Neuroticism on Board

I sat at the kitchen table and listened to my mom, the same one who ripped at me since I was a child about my friends and my clothes, were they too big or should I by a size larger because I could shoot up a couple of inches in height this year.

There was a time she’d read the letters from my friend in Wyoming. Janie had moved at the beginning of 9th grade. Her parents divorced, and she’d decided to move north with her dad. Not quite a Twilight story since there were no vampires involved and Wyoming has skiing. Janie and I kept in touch throughout our high school years by writing letters every week. It was the thrill of my day when I’d go to the mailbox and run back with an envelope in my hand. My mom would ask, “Is that a letter from your friend Janie?”

Yep. And being the teenager that I was, I’d go into my room to read it away from prying eyes. Janie would tell me about her classes and friends, about her guys and her after school job. I never thought there was anything different about her. She was me but with different parents. Well, she was able to do things I couldn’t. School dances, dates, and she had a real job. I never thought about it until my mom said one strange comment. “Your friend Janie seems a little wild.”

What? Of course, I was surprised. I never talked about Janie or read the letters aloud. I realized what had happened, and I didn’t have a lot of options. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. She’d read my letters because I had left them out. And I didn’t understand the wild girl accusation. So, I dismissed it and hid them all away and anything else I didn’t want her to find.

The years passed, and many incidents like that one. I’ve put each aside. I didn’t give them a lot of weight other than thinking, Mom is strange, or where does she get these ideas? My mom believed particular women, like Kim with the red hair, were going to steal my husband. Then she felt my mother-in-law was actively plotting to take our money. The list goes on. It’s been a constant battle for me to shield myself from her jabs. They’ve felt like accusations. As if I couldn’t see the evil in others.

Here’s the truth: she stripped me of my self-confidence. I was always defending myself against the person who was supposed to nurture me.

I saw her last night when I was back at the kitchen table. I was doing some financial planning with her, my brother and dad. This time the neuroticism was not directed at me. I saw the blood red eyes of the monster. I saw my mom rip into my older brother, and it disgusted me. It was ugly, and I want nothing to do with it ever again. I’m not toying with it anymore.

No more putting it aside. I call it what it is. My mom is insecure. She is high in neuroticism. It’s a personality trait, yes. Even that can’t be excused, though. I’m glad I saw the monster.

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I have warm memories of my grandparents. They were an extension of the family I had close to me every day, and the promise of more. More love. More cookies. The extra part I didn’t know consciously extended into the linage and the hint of longevity. These people made it through hard times. Lined faces and crinkled smiles told their stories. Grandma’s mole was duplicated on my mom’s face just as I had inherited my dad’s small pinky toenail. So, I’ve wondered what other characteristics were passed on to me.

Below I have an article from The Girl God. We’ve forgotten much of our family ties but it’s never too late to remember.

“As you move through these changing times… be easy on yourself and be easy on one another. You are at the beginning of something new. You are learning a new way of being. You will find that you are working less in the yang modes that you are used to.

You will stop working so hard at getting from point A to point B the way you have in the past, but instead, will spend more time experiencing yourself in the whole, and your place in it.

Instead of traveling to a goal out there, you will voyage deeper into yourself. Your mother’s grandmother knew how to do this. Your ancestors from long ago knew how to do this. They knew the power of the feminine principle… and because you carry their DNA in your body, this wisdom and this way of being is within you.

Call on it. Call it up. Invite your ancestors in. As the yang based habits and the decaying institutions on our planet begin to crumble, look up. A breeze is stirring. Feel the sun on your wings.”

Message from the Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers

Photo by Joey Lawrence

Who Is Family

We once knew, but we’ve forgotten. Families lived in one household or at least in one village. Maybe it was because grandma couldn’t make it otherwise, or she was respected. For whichever reason, it kept more hands available when it was needed to help raise the children. It was easy to describe your family.

I’m currently redefining family. I may be doing this for the rest of my life. I have a reel to reel that plays in my head. It looks somewhat like a small village, maybe too communal to some. There are children playing in a courtyard. The housing is surrounding a grassy area, and the commons area is a safe place. Here children can grow up with many caretakers. Many parents can care for them. Yes, they know their mother and father, but if there is a stressor in their household such as a new baby, it’s easy for another family to take them into their home.

In my vision of society, life is built for the good of people, not commerce. People are why we are here. Does it matter if there is money if there are no people to spend it? Economics is the most worthless of studies if sociology fails. And look around us. Our sociology is failing. What do we need to fix it? We have made some steps towards repairing it. We’ve recognized alternative families. Do you think this is unrealistic? I don’t think I’m alone in my thinking.

Last week I read a book called, Brand Strategy 101: Your Logo Is Irrelevant – The 3-Step Process to Build a Kick-Ass Brand, by Roy H. Williams and Michael R. Drew. They wrote about a cycle of Me verse We. Can you guess when the cycle of We started? The early 2000’s. The game changed. The slogans changed. Society shifted. Did you feel it? The authors wrote another book about it that I haven’t read yet, but I will, Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future. I’m putting that on my reading list.

Debt

Greece. Puerto Rico. Student loans. Mortgages.

The forces of debt are reshaping the world, creating dislocations and crises on a regular basis. And yet, few of us really understand how debt works.

….

If a mortgage is overdue, is it better to kick people out of the house and watch the neighborhood descend into rubble?

If 10 million Americans are overwhelmed with student debt they can’t repay, what should we do then? – Seth Godin excerpt    ( Seth references Debt, by David Graeber)

For Sheila, My Cousin, My Friend

This post is a short glimpse into a friend’s life.  She was much than this. It’s my attempt to say goodbye to my friend who we lost this last week in a car accident. She will be greatly missed. — Janet

When you’re ten-years-old, life is simple. Everyone around you is an uncle, an aunt, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, or a cousin. Other than a family member, you are a stranger until you become a friend or a neighbor.

I grew up in a small town. And that small town raised me. Collinsville had only a population of 3,009 by the time that I was ten, by the time that Sheila and I decided to figure out if we were just friends or if we were family now. It was about bonding. It was about how we mattered to each other. And it was important. Who wants to be just a neighbor when they can be a friend? Or a cousin? Only friends and cousins can do sleep-overs or know secrets.

We were at Sheila’s house. We attended school together since forever but something was different. My brother was dating her cousin. I’m not certain of the relations, but at the time we were solemn about this. We had to be cousins, she had decided. We must be cousins. We discussed it around and around and looked at it from both sides of the family tree. Surely we were cousins if my brother married her cousin. It made perfect sense to our 10-year-old minds.

Hours went by and running out of time, we decided that maybe it didn’t matter. That just maybe we’re all cousins or sisters because God was our father. From then on we were friends and family. I remember several times afterward calling out to each other, “Hello cousin.”

Thank you, Sheila, for being my friend and for being a friend to so many. You gave so much love while you were with us. You were the expressed image of friendship and family. Open arms and a warm heart. You are missing from us today.

Living With Brothers

I never wished for sisters. It’s not something I really thought about. Maybe that’s how we all are. We only know what we know and don’t know anything else. I played with dolls. I wore dresses with ribbons and flowers. I was mostly a normal girl. The main difference that I noticed growing up with brothers was that there was no codling. Moms do that sort of thing, cushion you. Brothers don’t. Brothers roughhouse. They wrestle. We fed the animals. I tried to help them work on cars.

Resilience

My brothers taught me take up for myself. They taught me how to be an individual. I learned to change my bike tire and how to fix a flat. I learned from watching my oldest brother that manners were important, things like saying, thank you and please were expected. I learned from my middle brother that it’s okay sometimes to do things for yourself if you need to, because people won’t always do it the way you want, or won’t always listen to you. I learned to be who you are even in the face of resistance.

I did wish at times I could live closer to my cousins. I missed the times we all got together and played hide and seek in the trees in front of their house. Late at night, when the lightning bugs were out and the grownups drank their coffee, it all seemed magical. We played for hours. During the day we’d play basketball or go fishing in the pond. Here’s an excerpt from a book I’m reading.

Thinking we had to talk to connect, I asked her if she’d rather swim in a pool, a lake, or the ocean. Betsy sat up, dangled her feet off the dock, and said she’d rather swim in the ocean. She grew up going to Florida with her cousins and they’d spend the entire day playing in the waves, poking jellyfish with sticks and eating peanutbutter-and-jelly sandwiches with sand in them. She and her cousins would lie in bed at night and giggle because they could feel their bodies lifting and falling as though they were still in the waves. Those were some of the greatest days of her life. She asked whether I would rather swim in a pool, a lake, or the ocean. I said I’d rather swim in a lake. “Why?” she asked. I said in a lake you didn’t have to deal with the jellyfish and the seaweed and the sharks and whatever else. Betsy thought about that for a moment then reminded me that trying not to get stung by a jellyfish was part of the adventure. Betsy ran her fingers through my hair and kissed me on the forehead. I told her I’d put some jellyfish in the pond if she wanted me to. “It’s worth it to get stung by a jellyfish every once in a while,” Betsy said. “For the occasional sting, you get to go to sleep feeling the waves and you get to giggle with your cousins.” – Scary Close by Donald Miller

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy

I Love a Good Yarn – A Story That Is

He doesn’t exist. It’s a beautiful story of love and charity, but the evidence of his existence isn’t there. THERE’S NO LAND ON THE NORTH POLE! No houses, no elves, no reindeer, no toy shops, nothing but air and water in the form of ice exists on the north pole.

Magic

Saint Nicholas was real a person, but his story grew into the legend of Santa Claus then morphed into a fantasy.  It makes me wonder. Is this what happens to the others? As in legends of Robin Hood and Marco Polo? I grew up believing that Marco Polo was a living, breathing man, not just the threads of a story that had been told and retold until they came to be a full-blown legend. But that’s the magic of a story. And of how it can grow.

There is ancient belief that if you tell a belief well enough and say it often enough you can create a Tulpa out of your story, giving it life. It’s almost a truth isn’t it? Maybe not as in bringing a true Frosty the Snowman to life or bringing a Santa Claus to a land of toys, but we almost have created an industry ran from just that type of story telling.

My Dad’s Tale

I was at the folks back in January and they were telling about growing up. Dad was talking about his dad being afraid of taking a government loan to buy land when he could have owned his own property. And he told a story about a “Balking Horse.” His dad had just purchased two horses, Duke and Dan, with some money he’d borrowed, for pulling the wagon for gathering his corn. They were renting some property on Grand River along White Horn Cove in Wagoner County Oklahoma. Dan was the horse that would “balk” and wouldn’t move and dad’s dad would get so furious he’d almost kill it by beating him. They’d load the wagon with the corn, then start moving forward, then the horses would stop because Dan would refuse to move. Then all the corn would fall out and they’d have to reload it. It happened several times until finally I guess Grandpa gave up and they went to get another horse they had. I can almost feel the sweat and the heat. Those good ol’ days.

The Deep

A story tells so much. After listening to my dad, I realized he had some of the same frustrations that every generation has with their parents. Some he stated aloud, but some he didn’t. He never talks much about his childhood, but one thing has always stood out to me, he believes in this story – his dad should have bought some land. His dad should have borrowed the money, worked for something, gave something to his boys and somehow built something even if it meant being in debt to the government for a while. How do I know this? It’s not just this story, it’s his life also. My dad went into debt and built something, then was frustrated when his sons weren’t interested. Isn’t that how it always goes?

So what’s your story?

Seth’s Blog – Your story about money 

Women are alway fixing things

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Have you taken it to heart? I just read the story of Margaret Rudkin, the mother of Pepperidge Farms. It started with an allergy. Actually her son’s allergy to certain bread products. As most mothers do, she took the doctor’s advice initially and put him on a restricted diet of vegetables, fruits, and meats. Later she decided to experiment. She wasn’t a baker, a chef, or any type of fancy cook, just a mother who cared about her child. She was on a mission. She finally found a way to make breads that her son could tolerate. She went on to other items and decided to market her baked goods. It took time. Lots of it. Years. You can read her story here, Pepperidge Farm History

Have we forgotten about women? We’ve encouraged women to study math and science. We’ve encouraged them in sports. We’ve encouraged them in higher education. Are we training them to be only automatons? Did we forget to challenge them to take risks? Not according to Linda Rottenberg. She says we just haven’t talked about the things women have done. I believe we to keep encouraging.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t just for guys who wear hoodies and work in technology,” said Linda Rottenberg. Entrepreneurship is solving problems that can make significant change in people’s lives, then scaling the solution. She should know: She’s co-founder and CEO of Endeavor, the world’s leading supporter of fast-growing entrepreneurs. Rottenberg is also the author of recently published Crazy Is a Complement: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags.

In fact, by focusing on stories only about Marc Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, we may be discouraging many entrepreneurs who don’t fit their model rather than encouraging entrepreneurs. Let’s make sure to tell stories about all fast-growing entrepreneurs including those led by women. – Forbes Women Entrepreneurs

Here are some current female entrepreneurs who are listed in the article. I’ve snipped it a bit for space. You can click the link above to read the entire article.

  • Two women, Leila Velez and Zica Assis, raised in the slums of Brazil created a line of hair care products, Beleza Natural for Afro-Brazilian women so their hair would look beautiful. They employ 3,000 people and generate $100 million revenue.
  • Lateefa Alwaalan created Yatooq, which developed a coffee brewer that reduced the time it takes to make Arabic coffee by 75%. Yatooq also developed an Arabic coffee blend. Her company is projected to earn $8 million this year and $11 million next year.
  • Nada Debs has built a furniture and accessories design brand under her name. The products are  manufactured by a network of 150 artisans in Lebanon. She employs more than 40 people…Products can be purchased from New York to Dubai.
  • Bedriye Hülya, created B-fit, Turkey’s first national chain of women-only gyms…also enabled hundreds of women to own b-fit franchises and thus become entrepreneurs in their own right.

If you see a need for something different, fill it, make it, create it, design it. Sarah Blakely did. That’s why we now have Spanx. Whether you think they’re a good thing or a bad thing, every product you use, from a toothbrush to a can opener, someone had a need, then had the courage to do something about it. But before they had the courage, there was a mother or father, sister, brother or friend, who told them they were talented enough to do it. If you don’t feel ready to jump into the fray yourself, then lend a hand to someone else. Patronage is still alive today.

Saddles

Ever see a cowboy dragging a saddle behind him? It doesn’t matter how well constructed the saddle is or how long the cowboy has owned it. It could have been in the family for years. Maybe it was his grandfather’s, then his father’s, until finally it was given to him. A saddle is a proud thing to own. Well crafted, hand tooled. I have nothing against saddles, but…

There’s no horse. Faith is like dragging a saddle. Old habits die hard because they’re familiar. And familiar feels right. That first Sunday you don’t go to church feels empty. I felt like I’d missed a step in the stairs and I was going to fall headlong. If you’ve ever noticed, people who have strong beliefs are afraid to let go of them. It’s been in the family for years. Their grandfather was a preacher, their dad a pastor, and they’re a Sunday school teacher. To leave this legacy is like spitting in the face of your heritage. It’s also how you define who you are. Sometimes you feel you’re not special anymore. I know this because I left this heritage myself.

To say I lost my faith is somewhat of a misunderstanding. I walked away. I walked away because I was going through the motions, which I could still do if I wanted. I could walk into church and still teach. No one would know the difference, but it wouldn’t be true. The horse isn’t there and I’d just be dragging a saddle around behind me.

 

Is It Too Late to Play?

I just finished listening to a podcast with the guest speaker, Adele Diamond. She’s a neuroscientist and has studied child development and talked about a subject I struggle with, The Science of Attention. There’s a lot of talk in the last 20 plus years about revamping our school system. The problem is that we think we know what it should look like, but the ideal education image changes with every generation. For a time we looked to Korea as a guide. Then more of a free-for-all was ideal. Is it rote memorization or phonetic writing? With children it could look one way and be a great school for 20% of the kids, but not the remaining 80%. No child is like another. There are also those dear adaptable kids that flourish in many environments. This just screws up all the statistics.

So what makes a good education? Right now there’s a lot of talk about how we’ve removed all the fluff and it’s the fluff that is as needed as much as the rest. Music, noncompetitive play, art, philosophy and life skills. Good play which can be sports, music, and pretend increases children’s ability to pay attention. It cultivates executive decision making.

Is it too late to play?

Adele Diamond spoke of a normal thing called mirror writing. I remember my kids doing that when they were learning to write.

“And Elena Bodrova has a very simple way, and after an afternoon or an evening, the mirror writing is gone. What she says is, when you go home tonight, and you do your math homework, every time you’re supposed to write a 6, put down your pencil and pick up a red pencil. That’s all she says. That’s the whole instruction.”

Is it too late to play?

Is it possible to increase your adult organization skills by continuing to play? So let’s experiment with some of the things mentioned. This week when you’re defaulting into a bad habit, do it differently. Try standing on one foot. Or using  a red pencil. Take your laptop or tablet to write into the kitchen. Stand instead of sit. Eat your ice cream with a fork. Run without music and watching the mileage. And don’t forget to play, because I don’t think it’s too late.

Here are some educational links meant for teaching but go ahead and take a look:

 

Your Dad Said

Summer-Fun-3My family is traditional Midwest/Southern patriarchal. They believe women grow up and walk down the aisle to marriage. If you couldn’t find a suitable marriage partner, you got a job. Simple. My mom worked in the family business and kept the checkbook, but dad made the decisions. Recently my mom needed a new car, but it never occurred to her to ask for one, pick out one or even test drive one. She has her money, but she’s never controlled it. She’s a woman of her times and has no desire to control it. So anytime she and I have a conversation, I know that if I say something that isn’t parent approved, I’ll get a call later. Mom will always start by saying, “Your dad said,” as in, “Your dad said he’d pick you up,” or “Your dad said we could loan you the money,” or “Your dad said that Kansas City is too far for you to drive alone.”

I’m a girl.

It’s usually because I’m doing something that belongs in the male category like financing a house, buying a car, or even driving a long distance by myself. Even though I’ve proven time after time that I can cope as well as anyone, it doesn’t matter. As a child, the boys went off and hunted, with guns. I didn’t care about hunting or fishing so much, but I liked exploring. Yes, I realize I was younger. Yes, I realize I was a girl. These are obvious and reasonable concerns, but I know it wasn’t only these reasons, even though those are the reasons that were stated. Girls weren’t capable, even if they were capable.

I can do it.

The fact that I can take apart a dryer or washing machine, replace my faucets, re-tile my floors, and negotiate a loan never makes it past the first facade, I’m a girl. And girls weren’t capable. I’ve spent a lot of effort trying to show my mother my independence and abilities and until recently I hadn’t realized why. I’m a girl, and I am capable. And I’d like her to stop second guessing my decisions all of the time. I want the respect that the boys have. I want her to see me, not just see a girl. I realize it won’t happen, though. My mom is a girl and has no desire to be otherwise. She sees me as she sees herself.

I’m tired of trying to prove myself because it’s not about me.

She’ll just have to stay in her patriarchal world where boys will be boys and girls aren’t capable. Me? I abhor the caste systems, and I hate being boxed in. I didn’t grow up in a time when women were limited. Today we have the freedom to make choices and live our lives. And I will just continue and do my thing.