Saturday, August 14, 2010

Well I Guess I Can Do Without- TV

November 2009- My duplex roommate & I decided to drop our extended basic cable to save $30 a month. The cable guy came out to put a "restraint" or something on our line. Our bill changed, our programming didn't. Yay!

June 2010- Our duplex neighbors moved out. When they did, our cable finally transitioned to just basic. How sad! Whatever will we do without What Not To Wear, Real Housewives, Project Runway, Little People Big World, Dirty Jobs & Mythbusters? We managed & ended up watching a lot of regular network reruns of Friends & Law & Order spin-offs.

August 1, 2010- I moved into a house owned by a friend of mine & was warned, "We don't have cable." There is also a large desk in the living room (temporarily) blocking the TV.

Two weeks into August (today)- Perusing my blogs, I see an article about limiting children's TV time. And then I realized- I have spent the last two weeks without watching TV & I haven't missed it at all. Ok, I guess I haven't been completely without. I've watched two DVD's at other places & watched some episodes of Big Bang Theory my parents had DVRed.

Previously, I probably watched the most TV while eating meals since I frequently eat dinner alone. In the last few weeks, I've spent most of my dinners reading or catching up on email. Two dinners were spent on Youtube watching clips from Whose Line Is It Anyway. And instead of spending my evenings watching TV, I've been walking, visiting my grandparents & hanging out with friends downtown.

While I'm not going to say my life has been completely revolutionized skipping TV, it is nice not even having it as an option. No more internal complaining, "There's nothing on! Why can't the networks make any good shows anymore? It's nothing but commercials!" and still just sitting fuzzy-eyed in front of it. I'm responsible for my own entertainment & that's not a bad thing. The no-TV lifestyle definitely isn't for everyone, but right now for me, it's working out quite well.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Simple Things to Simplify- The Tongue

Of all bodily organs, the tongue can have the most devastating and long-lasting effects. I'm sure anyone can immediately call to memory a time when someone hurt them with words, but equally as quickly a time when they also hurt someone. During the last week or so, the effects of the tongue have been on my mind, then surprise, surprise I hear about it again this morning. A guy once wrote, "We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." (James 3:2)

Why should we be concerned? How people expresses themselves shows exactly what is going on inside them. Expressions are a reflection of a person's inner monologue. Even a well tuned filter can't catch everything that wants to come flying out, and with the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and every other sort of cyber-social communication, we are continually expressing what's going on inside us. As long as I can remember my filter has been terrible, but regardless, I definitely don't want to be known as a person who hurts others with words. However, tweaking just the words won't cut it since they are simply a reflection of what's going on inside. The inner monologue has to change first. (Maybe this wasn't a good subtopic for "Simple Things to Simplify," but whatever.)

When thinking of bad expressions, we have zingers, put-downs, unnecessary & unhelpful criticisms, tirades, "bless her heart" comments, and Freudian slips to name a few. However, other aspects of speech might not be so obvious. I've been thinking a lot about these lately & recognizing where my inner monologue needs to change.

Unfortunately, one of the fastest ways to connect with other people is to mutually complain about something or someone. Misery loves company? Not really. What kind of decent relationship is based on negativity? Complaining is rooted in the inner issues of discontentment, entitlement & the idea that a person or situation is not living up to some certain standard, usually an unexpressed & rather ambiguous one.

My attempted first step- Don't complain about anything I could have done something to fix. Don't disguise complaining as "just stating the facts."

"Sorry about the mess, no time to clean." "I didn't have time to make it nice." "Just trying a new recipe." "She's just that way, don't take it personally." I'm guessing you get the idea. Disclaimers can come from at least two roots:
  1. False Humility. By disclaiming a situation we are in control of that is actually perfectly fine, we intentionally invite responding comments of "Oh, it's absolutely lovely! Besides, you are quite talented, smart, beautiful, & you can make a perfect souffle!" False humility is a cross between a white lie and manipulation, neither of which are high quality attributes. My attempted first step- Just stop.
  2. Self-Consciousness. We recognize a situation we are in control of is not perfect and feel that if someone else notices this by themselves, we will be judged and it will be blatantly evident that we ourselves are likewise not perfect. Our instinct is to protect our pride and offer a disclaimer that brings public attention to the fact that yes, we do know something isn't perfect. AACK! It's just not perfect, OK?? Don't judge me! My attempted first step- Strive for excellence, but if something isn't perfect, let it go this once. It'll be ok. Do this again and again until the tunnel vision of perfectionism begins to crack & break away.
Are we pack rats of negative & insecure thoughts? Dump 'em. Free the space for happy thoughts & happy words.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Simple Things to Simplify- Clothing

I'd like to welcome my sister as my first guest blogger! She lives in Texas with her husband and their 10 month old daughter.

Modesty as Wardrobe Uncomplication- by Diana

I’m a modest person. From a young age, I’ve been told that modesty is important. It’s somewhat of an abstract concept as a child - the why’s of modesty are not quite clear, it’s more of being told the “right” way to dress and the “wrong” way to dress. As you get older, you’re told that guys are basically sex-crazed lunatics, and you’d better cover up to avoid being attacked. Or if you show a little too much (wherever that abstract line is), you are personally and solely responsible for the moral demise of some guy’s thought life.

So I dressed modestly as a safety measure, or I was guilted into it for fear of sending a wholesome young man into a downward spiral of lust and peril. And what were my guidelines of modest dress, you might ask. Well, you have to wear shorts that cover 100% of your butt, you shouldn’t wear skirts that provide a view if you open your legs a few inches, bikinis are questionable, you shouldn’t show too much cleavage, and pants with “Juicy” written on the butt are definitely out.

I’m feeling pretty good about myself. No one has confused me for a prostitute, and I’m definitely more modest than some people (when in doubt, always compare yourselves to others for self-validation).

But while those reasons for modesty are valid at a foundational level, I’ve come to see the value of staying covered for my own reasons. We’ve been fans of the Duggar family (17, 18, 19 ... Kids and Counting on TLC) for a few years and noticed their family dress code of coverage from knees to collarbones. I also recently read “A Return to Modesty” by Wendy Shalit, a young Jewish author comparing social mores and observations between her more liberal friends and Orthodox Jewish acquaintances. I’ve decided modesty is more than sexual restraint and following the rules, it’s wardrobe uncomplication.

Let’s think about tank tops and bra straps. I live in Texas, it’s very hot; I wear a lot of tank tops. But I find myself in a day-long battle with those straps that peek out under the shirt, even when a tank top has wide straps you think will cover. Just when I think I’ve adjusted and re-adjusted and tucked and pushed enough, those pesky bra straps come sliding out again. Is this a big deal? Maybe not. Do lots of other people have their bra straps hanging out? Yes. But I’ll remind you that a bra is still purchased in the underwear department and therefore does not need to be seen by the general population.

What if I gave up my perceived need for tank tops and simply wore shirts that covered my “unmentionables”? Uncomplication. I could go through the day with no concern whether the color of my bra would be revealed to everyone by two skinny straps sneaking down my shoulders.

Now let’s think about necklines. I have a baby, so there are little hands pulling at everything grabbable. Having a baby also means lots of bending over, these things are not good for most necklines. Even shirts I considered modest are now a liability as I’m bending and little hands are pulling down. On an episode of the Duggars, where there are record numbers of little hands, I noticed the Duggar girls have freedom. No worries of bending or being exposed by grabby babies. Uncomplication. When you wear shirts that you trust to keep you covered, you can go through your day without a quick hand to the neckline.

So how about low-rise jeans - and I’m not just talking about the ones you makes faces at where the zipper is only an inch long. It seems like anything lower than an old-school “mom jean” leaves you in a compromising position any time you want to take a seated position. You’re pulling down your shirt, pulling up your jeans, sitting five different ways to avoid announcing to the room that you’ve got your orange flowered panties on today. Wearing skirts (of an appropriate length) solves this problem.

If I chose clothes that eliminated adjusting, fidgeting, pulling up, yanking down and re-arranging, I could go through my normal day and focus on my day. Not on what was sliding or peeking where. Modesty as uncomplication benefits ME.

Other wardrobe uncomplications:

  • keep only items that fit
    • no question whether something will work or not, limits trying on time
    • no adjustments - belt, pins, etc
    • no stress - if I breathe too deeply my button may pop off
  • don’t buy strange items just because they’re really cheap on clearance
    • just taking up space in your closet, waiting for the “right time” to wear it (because you have convinced yourself there will be a right time)
    • for the price of several cheap novelty items, you could have gotten a solid basic piece which could be worn weekly
  • know your wardrobe
    • when you’re out shopping, you’ll know if you have items that will “go” with a new item
    • you’ll avoid accidentally purchasing something you already have - “oh wait, I forgot I already have two black t-shirts.”

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Simple Things to Simplify- Airport Security

I could spend several paragraphs whining about the annoyance that is airport security, but I'm sure you've experienced it so I won't waste time. Here are a few suggestions to simplify the process.

To simplify the emotions:
  • Give yourself plenty of time, even if you just hurry up & wait
  • Be positive
  • Be patient
  • Smile even if you don't feel like it
To simplify the process:

Tips on what to wear-
  • Pants that don't require a belt
  • Slip-on shoes
Tips to be speedy-
  • If in doubt about items & carry-on eligibility, check the TSA website while packing
  • Keep your boarding pass & ID handy
  • Get yourself ready before you get in line & while standing in line
  • For example, if you have a belt or pocket items, place them in your carry-on before you get in line
  • More examples: unlace shoes, put jackets in your carry-on, and remove large pieces of metal jewelry
  • Don't even try to get a beverage through. The TSA doesn't care about your hydration. (I carry an empty bottle & refill it once I'm through security. I care about hydration.)
Be prepared, don't be "that guy."