Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Clean House is a Sign of...

A clean house is a sign of many things:
  • A family who works diligently together to make the house clean
  • A great housekeeper who comes in and makes the place shine
  • A mother/father who are task masters and are militant about the cleanliness of their house
  • A mother/father who wants desperately to impress someone
  • A person/people who are organized and like to have things neat and tidy
  • Other

Conversely, a messy house is also a sign of many things:
  • Laziness
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of respect
  • Lack of concern
  • A family who is only home to sleep and eat and throw things about before they move on to their next scheduled event
  • A mother/father who values time with something else more (friends, sports, hobbies, work, etc.)
  • A mother/father who values time with their family more
  • Other
Unfortunately, I happen to fall into the latter category. And, while my reasons are pure and valid, it is still a messy house.
  1. I value my time with my family more than I value a you-can-eat-off-the-floor kind of house
  2. I am trying really, really, really hard to improve because other members of my family would like the house to be cleaner
Well, what about those other family members who value cleanliness so much? Great question! Here's the thing: hubby and I are ultimately in charge of our household. Not much gets done without one of us pushing for it. That's not to say our kids are lazy or lack initiative. But they do require direction. And they are more likely to work when they see the leadership working. 

So this summer my goal is to declutter. In the extreme (because I can never just "kind of" do something).
  • I have pulled out every towel from our linen closet for inspection, culled through them,  and then folded up the "keepers" and put them away.
  • I have scoured the medicine cabinet, which was full to excess, and thrown away all of those cough medicines and baby Tylenol from 2002.
  • I have gone through my closet with extreme zeal and vigor in order to rid myself of all the extra clothes that haven't fit for twenty years.
  • And there is more- much more- to come.

The family is impressed, although a tiny bit frightened. What if their room, their possessions, are  next? (Well, they actually are.)

By the end of the summer my house may not be the cleanest, or even the most organized, on the block. But we will be able to:
  • Have extra space in closets and in rooms
  • Find things easily so as not to buy multiple duplicates (yep, happens all the time)
  • Be able to keep things generally more tidy, as everything will have a place

Yes, these are lofty goals. But they're coming along.

And the best part? I'm not sacrificing time with the family! (Thank you, jobs, VBS, mission trips, church camp, and friends!)

Once this is done, I shall tackle my next goal: cooking fabulous meals (almost) every night (instead of once every two weeks, at best)...

Well, a girl can dream anyway... 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Surprised? (Sadly) Not Really.

"We continue, as a society, to believe that we are, as individuals, supposed to be "right." And, more importantly, that my individual "right" supercedes yours. In other words, my Superego is not only offended by your Id, I have somehow come to believe that my Ego's duty is to police your Id." 

For the last several days social media and news outlets have been on fire with the news of Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner's (partially physically; completely "emotionally") gender change and subsequent ESPY award for doing so.

According to the June 2, 2015, news services (

"The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is named for the late tennis player, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993 after contracting HIV through a blood transfusion. Past winners have included Jim Valvano, Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King, Pat Summitt, Robin Roberts and Michael Sam." 

"Bruce [Jenner] has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time, but The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn," ESPN executive producer Maura Mandt said. "She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces."
Many have been shocked and outraged at Jenner's choices and the media's reaction. My question is: Why? Why the shock? Why the outrage? This is just a symptom of the disease of a collective and individual hyperactive Id; just another in a long line of people being encouraged to "do what makes them feel good" while "taking sides" by the media, advertisers, and "popular culture"; just another product of someone else telling my Superego what to do.

So am I surprised at the outrage over this latest media phenomenon. Sadly, no. We are a nation of individuals who believe that only "my" opinion is right- whether that opinion is truly ours, or just a reflection of the media. With one side telling us it is to be celebrated and honored, and the other side telling us it is a sin and blaspheme, we are left to struggle with our own conscience, or our Ego, which is the reconciliation of our Id and Superego. How in the world did we get to this place?
In the late 1980's, talk show hosts began a new kind of entertainment. Non-celebrity, everyday people were encouraged to go on national television via Oprah, Geraldo Rivera, Maury Povich, and Jerry Springer (just to name a few) and reveal their deepest secrets, most painful memories, and current shortcomings. This opened a veritable Pandora's Box.  People were literally begging to go on television to have a national therapy session so that 1) they could have their moment in the spotlight and/or 2) they could glean the sympathy of viewers, thus "proving" that they were "right."

Obviously, this was not the first time people tried to find a scapegoat on whom to blame all their problems. However, never had it been done for the "common man" on such a national/global scale. This personal catharsis on national television gave the viewer permission to dig deep and discover who had "ruined" his or her life.  This was the beginning of the end of Personal Accountability. Not surprisingly, finding creative ways to say, "it's not my fault," paid big for sponsors and "news" media, and it paved the way for the individual's Superego and Ego to be dictated by "popular culture."

As a result of discovering that our parents were indeed to blame for all that was wrong in our lives, society decided to be proactive. No way was this enlightened generation going to allow their children to cast any blame on them. We wanted to "feel good" about ourselves, and we wanted our kids to like us, too. So we quit keeping score in baseball and soccer games; we tried to promote unity and cooperation on the field. We quit giving out trophies to only winners, lest the losers feel bad about themselves; instead, we gave trophies to anyone who participated. There was no single "golden egg" in the Easter egg hunt; rather there were as many "golden eggs" as there were children, and at the end of the hunt we divided the goodies equally.

Never has the word "fair" been so overused in the history of human life as it has been by this generation's parents and children. However, making sure everyone "feels good" about himself by using the media and popular culture's standards as our yardstick has proven to be a more difficult task for the individual than we imagined. We must take into account the parents, who obviously have a vested interest in their reputation and their children's happiness. We must take into account the children, who may or may not be particularly skilled, but nonetheless require encouragement, acceptance, and positive affirmations about whatever they pursue. And we must take into account society- particularly social media- who will crucify anyone who dares to suggest that things should be any different.
With advertisers pandering to this Id- this idea perpetuated by the media that the ultimate goal is self-fulfillment-  how can we really be blamed? Surely it's their fault. They are the ones who told us what beauty was, and how to purchase products to attain it. They are the ones who actually understand that responsibility is only important if a law suit is involved. They are the ones who saved us from our Superego. They are the ones who encouraged and sponsored the church of self-love, where the only worship is that of happiness, comfort, and "the good life." Indeed, they are the saviors who made our Egos more Id than Superego. Right?

Wrong. Feeling "good," amazingly enough, is not our purpose in life. No one can feel "good" 24 hours a day/7 days a week. There are bound to be days when even the most glamorous, the most successful, the most affluent, and the most brilliant feel "bad." And no amount of product- contrary to the media's claims- can make us "feel good" about ourselves long-term.

But it doesn't behoove the media and advertisers to tell us we are "good enough" just as we are, that our true purpose is to love others as much as we love ourselves. No, that is our own Superego's responsibility. We are accountable and responsible for telling ourselves and each other that every single person is valued and cherished- rarely as the media depicts and promotes.

And still, the hardest part is remembering that we are not "number one" (as the media would like us to believe), we do not have more rights, and we are not more special than anyone else. And while we may be the only person in our own personal solar system, we are not the only person in the universe.

What does this have to do with Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce) Jenner and the ESPY awards? Great question.

It seems that somewhere along the way we gave up being our own Ego and let the news media, the advertisers, and social media take over. And we've already discussed that none of those entities have our personal best interest in mind. They are far more interested in the sensationalism, the reckless abandon, the outrageous, the beautiful, the now.

Do I personally believe that Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner "deserves" the ESPY award over all athletes in the world today? Do I think it's "fair"? Certainly there are other people who could easily qualify for this prestigious award. But, really, it's not my call. It is up to the entity of ESPN - which, may I remind you, is that same media who wants to create controversy to solicit response and glean dollars from us. ESPN does not take a popular vote, nor do they have to.  They are not ultimately responsible for making you "feel good."

Do I think Jenner had the "right" to transgender?  My Superego may or may not esteem the value of "right to choose." But ultimately, that is my value. It is my Ego that unites my Superego and my Id- not yours, not Jenner's, and certainly not the media's. Whether the media and I agree or not, that value is still utterly and completely mine.

However, we continue, as a society, to believe that we are, as individuals, supposed to be "right." And, more importantly, that my individual "right" supercedes yours. In other words, my Superego is not only offended by your Id, I have somehow come to believe that my Ego's duty is to police your Id. After all, we have been seeking approval from others since the dawn of time. And the ultimate approval is being deemed "right."

It may make me "feel good" to think I am "right," but it does not, nor should it ever, impede upon your "right." That goes for both sides of an argument.

Long story short - I'm not going to let the media, the news, society, social media, or my next door neighbor tell me and my Superego what is "right." And neither should you.