Why Bother Blogging?

Why Bother Blogging?

Blogging was not my idea. Though I enjoy writing, when I thought about putting my writing out there for all to read, my stomach churned, my hands dampened with sweat and doubts swirled inside my head. Yet here I am writing another blog to post. How and why did I end up here?

How Blogging Began

The word blog is a shortened version of weblog, neither of which are found in My New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1989 edition. In 1989, blogging did not yet exist. Not until 1994 did the first online diary or personal pages, as blog posts were first named, appeared on the internet.  A student by the name of Justin Hall wanted a place to publish his writing. He set up his own site on the internet and began posting his thoughts to the rest of the world. Ever since then, millions of people have created their own blogging sites and write about every imaginable topic. 

I began writing posts November 1, 2020. As of yet, I do not yet have a year behind me, but I am close. I post every other day or three times each week. I keep my words limited, 500-600. I aim to encourage, and inspire as well as stir up a new way of thinking about the common, ordinary things we think about. My ideas for topics usually hatch inside my brain the day I know I need to post a blog and never any sooner. It reminds me of how God provided manna for the Israelites while they were in the desert; one day at a time.  

My editor is the one who suggested that I blog. As an unknown writer writing a book, gaining an audience via the internet is paramount. She assured me that blogging builds an audience and when you put your book out there for sale, people will be more inclined to buy your book and publishers will be more inclined to publish your book because you are known. 

Though I do not aim to be as well known as the two authors who inspire me, I want to write as truthfully as Paul Harvey and as consistently as Erma Bombeck. 

I do not usually insert any links into my blogs, but I am inserting one today. If you choose to click this link, it will take you to an article I wrote for Epoch Times and reading it will only make you smile. https://www.theepochtimes.com/the-family-table-a-grandmothers-legacy-of-love-home-cooking-and-coffee-cake-mornings_3962926.html

Why bother blogging? As a writer, it is worth blogging to gain an audience who likes to read your writing. If you are a reader, I hope I make it worth your while to read my posts.

Why Bother Listening To Another’s Heart?

Why Bother Listening To Another’s Heart?

I did not set out to become a good listener, but my children trained me to listen carefully to their hearts. Tucking them into bed at night were the most intimate interludes with my sons. After the busyness of an ordinary day and before falling asleep at night, they wanted my undivided attention, even if only for the few minutes it took for them to share what was on their heart.

Sharing and Listening from the Heart

 The routine of tucking my children into bed at night gave them the opportunity to put their pondering from the day into perspective; “How come you can see in your dreams when your eyes are closed?” Voicing their thoughts helped them to make a little more sense of their musings. Even when I could not answer all their questions, they still needed to be asked. 

For some reason, each of them needed an assurance about the next day. What would they be doing and most importantly, what was for breakfast. Other times, they felt the need to tell me things they thought were important for me to know. I remember a particular worry one of my sons shared with me when he was about eight. He told me he was concerned because  he was beginning to like other girls besides me. I alleviated his concern by assuring him I understood and I was not offended. Of course there would be other girls he would like better than me, I explained. “When you are older, you may even like a girl enough to ask her to marry you,” I told him. His face, full of doubt, could not comprehend that event, but he was relieved to know that I was not upset by his honesty. 

Though I am no longer a confidant to my grown sons, they trained me well enough to  become a confidant to others. Because I saw how important it was for me to give my undivided attention to my children for those few moments before bedtime, I see now how important it is to give my undivided attention to another. Even though I cannot answer all their questions, “Do you think I should…” just voicing their concern to someone who will listen, may help them enough to make a good choice. Sometimes, someone might just need a little assurance about surviving one day at a time instead of worrying about their tomorrows. Finally, when we listen to another’s heart we just might hear their need to simply unload a heavy concern. Even if there is nothing we can do for them, we can listen to their heart. 

Why bother listening to another’s heart? It is worth giving a moment to heed to another’s heart since it only takes a moment for a heart to be heard. 

Why Bother To Inquire?

Why Bother To Inquire?

It is easy to assume and harder to inquire. We are better at jumping to conclusions than we are at uncovering facts. We may form hasty judgments about circumstances, and take for granted we understand someone. Yet, we may also be fooling ourselves. If we don’t want to presume we know, we will need to take the time and go one layer deeper.  Only when we ask a question will we know for sure how someone is thinking. Until then, we are only guessing and have settled for assuming. 

The Danger of Assuming 

Assuming, supposing, presuming and speculating lead to wrong conclusions and wrong conclusions lead to big and little misunderstandings. For instance, my husband, who is more of an introvert than an extrovert, is not always an easy person to read. Recently, I discovered an erroneous idea I’ve always thought to be true about him, when in fact it was not. Whenever he was uninterested in holding up his end of a conversation, or when he sat alone in the living room staring out the window, I took it personally. “He is mad at me,” was my inevitable conclusion. One day, I bravely broached the topic of what I perceived to be a “bad” mood. If I was at fault about something, I wanted to know about it. But, I was not the problem. He had been suffering from pain incurred from work. Now I know; when he is in pain, he draws inward. Asking him a question or two opened the door to understanding him better. Simple, but not always easy.

Another instance of assuming occurred between myself and a coworker. The week before students return to school, teachers are always busy in the building. We unpack our classrooms and put things back on the shelves. Then we prepare for the night of the open house where teachers and parents meet and greet. The night of the open house, my coworker whose classroom is next to mine, scurried about attempting to put all the books that lined our shared hallway back into her room. When I offered to help, she gave me a firm, “no.” Going into my classroom to work, I heard two other people offer to help her. She accepted their help. I wondered what was wrong with me that she did not want my help? Unable to let it slide, I went out into the hall and privately asked her, “Why don’t you want my help?” 

“I know you are busy,” she replied. I assured her that I would not have offered it if I had not meant it. 

Assuming not only leads to misunderstandings, it also leads us to think that others think like us. My coworker may have been too busy, but I was not. Perhaps, in the future, she will accept my genuine offer. 

Finally, the best case of assumption came from a new student in my class. At the end of the day as she was walking out the door she stopped and said, “I’d heard you were a mean teacher. But you’re not mean at all. You are nice and kinda funny.”

Why bother to inquire? It is worth inquiring for yourself about someone, then you will know the real story and the real person.

Why Bother Looking Forward?

 

Why Bother Looking Forward?

When summer break from school began, I looked forward to the expanse of time off from work. I anticipated lingering over breakfast while reading a good book, and riding my bike instead of the daily drive to work. I anticipated backpacking, hiking, and a road trip or two with my husband. But all of that is behind me now. School has begun and now, I am moving ahead into a new school year. But starting school again, also brings with it a sense of looking forward. Though my days are no longer filled with leisure, and unstructured time outside, my days are now filled with structuring, shaping, and motivating a group of nine and ten year olds inside a classroom. And like looking forward to the activities the summer months brought into my life, I anticipate what lies ahead for me in my classroom.

Looking Ahead, Not Behind

Though this is my fifth year of teaching fourth grade, every year is a new year. I do not teach the same batch of students I taught the previous year. Instead, I get a new group. My “old” students and I remember each other fondly, and wave at each other in the hallways, but they are not sad they moved ahead to the next grade. 

What I look forward to every year as a teacher is knowing how my students and I start out as strangers, but we do not stay that way. By the end of our 180 days togher, we form strong, trusting and respectful relationships that will last beyond the fourth grade.  

Another thing I look forward to going forth with a new batch of students is being a witness to their learning. The concepts a fourth grader digests are not easy; multiplication, division, fractions, conventions, parts of speech, and writing essays are just a few of the targets I aim them toward. Then when I witness the eureka moment in their life,  I am exhilarated, joyful and energized. I never know when it will happen, but I anticipate it every year with every group.  

Finally, I look forward to participating with my learning community. Though I am the only fourth grade teacher in my school, I am not the only teacher. I do not teach alone. My team includes most directly, the third, fifth and sixth grade teachers. Indirectly, my support comes from the principal, secretary, special education, kindergarten, first and second grade teachers. Together we move all of our students forward toward their success whether it be in math, science, writing, reading or getting along with others. 

Yes, I look forward to my summer and all its fun, but I also look forward to teaching a new batch of students, witnessing their eureka moments and working alongside a professional community.

Why bother looking forward? It is worth looking forward because nobody keeps their eyes in the rear view mirror while driving ahead.

 

Why Bother To Labor At What You Love?

Why Bother To Labor At What You Love?

At some point in our childhood, all of us were asked the same question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In other words, how do you plan to generate an income for yourself? The first time someone posed the question to me, I was startled. My teacher’s query pushed me into thinking about adulthood when I preferred to remain in childhood. Eventually though, we all grow up and find a way to support ourselves. Though I did not begin my adult life with any particular vocation in mind, I now get paid to labor at what I love and comes naturally for me; inspiring, guiding, and encouraging others to mature. 

Generating Income

Generating an income is not the whole meaning of life, but even as a kid, I understood that earning a living was how most people purchased the goods and services they needed to live a safe, healthy, and happy life. My parents never paid me an allowance nor did they give monetary rewards for good grades on a report card. If I wanted personal spending money, then it was up to me to find work that paid a salary. I started out as a  babysitter. But babysitting was not my forte. Parents never came back when they said, “We’ll be home by ten.” The hour of their return inevitably came and went. Then there was the unruly child or cranky baby who refused to go to sleep. In a short amount of time, I surmised this type of work was worthy of much higher wages which parents were unwilling to pay. 

Growing a little older, more opportunities opened; service and manual labor. Housecleaning, house painting, nurses aid and waitressing jobs abounded. Though the work was steady and somewhat satisfying, my labor felt hollow. At someone’s suggestion, I extended my high school education, attending a two year college to earn an associate’s degree. My choices for job opportunities broadened and for a short while, I believed working with handicapped preschool children would be my career. But when I fell in love, married and started a family, my profession changed. Though mothers are not paid any wages to train, nurture and love their children, motherhood became my passion. It also became the training ground where I learned how to inspire, guide, and encourage others, namely my sons, to maturity. My labor did not feel trivial, but I could see the end of my job in sight. Mothering is not a lifelong career. 

I knew my education was not finished and someday I would go back out into the work-a-day world. So, when our youngest son entered his second year of high school, I stepped back into the world of college. After earning a Bachelor’s degree, I still did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Then one day, as a teacher’s aide, when I sat next to a student helping them to stay on task, it occurred to me that the profession of teaching was calling to me and I answered. Now, I get paid to labor at what I love and what comes naturally to me; to inspire, guide, and encourage others to maturity. 

Why bother to labor at what you love? It is worth knowing what vocation calls out to you since earning a living is how most of us live safe, healthy, and happy lives. 

Why Bother Knowing Your Propensity?

Why Bother Knowing Your Propensity?

My personality lends itself to a few particular and displeasing idiosyncrasies. One those inclinations, more in my past than present, was the use of sarcasm. “Sarkazein” the Greek word for sarcasm, means to tear the flesh. Not a very pretty word picture, but it is accurate. People who are sarcastic mock others, cut them down and point shine a spotlight on their weaknesses. Those who have the propensity toward sarcasm can easily spot another person’s flawed mannerism, foreign accent or unusual mannerism, pointing it out to their victim with words that cut to the quick. Like a well aimed right hook to someone’s jaw, sarcasm wields power to stop someone short, but without the use of any physical force. Your opponent, or the one you feel is your opponent, is suddenly struck dumb, unable to even take a stab back at you. And the power one suddenly feels is quite exhilarating. I suspect I acquired this trait by watching and most likely, admiring those who could wield such power by using only their words. Once I realized the potency of sarcasm, I latched onto it and used it like a weapon.  

      Put Up Your Dukes!

Though not everyone uses sarcasm as a weapon to defend themselves, I did. I noticed that I could hurl barbs with my verbiage and cut someone down to size before they cut me down. Most of the time, when I began a new relationship, I was on the defensive side, taking an opposing stance. Feeling like the inferior one, I needed to prove myself as something bigger, stronger and smarter than I really was. I reasoned that if I could make someone feel less than they were, men, more so than women, before they made me feel less than I was, then I  could feel superior to them. But, sarcasm will only get you so far in life until you realize the harm it causes. Though I might have pretended I was only joking around a little bit with them, mocking or belittling someone else in order to help me feel bigger only created bitterness on both sides of the relationship. Now I was not the only one on the defense, but they were too. 

Then, I became more emotionally aware of the harm I was doing with my words. Nipping and scoffing at other people’s characters all the time gave me a less than admirable reputation. Walking into a room full of mixed company, the men would shy away from me, leaving me alone and giving me wide berth. My reputation for sarcasm left me standing alone and lonely. Did I drop my habit all together and all at once? I may have come into my sarcastic ways easily, but leaving the cynical way was much harder. But when I felt lured to making a snarky or insincere remark to someone, I stopped and thought about what I was about to say. Yes, the remark may have cut them down a notch or two, but was it really my job to be the one to do so? 

Why bother knowing your propensity? It is worth knowing what lures you to go in the wrong direction so that you can stop and go a different way.

Why Bother Appreciating The Differences?

Why Bother Appreciating The Differences?

I grew up under the influence in a family where the women believed it was a man’s world. Though it was never fully explained to me, I gathered from the matriarchs, males, in general, including my three brothers, were in some way greater, better and more valued than I was. When a little older and exposed to the feminist’s ideas, I concluded that somehow, men were more of a foe and a threat than trustworthy and kind. But neither of these ideas proved accurate. 

Recognizing the Differences

With my erroneous ideas about men, it is a marvel I ever married, a phenomenon to some I’ve remained married and quite a thrill to still like each other, a lot, after being together for so long. But my marriage is the very thing that shifted my false thinking about men. Subtly, slowly and gradually, while living day in and day out with my husband, the blurred perception I once held about the opposite sex, cleared. 

Being married is an intimate education, a close and in depth study teaching men and women how the masculine and feminine differ. It is a lesson that continues until death parts us, and there is no certificate awarded or blue ribbon given at the end. Lifelong learners, though, will not be disappointed. Instead we gain wisdom, understanding and feel a great amount of satisfaction in doing the required work. 

As night is to day, salt to pepper, or dry land to a body of water, men and women are tremendously different. Some of those differences are easy to distinguish. The manly, masculine and manlike qualities are what attracted me to my husband in the first place. His affirming attitude, gentle voice and kindness only added to what I already liked. My feminine physique is what mostly attracted my husband to me. 

Though I’ve known for a long time that men think differently than women, I did not experience the reality of the contrast until marriage. My ideas of how life should go included remodeling the kitchen or bathroom before building a garage. Mother’s Day was supposed to be a sacred holiday for all mothers and a day off from all duties relating to motherhood. Children should not be allowed to do anything deemed unsafe, and kept close to home as long as possible. Lengthy heartfelt conversations are needful for the soul and a good cry is therapeutic. But, this was the way I thought, not the way he thought. 

As I learned, building a garage was more important than remodeling anything inside the old house we bought. Mother’s Day was sometimes forgotten. Broader boundaries were set for our sons, and conversations kept relatively to the point were simpler. Though sometimes my husband has wept with me, crying does not make him feel as good as it makes me feel. 

Men are different from women in more ways than one way, as they should be. 

Why bother appreciating the differences? It is worth valuing the masculine and feminine discrepancies because it is our uniqueness that makes for longer lasting and loving relationships.

Why Bother With Fun?

Why Bother With Fun?

To say the least, I had fun this summer. Pleasure, enjoyment and delight were the results from the activities I chose to do. Backpacking in the Selkirk and hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains, are just two of the places where I invested some of my energy and found the return from my ventures, lasting. Recreating is one of  summertime’s presents to all of us and when we choose to recreate within our physical and monetary restraints, the results will have positive residual effects on our mental and physical wellness.  

Practical Fun

Recreating does not have to be expensive, or impractical. Rather it can be affordable and attainable if we stay within our monetary and physical means. Keeping our choice of sports and entertainment within our comfort zone makes whatever amount of playtime we have, much more enjoyable. Also, if it is kept within our financial and physical capabilities, we’ll likely return to it more often. Though I’ve imagined myself taking a hike on the famous El Camino de Santiago in Spain, so far, it is not a realistic adventure. Instead, I’ve found the trails closer to home more reachable and attainable. Some day I may take the same pilgrimage trekked by famous and holy saints, but in the meantime, I return to the waterfalls and vista views of high peaks in the Sawtooth Mountains on a regular basis. 

We live near more than one large body of water and enjoy these different lakes, mostly from the shoreline. At times, I catch myself coveting the luxury liners I spot streaming their way through the water and wonder what it would be like to own one. So far, I am still wondering. One summer though, my husband and I got out on the water when we borrowed a tandem kayak from some friends. We found out rather quickly that a tandem kayak would not be a good investment for us. It does not work for our personalities. One of us likes to keep the sport at a leisure pace, while the other half wants to cover great distances in a short amount of time. In a tandem kayak, you cannot paddle ahead. So, if you want to have fun while recreating with a partner, discovering sooner than later what works for the both of you, makes the venture all that much more relaxing. We are now on the lookout for a pair of kayaks. 

Part of keeping the fun in whatever choices you make to recreate, is discovering what fun means to you as a single or to you as a pair. Before investing in your next fun adventure, ask a few questions beforehand: Is it affordable? Is my body equipped with whatever it takes? Do I really want to do this? Then, looking back on the venture, do you sense the delight it brought? If not, don’t bother repeating it.

Why bother with fun? Finding what is fun for you is worth it because playing is for pleasure. Don’t make it anything else.

Why Bother With Intestinal Fortitude?

Why Bother With Intestinal Fortitude? 

Recently, while kayaking with a friend, she told me I had intestinal fortitude. The term caused me to conjure up all sorts of images.  I imagined a pie, or hot dog eating contest, consuming an enormous quantity of food, or someone with a steel gut who can eat anything without any ill effects. But she assured me that intestinal fortitude had nothing to do with how well my gut digested the foods I ate. Instead, it is a term used to describe the gumption, strength of mind or the grit in one’s life.

A History of Intestinal Fortitude

While we paddled through the mild, gentle water that did not strain or test our strength, we reflected with fondness and humor, on those seasons in both of our lives that called upon our determination, spunk and fortitude. 

First of all, for both of us, the marriage relationship with its load of challenges, called for developing a strength of mind that neither of us had as newly weds. Marriage forced us to learn how to respond instead of react to our spouses, and speak our minds instead of remaining silent. We stayed away from doing things we would only later regret and we kept resentment from taking a foothold. We could both recall the times of unemployment, or on the job injuries that caused financial fear and worry to rise up in our lives. But even so, we stared those anxieties down with our gumption.  

Who knew that when it came to raising our families, between the two of us, we would encounter infertility, miscarriages and stillbirth. Then, as mothers of teenagers, neither of us fathomed the quantity of courage required to love our young adults regardless of their arrogant and sometimes rude demeanor. Now, as adults, they continue to test our stamina and fortitude. In spite of the current events that threaten to carve an abyss between us and our grown children, our great heartedness convinces us to hold firm to our faith. 

Paddling back to shore, we agreed that the circumstances of our lives called for a certain measure of intestinal fortitude. Recognizing this stoutness only causes us to remember with fondness and humor that those things behind us in some way, prepare us for whatever lies ahead of us. 

Why bother with intestinal fortitude? Our intestinal fortitude is worth noticing because it is what we need when navigating those rough patches of water we all go through. Without intestinal fortitude, we might find ourselves up creek  without a paddle.

Why Bother To Blink?

Why Bother To Blink?

Summertime is a gift, the best present of all to public school teachers. During summer break, I linger longer over breakfast, ride my bike instead of commuting by car, leisurely read the books I want and commit to catching up on important things I know I really need to do for myself. One such important and less than pleasant task was to find a personal physician. I have not had one since my last child was born, a few decades ago. Though I have made a few feeble attempts to find one, I knew this would be the summer to cross that off my list.  I appreciate those in the medical world and see their value and worth, but entering into a doctor’s office is not a pleasant experience for me. It is time consuming, expensive, a little impersonal and I worry a little about unexpected anomalies popping up. But after investigating a new physician or two, I settled on one, made an appointment and rode my bike to the nearby office. It was not as bad as I thought. After an hour-long personal and not at all painful conversation, I listened and took her medical advice: take one-a-day vitamins and get your eyes checked, something else I had not done for a few decades.   

Nourishment for the Eyes

For some reason, I was a bit embarrassed by one of the questions the assistant at the eye clinic asked me, “How long has it been since your last eye examination?” I recalled how our middle son had come to the same clinic, when around the age of two, he needed corrective surgery for a lazy eye. Since then, that particular doctor retired. I confessed that for me, the last time my eyes were examined was a blurred and distant memory. 

The assistant ran me through a series of tests determining how well I could read letters up close as well as off in the distance. Pictures of the back of my eyes were taken and when I met the young and well schooled physician he confirmed, with some surprise, that my eyesight was really quite good. When he asked if I have noticed any changes over the last few decades, I shared that sometimes, especially at the end of the day, my eyes feel dry and tired. 

He related that with increased screen time, reading or staring at the T.V. we blink almost 60% less. Blinking, he noted, is like a cocktail of oils that lubricate, cleans and moisturizes our eyes. He suggested that when my eyes become dry and tired that I apply eye drops. I wondered out loud, “Why can’t I just remember to blink more?” 

“You can try that, and if it is helpful, there are apps you can download onto your phone that will help you to remember to take blinking breaks.”

I smiled at this young and educated physician, but kept my last comments to myself, I’d rather not rely on something else to think for me. Instead, I believe I am still more than capable of remembering to take blinking breaks. 

Why bother to blink? If we don’t think to take blinking breaks for ourselves, then someone else will be telling us when to blink.