Day 2: Words
Ahh, the joys of studying. More specifically, the joys of ultra-politically-correct study guides. *gag*
This was linked recently on one of the blogs I follow, and I thought I would share it here. It’s written from the perspective of married women, however I think it has much wider application.
Something I’ve always found frustrating is the undercurrent of feminism that applies stereotypes and speaks ill of men. I hear so many women complaining that men don’t fight for them anymore and that they can’t depend on men, but then I wonder what person (male or female) would actually take heart to fight such low expectations? If people expect so little of you, it’s a bit disheartening to try and change their minds.
I’m a huge proponent of “speaking to the treasure” in people. In particular, I think the world could do with a little more of men and women speaking well of each other. Not for ulterior motives, but to value one another, and build each other up, instead of always complaining about how useless or complicated the opposite sex can be.
With that in mind, I love the ideas this woman puts forth. Let’s change the conversation and speak positively, and see how it changes the atmosphere. (original article can be found here)
I just had a thought. It’s a grand thought. But a doable one. When I began HWC in 2010, it was meant to be an antithesis for a world fascinated by divorce, one that seems to be okay with dysfunctional portraits of marriage being portrayed as the norm in nearly every form of media, and has made walking away from a lifetime commitment after just a few months acceptable.
It wasn’t the report by Pew Research or subsequent articles like this one in the Washington Post reminding us of the cost to society when marriages decline. My purpose was far more simplistic. It was the disgust I felt in the pit of my stomach every time I watched a television ad for Desperate Housewives or each time Bravo television rolled out another “Real Housewives” series which depicted the poorest of marriages as normal and turned wives into caricatures.
It came from a desire to know the marriage I’ve enjoyed all these years is not extinct. That it’s not an anomaly. I wanted to know I wasn’t the only one who didn’t feel like marriage was supposed to be difficult; a daily grind. I hoped there were other women who loved marriage as much as I did and adored their husbands as much as I still do.
But yesterday morning, on the first day of the new year, I had a thought. I shared it with Keith. What if, in every corner of the world, there were women like me? Women who were proud of their marriage and didn’t boast or brag about it to others but simply didn’t hide it. In conversations when other women were male bashing, rather than shrinking back and remaining silent, spoke up about the beauty of men and the blessings of our differences.
What if one million women, around the world, decided they were going to change the conversation within their inner circles? They wouldn’t disregard the challenges many of their girlfriends are having but would simply take the time to show the other side. The good stuff.
I believe in the power of words. I believe if you wake up in the morning and say you are going to have an extraordinary day, it happens. I believe when you not only set a goal but are determined to achieve it and will not allow your mind or words to say otherwise, you will succeed. I believe a man is exactly as he thinketh.
I’ve watched it happen right before my eyes. Girlfriends who have loathed their marriage and had nothing positive to say about their husbands, decide to do nothing different but focus on the good. When speaking to their girlfriends and family, they’d only share the good stuff. I bet you can guess what happened over time.
They began to experience more of the “good stuff” until that’s almost all there was remaining. Of course, they still have some ups and downs, but that is a natural part of life. Every aspect of life. But they’ve changed the most important relationship in the world, they’ve increased the bond with their partner for life, their husband.
Just one simple change: their mindset. And with one simple adjustment: their words. They’ve completely changed their marriage. Every bit of it. Can you imagine what would happen if our Club grew to 1,000,000 members who all changed the mindset of just one friend? Who through sharing their own experience in marriage, were able to convince one friend to focus on the good? To get them to do something I once heard said, “Write a list of ways that you have benefited from being married to your spouse. Then write a list of your spouses positive patterns and qualities. Keep adding to the lists and reread them frequently.”
In doing this, we will be changing the conversations of at least one million more women who will change the conversations of another million women and the conversations changed will be endless. And then the stats we’ve heard for the past 25 years, some of which are quoted below, can also change. Not just in the US, where these quotes originated, but around the globe:
- "The effects of the decline of marriage on society are striking. The failure of parents to marry and stay married leads to more crime, poverty, mental health problems, welfare dependency, failed schools, blighted neighborhoods, bloated prisons, and higher rates of single parenting and divorce in the next generation. Nearly every major social problem has deep roots in the failure of adults to form and sustain healthy marriages." -Bill Doherty, 2006
- "You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty - finish high school,
marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families
who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor.” -William Galston, White House Administration
- "The collapse of marriage is the principal cause of child poverty in the United States… Overall, some 80% of long-term child poverty in the United States is found among children from broken or never-formed families." -Robert Rector, 2003
- "The United States Administration for Children and Families (ACF) spends $46 billion per year operating 65 different social programs. If one goes down the list of these programs… the need for each is either created or exacerbated by the breakup of families and marriages.” -Wade Horn, 2004
As Diane Sollee, founder of Smart Marriages once said, “They say it takes a village to raise a child. That may be the case, but the truth is that it takes a lot of solid, stable marriages to create a village.”
Together, let’s change the conversation. I’m in! We may not get to 1,000,000 wives in 2012, but with the current ongoing trend of 150-300 new women joining this Club daily, we’ll get there. And with you continuing to spread the word, we’ll get there even faster.
So here’s my question for you: Are you in? Will you help us change the conversation about marriage around the world?
Until tomorrow, my friends…make it a great day!
This is something I do every year, just to remind me…
Events that changed my life:
1. Travelling through Europe for a week - 6 countries in 8 days!
2. Resigning the relative safety of my job at Pentravel, to finish my PGCE and become a teacher.
1. Climbing Lion’s Head
2. Sushi (this is an old one but worth mentioning again!)
3. Riding along in the support vehicle at a major cycling race
4. Doing the Fan Walk in Cape Town
5. Sewing my own clothing
6. Learning to paint pottery
7. Growing my own cherry tomatoes
Things and people which made me infinitely happy:
1. Coffee. No, I mean REAL coffee.
2. Reaching my lowest BMI since I was 9 years old 3. The scent of lavender (that I planted!) drifting in from my balcony 4. A New Year’s Eve sms that read “I hope 2012 gives back and doubles what 2011 took from you!” Best NYE wish ever.
5. Big Bang Theory
6. Firefly (yeah baby)
7. New friends: Angella, Bethany, Bex, Brenda, The Other Jen, Jo, Lauren, Sonja…beautiful, funny, awesome people whom I love to bits.
8. 7 Days photo project on Flickr
9. Seeing Coldplay LIVE at the Cape Town Stadium
10. Pancho’s and the best Mexican food in Cape Town
11. Gourmet milkshakes at Fire & Ice Cape Town
12. Staying overnight at the 5* Spier Hotel for free
13. Seeing a production of “Doctor Faustus” at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London
Stuff that sucked:
1. Rude clients
2. Kidney stones. So many kidney stones…
3. Big fat cockroaches in my personal space
4. People who inexplicably feel the need to corner you with their entire life story
5. People who berate you for not speaking their language, as if you lack national pride
1. Trials are a precious gift, if you can calm yourself long enough to draw the gold from them.
2. Your story is your greatest strength. Your experiences are designed to equip you, not break you.
3. God is the only One who is worth relying on 4. Everyone has issues, but you are only responsible for your own, and how you react to things around you.
5. Right actions beget right feelings, not the other way around.
Repeat-worthy things for 2012:
2. Dinner parties with lovely friends
3. Girls nights (I KNOW! Can you believe I just said that? See #1 on this list.)
4. Long walks in nature
5. Laughing until my sides hurt
Yesterday’s Reverb Broads prompt affords me the opportunity to write a slightly overdue catch-up post:
December 21, 2011
If you returned (or went, if you’ve never been) to college to study anything you want, what would you major in, and why?
If you’ve read any of the (very few) posts I’ve written over the past 6 months, you might have noticed my references to “life changes” and getting certain ducks in a row. It’s been a long process, but I’m finally able to post about what’s been going on behind the scenes…
I decided about 6 months ago that I wanted to leave my job. I love the company I work for. Despite little dramas that every corporation suffers, it’s a good company and I’ve always felt well looked after. Even though I work for a national conglomerate, the staff is like one big family. If you are struggling with something, the managers’ attitude is “how can we help you,” not “straighten up and fly right”. Though I’ve had dramas and irritations (as with any job), I’ve felt safe here. I majored in journalism and media studies, so I never expected this job as a travel agent to be a permanent move, but I must say I did expect to spend more time here than the nearly 2 years I’ve been employed by the company.
That being said, while I love the company I work for, I have struggled at times with working in a sales environment. I’m good at sales, I can read people and help them find the best product to suit their needs, and my large base of repeat clients is testimony to the fact that I must be doing something right. But I’ve found sales to be so draining. It means long hours, irregular income, and extremely high stress levels. I’ve found myself more on edge than I am comfortable with; working in this industry has, at times, brought out the grumpiest side of me…and I hate that. I’ve been too busy and exhausted to do the things I love, and I often feel frayed around the edges.
Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve felt a familiar dream tugging at my heart again: teaching. There is a one-year certificate that I can add on to the end of my existing post-grad degree, which will give me a full teaching degree and enable me to teach in several countries around the world. I first considered doing this when I finished my post-grad a few years ago, but it wasn’t the right time, as I had committed to moving to Scotland at the end of the year. I considered studying while in Scotland to obtain a student visa, but the education costs were too high. I nearly took up the course again 2 years ago, but I missed the application deadline, and then I got the job at the travel agency, and…you know how it goes.
But I’ve felt that familiar feeling stirring in my heart again over the past year, and while I was in Europe in June, I spent a lot of time thinking and praying about my options, and I made a decision: 2012 will be the year that I finally complete my teaching degree.
It’s been a long process of finding out all the information, weighing up study options, looking at finances, and – perhaps hardest of all – deciding what to do about employment while I study. My job is long hours and high stress, and I can barely find the energy to clean my home at the end of the day, let alone study. Over the past several months I have met with schools, chatted to teachers, and sent out my CV, but to no avail, so I’d nearly resigned myself (with much sadness) to another year of being a travel agent while trying to balance my studies.
Until last month, when a friend referred me to the primary school her son attends, where there was a position available for an aftercare teacher. I’m familiar with the school as I know several people who send their children there, and I applied there a few months ago but they didn’t have any openings at that time. Long story short, I had an interview and got the job…WOOP WOOP! I resigned my job last week, which has produced all kinds of drama and admin and other scary stuff.
This year will be a big leap of faith for me. Finances will be super-tight, but this is an amazing opportunity to work in a great school and gain practical experience. It’s also a foot in the door with two amazing schools, as I’ll be assisting with various things at another school that partners with the one where I’ll be working. It’s going to be a year of growth, stretching, and lots of new things. That’s super-scary, but also SUPER exciting.
Resigning my job has been very scary and stressful, and there’s been some animosity from people in the company who have misunderstood my motives, so I don’t think I’ve really had a chance to feel happy about everything yet because I’m still trying to wade through all the drama. But on Saturday, I had my moment. I went cherry picking with some friends at a farm in Ceres, and as we were standing in line to weigh our cherries, I found myself surrounded by children. Clearly, a visit to a cherry farm is a good way to entertain your kids when they’re on school holidays. I listened to the kids talk amongst themselves, all the funny things they said, and the way they smiled shyly at me when I helped one boy pick up cherries that he had dropped. It suddenly hit me: “these kids are the right age to be in my class next year. Whaaaaat? Whoa, wait a second. That means I get paid to hang out with these munchkins next year. In one month, I will be a teacher.”
Reality check. In a big way.
I won’t be a fully-fledged teacher next year, of course. I’m a glorified babysitter working at a school. But it’s a step in the right direction, towards a dream I’ve been carrying for several years. And that, I find, is pretty exciting.
Today’s Reverb Broads prompt: What are your biggest pet peeves?
Wow…a blog post where I’m given freedom to actually complain? How cathartic!
The word “y’all”. I know, I’m horrible and nasty and mean, but…this word drives me insane. There is a blog I follow where the writer uses this word in nearly every post, and every time I have to resist the urge to unsubscribe her feed. This word is only part of the vernacular in a small corner of the world; use proper English! (whew I feel better, thanks for the rant)
People you barely know who behave as though you’re old friends. Especially in a business environment; clients and reps who act overly-familiar with me creep me out.
FourSquare and “checked in at…” Tweets. I know you, I love you, but I don’t really care that you’ve stopped at WalMart or that you’re at the dentist. TMI, you know?
People who drive UNDER the speed limit. Whyyyyyy? Its just as dangerous as speeding. I’ll never forget; when I got my license and went on my dad’s car insurance, his insurance broker - a kind, fatherly old man - sat me down and asked me “what kind of people do you think statistically cause the most accidents?” I thought I was about to get a lecture about speeding, so I said “speeding teenagers”. He said “no. Its old people and nervous mothers who drive under the speed limit and disrupt the flow of traffic. Just remember to stick with the flow.”
People who say they want to be surprised by the sex of their baby. Ummm. Its still just as much of a surprise when you find out at the ultrasound, plus you get the added benefit of being able to buy appropriate toys/clothes. (It will come as no surprise that unisex is another pet peeve of mine. My little girl will wear pink and pretty, lacy things, thankyouverymuch.)
People who refer to me as an American. I’m not criticising Americans here, not at all; its just that even though I was born in the USA, I was raised in Africa for 3/4 of my life, and I consider myself South African. So I find it quite irritating when people refer to me as American, because I don’t identify myself with the USA.
When people who are multilingual insist on speaking a foreign language when there are people present who can’t understand them, instead of speaking the language that everyone can understand. So rude.
Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and other slapstick, crude comedians. No. Just…no.
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!
Erm. I’ve been very lazy! So I’m cheating to catch up, and answering several prompts in one go. Please forgive me! Enjoy:
December 1 - “If the you of today could go back in time and give advice to any of the previous yous, which age would you visit and what would you tell them?”
Dear 20-year Jenny:
Chill out. Life seems more hectic than you’d like it to be right now, and this season is difficult and painful. But it’s only that: a season. Many amazing, exciting things are coming your way. There will always be times of pain and difficulty, but eventually you’ll see that those are the times you grow the most. Pearls are borne in the midst of pressure, and that is true in life as well. The sooner you learn not to fear difficult seasons, the more growth you will be able to glean from them.
December 2 - “What is the stupidest thing you did this year? What about in your whole life? You can take stupid to mean: embarrassing, dangerous, funny, lame, whatever you consider “stupid.”
I’m certain I’ve done many, many, many stupid things in my lifetime. But I’m also pretty sure I’ve blocked most of them out. One does come to mind, though…
When I was in university, I went out on a date with a guy from my English Lit class. He was a bit…off. He went on and on about the genius of anime, and kept playing air guitar to Queen. Naturally, I did what any girl would do…I sent a text message to my best friend, saying “He’s playing air guitar to Queen. Get me out of here!”
You can see where this is going, can’t you? I didn’t send the text to my best friend. No no no. I sent it to the boy. Oh dear. DOH.
December 3 - How did you become more of a grown-up this year? Or did you pull a Peter Pan and stubbornly remain childlike?
I think 2011 was a year of facing difficult situations head-on. It was a year where I said “OK, this sucks, but it’s not going away, so I may as well do what I have to do and get on with it.” It was a year of becoming more pragmatic and less emotional in stressful situations, learning (really learning) where my Hope lies, and realising that there is so much treasure to be found in the midst of painful seasons.
So, I don’t know. That feels pretty grown-up.
I also handed in my very first letter of resignation. I’ve always left jobs because I was relocating or they were on a contract basis. But this year I made a decision to follow my heart, leave a job that was sucking me dry, and change careers from travel agent to teacher. That felt pretty grown-up, to take a leap of faith and leave something easy and secure in order to do what I know is best for myself in the long run.
December 4 - In the movie version of your life, which actor/actress would play you and the significant players in your life? What kind of movie is it (e.g., made-for-TV, action, emo/indie, etc.)? What would be the major plot points, and how will it end?
Oh goodness. What an awesome question, and yet I have no clue how to answer it! Who would play me? Probably Drew Barrymore or Katie Holmes; those are two actresses people most often tell me I look like. The movie would probably be like an episode of Ally McBeal – drama, dry wit, and musical numbers. Or so I would hope.
December 5 - What is the one thing you finally did this year that you always wanted or said you were going to do, but in your heart of hearts never thought you would actually do?
I’ve been thinking for years about finishing my teaching degree. But it was never the right time. First, I had to finish post-grad. Then I was moving to Scotland. Then I couldn’t study in Scotland because it was too expensive. Then I accepted a travel agent job and put off the studies for a year, which stretched into two years.
This year, I took the plunge. I handed in my resignation at the travel agency, accepted a job at a primary school, and I’ll be studying part-time next year to finish the final year of my degree. OH MY HAT.
December 6 - List 10 things you would never do. Yes! I mean, no, no, you would never.
1. Shave my head. (No. Just…no.)
2. Get a piercing anywhere other than my ears or navel.
3. Eat bugs, raw meat, or anything else they might try to feed me on Fear Factor or Survivor.
4. Bungee jump, sky dive, or other adrenaline sports which require heights.
5. Go shark cage diving
6. Voluntarily eat canned tuna. No. It makes me SO sick. Blech.
7. Go on an overnight hike or long camping trip. (Sorry, call me spoiled. I like being clean and I’m crazy about indoor plumbing.)
8. erm…that appears to be all I’ve got………..
December 7 - Who or what makes you laugh so hard that milk shoots out of your nose and why? Slapstick, dry witty comedy, your kids, Monty Python? We highly encourage stories, video, photos and other things that might endanger our computer screens with flying milk! Or really any beverage.
I love British humour. I don’t care much for slapstick, but I love dry wit, and the Brits have it in spades. I could sit and watch QI for hours.
Big Bang Theory is one of the few sitcoms that makes me laugh out loud on occasion.
And, I am only mildly ashamed to say, LolCats really do make me lol. Until I cry and, yes, spurt hot tea out of my nose onto my computer screen at work. Some favourites:
December 8 - Why blog? Why do you or why do you like to blog (recognizing that these are not always the same thing)?
I love blogs for so many reasons. I love “mommy blogs” because it’s interesting to hear about daily life as a mum, the ups and downs, the struggles that all mothers (apparently) know about but as I am not yet a mum, I am not yet privy to. I suppose I like it because it gives me an idea of what I have to look forward to one day. I love other blogs for the crafts, recipes, and other creative ideas the writers post about.
As for my blog? I wish I was a more dedicated blogger. I often have so many things that I want to blog about, but…never do. I’m hoping to change that in the new year, as I change jobs and have a bit more free time at my disposal. I am constantly at work on different projects – sewing, crafting, cooking – and as a travel agent I pick up plenty of crazy life stories along the way (I’m sure my new job as a teacher will be similar!), and I would love to have the discipline to actually post all those things and make my blog into something that people actually want to read. But…easier said than done. Fingers crossed for 2012.
December 9 - What was your favorite children’s book?
My absolute favourite children’s book is one that I only discovered when I was 22 and working as an au pair – The Gruffalo. Actually, all of the Gruffalo books. They are so sweet and the artwork is beautiful.
When I was a kid, my favourite books were The Boxcar Children. This series, set in the 1940-1950s, follows four orphaned siblings who, through a long series of events, end up creating a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest. They eventually move in with their grandfather, who moves the Boxcar to his garden to be used as a playhouse. The siblings have many adventures together, solve various mysteries, etc. I LOVED these books when I was a kid, and I wanted to run away and live in a boxcar, too!
BOKSBURG. Small conservative communities across South Africa are being torn apart as more and more young people reject tradition and convention by deciding not to get tattoos of Chinese and Celtic words down their arms and across their backs. “How are we supposed to know what our peers’ pre-digested cookie-cutter beliefs are if they’re not tattooed onto them?” said a worried twenty-something.
Social workers say they have noticed a marked increase in the number of young people opting not to cover themselves in randomly appropriated symbols from cultures they don’t understand, with some blaming a subculture of dangerous, independent thought.
Mrs Beige Vanilla, mother of 22-year-old Brad (his real name), says she and her husband blame themselves for Brad’s decision to leave his skin blank.
“As a parent you look forward to the day that your baby comes home with a small quasi-Asian pictogram on his ankle,” sobbed Beige. “When you finally know that he’s going to fit in and disappear comfortably into the herd.”
She said she wishes she had seen the early warning signs. “He was always careful not to go into the sun,” she recalled. “But we thought he was just keep it really pristine for a lovely Elvish quote from ‘The Lord of the Rings’.”
Gary Sheep, 23, from Port Elizabeth, says that he has lost his best friend to the sinister non-marking trend.
“Todd and I used to dream about the day we’d be old enough to go and get rad tats on our biceps, like in Gothic German lettering, saying something butch and vaguely fascist like ‘Wolf-pack’ or ‘Death’s Head’,” he recalls.
“And then one day Todd just turns to me and goes, ‘When you decorate yourself with randomly chosen fragments of a borrowed and over-used aesthetic, isn’t that like being one of those prats on Top Billing who don’t have any taste and hand over their house to interior decorators to fill with faux antique shit?’
“And I was like, Who is this anarchist?”
Todd’s girlfriend, Yolandi Bleek, said she had tried to solve the crisis by writing ‘Shanti’ in Sanskrit down his neck in koki while he slept, but admitted that she had economised on a non-permanent pen and that the lettering “went kak in the shower”.
Youth Pastor Barry Cellophane said the trend was a “slippery slope”.
“Really, what’s next? Are our young people going to stop wearing ‘Live Strong’ rubber bracelets? Or take off their Che Guevara t-shirts? Where does the madness end?”
He said that the decision not to turn one’s body into a scrapbook of faddish cultural logos was one that would end in “very scary things like free thought”.
“I urge all young people to get inked,” he said. “Even if you ask for ‘Dragonslayer’ in Chinese letters down your spine and you walk out with something that actually says ‘Acorn Happy Wank-Time Number 8′. It’s the conforming to an invented philosophy that’s important.”
Happy Monday! Hope you had a lovely weekend, wherever you are.
I certainly did. The Man kidnapped me on Saturday. He picked me up in the morning in one of the vintage Alfa Romeo convertibles he rebuilt with his dad, and we set off to explore the small towns further inland.
We spent most of the day in a small town called Greyton. They have a farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and we spent the morning wandering the stalls, sampling the yummy food and drinking hot coffee out of real coffee mugs. When we asked if we were allowed to walk around the market with the mugs, the lady replied “of course, I know you’ll bring it back!”
We sampled a little bit of everything…breakfast rolls with bacon and farm-fresh eggs, fresh crepe pancakes with cinnamon, phyllo wraps with spinach and feta, mini apple tarts, and the best fridge cheese cake I have ever had in my entire life. Marius said when he gets to heaven, he is going to nominate the cheesecake lady to do all the cooking because her food is divine. I relayed that message to her and it clearly made her whole day, because she promptly gave us another piece of cheesecake free of charge. I complimented her on all the beautiful antique silver serving platters she used to display her treats, and she gave me a running list of all the best antique shops to visit in the area.
When we first arrived at the market, Marius warned me “this is probably going to be very Afrikaans”. This is significant because I don’t speak a word of Afrikaans, other than “goodnight”, “dishcloth”, and “fuzzy slippers” (yes I’m serious). These small country towns tend to be populated with South Africans who speak only Afrikaans, so we expected Marius would have to do some translating for me. We were surprised, then, as we slowly started to realize that all the accents around us were English. Not South African English – United Kingdom English. I heard London, Manchester, and at least one Scotsman. It was the strangest thing; we felt like we’d stumbled into a wormhole and ended up in the Lake District. We were so amazed at how friendly people were; everyone seemed to know each other, and they spoke to us like we were part of the family, striking up casual conversations as if they’d known us for years.
After the Market, we wandered around the town for a while, stopping in at antique dealers and other little shops. We stumbled across a Dollhouse Collection at the Greyton Tourism Department, and it made me think of Brenda and her recent post about dollhouses. The detail was amazing, particularly the candy store. We enjoyed looking at the teeny tiny people playing violins, relaxing in the garden, baking bread in the kitchen…and then we noticed the man wearing a beret and painting a portrait of a nude model while another woman in black lace lounged on the bed nearby. Alllllllrighty then. Moving swiftly along…
We enjoyed a leisurely drive home, stopping along the way at a farm stall called Dassiesfontein. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but we found room after room of antiques and home-baked goods. In the evening, we enjoyed dinner at The Sidewalk Cafe…butternut ravioli, rib-eye steak, and chocolate yummies for dessert.
So? Who’s coming to visit Cape Town?
More photos can be found in my Flickr set, A day in the Alfa…