Cancel Culture: How to build a Tranquil Spirit in a Chaotic world.

There are times we don’t make progress in our work because something in our personal lives is holding us back. We may not feel worthy of the dreams you have for yourself. Even if we realize that this is the starting point of many heroic stories you find it difficult to place yourself in those stories. So, this is something we must begin to gain control of in ourselves. Our own dignity is worth cultivating, and that must begin within each of us.

I believe that there is nothing that can happen to us in life that can keep us from “starting over.” I don’t mean physically. Aging and any physical damage to our bodies are obstacles to be overcome. What I am talking about are things that damage our psyche and our spirit.

Especially now, in the new “Cancel Culture,” where people are bullied out of their jobs and are often cut off from family and friends there is so much fear of being singled out for humiliation. Many of us, who are of the baby Boomer generation, feel fortunate that the worst antics of our youth reside in our friends’ memories and not on video online somewhere. Still, we are all vulnerable. Our words can be taken out of context. We could be caught on cell phone video at our worst. We are all worried about being judged in a bad light.

Life, even at its worse, goes on. Even at our lowest point, we must move and think and start again. It may a great effort, but it must be made every day.

We must have faith we can return to life, though it may be different than it was before. The human spirit can overcome terrible events. It’s important that we keep that thought close to us when anxiety threatens to overwhelm our minds.

If there is something that you have done that is wrong and continue to do, even if you were compelled to do it because of your circumstances, then you must struggle to change that part of your life. If you can find help then get it.

Sometimes, I believe we are so close to our pain that we cannot determine why we do things we do not want to do. It can take years to figure out exactly how much guilt belongs to us and how much falls to others. But, if you are engaged in behavior that is harmful to yourself or to others, it will become your fault if you do not make an effort to change that behavior.

There is an old word that one hardly hears anymore. The word is “chastity.” Most people only know that it means refraining from sex. It does, but it also has other meanings.

Definition of chastity

1: the quality or state of being chaste: such as

  • a: abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse
  • b: abstention from all sexual intercourse The priest took a vow of chastity.
  • c: purity in conduct and intention… sought to protect her threatened chastity
  • d: restraint and simplicity in design or expression… describes the familiar campaigns with an admirable  chastity of diction.— Richard Brookhiser

2: personal integrity

In Western culture, the Christian Church centered much of its discipline around discipline in matters of sex, so that many of our words involving restraint and prudence in our daily affairs have a sexual connotation associated with them. But, discipline in our sexual lives is only a starting point in building up personal integrity. The liberating truth undergirding the discipline of chastity is that you are a human being worthy of respect and that other humans are also worthy of that same respect.

But, perhaps your problem is not something you feel you can control. If you are depressed, under personal attack or experiencing grief, even simple pleasures are difficult to enjoy. Suffering is not only mental, but can be physical. You should seek help if you find yourself in this state.

If events are not your fault you cannot always shake the feeling that you carry some guilt. Being a victim of another’s malice still makes you feel as if you caused it to happen. The younger you are when are when something harmful has happened to you, the harder it is to overcome the trauma. Shame, even if irrational, can make you believe that you are unworthy of love. That belief is something that you must fight every day. Remember, if you love, then you are worthy of love in return.

I do know, from my own experience, it’s hard to think straight when your whole being is in great pain. If you are a reader, it can be helpful to learn how other people who were completely crushed in spirit found a way out of that very dark place.

In my own searching for guidance, I found this book helpful: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

(Please note that I get a commission if you click on this link)

Amazon Book Description:

Internationally renowned psychiatrist, Viktor E. Frankl, endured years of unspeakable horror in Nazi death camps. During, and partly because of, his suffering, Dr. Frankl developed a revolutionary approach to psychotherapy known as logotherapy. At the core of his theory is the belief that man’s primary motivational force is his search for meaning.

Man’s Search for Meaning is more than a story of Viktor E. Frankl’s triumph: it is a remarkable blend of science and humanism and an introduction to the most significant psychological movement of our day.

Dr. Frankl survived the Nazi death camps. Anyone who has experienced deep trauma will undoubtedly see themselves in his experience. He doesn’t hold back in describing the horror of what he experienced there and his own response to it. He also offers concrete advice on how to pull yourself out of severe depression about your own situation.

Whatever is keeping you down and interfering with your life, whatever is causing you pain, cannot control you forever. You must work to see the dignity in yourself and work to protect it as best you can. It is never too late to restore dignity to your life.  

And you can start now. And if you fail, being again tomorrow. Discipline and self worth – your personal conduct and your own view of yourself – is something you can learn to control. No one can take it from you.

It’s your life, it’s your decision. Don’t let Cancel Culture get you down.

Until next time. 🙂

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins

Here’s a fun and healthy treat to bring a little fall cheer to your table. These muffins are hearty and tasty. Add chocolate morsels or dried fruit and nuts into the mix, or just serve them plain. I also love to spread fruit jam onto them after they are baked.

undefined

I used steel cut oatmeal for my daughter, whose diet is Gluten Free for health reasons. This makes the consistency similar to corn muffins (which I love). For those not concerned with gluten you can use rolled oats instead.

The pretty silicone baking cups are reusable. I bought them Amazon and the link is below. (Please note that I get a commission on this link if you click on it) AmazonBasics Reusable Silicone Baking Cups, Muffin and Cupcake, Pack of 12

You can use the drop down menu at the top of the page or find the recipe here: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins.

Until next time 🙂

Becoming a Writer: From elusive thought to the written page…

Why is it your best thinking is done in the shower or driving to work, but when you sit down to write your mind is strangely, stubbornly blank?

Where did those thoughts go? How do you get them back so that you can write them down?

Our brains are divided between two operating modes. We have two hemispheres in our brains. We, the general public, call them the right and left sides of the brain. In popular culture, our artistic half resides on the right side and the calculating, logical side resides in the left. This is not quite correct as neuroscientists have recently discovered. Though, it is true that one side of the brain tends to dominate certain activities and the other different activities that roughly correspond to a “creative” side and “deductive” side, the communication between both hemispheres of the brain is greater than what we used to think.

When you are doing those mundane, mostly automatic tasks such as taking a shower or driving a familiar route to work, your right side (where wordless, creative thought goes on) is free to wander around in your consciousness. Those wonderful, swirling thoughts begin to stray into your left side and take the form of pictures, ideas, and conversational forms. In effect, they surface from your unconscious to your conscious mind.  So, what happens when you sit down to write and those thoughts scatter? It’s because your critical, conscious mind takes over again. It says to your whole brain: “Here is a task that I must concentrate on” and banishes the arty, unconscious part of the brain to the recesses of your mind, effectively cutting you off from the unconscious mind where those thoughts originated. This response, from what I have read, is an evolutionary development that is a normal survival response. So, is there a way to coax those thoughts back from your unconscious to your conscious mind in such a way that they can be expressed concretely?

Turns out that you can….if you follow the instructions in the book, Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande.

[Please note that I get a commission if you use the Amazon link. There is also a free .pdf copy of it here: Becoming A Writer ]

AmazonBook Description: Becoming a Writer remains evergreen decades after it was first written. Brande believed passionately that although people have varying amounts of talent, anyone can write. She also insists that writing can be both taught and learned. This is Dorothea Brande’s legacy to all those who have ever wanted to express their ideas in written form. A sound, practical, inspirational and charming approach to writing, it fulfills on finding ‘the writer’s magic.’

 

I was surprised to see that even back then the understanding of the divided brain was not so much different than we understand it today. Truthfully, we still don’t know much about the brain and our ideas of the structure and biological processes change over time, but the basic idea that our brain attends to problems in a divided manner remains the same. Exactly how it works is something left to science. Why it works is best left to philosophy. Getting it to work? Fortunately, for us, exactly how the brain operates is not necessary to understand how to train it to help us get the creative side of the brain and the stubborn, skeptical part of our brain to communicate more effectively.  It simply takes a good teacher and the willingness to practice and modify the practice to fit your needs.

I’ve had this same problem for so many years, and the past year seemed to be the worst. I wouldn’t have believed there was a way to get at these thoughts. I almost gave up. But, in just the first week of practicing the lessons from this book, I wrote down a dream, a number of ideas for essays, descriptive writing – which has always been hard for me, and a piece of dialog that I thought I had lost forever.

Keep in mind that what this book promises is help in recalling your thoughts in a way that you can dump them onto the page. What comes next is the actual craft of writing. The ideas and words that come still need to be shaped into a finished form. But, if you are like me, the first block to writing will be overcome. It is a remarkable feeling of liberation.

The blog I found this book on is a writing blog called: Writing About Writing (And Occasionally Some Writing) And I am eternally grateful to the blog’s author, Chris Brecheen, for bringing it to my attention.

Until next time…😊

 

Do you experience guilt over housework? How not to lose your mind… Part 2

You’ve spent the whole day at work, or you’ve been home taking care of the kids, or you’ve managed to squeeze out some time for yourself after taking care of everyone else.  Now, exhausted, you sink into a chair after a good day’s work and look around.

This is Part 2 of a 4 part series.
Part 1 can be found here:

 

Tell the truth. How bad is it? Do you have piles of unfolded laundry flowing onto the floor? How’s the trash situation? Is every flat surface you have in your house fully covered? How long has it been since the dishes have been done? Let’s not even talk about the bathroom.

Don’t despair. First, it’s important to recognize that our culture gives us mixed signals about housework. On the one hand, we feel guilty about a dirty house while on the other, housework belongs to a category of work which is beneath us – unless we’re paid to do it. We have a distorted view of physical work in this country and I for one, am tired of being pushed around about it. I want some level of cleanliness in my home.

So, the second thing to do is to decide what level of cleanliness you can realistically do. You need to consider your work hours, your commitments to family and friends, your health, and your budget.   

If you are working full time or you have a chronic health condition, you might consider someone coming in once a week or longer to get to the things you cannot get to. If neither of these are possible because of your budget, you can still manage to keep some order by attending to a limited number of tasks each day.

And to help you get started, I highly recommend the following book:

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White

(Please note that I get a commission if you use that link)

I really liked this book because it was close to my own approach to housework: I hate everything about it, but I also like the results of a tidy home. Also, I learned something new that helped me with some tasks that I was still struggling with and how to fix what I was doing wrong.

Continue reading “Do you experience guilt over housework? How not to lose your mind… Part 2”

Sloppy Joes: An easy, fast, and frugal meal

Every week I am adding recipes that have worked well for my family. We never had a lot of leftovers and we needed to keep our food budget under control.

Putting these recipes up on this website will serve a number of purposes:

  • If your food tastes are close to mine, you might find some recipes you like. These are inexpensive meals with ingredients that are easily bought at your grocery store. There are notes for Gluten Free and Vegan diet restrictions, meal suggestions, and ways to stretch or store meals for different family sizes, including singles.
  • Even if your tastes or diet requirements are different, it’s an example of using a set of ingredients that one can almost always have on hand. (The secrets include: keep the meals simple, group them under type of protein, and use recipes where the ingredients are similar. In this way, you are almost always prepared to make something out of the things you have on hand.)
  • Being online, my kids can download the recipes for their own use. Having made changes here and there over the years, there are many recipes that no one but me can read. So it’s a legacy for them, too.

I’ve been making this recipe since I was a teenager and my family still loves it. It was one of only three meals I knew how to make. The other two were spaghetti and sauce from a jar and Pot pies from the freezer section of the grocery store.

This week I’ve added one of the simplest meals in my recipe booksUnti: Sloppy Joes.

You can find it under Recipes (and then under the sub-menu Hamburger Recipes) on the menu at the top of the page. Or you can go directly to it by clicking on the link below:

Sloppy Joes

Until next time 🙂

Life Hacks: Save your nails with this kitchen aid.

I keep the scrappers in a cup by my kitchen sink.

Here’s a quick, inexpensive hack. They’re called Pan Scrapers, but they work on all kinds of surfaces where any kind of goop has stuck. If you are ever tempted to use a fingernail to get under it to work it free, then this little tool is for you!

They are stronger than fingernails, which in my usual impatience I would use when other scrubbers would fail to get the gunk off my pans. By the time I finished the dishes or cleaned a wall or floor my fingernails would be torn. It’s not that I’ve ever paid attention to my nails, but I don’t like pain either. I would like to keep them intact. And for anyone who takes pride in their nails, this little product is worth it.

They are made of silicone and will get that cast iron pan completely scrapped clean in no time. I use them every time I do the dishes, keeping them in a cup on my windowsill for easy access.

I found them in my supermarket so look there for them or you can click on the picture link below Amazon. (Please note that I get a commission if you use that link)

Do you experience guilt over housework? We’re all there…Part 1

In the last century technology freed men and women from many time-consuming daily tasks. It was such a rapid, sweeping change that in the 60s people envisioned a time when all labor would be replaced by machines.[e.g. The Jetsons: The Complete First Season ]

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series
Part 2 is here:

I grew up in an era that proclaimed housekeeping a ball and chain holding women back from their true potential. It was a time when all the skills women had accumulated over millennia were belittled and considered worthless. It was a time where Home Economics classes were still taught in public schools (in the late 60s) and yet we were hearing through the culture that women should refuse to do these things in order to be free.

The women in my own family knew how to cook and clean, how to sew and knit, how to organize a dinner party and some of them actually had a college degree and went to work. They did it all. But, I did notice that they had very little time to devote to any creative activity of their own. They were still expected to keep an immaculate home and prepare homecooked meals every night.


By the time I went to college (late 70s), attitudes about women were changing for the better. I was in a Physics class (my major) with three or four other young women. We were holding our own and there was no talk of women not belonging in the sciences. We were going to make the same kinds of intellectual strides as the men.


However, by the ‘80s women were beginning to regret that they never learned domestic skills or, as in my case, failed to practice what they had been taught. They felt guilty that they were not able to do the things their mothers and grandmothers could do.

This anxiety was exemplified in the comedy called “For Richer, For Poorer” starring Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen where a well to do couple, whose marriage is on the rocks, ends up hiding from a crazed IRS agent in an Amish community.


Caroline (Kirstie Alley): Every day’s a reminder that I don’t know how to do anything.

Brad (Tim Allen): You’re feeling sorry for yourself.

Caroline: No, I’m not. These women know how to do everything. Hell, I can’t even cook or sew. [pause] I’m domestically challenged.

Brad: [laughs]

Caroline: I feel so useless here.

A link to the video at amazon is below. (Please note that I get a commission if you use that link):

Continue reading “Do you experience guilt over housework? We’re all there…Part 1”