natural henna dye. After a few years it didn’t cover the grey anymore, so I switched to a temporary dye that didn’t have harsh chemicals. After a few years when that stopped covering the grey, I threw all caution to the wind, and used the serious stuff with the serious chemicals. I told myself that it was my one indulgence, as I have a pretty healthy lifestyle. I told myself that it wouldn’t really hurt me.

Obviously, my value of looking young was quite big.

Recently our daughter was diagnosed with a cancerous mole and had it removed. At the same time, I also had a few scary “Alzheimer’s moments.” I am talking about more than simply a “Oh, I had a senior moment” kind of thing. It was quite scary to me. So I looked up the effects of hair dye, and I read a few articles that told me that those chemicals that I am putting on my head every three or four weeks as I dye my roots, may have bad effects on the brain, and could also be associated with cancer.

I believed this sufficiently to make the decision to stop dying my hair. That is, I would get my hair dyed completely grey, so that I never have to dye it again as I just let my roots come in.

But I am not actually writing this about hair at all—mine, or anyone else’s. I am writing it because this whole experience showed me something. It showed me my great value of looking young. In some cultures, the older people are respected and honored. Not so much in ours. And I have bought into that. Obviously.

But my belief—my belief that hair dye might be badly affecting me, or might badly affect me in the future if I continue, made me take an action. I value my health, both physical and mental, more than I value looking younger.

And my point is this: Belief will result in action. Yet at the same time, values can be in conflict with belief.

And so I am asking myself about the other areas of my life: Do my beliefs, that is do the beliefs that I claim to profess, line up with my actions? If not, then I need to rethink some things, or perhaps “re-action” some things, i.e. change the way I act.

What do you think?

 

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Beer, a Bagel, and Common Sense

Sometimes, I experience a dose of common sense.

Like way back when I was seventeen years old and went with my older sister and her friends to a pub. Everyone in the group drank draft beer, so I did. I didn’t like it. I went another time with my sister and her friends, and again took a glass of the beer. Yuck! And then I thought to myself, “Why am I trying to acquire a taste for this? I don’t like it!” And that ended my drinking of beer.

Don’t you think that was common sense for a seventeen year old? There was no benefit in drinking this thing that I didn’t like, so I didn’t (even though everyone else did).

Then there’s the other day and the bagel. Actually, there have been several bagels since “that day” when I was overwhelmed with a dose of common sense. Let me explain.

Carbs have a bad name these days – a very bad name. So many people I know avoid them like the plague. Whether it’s the Paleo diet, or the Keto diet, or something else…anyone who wants to be healthy and slim avoids carbs.

Now here’s the confession: I am a 59-year-old mother of ten children, and I would love to be slimmer…like back in the day when I was 32 and had five children. Boy, was I slim back then! But at the moment, while I weigh a bunch more than I did then, I am nowhere near obese and I am in great physical shape. I realize that because so many people I know around my age, follow all kinds of these low-carb or carb-free diets, it has affected me. So while I have not given up carbs, I have been somewhat avoiding bread and the like.

Mind you, I have been thoroughly enjoying my usual breakfast of a small fruit bowl, followed by a big bowl of left over salad mixed with quinoa and feta cheese. But after an hour, I am quite hungry again.

Then last week, this dose of common sense overwhelmed me! I took a bagel, toasted it, slathered it with peanut butter, and I ate that carb thing! It was delicious! I felt so satisfied! I didn’t experience any hunger until it was lunch time.

And then I realized how much I had been influenced by friends, acquaintances, and strangers regarding the whole carb thing. Many cultures have their version of bread, whether it is pita, or roti, naan, or… that they have been eating forever. Why are we all avoiding it like the plague? (Actually, don’t answer. I have heard all the reasons. Really.)

And if carbs, gluten, lactose or whatever, makes you feel ill, don’t eat them. I actually have several family members that seriously must avoid these things for their health and well-being. But that’s not me. I can eat them with no ill affects. In fact, having discovered that half a multigrain bagel with peanut butter satisfied my hunger and prevented me from snacking the rest of the morning, that is often what I have for breakfast.

The point that I am trying to make is that we are very much influenced by those around us, and we need to use our common sense. To distinguish between band wagons that we may not want to jump on, peer pressure (often unintentional), and those things that we should follow.

In this social media age, the bandwagons spread so fast.

And it’s not about food. Whether it’s what is in fashion, or “cool;” whether it’s a social bandwagon or a political bandwagon, …we let ourselves get influenced without really thinking about things objectively, when sometimes we just need a dose of common sense.

I’m not sure how to break out of it, but meanwhile, …pass me a bagel. 🙂

People – Don’t stereotype them.

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I was talking to a dear lady the other day, that I know through our participation in the same weekly activity. She is a very kind, generous woman and I like her a lot!

Somehow we ended up discussing people and politics and she told me about a book she read by a sociologist who went to a southern state to interview the people there concerning political matters.

Two things struck me: apparently, the people the sociologist/author interviewed were “nice, good-living people,” but they “didn’t want the government telling them what to do.” When I was told this, my response was, “Really? You mean some people DO want the government telling them what to do?” I didn’t know that was a thing – wanting the government to tell you what to do. I don’t, besides basic essential things such as don’t murder, steal, etc.

The second thing that struck me was that this lovely woman whom I was talking with assumed that I was not “Right” or “Right-leaning.” It was clear from her conversation that she thought I was of the same Left political persuasion that she is. I am not. But she thinks highly of me, and I guess since we have conversed a fair bit and I seem nice and intelligent enough, she assumed I was of her political leaning.

Which brings me to my main point: there is an awful lot of prejudice regarding the political persuasions of people. I was brought up to believe, and still do, that prejudice is wrong. But it seems that people have an idea that all Conservatives are_______________ or all Liberals  are_________________.

I didn’t disclose to this lady that I wasn’t of the Left persuasion – I wasn’t sure whether or not I should. I didn’t/don’t want to be defined by politics, because frankly, I am not committed to a political party, I am committed to God and His Word.

But I think I might continue the conversation and “come out of the closet,” so to speak, just to let her know that one can’t stereotype people by their political views.

I urge everyone to get to know people of different backgrounds, ethnic groups, religious groups, political groups.  We are all people, we all have stories, and there are a lot of things that, as people, we have in common. And because we are all human, we are all worthy of basic respect.

The High Road

Boy surprising girl with a present

A short while ago I was dealing with my son after he had an altercation with his sister that made him really angry. I reminded him of the instruction in the Bible to “love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you…” and told him that his sister wasn’t his enemy, so how much more should he love her and do good to her when he is angry at her.

He obviously took this to heart, because some days later they had another altercation and he was really upset with her. Then he heard her lamenting, because she had been mistaken about the cost of something. This son came to me and said, “I want to give ____________ some money, because of what you told me how I should handle being  upset with her. I want to do something to bless her.” So he offered her his money. His sister appreciated it, but declined to take his money. His offer, this attempt at blessing her, definitely softened both their hearts toward each other.

Sometimes our children actually hear what we say.

Sometimes our children are examples to us.

My son’s gesture, his following of God’s ways (to bless) brought life to them both. It bore good fruit. I did explain to my son afterwards that even if his sister wouldn’t have responded well, he would have had life; he would have had good fruit in his own heart.

I rarely get angry with anyone I know. But if I ever do, I want to take the high road. I hope I will seek to bless, and to extend love. God’s ways bring life. For real.

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!

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.