An Exercise in Humility

I had my very first free personal training session a couple mornings ago. I thought it would be a brief tour of the facility, introducing me to the pieces of equipment that would blast away my fatty problem areas and perhaps a little product plug for the latest protein powder and how delicious and not-chalky it tastes.

Not so. The trainer, surprisingly, put me to work right away. He had me lifting weights and doing these horrible things called, “burpees”. I had heard of them and how they worked miracles in their grueling and terrible fashion and now I was going to do them.

I did just fine for the first few minutes, but as he had me alternating between weights and burpees, things went downhill very quickly. My awkward flopping to the floor and scrambling to hurl my body back upwards was quite a sight. I evoked all the grace and majesty of a walrus hefting itself onto an ice floe.

The rest of my training session was a hearty cocktail of physical contortion, pain and just a skosh of humiliation sprinkled on top. To make matters worse, my nose was runny from allergies so even before I was red-faced and gasping for air, I was crusty and probably blowing snot-bubbles every time I exerted myself.

An inspiring Rocky training montage it was not – “Gonna Fly Now” would not be the soundtrack of my performance. All my lurching and heaving was more suited to the sputtering of a Whoopee Cushion.

But whatever, that’s ok.

I care enough about losing weight right now that it really doesn’t matter to me that when I run on the treadmill, I look like I’m running under water. I don’t focus on the fact that when I jog, small vermin could surf on the rocking and rolling waves of my tummy fat. I really, truly do not worry about how awful I look and smell when I’m working out because I have a goal I’m trying to reach.

I’m sure my trainer had a good laugh after our session. There are probably some great jokes they’re cracking around the water cooler about my stunning failure.

When you care enough about change, you don’t worry about how weird it looks and sounds, who’s watching and what they’re saying. When becoming a different person matters enough, you throw pride to the wayside.

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve looked like a weirdo in public. I’ve had plenty of people poke fun at my Christian beliefs and ridicule the way I live. But a few tasteless jokes and ignorant words are nothing compared to what some people suffer.

The world is never going to run out of hecklers and haters. There will always be someone eager to snuff out good and bring others down, but don’t let them steal your joy or your resolve. Good is worth fighting for, even suffering for. Never concern yourself with what people think when you’re on the right track.

The Sweatpants of Defeat

I recently wore sweatpants to a family birthday party. My brother just stood there in his black V-neck sweater, sleek tie and fashionably slim pants, looked at me disapprovingly and shook his well-groomed head. I asked him what the problem was and he told me, and I quote, “People that wear sweatpants in public have given up on life.”

I laughed in his face and told him that I wear sweats to the store, to friend’s houses and that if it was socially acceptable, I’d wear them to work. While he was still recoiling from that bit of news, I told him, “Shoot, most of the time, I don’t even do my hair – I just let it dry and hope for the best!”

(I must admit, that approach to curly hair is kind of a crap shoot. Sometimes it works out fine, other times I look like I’ve been chased through a very humid jungle.)

I think he was tempted to disown me right then and there because as he put it, no self-respecting person would present themselves to the world that way. Like our father, he sees it as an expression of unabashed laziness and a deplorable lack of class.

I’m sure many would agree with them. I know he’s got somewhat of a point, and I would agree that sometimes what we take for granted as a lowly sweat suit is really just people wearing the defeat they feel inside.

I love my sweatpants, though. My sweats love me and don’t give me any grief about gaining a few pounds. They give me room to breathe and space. They extend themselves for me.

My jeans, however, are not so forgiving. I feel like I owe my pants a deep apology for stretching them to their limits and embarrassing them in public with front pockets so puckered and stretched they look like mouths gaping in horror. They’re aghast. They’ve been abused, and now they’re screaming because they can’t take it anymore.

I am currently trying to get rid of those unwanted pounds because frankly, it’s cheaper to lose ten pounds than replace an entire wardrobe.

Other than that, I’m pretty comfortable with myself. Sure, I have a few hang-ups about my body, and I still think swimsuits are the devil. But I honestly don’t care what my appearance says to strangers as long as it doesn’t lead people to believe that I think I’m better than them.

I guess I should be offended that my brother implied that I looked like a bum, but I’m not. I know he still loves me, even if he thinks I’ve joined The People of Walmart.

While some are wearing their failure, the rest of us just don’t feel like putting on a show. We don’t feel any less fetching, and it’s not a cry for help. We’ve got all the love and attention we need.

I am ok with myself. I’ve got God on my side and supportive friends and family. I have a husband and kids that love me when I’m ugly and when I’m at my worst. In a lot of ways, they are like my favorite sweats. Just think: when you’re sick, when you get tired of sucking in your gut and you just don’t want to impress anyone anymore, you want sweats. Sweats, like great friends, allow you to let it all hang out. They keep you covered and hold you together when you’ve let yourself go. They stretch with you and don’t judge. Everyone wants friends as forgiving and comfortable as a pair of sweats. It’s the kind of friend I want to be.

So when I’m in my sweats, I’m not wearing defeat, I’m actually wearing a metaphor for the life I want to live: humble, tolerant and always ready to receive people just the way they are.

Take that, David! (Just kidding, I’m pretty sure he never reads my blog.)

Another One Slipped Through

I was at the grocery store the other day when I was surprised to be welcomed by a young man sitting by the door. He was a greeter for the store and was surprisingly young and attractive. He looked like he should have been working in a trendy shop at the mall instead of sitting in the corner of a grocery store surrounded by carts and holiday fliers.

But when he opened his mouth, it was clear that he was different. He talked to my son about his dragon toy and how much he liked the movie, “How to Train Your Dragon” and was clearly not just being kind to my young son. There was something less developed about him, less sophisticated than a man his age should have been.

Immediately I felt twinges of fear and sadness for him.

In a world that is always looking out for number one, people like this are often overlooked or ostracized.

Then I thought of how many kids I knew in my teen years that needed a buddy and some that desperately needed professional help. I thought of kids I spend time with every Sunday at church or have met at camps that are clearly struggling but don’t have the skills or support to deal with life and end up repelling the friends they need with their anger and brooding.

And now, I think of the Sandy Hook massacre. From Columbine to now, these tragedies have continued to crash upon us like a relentlessly whipping wave, each rushing wave pulling back only to gather more strength and more fury to sweep away more innocent lives.

Whatever you feel about gun control or mental illness, I think we can all agree that this world is hurting.

While I understand the need for creating laws and procedures to protect our citizens, no law no matter how complete or perfect will heal a hurting soul.

These horrific events should be a wakeup call to people everywhere, especially Christians. To not just surround and protect your own with love, but to be on the lookout for others that need help and encouragement.  As Christians, we must be a safety net for those teetering on the edge and the hand that swiftly grasps those about to fall into the cracks.

We need to tirelessly pursue others with the message of the love of Jesus and His saving grace. We must show that God desires wholeness – body, mind and soul.  And above all we must share our hope: we are not doomed to destruction and defeat because Jesus has conquered it all.

Let us be quick to respond to others with genuine friendship and pray for God to move our hearts with true compassion for those around us. Let our words be saturated in godly love and intention before it’s too late. Let’s not wait until the hurt is so deep that our words can’t be heard over wailing grief.

Awkward Family Photos

My brother got married a couple weekends ago.

I am truly happy for him, but I kind of have a love-hate relationship with weddings. Receptions are fun and it’s always a good day to celebrate love. But I am not a big fan of ceremonies, not just because I have a small boy sitting next to me that has absolutely no patience for anything that doesn’t include snacks or dinosaurs, but because sometimes I don’t either.

I’ve heard some uncomfortably intimate vows exchanged, seen unbearably long slideshows and heard some pretty painful renditions of classic love songs that were maimed beyond recognition. I know a lot of people that would call these awkward happenings “good TV” but I don’t enjoy watching people embarrass themselves.

Thankfully, for my brother and sister-in-law’s sakes, the wedding didn’t suffer any of these foul-ups.

All in all, it was a pretty smooth day, no overly complicated problems to solve, no bridezilla moments. The most awkward and difficult portion of the event (in my opinion) was trying to assemble our herd of Cubans for a family photo.

It’s incredible to me that a family that gets together every 6-8 weeks for birthdays never takes a moment to snap a few family photos. Yet at every wedding, we make it priority one to get every relative, significant other and pet into one happy portrait. It’s usually my grandma that seizes what she perceives to be an opportune moment and rounds up the family with an urgency that rivals any disaster preparedness drill. And there are enough of us that when we stampede towards the nearest exit for picture time, we basically clear a room and probably leave any remaining guests to wonder if there was a fire or other emergency that they should be filing out too.

With so many people to gather, it’s very difficult to get 100% turnout on the first try. Once we start lining up in photo-formation we quickly find that several people are missing. Then with the rest of the family still in their portrait-perfect rows, we usually send out a small search party with the aggravating task of dragging in the stragglers.

Call us hardcore, but we don’t accept many excuses for not showing up for family photo time. You were next in line at the buffet you say? Well, you’ll just have to line up again later. The baby needed to be nursed? Just bring him along still plugged in, no one will care, we’re all family. We’ll be sure to tag the blanket in the picture before we post it on Facebook.

It’s a real headache to get over forty people in one frame, all looking in the same direction, smiling with both eyes open in fewer than ten attempts. Then when you consider the pandemonium of howling back-arching babies, whiny kids and grouchy adults, it compounds the difficulty exponentially.

I honestly don’t remember if we ever got one successful family picture at this last wedding. It’s a hassle each time, but I’ll be really sad if it never happened.

Because even though I am complaining and irritated that my son is a sweaty mess from running laps around the reception hall like a sugar-crazed maniac and my hair and makeup have so deteriorated that I look like I was just discovered by a search and rescue squad after wandering a mountainside for a week – I still want to preserve the moment. I want to look back and see all the people I love in one happy picture.

There are some pretty obvious reasons for capturing moments either with pictures or little celebrations like counting your blessings or making the most of time together. But I would like to suggest another reason: to keep your heart tender, full of grace.

Think about how you feel towards your loved ones when you look through wedding albums and baby books or when you pour yourself into planning a special anniversary date or even how you feel when you tell the world on Facebook that your kid just got Student of the Month. You are proud. You see them in a more forgiving light and warm feelings that are often forgotten in the little annoyances of daily life are rekindled.

I actually hate to get my picture taken and sometimes it’s an inconvenience to stop and take pictures. But I never regret that minor interruption when I look through my albums full of friends, family and happy experiences. As I thumb through old photos, I never get tired of marveling at how blessed my life is.

When I am reminded of how truly precious the people in my life are it makes it easier and even a pleasure to respond with love and grace.

 

Angie Derrick 10/10/2012 ©

Should You Stay Or Should You Go?

My son had a little friend over the other day and during their long ambling conversation about dinosaurs, peanut butter and jelly and who’s-dad-is-stronger, their bathroom habits came up.

I was in another room when I heard Judah exclaim, “You mean, you can wipe yourself?!?”

My son was thoroughly impressed. In Judah’s eyes, this ability sets apart the men from the boys.

Honestly, it really doesn’t take much to amaze my kid – his favorite food is corndogs, so he’s not exactly qualified to deem anything noteworthy.

His taste might not be very discerning but he makes no apologies for being tacky. My son’s world is raw and unfiltered and he hides nothing. Every thought, feeling and impulse he has is on display.

And here is the shark “attack”. Pure poetry.

Me.… well not so much. For instance, not a ton of people know this, but I have a very goofy side. I like to send my sisters ludicrous messages and text pictures like bespectacled dinosaurs and shark attacks that I’ve made out of punctuation and symbols. I love being silly when its least expected.

I don’t always show that ridiculous side right away (or at all with some people) because my deadpan expression and my naturally intimidating eyebrows tend to confuse people if they don’t know me very well. They can’t tell if I’m kidding, mocking them or slightly unhinged.

This is the dinosaur I sent to my sister.

It’s important to know your audience and sometimes the group in question just won’t appreciate the sarcasm, i.e. my grandma and small children. I find no joy in leaving the people I love flummoxed and offended, so some things are better off left unsaid.

Then there are the things that go unsaid because you’re afraid. Will you be shunned, judged or will someone’s opinion of you be so altered that you can’t go back to the way things were?

With little kids there are few “no-go” zones. Right now, my son sees no problem with stripping down to his birthday suit in public during the summer if he’s too hot. He has no qualms about jogging to the bathroom and announcing, “I’ll be back in a minute, I have to poop!” as he huffs by. He doesn’t know that singing and dancing down the cereal aisle of Safeway is not a social norm.

But as we all know, things change dramatically as we get older. I have experienced and known others with plenty of “no-go” zones. Try to get to the bottom of an offense and instead of working it out, it’s glossed over and deliberately forgotten because it’s too uncomfortable to share those feelings. Ask about something difficult from the past and you get crossed arms and pursed lips. Attempt a deep conversation and you’re met with sarcasm and joking to deflect any emotions that creep in.

I’m not talking about rudely prying into peoples’ business, I’m talking about really understanding each other, what experiences have shaped us and knowing how to survive difficult seasons together.

When we mark those zones as impassable, I believe we are missing an opportunity to grow and experience lasting authentic relationships.

I think that’s why Jesus told us to come to him like a little child. He wants us to approach him without fear, with a sense of wonder and fully expecting to be adored. We are cheating ourselves of a full relationship with him otherwise.

What about regular people? Yes, people are flawed and won’t receive you with the same perfect love that Jesus does. We are unpredictable and hurt even the ones we love. While I would never advise a person to bare all their secrets to someone untrustworthy, it’s also important to remember that there is a certain amount of pain that goes with human relationships and if you’ve found people that love you enough to work through it, go there with them.

It’s not always easy to find friends that will go the distance with you. But you can get through a painful situation strengthened and secure when you decide that love and trust are the goals and Jesus is your guide and mediator.

Angie Derrick 9/27/2012 ©

Waiting: When Months Turn Into Years

Every morning that I drop my son off at preschool, I join a procession of moms politely jockeying to be first in line to the classroom. It’s subtle, but I think it’s pretty clear that we are all anxious to leave our tiresome offspring in the hands of other capable adults. Maybe I’m projecting, but I think if we weren’t so hung up on what others thought, you’d see a lot of moms skipping and doing cartwheels on the way back to their cars and then speeding off with Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” blaring and the windows down.  Off in the distance all you’d see is hair blowing wildly out the window like a flag declaring: Hallelujah, let freedom ring!

In this brood of mothers and children, there are a few put together mommies with their cute little hairdos, bright lipstick and shiny heels tapping along the walkway like a sprightly pony.

And then there are the rest of us.

Like a bunch of ashen zombies in yoga pants and fuzzy ponytails, we have tired and glassy eyes that tell of the unspoken horrors of trying to get out the door on time with small children.

I look at myself and other moms and I don’t recall as a kid thinking my mom looked this haggard. But I noticed recently in a professional family portrait, that maybe mom was a lot more frazzled than I remembered.

In this particular portrait, mom isn’t wearing any makeup and her hair is a bumpy mess of curls. But more obvious than the underdone appearance is mom’s bedraggled expression that read like a miserable groan: I have three kids.

I don’t have three, but even having just two children is stressful enough to have me looking like life grabbed me by the hair and jerked me around.

Kids are great and all but raising them is tough on the body and pummels the spirit.

I remember when my son was a baby, every so often I would have these internal panic attacks because it had been months since the last time I wrote, painted or played piano. I would freak out because I was desperately afraid that if I didn’t keep being creative, one day I wouldn’t be, even if I had the time.

I realize now that I wasn’t just anxious about losing my skills, I was afraid that I’d forget how to be “me” and become a faded and fragmented version of my old self.

Child-rearing isn’t the only occupation that can rough up one’s soul. There are many times in life that you might have to set aside normalcy and put off dreams in order to support others you love.

It’s been during these tough seasons that I have attempted to “have it all” and add and add until I felt “normal”. I Knew I couldn’t do everything one hundred percent, but I still wanted to give it a try. When that failed, then I’d opt for a more long-term strategy. Something more akin to what Oprah once said, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.”

Though this statement offers a positive perspective, it’s missing a source of hope. It’s based on human wisdom and plans. In Jesus I have real hope, and he cares about my soul, loves who I am, and even wants me to dream. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” That’s not just an optimistic mantra it’s a path to true happiness.

Right now raising my kids takes up more of my time than building my dreams. There is a lot of trading, settling, and going without and sometimes it’s gut-wrenching. God knows this and is prepared to take care of me when I’m tired and discouraged. I can look to scriptures like Isaiah 40:31 for encouragement, “But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

There are a lot of things that I have been waiting for and will likely keep waiting for a bit longer, like going back to school, writing fulltime and painting a few masterpieces.  Until those desires are fulfilled, I can depend on God to help me thrive during this waiting period and not merely survive.  No matter which approach I take, whether it’s achieving my goals by my own willpower or by God’s direction, it’s going to take time. So while I’m waiting anyway, I’m better off putting my trust in God.

Angie Derrick 9/24/2012 ©

 

 

What Do You Do When You’re Put On the Spot?

I was recently asked an interview question that was intended to test my prioritizing and organizing prowess, but when I first heard the question it felt needlessly random and diabolically complex. It was like: “You’ve got a pizza in the oven, a one-eyed bandit is at the door and three bears are on the roof. So which raccoon gets a cookie?”

Well, that’s not really what they asked, but for a second, it felt like it. I sort of froze for a moment. I’m sure I looked calm, but inside I was like, “Whaaa?!?”

I did manage to pull myself together pretty quickly and answered the question.

The questions in this interview were actually really good ones. And they didn’t ask odd questions just to watch me squirm, I just felt put on the spot.

It reminded me of how I’ve felt so many times when my faith is being tested. Someone asks me a difficult question about God, or I have to make a decision for my family where the outcome is uncertain, or maybe I just am not sure what my response to something should be because there isn’t a commandment or clear scripture to tell me what to do.

Faith has this now-or-never kind of feel. It’s like when you were a kid getting ready to jump on the merry-go-round at the park. You’re giddy and nervous hoping that you’ve timed the moment and the trajectory perfectly to hurl your body onto the whirling platform.

When you do, it’s exhilarating. I remember loving the feeling of spinning until the lines between nausea and delirious laughter were as blurry as my view.

But you have to stick the landing. Because if you don’t, then you are in for a collision that will most certainly result in an ungraceful splat.

In my experience, faith in God often feels the same way. You see what looks like a hurricane of questions, obstacles and emotions spinning before you. And even though your mind and body are telling you to wait for something safe, your heart is telling you to run towards it.

It’s that on-the-spot moment. Do you freeze or do you jump? Faith in God makes that leap trusting that in the middle of the chaos He has provided a place to land. It trusts that he has the right words, a good answer, and a perfect plan for you. Yes, it’s frightening. No, you don’t know how banged up your knees might get.

But in the end it’ll be worth it and you’ll be that friend on the twirling merry-go-round that is happily shouting, reaching out your hand for others to make the leap and join you.

Angie Derrick 9/21/12 ©

Confessions of a Party-Pooper: Why There Needs to Be More of Us

I am often amazed by people that can just walk up to a stranger, introduce themselves and start chatting away like long lost friends; the effortlessness in making friends, their winning smile and the ease with which they navigate spontaneous conversation.

I am terrible at this. To me, plucking an engaging conversation out of thin air is an elusive and exotic art, like sleight of hand or contortionism. As long as the new person I’m talking to is a “talker”, I’m ok. But as soon as the first wave of uncomfortable silence freezes the air, I’m ruined. I start asking too many questions (none of them interesting), and filling in the gaps with words I don’t mean like feigning enthusiasm for Pinterest when I really don’t care about the versatile and noteworthy qualities of a Mason jar.

This is why I love to write. I can think about what I’m going to say. I can edit, delete and rephrase as needed and proofread over and over.

When talking to people, I am not afforded these adjustments. As soon as words stumble out of my mouth, I can’t reclaim inane statements, can’t redeem awkward silence that snuffs out any potential sparks of conversation once it stifles the air.

Then there’s this: I’ve been told many times throughout my life that I’m intimidating. When I was a little kid, it was due to the angrily arched brows that streaked my face like furry black exclamation points.

Now that my eyebrows are under control, I’m pretty sure my “thinking face” and reserved body language are to blame. But my disapproving brows and pursed lips are not in fact saying, “You’re an idiot”, but rather “I don’t know what to say.”

I am not like the previously mentioned super humans that can forge a friendship within two minutes of being introduced. These social athletes are Olympic caliber, they are cool. They wear skinny jeans and bowties, they know all the latest hash tags and slang – they leave smiles and rainbows in their wake. I think in even the most glowing appraisals of my personality, the word “cool” is never used. But that’s okay with me, because honestly, I think there are more people like me than cool people.

I think so many of us want what the cool people have and try to be what is not naturally within us because we think it’s the only way to make friends, the only way to make a difference. It’s often true in the natural world – to catch fish you need something shiny. But some of us aren’t sparkly and our personalities don’t glitter like others do.

But just think about those moments when you found someone as awkward, unpolished and complicated as yourself. It was a delicious moment and you couldn’t believe that there were people that felt and acted like you. That kind of bond doesn’t come through acting, it comes by being true.

It took a long time for me to get this, but this is why I don’t need anyone to think I’m put together. I prefer persistent, unhindered, open honesty. About what we’re really like, what we’re really thinking and what’s really important to us.

Authenticity is so important. It’s more than just a corny afterschool special to “be true to yourself”. It is about believing God created you with specific traits and allowed certain experiences so that you can befriend and help someone else in a way that no one else can.

To try to emulate someone else is to reject what God created you to be and to dismiss your calling. You have been created specifically and intentionally. You were made with strengths that make you suited to a certain type of friend, spouse, job, ministry and influence.

I may never be a sought-after leader with people clamoring to be my friend, and people may never think I’m cool, but I don’t want anyone to ever doubt I’m real.

Angie D 6/11/12 ©

I Actually Miss Having Cable Sometimes

I’m not a tv watcher. Really, the only time I watch tv is with my husband because he likes to watch it and I like to be with him.

Now usually, it’s not such a big deal. No, I’m not a fan of reality shows about wild car chases, freak animal attacks, or Bear Grylls’ latest demonstrations of self-administered enemas on the high seas or gratuitous shots of partially-masticated giant beetles dangling from his mouth and the like.

But more than his taste in television, it’s the incessant channel flipping that I understand least. For some reason he thinks that avoiding commercials by hopping from one show to the next at 3 to 5-second intervals is preferable to just sitting through a few ads. Though he has never admitted it, I think he is secretly testing himself to see how good he is at returning to the original show on time after each commercial break. (I have not yet been able to prove this.)

While reality shows are not the genre of programming I would choose it typically hasn’t been an issue. But then again, we used to have regular cable and while careening through the fiber-optic highway to dodge commercials, we would usually see a few seconds of shows that appealed to me. Those split seconds were oases that dotted the vast desert of otherwise useless (to me) media.

Well, things are different now. Among the many things we have cut out of our budget to survive this ragged economy, Hi-def cable was the first to go. Being indifferent to television, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem.

It was just a couple of nights ago when I experienced a twinge of nostalgia thinking about the channels I once took for granted. Too tired to do anything, but alert enough to want some downtime after the kids were in bed, my husband and I watched tv.

It was abysmal.

We watched twelve holes of “disc golf” on our city channel, some kind of session on C-span starring a pursed-lipped sourpuss (I don’t think he did a very good job of hiding how much he hated everyone’s ideas), a barrage of real life unsolved murder shows and their dramatic primetime murder-mystery spawn, and one show that still baffles me. I really don’t know what I was watching. I think it was some kind of festival or ceremony of some kind on PBS.

On a single stage there was a dramatic reading, a band featuring several unfamiliar instruments among which the only ones I recognized were a harp and a type of fiddle, and a vocalist. A Powerpoint show played in the background, displaying pictures of what I guess were fjords, misty lagoons and other foreign landscapes. In the foreground of this kooky scene was a host of gray-haired, Bill Cosby-sweater clad seniors in the audience.

It was a really odd venue that seemed like they had a scheduling mishap. I don’t believe the performers were supposed to be on stage all at once – at least that’s what the lack of synchronization suggested. My theory is that the producers decided not to strain the attention-span of their television viewers or test the endurance of their geriatric live audience by dragging out the show one performer at a time.

Whatever the reason, the result was a bizarre presentation comprised of twinkling harp notes, gloomy pictures flashing behind the performers every few seconds, a booming and needlessly melancholy telling of a stinky bog and an arduous pilgrimage and the whine of a stringed instrument that made me think of what the wails of a mosquito might sound like slowed down and amplified. Not good.

You’re probably thinking, “Why didn’t you just turn it off?” or “Just go to bed.”

I think it was a couple of things that kept us watching (aside from being exhausted and brain-dead at that point). The first is the “train wreck” phenomena. We couldn’t believe how truly awful the shows were, especially the PBS monstrosity. The suspense (if you can call it that) lies in watching to see if things could get any worse. I think we’ve all done that.

Then there is denial. Did we really misunderstand just how monotonous regular programming is? Are we really missing out now that we don’t have all of our once-beloved cable channels?

Ultimately, the answer is “no”, we’re not truly missing anything. So what if I don’t have On Demand anymore, I was getting kind of tired of Jillian Michael’s workouts, anyway. No more TLC? No sweat. There is nothing that cable can add to my life that going without it can provide.

It’s just tv and if cutting cable helps us to stay afloat, then bring it on. If that is one of the small discomforts it takes to keep me at home with my kids, then I think that’s great!

P.S.

Next time, I’m going to spare myself the agony and just read a book.

Angie Derrick 6/22/10 ©

Recession Food For Thought

As a budget-conscious woman, articles with tips on saving money always spark my interest because I wonder if there’s something I’ve overlooked. It makes me laugh to read some of these articles because they tend to make frugality seem like a 12-step program or an “as seen on TV” miracle product. Here are some of my favorite taglines:

“Budget-friendly meals the whole family will love!” When I click on these articles, I half expect to see the portrait of a radiantly beaming woman with a prim up-do and holding an acid reflux-inducing meat pie. What I find are tips and recipes that seem to be seeking an audience with foodies that are trading in their upscale eats for generic goat cheese and boxed wine. Their suggestions typically amount to buying store brands and eating flank steak instead of filet mignon.

For many of us, generic brands fill our cupboards already and eating any kind of meat is a luxury. When your reality is rice and beans, eggs and cheese, milk and bread, even these scaled-down recipes sound extravagant.

Eat out less.” Tell that to the family that rarely ever eats out anyway and that isn’t chipping away at creature comforts to make ends meet, but at their daily needs.

Find great bargains at outlet stores!” Even if that trendy spring ensemble only costs $90, that’s still a lot of money if you don’t have a clothes budget.   

I’m not bitter, I’m just tired. These practical solutions are well and good, but it’s just getting old reading articles apparently intended for people only minimally affected by the current economy or entertaining romantic notions about living simply. I hope these habit changes are enough for most people to turn their financial situations around, but I think there are many families like mine that have been living modestly all along and need more than just a few tips.

Many of us are not merely paring down luxuries, we are reevaluating needs. I want to know how other penny pinching families are working wonders with their strained budget. I want to read about people that are learning to be happy and fulfilled with just what they need, not about how to sneak in as many indulgences as possible into a rigid monthly budget. I think a lot of people need a little inspiration from others that are truly content despite their financially broken circumstances, not more meal plans and shopping tips.

Angie 4/20/10 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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