I had a craving for some popcorn today. So I popped some.
If we’re popcorn eaters, it is probably fair to say that many of us would purchase microwave instead of regular popcorn. Why? The microwave variety is more convenient and takes less time to prepare. Just throw it in the microwave for approximately 2-4 minutes (or hit the popcorn button on your wave machine) and be done with it.
One day, I decided to buy a bag of regular kernel popcorn – the store brand, no less – to prepare for an at-home movie outing. It cost me less than two dollars. I prepared to pop the corn, placing a thin layer of vegetable oil in the bottom of a medium sized pot, pouring the popcorn in the pot to cover the bottom, putting some chunks of Country Crock on top of the kernels, and sprinkling some Old Bay seasoning on the whole thing. Once I prepared the popcorn, I put a top on the pot, turned the flame on sort of high, and waited. It took awhile for the oil to get hot enough to pop the corn, probably the same amount of time it takes for the popcorn to pop in the microwave. In fact, my daughter asked, “When is it going to start to pop?” because she wanted the popcorn right then. Finally, the popcorn started popping. That took a little while too. But when the kernels stop popping and I took off the top of the pot, I had beautifully popped, buttery popcorn with no burning! It took a little more time to prepare it this way, but it sure was worth the wait. I achieved a much better result. That popcorn was delicious!
So who the heck cares about popcorn and how it’s cooked? What does this have to do with anything?
Just like the popcorn, or anything else we microwave, we sometimes seek changes in our lives to happen quickly. Let’s take weight loss, for example. I gained 37 pounds during my pregnancy – nine years ago. Up until last year, I carried 20 pounds of that baby weight. But last year, I decided I wanted to become healthy for me and my family. Of course, I wanted to lose the weight quickly, but I knew if I lost it too rapidly, there’d be a good chance I’d gain the weight back. We know that sometimes significant changes need to be made in order to achieve weight loss (I had 30 pounds to lose), but usually gimmicks and quick fixes cannot be maintained. In fact, the American Heart Association stated, “Because most quick-weight-loss diets require drastic changes in eating patterns, you can’t stay on them for long.” So if we lose the weight quickly, we often gain the weight back, sometimes more than what we gained in the first place. Quick fixes usually don’t work, at least not permanently. But I made changes gradually, changes that I could maintain. I learned what I could and could not eat and when I could eat it. I didn’t starve myself. I ate plenty of food (sometimes still too much). I began to work out regularly. So I am now 20 pounds lighter than I was this time last year. It’s taken a year. And I feel good that as long as maintain my new habits and let go of the bad, I will keep the weight off permanently (I actually have 10 more pounds to go).
Let’s take another example. For years, I didn’t control my emotions. In fact, I carried suppressed anger that I allowed rear its ugly head in my marriage often. It goes without saying that if I wanted to my marriage to succeed, I had to make some changes. And I wanted the changes to happen quickly. So over the years, I prayed, praised God, worshipped God, read my Bible regularly. And when I engaged in these activities, I thought I was emotionally healed. I thought that God was going to instantly heal me of my emotional baggage. After all, when Jesus healed people, it was usually an immediate healing. And surely, after most church services, I left feeling good, believing in my heart God had touched me in some way. And He did.
Deep down, my soul was still sick.
Yet, I continued to pray, I continued to read and reflect, I continued to seek God for my change. And as I persevered, things began to change. I began to look at my husband through different lenses. I began to see the glass as half full. God revealed to me how to make the changes. It wasn’t pretty, but after some years, I’ve learned how not to becoming offended so easily, how to communicate better, and how to see my husband as the gift God graciously gave me. We’ve now been married 12 years. And our relationship is better than it has ever been, and getting better!
I have come to a different understanding of emotional and spiritual healing these days. God is the source of healing for me. But I don’t think God does takes a “microwave popcorn” approach to it (at least He hasn’t for me). As the Greek slave and fable author Aesop said in The Tortoise and the Hare, ”Slow and steady wins the race.” And for me and my emotional health comes in the form of being more attuned to my immediate circumstances and how I react to them. But it’s taken time for me to figure out how to become more sensitive to how I react to things.
My emotional healing hasn’t been a quick fix, as much as I’ve wanted it to be. It has been a slow process. Yet it sure feels good to have a different response and reap the benefits of that response today.
So for those of you who are seeking a change (or changes), it may not be helpful to seek the quick fix. Because while temporary relief may come and go, transformation achieved through effort and struggle is lasting.
“Time is a dressmaker, specializing in alterations.” ~Faith Baldwin
We pass them in the grocery store. We breeze by them in the office. We ride with them on elevators. Yet, we have no idea what the person standing next to us is really going through, what trauma they may have just experienced, what bad news they may
A spouse diagnosed with a terminal illness. Visiting a parent in hospice unknowingly for the last time. Wondering how Dad, who just had a stroke, will be taken care of.
These are a few of only millions of real situations people encounter and have to deal with each day.
What’s more, WE may BE the person who’s just received the unfavorable news or the bad diagnosis.
We live in a society where we’re so rushed and busy; it’s normal for us to focus on what we need to do in the moment (this is me). But what could potentially happen if we just slowed down a moment and stopped to think of those around us, to smile at someone, to just say, “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon” to the person standing in line before us?
I recently watched a video entitled, “Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care,” a video produced by the Cleveland Clinic (I originally saw it on the blog “On Being” by Krista Tippett).
The video started out with a quote by Henry David Thoreau,
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”
Just for an instant, just for a moment.
I think sometimes that may be easier said than done. I know it is for me.
So how do we go about being people who can see through another’s eyes? How can we learn to show more empathy in our fast-paced world?
Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers (my husband does this so well) – this entails not just talking to the person next to you about the weather, but about “trying to understand the world inside the person.”
Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities – I know that I’ve made assumptions about people based on the way they look, and upon having a conversation with them, learned they were completely different than what I thought.
Habit 3: Try another person’s life – this is a physically experiential habit. In other words, do something that represents how another person views life. For example, if you’re a Christian, attend a Sikh service. If you don’t like the outdoors, spend some time camping for a night.
Habit 4: Listen hard and open up – really listen and make yourself vulnerable by exposing ourselves and our own emotions (I personally think you have to survey the situation to make sure opening yourself up is really “safe”).
Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change – practicing empathy is not just for individuals. People can organize collectively to practice empathy to inspire social change. It seems the Occupy movement may have fit that bill, at least initially. But according to the article, collective change will most likely come about by teaching this new generation of children how to be empathic. As well, social networking is a vehicle that can be a catalyst for change.
Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination – this seems similar to Habit 3. According to the article, “We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way. If you are a campaigner on global warming, for instance, it may be worth trying to step into the shoes of oil company executives…”
So here are six habits that we can develop to help us grow in empathy.
HOW DO YOU PRACTICE EMPATHY? WHAT ARE SOME OTHER WAYS WE CAN PUT OURSELVES IN ANOTHER’S SHOES TO POSITIVELY IMPACT THAT PERSON’S LIFE, AS WELL AS OUR OWN?
‘Tis the season of commencement. A time when graduates close one chapter of their lives to begin the next.
I started this blog in 2006. I blogged consistently for awhile, then hit a few snags. As is often the case, life got in the way. Not in a bad way, though. Demands changed. Priorities shifted. Then writing ceased. For years.
There were a few disingenuous false attempts to return. Yet, it wasn’t the time. I felt like I was forcing myself to live in a space where I didn’t belong. So while I missed writing, I had to stay on the sidelines.
Yet it is now Commencement time not only for high school and college graduates, but for me as well. I am returning to my blog, writing here at Women Walking In Wisdom’s Footsteps™. And I’m excited about the direction I sense God is taking me.
The tagline to this blog is “For women who are humble enough to seek wisdom, yet sensible enough to impart it.” So first, while anyone can read my blog, I direct my writing toward women, because I am one, and I know much more about women than I do men.
Second, I anticipate women other than me will contribute to this blog. In no way do I profess to be an expert on anything. However, I do believe that I can take the steps of women whose feet have been where I’ve been and have achieved some success in areas in which I’ve struggled.
I’ve often felt like I’m the only one who struggles in so many areas of life. Before I got married, I failed in my relationships. And those failures followed me. I should say, I packed those failures in a bag and carried them around with me every day. Just like Erykah Badu’s song entitled “Bag Lady.” She sings:
Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you, is you, is you
One day all them bags gone get in your way
One day all them bags gone get in your way
I said one day all them bags gone get in your way
One Day all them bags gone get in your way
I know a lot about those bags. But while I once believed I was the only one who experienced the pain of carrying that baggage, I now know, as I’ve worked through ridding myself of some of those bags, that I’m not the only one. I’ve learned some things as I’ve thrown away baggage, and I’d like to talk about some of that on this blog in an effort to help others.
As I share my experiences in the areas of relationship/marriage, parenting, health and body image, emotional intelligence, and spirituality, I hope my readers will also share not only their own struggles, but advice as well.
In full disclosure, I am a Christian. The foundation of my writings is God and Jesus Christ. However, I do believe that no matter your faith tradition, you can glean something from the writing here. I don’t say that to be arrogant at all. I just think that the wisdom imparted here through the women who read and comment can help others if we can all keep an open mind.
I’m excited to be back. I’ll post once weekly on Tuesdays. If I feel the urge to write a second post, I’ll do so. But for now, look for the first post this Tuesday.
In the meantime, click here to learn a little more about me. I look forward to getting to know more about you.
(If you like what you’ve read, please click here or enter your email address in the SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL box in the sidebar to receive my blog posts by email.)
When you think about the words that you’ve seen in some girls’ bathroom stalls, what do you normally think about? Words that typically come to my mind are vulgarity, nastiness, foolishness, offensive… lots of these types of adjectives come to mind. Of course, then there are all the phone numbers revealing personal data about people who had no intention of sharing that information.
Who would think that one could receive wisdom from a girls’ bathroom stall? And yet, that’s exactly what was found in a university restroom, in response to the disclosure of some tragic and terrible life experiences, written in a single stall.
That someone took the time out to thoughtfully respond is remarkable. Her words are inspiring – for anyone.
Take a look at the story, with an image of the actual note, here.
TED.com is a website that I became acquainted with through one of my teaching colleagues. According to the website:
“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.
You can find talks about various topics, from education to religion to technology to entertainment…Lots of very intriguing speakers, some who are well-known, such as Al Gore, to less well-known people, who, in their talks, inspire us, teach us, persuade us, fascinate us…
I came across a new TED talk today that I felt I had to share. This talk was given by Tony Porter at the first TEDWomen conference held just this past month. Mr. Porter is the co-founder of A Call to Men, a non-profit organization “committed to ending violence against women.” In his presentation, he discusses the “Man Box,” and how living in the “Man Box” causes men to live in bondage to what some men think being a man is all about. He discusses how much of living in the “Man Box” leads to violence against women. Nonetheless, he concludes his talk with a profound statement of liberation that we all, men and women, must hear.
Below is the video of “Tony Porter: A Call to Men.” Play it for every man you know. But as a woman, I feel it is also a call to me – to further understand these issues so that I can understand that there are other men who are trying to break free of the “Man Box.” I need to understand these issues so that when my husband explains the “Man Box” to our daughter, that I will be able to understand right along with her.
I am the wife of a man who has long broken out of the “Man Box.” Nonetheless, let us all seek to understand the men in our lives to support them breaking out of their own “Man Box.”
Poetry slammer Katie Makkai gives voice to how we – as parents, as teachers, as those concerned with the tender hearts of our young people – should respond to the insecurities our girls carry as a result of listening to and watching what the media deems to suggest what’s right for them. It is absolutely powerful.
I’m guilty. Yes, I have talked on my cell while driving. Yes, I thought I had it under control. And while I didn’t text while driving (now THAT one I don’t quite understand), I would, periodically, start a text at a stop light, stop when I began moving, and try to continue the text at the next stop light. Yes, that, in my mind, was okay to do.
So how often do we observe cell phone use while driving? In the Atlanta area, all the time. And although inherently I believed it was a dangerous practice, I sometimes felt I had to call my husband on my way home from work, or call a friend because the 35-40 minute commute was the most convenient time to have a conversation.
That was before I watched Oprah’s episode on what Oprah refers to as “America’s New Deadly Obsession,” cell phone use while driving, when it first aired a couple of weeks ago. As I listened to the stories about people losing their lives because someone, whether it was the person killed or someone in another vehicle, was using a cell phone while driving, I was convicted. And I thought to myself, “That could’ve been me. I could’ve caused an injury or death at any time.” So I acknowledge I’ve been fortunate. My angels have been looking out for me. But after that episode, I promised I would never use my cell phone for anything as I drive.
I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone. Beginning right now, I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by not texting or using my phone while I am driving. I will ask other drivers I know to do the same. I pledge to make a difference.
I know we are all busy. We try to cram as much into a day as possible, because there are ONLY 24 hours in a day. But seriously, is phone use while driving really worth the lives we put at risk when we engage in what Oprah calls “America’s New Deadly Obsession”? Is it worth your son or daughter losing their mother or father? Is it worth losing the loved ones who ride with you each day? Is it worth taking the life of someone’s daughter or son? Rhetorical. No need to answer.
Oh, by the way, check out this statistic: we are four times more likely to have an accident if driving and talk on our cell phones. That is the equivalent of a driving with a blood alcohol of .08, the limit at which one is charged a DUI. Even worse, we are eight times more likely to have an accident if we text while driving.
Unfortunately, not too long after the episode aired, it was reported that a 19-year old man sending a text slammed into a telephone pole here in Atlanta.
My parents had me when they were in their late 30s. As I grew older, I was always proud to talk about my parents’ age, because they aged so well. My mom always looked at least 10-15 years younger than she was, and she acted youthfully as well. She was so active, so vibrant – until she developed lung cancer in 2000 and passed away in 2006.
After my mom’s death, my father remained “youthful” (he also looked at least 10-15 years young than his age) and independent, in spite of him being diagnosed type-2 diabetic several years ago. He carried on well, keeping active, maintaining his friendships. Because my mother passed and my dad had no family in Milwaukee (where he lived for 60 years), I asked him to move in with my husband, daughter, and me last year. He has family down here in the Atlanta area (he is originally from the Macon, GA area), so I didn’t think it would be that major. But major it would be for him, so he decided to stay in Milwaukee. I explained to him that if he developed illness that required hospitalization or anything like that, there was nobody there to care for him, and it would be hard for me to travel to Milwaukee to take care of him. Nonetheless, my father said no to the idea, at least for the time being. I don’t blame him for his decision – 60 years is a long time to live somewhere, develop friendships, and then leave it to start over again in your early 80s. Talk about change!
With the exception of pains associated with getting older, my dad was generally healthy, at least we all thought, until August 8, 2008. It was on that afternoon, right before I was getting ready to go back to school and teach for the academic year, that I received a phone call from the hospital in Milwaukee. My dad had had a stroke that morning – a massive stroke – that caused whole left side weakness/paralysis. And it was that day that everything changed not just for him, but for us as well.
We moved my father to the Atlanta area at the end of September. He went into a “sub-acute rehabilitation facility” – code name for nursing home – to get “rehabilitated” at the beginning of October. The facility was supposed to get him strong enough where he could walk on a hemi-walker and function around our – and now his – home. Things took a turn, however, where his care began to decline and his condition began to deteriorate. My dad wasn’t himself anymore, not because of any depression or any cognitive failures (as the facility claimed). He wasn’t himself anymore because he was overmedicated.
I began to learn a lot about how our government and many nursing facilities do not care well for the elderly. My father experienced first-hand the lack of care common in nursing homes. I experienced the stress of not knowing what was really going on with him in the home. I discovered that Medicare benefits are limited, and if my dad needed further care beyond what Medicare pays for, he would have needed to qualify for Medicaid, which presents a whole set of more than just challenges and difficulties. To qualify for Medicaid he would have had to “spend down” the assets he has that can be liquidated before he could begin to get benefits, which means that essentially, he would have had to go broke, spending all of which he spent years working for, to get a measly benefit that guarantees him substandard care in a nursing home facility. What I’ve just described happens every day here in the great United States of America.
What I realize now is that I was completely unprepared for my father becoming ill to the point where he would need round the clock care. In fact, I would watch news reports of elder abuse in nursing homes, or reports of the difficulty of growing old, and not really see my father in that same position. Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I had always wanted to remember my dad as being the fun, independent person he always had been, and that desire to remember the good prevented me from seeing that anything could happen.
So if you have aging parents, please take steps to prepare for the possibility that your loved one could get ill, and you are responsible for caring for him or her. What are those steps? My husband, Manchild, discovered a wonderful blog, A Caregiver’s Journal, where Valerie posts about issues related to becoming a caregiver for a loved one. It’s a great blog, and Valerie provides so much great information about this so very important topic. She says, “One of the reasons I blog about caregiving is to encourage people to prepare in advance for their aging family members.”
I’d like to direct you to peruse the entire blog, but take a look especially at “Caregiving for Aging Parents Can Catch You Off Guard,” where Valerie gives us advice on how to prepare for this life changing event. It’s a great article, and provides a good place to start. Then go through the rest of the blog. Valerie talks about the issue from the perspective of one who is going through it. And she has taken the time (I don’t know how) to regularly share with her readers great tips and advice on how caregivers can provide care and take care of themselves as well. I’ve become an email subscriber so that I can get her posts as soon as they come out.
By the way, my father is doing much better because my husband, Manchild, is loving on my dad by staying at home with him during the day to rehabilitate my father to get him to a point where he can walk around the house and take care of himself (I realize this is not an option everyone can take). He said to me in December, “KWiz, let’s get him out of that facility. Let’s bring him home.” I am so grateful to him, and because of him so graciously and lovingly caring for my dad during the day (and during the night – it’s a 24-hour “job”), my father is no longer on the anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs the nursing home was giving him. He’s gained weight that he lost since he had the stroke. We’ve learned how to manage his diabetes where he’s down from taking four insulin shots to 1-2 shots. He’s actually down to taking only three prescription medications (not including his insulin) and vitamins. My dad has his good days as well as not so good. But overall, it’s worth having him at home. That’s my dad. He’s the only dad I will ever have.
Get ready, people! Take a look at The Caregiver’s Journal and get some tips on getting prepared to be a caregiver. Don’t get caught off guard!
As many of you know, I teach high school – grades 9 and 12.As they often share with me different aspects of their lives, I am increasingly flabbergasted at the amount of time children spend online.I am actually floored that their way of making friends and interacting with those friends is no longer face to face, but through mediums such as Facebook and MySpace.I am amazed that young people feel a sense of loss when they don’t have access to these sources of relationships.I’m looking back at those last three sentences as I describe how I feel about this online world in which our children engage – flabbergasted, floored, amazed…
(Actually, I shouldn’t be all that amazed.Email has become a vital method of communication in our offices and businesses as well as between our families and friends.)
Maybe I’m overreacting.After all, our daughter will be four years old this spring, and naturally she is increasingly interested in computers, particularly in viewing videos online (since her daddy and I spend a lot of time at the computer).I often think about how we’ll navigate that world with her as she begins elementary school in less than two years.
I was recently made aware of a PBS Frontline program that will air tonight entitled “Growing Up Online,” where “Frontline Investigates The Risks, Realities And Misconceptions Of Teen Life On The Internet.”And lest you think that the only concern is encountering sexual predators online, this program will also discuss “cyber-bullying” and achieving “instant ‘Internet fame’.”
Here are a few quotes from the program’s press release:
“Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as ‘Autumn Edows,’ an alternative goth artist and model who posted provocative photos of herself on the Web, and fast developed a cult following. ‘I just became this whole different person,’ Jessica tells FRONTLINE. ‘I didn’t feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous.’”
Through social networking sites, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids can share information about the best ways to commit suicide.”
John Halligan’s son was cyberbullied for months—first at school, then online—before he ultimately hanged himself just weeks into the start of eighth grade.”
Whether we’re parents, grandparents, teachers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, or mentors of young people, this should be of interest to all of us. What do you think? Are our children growing up too fast in this online world? What should be done about it? And do you plan to watch the program? (Note: the program will re-air several times and also appear online – according to pbs.org.)
We live in a fast-paced society. We want things quickly. We want them now. We want to arrive at our destinations quickly. We want to lose weight quickly. I personally want those 15 pounds off RIGHT NOW!
Change can’t happen soon enough. We want to be more loving – now! We want to be more compassionate – now! We want to be more patient – now!
And what happens when it doesn’t happen – now? We are unkind to ourselves. We beat ourselves up. We say to ourselves, “This is just the way that I am. I can’t change.” And so we give up. We don’t give ourselves the space to just be. To allow God to do His work in us.
I read a poem the other day while I was walking down a hallway filled with high school kids. And after I read it, I could only say, “Wow” (one student actually thought I was talking about him – I had to quickly clarify). I think it expresses this idea that we must be patient with ourselves as we go through processes of change.
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.