Friday, August 4, 2017

Are y'all noticing what I'm noticing?

OK, I know I'm a bit of a greeting junkie... as in, I put a TON of emphasis on noticing when a person enters into a mix ("Hello, I'm so-and-so! What's your name? Here's what we were just talking about! Join in, so-in-so! Here's a chair for ya!") and when she exits it ("Oh, you've got to go? See ya soon, so-and-so. It's been a blast talking with you!"). I've done some inner investigation as to why it matters so much to me to recognize people's presence and I'm ashamed to say the reason is a teensy bit ego-centric in nature

I am the first born child in my nuclear family and the first born grandchild in a doting extended family. When I was growing up, everything I said and did involved attention from everyone around me. I was sorta the cat's meow. I'll be the first to admit... I may not have been spoiled with material belongings, but, DAMN, was I spoiled in an emotional sense.

As a result, I'm a bit of an attention whore.

At least I know it.

And so, to not be not be be "missed" altogether... this feels like such a tragedy to me.

I remember talking about this once with a fav-friend regarding her experience trying out churches. She was so OVER the loaves of bread and the raise-your-hand-if-this-is-your-first-time and the pew pads asking for her PHONE NUMBER and EMAIL ADDRESS. She said, "All I want to do is slip in and slip out, preferably the balcony where the fewest people notice me as possible."

This sounded like living hell to me.

So, I am fully aware that it's not everyone's bag to be named and claimed.

And yet...

Have we lost a little of the beauty and respect and personal of a formal introduction? Have we given up the familiar for an easy, bland anonymous?

Here's what I mean:

Our home has had some xfinity internet connection issues as of late. I've spoken to five customer service representatives in five separate conversations. Each time, the individual has in fact given their name, but has whizzed past it so fast that I NOT ONCE could catch it "Hello, thanks for calling Xfinity, the superior leader in cable, phone, and internet services. I'm [insert quick-paced, low volume i-want-to-get-past-this-part NAME of some kind]. Each time, my first words are, "Hello there. Tell me again what your name is?" Then, ON PURPOSE, I add the representative's name into to conversation any chance I get (Well, here's the thing, Elise. I'm just not sure I have the right wire, Elise. Elise, would you mind describing it to me again? Got it, Elise! Thanks, Elise!). I do this for two reasons: Because, a) as I mentioned, I believe it's important to recognize a person as a person and b) because you get freaking better service. When someone is treated like a person (instead of like an anonymous entity), she treats you back like a person (instead of like some distant person who's family and home and internet she could care less about.)

And don't even get me started about meeting technicians in my HOME. I've had two: STEVE and MICHAEL. Nice guys. They did a good job. Wanna hear my beef? They both walked in my space and led with, "You're having connection issues, huh? Show me your modem."


Nope. Nope. Nope.

I was forced, each time, to thrust my hand out and introduce myself. I think I even begged, when not offered a name, "And you are???"


The last two servers I've had at restaurants have completely left out introducing themselves (Cheesecake Factory and The Rio). And here's the thing... these are not backwards or awkward or bad-mood or bitter-at-life personality-types. These are average-friendly folks who have forgotten the art of  common courtesy and who have decided the time it takes for introductions isn't worth it and who are apparently resigned to be referred to as "Waitress!" "Dude!" "Ummmm, hey Xfinity guy in my house!"

That's all. That's my beef.

Are y'all noticing what I'm noticing?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

2017 Top Five Things I Learned the Hard Way This Summer

(For 2016's list, click here.)

Number Five

Floodgates are real.

I know this because we Arthur parents opened them. It was just a little crack at first. And now our home is fully flooded. By what? You might ask. I'll tell you: PETS.

It all started when my husband, in a VERY good mood at the time, spontaneously said "yes" when asked sorta-out-of-the-blue by our 4 yr old if we could have fish. Later, upon his wife's request for A GOOD REASON FOR THIS NONSENSE, Husband shared that it was a moment fueled by several previous days worth of "nos" and he wanted to be a Yes-Dad at least this once.

Well, shit.

Speaking of, WE HAVE LOTS OF IT IN OUR HOUSE NOW. Because fish turned into a birthday present hamster (Dumb... JUST DUMB... because GUESS WHAT? Every kid has a birthday. They don't GO AWAY once one kid has one. There's a next kid who has one. And a next after that...). And that birthday hamster has turned into the next kid's birthday bunny rabbit.

Just so much poop.

So, there you have it. Floodgates are real. So are Pandora's boxes. So are cans of worms. And they should ALL stay closed.

Number Four

There is nothing more irritating than the sound of a house fly. 

Last weekend, I put on my headphones and played classical music just so I wouldn't have to hear the gazillion little things buzzing around.
P.S. I am aware there is such a thing as a fly swatter and we have one somewhere...but I can always find the headphones faster than the swatter.
P.S.S. I know you're thinking their life span is so short and the problem should be short-lived, which would be the case if I didn't keep discovering littler ones... i'm pretty convinced those stinkers are having at-home births in MY HOUSE.
P.S.S.S. My kids never close the back door when they're in summer mode flittering around from the back yard to the house and back again, resulting in said scenario.
P.S.S.S.S. The next request for a birthday pet from children will result in harnessing a couple house flies and calling it good. Besides, flies have small poop, right?

Number Three

Ambitious daily checklists are for the birds. 

I was so proud of myself when I typed up what I thought to be THE PERFECT set of items to expect completed by each child each weekday of the summer. I talked it up! I toted the kids to Fed Ex and LAMINATED the list! I bought, tied a string to, and hung dry erase markers! This was gonna be GREAT!

It was not great. I think we got through...maybe... Day 4?

Here's the thing... the IDEA isn't bad... just that I got too ambitious with it. Ambitious and summer are words that do not belong in the same sentence (I'm aware that I just did it). At least not in this house.

They still use the list. And the dry erase markers. But we went to town, one-by-one crossing items off in permanent marker. All that's left is basically "get dressed" and "read." Do ya really need a list to keep record of THAT?

Number Two

Back to being ambitious... for two years running now I've had this notion that summer in its purest form is Andy-Griffith in nature... that kids ought to play with sticks and butterflies and baseballs from sunrise to sunset. It's why I don't sign them up for a bunch of activities. It's why, when they mutter, "I'm bored" I sing-song in return, "Bored is good! Bored is good!"

It's why I say in the beginning that the TV and screens are off-limits.

I went so far, last year, as to put a sheet over our family room television.

Of course, slowly, screens emerge more and more into their routines, in direct correlation - no doubt - with my resignation and laziness.

Let me paint a picture for you: Two weeks ago our internet connection became hit and miss until it pretty much gave out completely. Since apple tv (aka the internet) is the way we receive TV programming these days and since all other screens (computer, iPads) all run on the same juice, we were literally screen-free.

We nearly ripped each other's heads off.

So, Number Two is: Don't give up on screens completely. Unless you want to rip each other's heads off.

Number One

"Everybody: OUTSIDE" can never be overused.

Oh, how I love this phrase. It's a variation of "Everybody: Out of the kitchen." or "Everybody: Out of this room." But those two are more famously used in the winter months, because why - when they're wild and loud and playing catch with clementines and hockey-puck-ing remote controls with their barefeet - would you send them somewhere else still under your same roof unless you HAD to?

With all the summer lightness and warmthness, I basically send them outside ANYtime I'm annoyed. It doesn't even need to be the result of their behavior... I stubbed my toe? Everybody: OUTSIDE. I forgot to use up the ground beef that has gone bad in the fridge? Everybody: OUTSIDE. I got toothpaste on my shirt? Everybody: OUTSIDE.

Oh, and take the flies and all our new pet poop with ya.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Today's kid quote that made me laugh...

"Can I have the old-fashioned cold hot tea?"

We have a Brit in our house and his name is Anderson.

From the time he was teensy, he had a hunch that what Scott and I were cradling in those ceramic coffee mugs was liquid of the Gods. He toddled around begging and then begging some more, the little warm-bevvie FEEN (who could blame?). We couldn't give him COFFEE, what with all that fake, sugar-laced creamer. Oh, and the CAFFEINE.

So, when he raged on at the onset of every single coffee indulgence for us adults, we settled for a tea bribe. We would get mugs with the real-leaded stuff. He would get a mug of tea. Except I wasn't ABOUT to make tea every time, so I settled on the Costco-bought premade Oregon chai liquid tea. In goes the mix. In goes the milk. In it goes in the microwave. Whaalaa. Temper-tantrum free mornings.

At some point he decided he preferred it cold. Fine by me. One less step.

Hence the name, "Cold Hot Tea."

But every once in awhile, I make a terrible mistake of not estimating my milk supply right and we... God forbid... RUN OUT.

You can't feed a kid concentrated chai tea mix and have any feelings of worth about yourself.

And they'd smell you out if you tried to dilute with water.

The jerks.

P.S. Campbell's apart of the Cold Hot Tea tradition now, too. Have you heard her shriek?

Now, since I do sometimes like to mix up my caffeine I will occasionally have a cup of hot tea in the afternoons, and Anderson has caught on to those mysterious baggie thingies that ink like an octupus in a mug and seem to produce a warm beverage as well. He asked once and I said, "That's how you make tea 'the old fashioned way.'" And by "old fashioned" I meant that prior to dunking the store bought, factory-made tea bag in my mug, I warmed the clean, filtered tap water in a mug in a modern microwave, not boiling it over the stovetop or - say - an open fire, mind you.

But he associated old fashioned with needing-no-milk.

So today when we were in one of those no-milk situations and I said I couldn't make it... too bad, so sad... he protested, "Yeah but, can I have the old-fashioned cold hot tea?"

Sure kid. I'll steep a damn tea bag. Add honey. Then put the freakin mug in the fridge. Then serve the old fashioned cold hot tea to you... only to have you turn your nose at the more flavorful leafy REALness of it and say, "This doesn't taste like my REAL cold hot tea!"

I've created a (read: TWO) monster(s).

I'm about to get real which y'all

Tonight I meandered into my little arthuradventure world... I clicked on the account management page (only for me) to be let into a plethora of information I didn't know was recorded by good ole Blogger.

Did you know I can know how many page views this site gets... per day? per week? per year?

And which specific ones???

Mind. blown.

It was sorta cool at first. STATS! Fun STATS!

Most of the pageviews as of late had concentrated around recent posts. Which, again, seemed sorta cool. Relevancy! It indicates that folks might be reading posts IN REAL TIME as I write them because there's something... ANYTHING... relevant in them. Yay.


I found it curious that I had had a couple posts from 2007 and 2008 pop up on this week's page view list.



And then I filtered the pageview totals to list the blog posts that have accumulated the most page views... not in the past day or past week or past month... but "OF ALL TIME." Those same two oddball posts were listed at the top (from 2007 and 2008). The most popular one had been viewed 13,180 times. THIRTEEN THOUSAND times. This is TWELVE THOUSAND more times than the next most popular post.

Oh God... now I have to tell you why.

I'm queasy. And my mouth is dry.

It's because it had a picture, in his plastic outdoor pool, of my naked little toddler boy at age 1.

I like to find the light and happy in most of life's gook. But this is simply something to which I cannot bring even the remotest amount of levity.

The title of the post: "Naked Boy, Cowboy, and Cousin Boy"

I'm sick. And outraged. And mad at the world wide web. And mad at search engines that allow for pedophile phraseologies to be entered. And mad at myself...mad that, I've just remembered,  I was warned years ago by a commenter about that baby pic and that I dismissed it as paranoia. I'm mad that a person's sexual associations can be so F-ed up and distorted and upside down that my baby is a victim.

And I made him one.

Never again.

Please be careful about what you post. My take away. And I must say, I will pray harder tonight and in coming days for a restoration in the individuals who contributed to those 13,000 hits. And millions of others who are hiding (or not) a very, very dark part of their inner makeup.

I'm sad.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Top Five Things I AM ABOUT

Y'all know me.

This girl is reflective and just gots to reflect. I go in and out of these waves of reflection (your oughta see my hand-written journal), but for the last couple of years July 3rd has been a good enough time as any to document my reflection.

I'm 38 today.

Last year on July 3, I spent my quiet time deciding that I wanted not only to someday meet the female thought leaders of our time (Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton, etc) but also perhaps even TO BECOME one myself (move over Oprah!).

Aren't I adorable?

And ridiculous?

This year my reflection is far less ambitiously unrealistic. My simple aim is to jot down WHAT I AM ABOUT

Do you ever lose (or forget) what YOU ARE ABOUT?

I do.


I am about God.

This one popped up first in my mind and then instantly made me tear up. Why? I don't freakin know.  I cannot tell you if the intensity in my experience of spirituality is nurture, nature, or some combination of both. All I can tell you is that I have a hunger in my heart for that which is bigger than all of us. And it has and continues to be a foundational piece of who I am and what guides and orients me.

Sometimes, I'll be honest, I don't even know WHAT THAT MEANS. A foundational piece of who I am and what guides and orients me?

WHAT do I even mean by that?

Like I said, sometimes I don't even cerebrally know. Often my "relationship" with God is so dang mysterious and not-pin-down-able that I cannot even speak to my closest of friends or husband with any degree of clarity (NOTE: I use parentheses not to condescend the notion of my relationship with God, but to further convey that it is just as confusing to me as people who might roll their eyes at the phrase "relationship with God").

But, in thinking about this entry, I decided I can strain one thing from it. This, clearly, is just the thing Tricia Arthur strains from Tricia Arthur's personal faith. That's all I claim here.


Here I go welling up again. In the basement of this public library typing on a computer on my birthday quietly (it's a LIBRARY!!!) weeping like a baby.


It has made all the difference to me in my life. This notion that I might not be the only one in charge of me... of intentionally leaving room for the influence of God. It may possibly be the most difficult endeavor... the task of living this way. I suck at it over and over again. And yet when I am "in the flow" of successfully surrendering, I know I am the best me. When I remember to reach into the rich channels of God's wisdom as I'm making decisions or as I am fretting or as I am connecting with the world, I feel more peaceful than when I do not. And... hardest of all... when I suspend my stupid attempts at control and LEAVE ROOM, I know that God has the chance to work God's magic more fully.

All in all, I think my friend Surrender is about the most demanding of me and the most worthwhile. And, contrary to many folks' belief, in my opinion it is a determinant of the strength of a person, not her weakness.

Whoowee, now that we've gotten that big momma out of the way, I can stop making a scene at the library and move on to lighter ones. :)

I am about being curious.

Curious means lots of stuff to me, but mostly I think of it as an honest and pure desire to look under rocks. And when I say rocks, I mean as specific as individual people and as broad as conceptual issues of the human condition and as in-the-weeds as government policy making and as personal as my own inner life and its workings.

All of it.

But I suppose the reason "curious" ranks in the top 5 is that my curiosity, as I've observed it in these 38 years, has always toppled its less attractive step sister "judgmentalism" time and time again. For when I Observe The World, both the reaction to be curious and the temptation to be judgmental are real options... one is pure and without personal agenda. One is self-serving.

You wanna hear a stupid story?

I'll continue.

When I was in middle school I remember a rather uneventful trip to Walmart with my aunt. Uneventful, I say, except for a very small event that I so clearly remember altering the way I decided To Do Business with my thoughts and observations. After we checked out at Walmart, I slipped into the women's restroom as a woman was exiting. As soon as I passed her and entered into the empty room, a very thick wave of poo-poo smell powered through me. YUCK, I thought. That woman sure did drop some seriously smelly kids off at the pool, I thought. So, I did my simple little pee-pee and got the heck out of there. Except, when I was exiting the empty women's restroom, at about the same place in the hallway there came another woman innocently entering. It was a repeat of what I'd encountered only minutes before (bathroom still smelled rank, unsuspecting victim about to be hit with it)... except for I was on the flipside... I was likely to be quietly accused.

I told you it was a stupid story. I kid you not, however, when I say that I remember deciding that day that I would never, ever, assume I knew anything about anyone, least of all internally play the game "Clue" about who dropped a dump.

And that, along with a lot of other anecdotal life lessons through the years, is how "curious" has always trumped any other assumptional or accusational undertones to my observations of the world around me.

I am about gratefulness.

I am too lazy to look up the statistics, but once I read about a study involving college professors who required, as part of the grade of the course they were offering, their students to write daily in a gratefulness journal. The outcomes were noteworthy. The students, when at the beginning found it to be unnatural and forced, ended the course saying that they noticed an overall attitude and mood lift when they committed to the practice, one that made a difference in their happiness in general.

Gratefulness is a discipline for my mind. I find that when I make a point to notice and be thankful for the things that are unarguably GOOD and POSITIVE in my life, then I can more easily choose thankfulness during times when shittiness comes about. If I've really trained well, I can even choose gratefulness FOR the shit. Not just later when hindsight is more easily 20-20, but WHILE IN the shit.

I am about mindfulness.

If you've hung out with me in the past 5 years, you undoubtedly will have heard at one time or the other a variation of a soapbox speech about how much the practice of mindfulness has influenced my life. (NOTE: One of the books that first introduced mindfulness to me said to never talk about one's own mindfulness practice as that "evangelism" style of showmanship runs contrary to the very foundational pieces of the practice. But I'm me. And so I'll post it ON MY BLOG FOR ALL TO SEE!!! :)

Mindfulness practice (both formal meditations and the informal philosophy of Doing Life) has taught me how to exist BEHIND the chatter of my thoughts and the sensations of my feelings. It has reminded me to be present to the moments the unfolding of my days/years. It has required of me to more thoughtfully observe my reactions to circumstances. It has resulted in deeper self-knowledge. It has challenged me to downplay striving for "being." It calms and centers me. And it is an incredible supplement to my spirituality, since I've found mindfulness beautifully compliments my faith life.

And if NONE of the above paragraph makes sense... let me say that it has been the single most influential tool in my toolbox as I've gone through the various mental health dips along my journey.

That's the damn truth.

One last point on my mindfulness practice: I still suck at it. Which in and of itself is a such a non-mindfulness thing to say, because there's no such thing as "success" at mindfulness. At the root of it is the understanding that you're not trying to get anywhere. For the record, though, I am way a novice and just as often fall prey to the temptations of experiencing life in an unaware trance-like state as the next person. So don't go watching me. I will undoubtedly disappoint.

I am about fun.

You thought I was gonna leave you on a super-juicy, though-provoking note, didn't you? You were expecting to have the list topped off with a final clap of thunder... one that strikes your deepest chords inside...

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

I am about fun. I am so much about fun, that I have listed it as one of our family priorities, too.

I value work. I value getting shit done. But I sure as hell will not work to the exclusion of fun. I believe that everyone lives on a spectrum for how important playfulness is to their overall wellbeing... some folks can be very well without a whole lot of play in their days. I am on the HIGH END of playfulness-need.

I need to be silly. I need to joke with my kids and my husband. I like to be playful. I like to make fun of myself. I like to do stuff just for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Usually, if I'm weighted down by life... that's when my fun factor goes down. I have found a distinct correlations between pushing pause (even when it seems irresponsible and that I shouldn't) in order to rest in fun and my success at going at it (it being life) again with increased vigor.

I must not forget fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

So I've decided to print this reminder out of WHAT I AM ABOUT and read it most everyday. So I don't fall into the distracted state of amnesia that often becomes my baseline. I'm smart. I've learned a lot. I've grown a ton. Why not actually REMEMBER TO USE and BE GUIDED BY all that freakin self-knowledge?

Now... if I can only get my printer working and, once printed, remember where I put the copy... :)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How To Be Ugly-Averse, Not Conflict-Averse

NOTE: I got so stinkin tired of hisforwardslashher-ing that I switched them all over to "her."
Because I'm a girl, that's why.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I don't like alienating others. For a long time, back when I avoided alienating others in order to keep my first-born-pleasing-I-like-to-be-liked identity in tact, I believed it to be a flaw. I have always admired strength, and my unwillingness to upset others seemed quite puny and cop-out-y and, well, WEAK.

And back then it was.

But now that I am graduating out of my need to please...I am finding I still can't shake it. AH HA MOMENT IN MY THIRTIES: maybe the lengths that I go to not upset people are worthwhile lengths? Maybe this personality trait is rooted in my value of inclusivity...that there's more to gain from digging around to uncover what lies in common than sword-poking at differences. Maybe I refuse to be either offensive or defensive with regard to the world around me but rather understand-sive? And maybe, just maybe, it's not weak.

WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. I don't want you to confuse my consideration for others with indecision. Just because I am Switzerland-esque in my reservation to provoke a side doesn't mean I don't have serious convictions, or a side, in fact. This girl HAS her point of view. And she has no problem processing it out with anyone who asks. I am not described by friends as conflict-averse. Nor quiet. OBVIOUSLY! NOT! QUIET! I'll tell it to ya, oh yes, I will. In *charmingly* unsmooth and unpolished ways, I'll tell ya.

But - at least I hope - I'll do it in ways that make you least uncomfortable. You'll know that my intent is not to embarrass you. Or harass you. Or bury you. Or to "win." Or to make you shut up.

Even though I'm always right.


I just don't see what's to gain by adding an attacking edge to any discussion or action. I'd suggest there's a lot more to lose. As soon as the different-viewed individual gets to feeling that her views are becoming the object of judgement, you've LOST HER. There she goes, the very person you could learn the most from or teach the most to and ideally both. She will either fight (fangs out, anger escalating, Facebook comments irate, more in-your-face but internally farther and farther in her opposing-viewed-corner = losing her) or she will flight (silence, avoidance, finger-on-unfriend-button, not-gonna-talk-about-that-with-you-again = losing her). 


But what troubles me most is what happens next. Sure, you lost an opportunity. Or two. Or three. But if you lose ALL opportunities to engage in conversation with individuals who are in a different corner than you because you express your beliefs SO HARD and IN SUCH A WAY that it angers, offends, and/or insults the other....Whoooweee, people, that's dangerous as hell.

NOW... PLEASE DON'T BE MAD. Remember, I don't like alienating folks.

Well. You can be mad, just not mad enough to stop reading.

BECAUSE. I'm not asking for ANYone to believe her beliefs less hard. Or feel her convictions less convictedly (YUP, made that up). Or be more pliable and bendy and foldy to the very things she stands for or against. STAND ON, people! Stand on! Can we just do it WHILE being not-ugly, not-judgy, and not-insulty to those who aren't standing with us?

Last summer I came super close to F-ing up a friendship. I let something get in my head about what I thought was a character issue about this dear friend. And I let this thing fester awhile, meanwhile consequently being unintentionally weird around her, until she called me on it. And when I had to face myself and what I'd allowed myself to almost do (destroy a wonderful thing by letting my stupid self righteousness get in the way), I realized that the problem was all me. ALL me. I let my principles turn to pride. And THAT turned dark and ugly on my insides without me knowing it. And THAT twisted my thinking into something being her issue (when really there was nothing to begin with). Hey... there ain't nuttin wrong with principles alone... but watch out for that divisive, self-righteous pride when it comes provoking you. It has a way of sneakily hiding behind the honor and innocence of principles.

(Btw, I'm so in love with that phrase that I'm working out bumper stickers: "don't let your principles turn to pride" or "don't be pridefully principled" or "watch out for your P transforming to P"... wrinkles still being ironed out - stay tuned.)

(I'm kidding. I never make up one-liners and fantasize about them being famous bumper sticker sayings.)

(That was a lie. I do.)

BUT back to dangerous as hell. WHY? you might ask. Why is it dangerous to align your personal friends with your personal beliefs? I mean... That alone? Nothing. Really. As long as you have not alienated ALL your different-minded peripheral personal peeps ("p cubed"...not in bumper-sticker running). Not the ones who know where your hidden house key is or how many q-tips you use per week. But the ones in your outer circle who still are in-your-life-enough to care about how you are and MAY OR MAY NOT want to discuss your opposing views and ideals. The point isn't tearing off social etiquette bandaids at every single corner. It's that you are keeping those with whom you have owies (differences) near you. These aren't contagious diseases, folks... you aren't going to "catch" an opinion or a value. But what you might do, if you listen hard, is "catch" more about what they are about...whether you like it or not. And you might not.

But if you let every single one of your different-minded PPPs (or at worst push them to) leave your surroundings? You're in a vacuum. There's the Dangerous As Hell. It can be a super-lopside-y place inside a vacuum. I am annoyed every time I watch Campbell push around her little toy vacuum at all those small raging balls that go swirling and whirling behind that see-through plastic window... because of all their PURPLENESS... every last one of those damn balls is purple. All.the.same. In a vacuum.

In conclusion, here's a not-at-all-comprehensive (six, that's all you get), not-at-all-researched, not-even-at-all-tested-out list of:


1) Know your audience. Such a classic.

Do you know a person who can engage heatedly and respectfully in a debate about something near and dear to her heart and then switch over to what sort of weather to expect in the coming week without a blink of the eye? Like, as in, fully passionate and then fully ok with moving on. Not carrying emotional distress with her beyond the borders of that conversation... In fact, fully enjoying the process and moved positively by the opportunity to do a little mind-stretching work out? I do.

Do you know a person who finds herself caught in a tension-filled conversation and then makes three wrong turns going home and spirals away into a fitful sleep after downing a bottle of wine because that type of dialogueing just rips her insides to shreds? I do.

And shouldn't each be handled accordingly? Know how hard to push. Know whether the other person wants to "go there." Know her state of mind and whether she's got the mental space to commit to a forum on her convictions. Know - what you have to say and how you choose to say it - if/when it has the potential to move from an offering to a slam for that particular audience. Tact isn't spineless. Tact is tact.

2) Internet: This one is so clear-cut and definitive, it scares me: take your differences of opinion to a private forum. The alternative incites internet drama and leads to unnecessary digging-of-heals. I received a comment on a post not long ago that challenged the article I posted. A) I wasn't quite sure what this Facebook friend meant and b) I SO wanted to know where she was coming from. So, I found out. Privately. We had a delicious little slice of conversation (over instant message... a step up would have been a distraction-free phone call but, HEY, a girl's still gotta parent somewhat...) confirming the things we did agree upon. Even if we left that conversation with her still wrestling with the particulars of the article I had posted, something valuable happened. Much more than had I retorted publicly in the comments section for everyone to see.

Public social media commenting seems to me similar to what happens when you publicly call out a kid (student or your own). When I did this in teaching, they (since most of my student population weren't scared-into-compliance type of kiddos) would SHOW ME UP. "You gonna call me out like that? I refuse to be humiliated, so I'll over-act-out to compensate," says emotionally distressed kid. Heals.dug.further. Really, whether they want to or not. It's more Murphy's Law in play than their-real-thinking-selves. I'd 100%-of-the-time benefit better from a one-on-one with the kid that nobody else needed to know about. That's when you get real-thinking-self out of a kid. Or an adult. Or an otherwise potentially patronizing internet "friend."

3) Check yourself. And your own emotional state. Are you yourself in your right mind (read: blood not boiling, finger not getting pointy, pits not sweating [more than normal], butt not edging off seat)? Restraint will never be regretted. Do you need to give yourself a pass because you're just too damn emotional and impassioned to trust your words? To be sure they will be tethered at just the right length? That they won't spew out all lashy and angry and ugly and red-faced (try the exercise of actually visualizing letters of words red-faced... my favorite would be "P"). There's nothing wrong with putting yourself in opposing-view-conversation time-out. I put myself in bathroom time out on and off all day long. My kids just point now. Don't make your friends point to the time-out chair when you're too hot-headed to be able to put your own self there. Your ego will like it better if you know how to manage your own timeouts. (It doesn't go so well when I'm at 100 degrees in my emotional life - read: MAD - and my 4-yr-old silently points to the bathroom door)

4) I'm not suggesting being the subject of emotional abuse. You can do your best to engage in no-fight-picking types of conversations with your PPPs only to have them bating you into ugliness every chance they get. I never said all was fair in the game of respectful discourse. When it becomes too unfair, YOU be the one to disengage. BEFORE you get emotionally hooked. You can get good at knowing pretty definitively where the conversation ship is heading before it gets all the way to dock.

But here's the twist... KEEP THAT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE. I dare ya. You can set boundaries about what you won't conversate about without removing her from your life completely. That might leave you with only the weather and how the local sports teams are doing and what grade your kids are getting in science, but -HEY- she's a PPP. Remember, she has no idea how many q-tips you go through.

5) Watch out for bully bullying. I actually feel sorry for bullies sometimes. Not because I have a big enough heart to empathize with the reasons for them being bullies in the first place (although that's certainly a worthwhile pursuit)... but because as hurtful and misguided and cruel as their bully behaviors are, nobody deserves to be bullied. Bullied back. What's "standing up to" vs. bully-bullying, you ask? I think it has to do with the difference between "Your actions are hurtful and don't work with me/us. As a result, you will suffer consequences that match your actions" and "I'm going to Freakin. Take. You. Down." How is squashing a person a just consequence for their attempts to squash you/those you love? Standing up for yourself/those you love doesn't need to mean a long term personal vendetta. If you ask me, that's what gets us caught up again in the Murphy's Law canundrum where the bully is caught in a closed loop of defensive bully retaliation. This bodes not well for anybody.

6) Look closely at your insides and examine your intentions. If your insides say "fixed mindset" then you will have not a shot in hell in what I'm proposing (yes, I stole this verbage - the "fixed mindset" bit - from High Plains Elementary School's mindfulness curriculum, although I'd like to think good ole Mindfulness would want me to call it sharing). Because you won't be engaging. At best, you'll be co-existing and at worst you'll be clashing. Fixed belief systems and fixed mindsets mean different things to me. A belief system is the product of hard, hard, hard work chipping and polishing and chipping and polishing away at the Beautiful Sculpture that has come over time to be What You Believe. Although I argue that there's always room for an added detail or a removed rough edge, it's pretty OK with me when people decide their Beautiful Sculpture is finished. It's ok for belief systems to be fixed. In fact, in a lot of cases, it means folks have been through a bunch.of.crap and know themselves damn well as a result. Go, BEAUTIFUL SCULPTURE! Rock on! For me, and forgive if it feels that I'm mincing words, the fixed mindset differs from the fixed belief system in that, in a fixed mindset, the individual's Beautiful Sculpture won't play dress up. Refuses. Will have a playdate (or a playhate) with another Beautiful Sculpture and then, when the super hero capes and top hats and ballerina skirts and suspenders get busted out by the host friend, the fixed mindset Beautiful Sculpture won't put any of the get-up on. Not even for a second, even though trying on the foreign stuff won't alter her solidness one smidge. Her imagination is not working. Her contemplation machine is broken. Her empathy factory shut down. Open mindset doesn't mean you're exposing your Beautiful Sculpture to pick axes. It means you are willing to "try on" some ridiculous looking accessories (to you)... It means you are willing to gain more understanding as to why the other Beautiful Sculpture has added them to their permanent wardrobe.. And, then, it means you get to FREAKIN TAKE THEM BACK OFF again! No damage done...

But it's certainly not a cake walk. The much less complicated playdate/playhate involves not just refusing to play dress up, but lifting the sculpture off your stand and using it as a weapon. Principled pride. Gnashing metal. Cold hardness. Beautiful Sculptures showing their Ugly.

Play well with others, Beautiful Sculptures. Having an open mindset means you replace judgment with curiosity. And curiosity it better. And certainly NOT more weak.

P.S. I might suck at all six, but I suck the most at #1 and #3 and #6. Just today I saw an acquaintance wearing a T-shirt advertising the Creation Museum and immediately assumed I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about her. Now, after writing this entry, I'm gonna have to ask her for coffee instead (DAMN YOU BLOG!). Which do you suck the most at?

P.S.S. If you disagree, I welcome it! Just #2 me. (Seriously, would love a discourse privately!)

P.S.S.S. If you have a bumper-sticker-printing company, just let me know when you want me to make your rich.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


This time of year is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, the crispness, the pumpkins, the sweaters, the bonfires...

Besides that, it holds my wedding anniversary (which is not a coincidence, since I was bound and determined to have a Fall wedding). Twelve years, Scott Gibson Arthur. Tomorrow, on the 30th, we will have made it to A DOZEN (is the designated gift Eggs? Donuts?)!

And, starting nine years ago, it became a season of a different type of emotion. We celebrate the change of season, we celebrate our union as a couple, and...

We honor and remember our baby boy, Duncan, who passed away on October 26 2007.

We've done a variety of things over the years to make this day significant (this year, we spent it flying home from San Diego!!). But one thing I always do is reread the following entry from that time period. It's called "New Kind of Normal" and I still don't think there's any better description for what the weeks, months, and now years since Duncan's death have been like for me.

To read that entry, click