Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

Welcome to any folks that may be dropping by for the online book club today.  For anyone else that might have stumbled on here for another reason, I am writing a guest post as part of a discussion of Jen Hatmaker's 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  You can read more about my take of this particular book here

This week one of the chapters is simply entitled Waste.  I volunteered for this chapter because I thought it would be the one that I had most experience with and the most material to contribute to a meaningful discussion.  I thought about it quite a lot, and found that I needed much more room than a single post to talk about my experiences with gardening, and recycling, and energy conservation, among other things.

The bottom line?  It seems like I talk a good game, but that I only do significant waste reduction things if it is easy or convenient for me.

Ouch.  That sure isn't what I was going for when I volunteered for this chapter.

When it became obvious that I had only platitudes to offer the discussion, I did what any good reviewer/researcher would do-- I threw it out for debate with my Facebook friends.  This one drew much less discussion that whether or not people think I am an introvert or an extrovert.  I think that is because this is an issue that people are really either into, or they really aren't.  These were the most of the comments I received:

We haven't really gone that green--but I do have to time my teenagers showers now! That does conserve water. I think it's important----but I guess I really don't do a lot!! I'll put a bottle in a recycle bin if its there--but throw it out if its not! 

I attempt to be as responsible as is practical for our community. Living in a rural locale, there are no recycling routes, though I use the recycling bins at work for trash generated there. I believe that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of that which God has granted us. I don't believe that man has the power to save or destroy God's creation, but I do believe we should care for it as was commanded.

My list is recycle the plastic bags at the grocery store, although I'm trying to get better about taking my own, we recycle metal waste from our construction company as well--I do usually use aluminum h20 bottles but still have plastic, too.

Living overseas has definitely helped me be more aware. The things I'm about to list are things EVERYONE does here. It's made very easy for us and is also expected. The paper is picked up every other week. The refuse is picked up every other week. This is done locally. We separate aluminum, plastic, paper, glass, and refuse. There are bins on base for all of that and another area for clothes, batteries, electronics, etc. I take my green bags to the commissary and my little German basket with me to the German grocery. I carry my own water bottle because there are fountains everywhere. It's a lifestyle in Europe. I know if I were in the states I wouldn't be doing it because they make it so inconvenient to do.

And that is it.  I actually have more than 4 friends, but these were the ones that actually had some thoughts about the whole waste issue.  However, I think it is very telling.  People seem to do what is convenient or expected.  But I think this is just why Jen Hatmaker chose to write her book, and include this chapter in it.  She had some amazing insights, and did some big things, and I couldn't help but be envious of the fact that she lives in an area where being green is expected and easier to accomplish (Austin, TX) than it is in so many other areas.  And that whole KP Project where an agency will supervise homeless people to come out and plant and maintain a garden on your personal property?  How amazing is that?  I would hands-down be the first to sign up for a program like that.  I even mentioned it to my husband, who said, "Yeah, that sounds great, but who is going to organize something like that around here?  Are you willing to do it?".

And the simple answer is no.  No, I'm not.  But I sure LOVE the idea of that program, though.  And having recycle bins as a normal part of a fast food restaurant (locally owned and one that serves grass fed beef, of course).  But then I see this comment on my Facebook feed by a friend that doesn't live all that far from me, meaning her resources are the same as mine are, and my excuses seem pretty flimsy:

Do you want our long list?? recycle glass, paper, plastic, etc-we do not get bags from grocery stores-we have our own, we have a compost out back-we have water saving toiletsts, water heater- we have put the denim insulation in the walls. we have water barrels. We are in the process of saving for some solar panels for the roof...when we first moved in to our house our electric bill in the summer was around 400....know its around 150. Our water bill is around 20 bucks a month. and our gas bill is around 30 in the winter time. That is all I can think of...OH! We do not buy water bottles...that is huge!!! 

And then there is my other thrifty friend, who goes way beyond things I have done:

I used cloth diapers and breastfed my four children. We compost, recycle and reuse items. We built a chicken coop out of mainly reclaimed wood and the chickens are helping with the composting.
When running errands we combine them to save on gas and set the thermostat higher than most in summer and cooler in winter.
We try to support the local farmer's market.

I think for many people it boils down to balancing what is good and needed and necessary with what is do-able and practical and cost efficient.  I LOVE the discussion on Day 22, where JH talks about her Sybil like personalities when it comes to waste and going green.  First, there is Sage Moonjava, who doesn't blink at spending $11.99/lb for bulk organic cashews, because they were harvested responsibly and not doused in partially hydrogenated oil".  Then there is Ryvre, who thinks "buying from corporate chains is paying The Man;  and would rather subsidize local vendors who retain creative ownership and feed back into the local economy".  Rounding them out is Freedom Shakra, who "understands that name brands and chic labels are the marketing brainchildren of The People Who Sell Us Stuff We Don't Need.  There is no good reason to buy designer water, over-priced spaghetti, or two springs of basil for $3.99".

I think this was a great representation, and represents where so many folks are.  I know I want to do better. I guess time will tell what I actually do.  I do know, however, that reading this book has definitely gotten the wheels a turnin', though.

I'm not the only one posting on this today.  You can also follow the discussion on waste with Katie and Amy Y.  Karrie and Lindsy W are also discussing the chapter on spending, which also touches on some really good stuff.

I hope you all have a really great day.

Waste Not, Want Not (Part 2)

Picking up on the theme of my last post---

Recycling - I absolutely love the idea of recycling garbage items--stuff like plastic and cardboard and glass.  But to be perfectly honest, I only do it when it is convenient for me.  There--I said it.  I know it is important and needed and good, but I have never gone out of my way to do it.  I was so excited when we moved to a new town when my oldest was a baby and they had large collection bins near the city walking track.  I saved my plastic bottles and newspapers up for about a week, drove them to the bins, and found that the bins were gone.  The city removed them due to lack of use and interest.  So, I took my recyclables back home and put them in the garbage.

Fast forward 10 years, when we moved to a suburb of Kansas City.  I was thrilled to find that the city had given everyone a recycle bin, and that pick up was the same time as the regular garbage pick up.  I was a recycling machine, and had about 5 times as much recycled material every week as regular garbage.  It was definitely a community wide thing, because even the heavy partiers down the street would put out their beer bottles and pizza boxes in the little green bin every Friday and Tuesday.

The next year we moved away from KC, and into another suburb with no recycle centers.  Well, there is one place in town that has three garbage cans labeled 'glass', 'paper', and 'plastic', but it is in a teeny, tiny back alley downtown that is frequented by old hippies that sit near the bins and pass around their joints and homemade cigarettes.  No, I am not kidding.  So, everything from our house just goes into the regular garbage can.  Apparently at one point in our neighborhood there was a company that would come out once a month to collect some types of items, but they charged $40 per month.  Nope, wasn't going to happen for us.  I asked my neighbor about it today, and she said the service had stopped a year ago due to lack of interest and use.

Since this service stopped, she hasn't recycled anymore, either.  I am a slacker, surrounded by other well meaning slackers.

Shopping thrift and second-hand - a great idea.  It really is, but is only do-able to the extent that places offer things that aren't complete junk.  I haven't found places like that yet.  I'm open to the idea, though.  I do go to consignment sales on occasion.  These seem much better for children's items.  In that case, it is hard to make the argument NOT to buy all baby items at a place like this.

Buying local - another great idea, which I do pretty well.  Kind of.  I like to buy food and gifts and books from local owned businesses and co-ops, but it is difficult to balance the increased cost that is oftentimes associated with going local.  I definitely see the importance of it, though, and do it as often as I can.  I sure do love Amazon, though.

That about wraps up the general overview of Jen Hatmaker's categories.  I'll sum it all up and add some closing thoughts on my next post.

Waste Not, Want Not (Part 1)

I've been thinking a lot about my upcoming post for the online book club that is featuring Jen Hatmaker's book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  As part of her 7 month quest to get back to basics, one of her months was dedicated to the area of waste.  In particular, she focused on:

--Conserving energy and water
--Driving only one car
--Shopping thrift and second-hand
--Buying only local

I agree, these are all very important and helpful things.  I think all folks should do them to some extent.  A person could conceivably argue that they don't think these things are necessary, but it would be a pretty hard sale to say that any of these things do any harm, except possibly to big businesses and corporations.

I have already written about my abysmal gardening experience, but would still love to do it right.  If millions of people for thousands of years have been able to sustain life through personal gardening, then theoretically I should be able to do this as well.  Especially since I live in a time with instant access to plant and gardening info at my fingertips, and a ready water source and easily accessible food sources.  In our enthusiasm to get into gardening last year, we even bought a compost bin at Lowe's when we were getting other important stuff.  Because, you know, real gardeners even make their own fertilizer.  Well, we did get it set up, and we layered it with the right combination of brown and green and white, and last year I could even have told you what that actually means.  For about a month I would add table scraps and onion skins and stuff like that to the top, but then began to worry about bugs and stuff.  I haven't lifted the top in months, because even though we don't have worms like all the serious composters do, I am sure the roaches are having a field day out there, and I would just rather not even know about it.

Conserving energy and water - who wouldn't want to do that, if even for the cost savings alone?  There are a lot of ideas out there (solar panels, low water toilets, denim insulation--just discovered about this one), but we don't use any of them, not out of principle, but because of the up front costs.

Driving only one car - we have had to do this more times that I like to count.  It happens every time one of our cars breaks down.  This tends to happen when both vehicles are older than my kids.  I suppose this could be do-able if no one in the family worked outside of the house, and never had to buy groceries or toilet paper, or we didn't have to go every other day for a doctor visit or chemo admission, but it just doesn't work in our current reality.

Part 2 to come--got a brief appointment with some dolphins and some organic smoothies this afternoon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Heartworms and Brown Thumbs

After 5 years of fine apartment living, we finally moved into a house with a yard last year.  My hopes of turning part of the back yard into a garden vanished soon after the puppy we adopted from the shelter arrived.  We knew that we were taking our chances getting a lab/mutt mix, but this one seemed so sweet and laid back and non-destructive, and he was so cute that we got him anyway.  It turned out that his quietness was due to heartworms, and once that was treated, he turned into a regular old lab puppy that likes to chew. And chew. And chew.  So, any hopes of building raised beds in the back yard was out.

Merlot - his name from the shelter - because they said he was "as fine as wine"

Last spring, I talked my husband into building two small raised bed areas near the side door, with a flimsy fence between the dog and my dreams of feeding my family solely with the fruits of my labors.  He built and planted and fertilized some, and I waited to see the first sprouts of my eventual harvest.  There was only one glitch in my plan.

I am the worst plant caretaker in the world.

I really don't want to be.  I love flowers, and potted plants, and vegetables.  I have tried various combinations and soils and environments through the years, but they all eventually bite the dust.  Even the cactus I got at Christmas.  You know, the ones that are supposed to live forever with no care in the world, and they bloom year after year?  It has gotten to the point that I wonder if somewhere deep inside, as those plants leave to store to travel down the road to my house, they realize they are heading to a quick and certain death.  I was hoping that something totally outside of my house and in nature would be immune to my lack of a green thumb.

Well, most of the seeds did sprout, and the seedling grew for a while, but then they just withered away and disappeared completely.  Even my flower seeds didn't sprout.  I don't know if squirrels or birds got them or the half wild neighborhood cat just decided to use the beds as a new litter box, but nothing ever came.  We did eventually have one plant sprout.  It was a sugar snap pea plant that my green thumb friend Debbie gave me later in the summer.  By that point I had even given up on watering and even looking at the beds at all, and one day there was a green vine with about 40 peas on there.  We were so excited that we picked them off and ate them in about 3 minutes time.  If only that could have sustained us foodwise for a year.

I love, love, love the idea of growing enough food to feed my family.  I even like the concept of shelling and shucking and canning stuff.  I just can't make the connection between the simple act of planting and reaping translate into actual food.  If I could never go to the grocery store again, and my family's survival depended on my ability to provide my food, then we would only last as long as the food in the pantry holds out.  .

With our insane and unpredictable schedules this year, we didn't even bother to pretend to plant food items. Instead, my mother-in-law and her sister showed up and did a little planting of their own.  I have done absolutely nothing to encourage or prolong these plant lives, which is probably why they look so absolutely gorgeous.

If you look closely, you can see our dog behind the fence.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cowgirls 'N Angels

I had the coolest opportunity last week.  I was able to preview a new movie that is being released today called Cowgirls 'N Angels.  I had not heard of the movie before, and had only seen one of the actors in other roles, so I wasn't very sure of what to expect, but I jumped on board with the previewing anyway.

Cowgirls 'N Angels is the story of a Ida, 10-ish year old girl that is being raised by a single mother.  She loves horses, gets into mischief often, but mainly dreams of becoming famous enough for her never before seen father to recognize and come back to her.  Not that her mom ever talks about him, but Ida searches and finds enough clues to lead her to believe that her dad left to be a part of the rodeo circuit.  Ida decides to do the same thing.

I really appreciated the depth to this story.  It was very well written and acted, and was not predictable at all.  The actress that played Ida, Bailee Madison, was phenomenal.  I thought that this was her first acting gig, but my youngest informed me that she was in an episode of 'The Wizards of Waverly Place". (You know, mom, the one where the youngest boy turns into a girl?  Well, she's the girl).  No, John, I didn't know that.  However, if she had been on Phineas and Ferb...

I haven't seen this promoted anywhere else, which is a shame because it is such a good quality movie.  I've seen several comments labeling it as 'family friendly', which I suppose it is, but it may be a little intense for some younger viewers, particularly really sensitive ones.  Ida often yells and breaks the rules and frequently runs off when distressed or sad.  Plus, there is the whole not having a daddy around theme.

This weekend the movie will be shown at select theaters in Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Missourt, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Utah.  If this movie is playing at a theater near you, you might want to consider checking it out.  I am all about supporting movies that don't have objectionable themes or language, and the redemptive nature of this movie make it an added bonus.  You can find out more about the movie on their website and view the movie trailer here.

Disclaimer:  I was provided access to the online screening of this movie by Fly Propeller in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was received.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Being Quiet

What do John Boy Walton and the Seth Rogan character on Freaks and Geeks have in common?

What about Eleanor Roosevelt and Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)?

Johnny Carson, Meryl Streep, and Steve Martin?

All are either considered and/or self described introverts.

I did an informal Facebook poll this past week to see whether people consider me to be an introvert or an extrovert.  It included an interesting cross section of people from the many stages of life and places that I have lived.

The results were mixed.

I was not surprised.  I have moved around a lot, and have been a part of many different groups, and interact accordingly.  I like how my friend Carol described it--I am a very outgoing introvert.  Most people tend to think in very simple terms, such as introverts are quiet and shy, and extroverts are talkative and confident in group settings.  However, those ideas are stereotypical, and not necessarily reality based.  It basically boils down to how a person recharges their batteries, so to speak.  When a person is most tired or stressed out, do they regroup best by being alone, or by being around other people?  Using that definition, I would most definitely be an introvert.  A confident, social, love to speak in front of an audience, introvert.  It comes from a position of power, not of weakness or lack of self-confidence.

The general consensus is that if a person is quiet, or not very talkative in a group setting, then they are not the ones in control, or don't have the best ideas.  However, Susan Cain, in her book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking goes to great lengths to discuss introversion as a cultural, psychological, sociological, and personal phenomenon.  I love looking at things that way.  She shows how it is the particular insights of people who are quiet enough to study and articulate problems and circumstances that have the power to change things and make big things happen.  Unfortunately, our culture is designed to encourage and reward extroverts and their contributions, which may not necessarily be the most well thought out or beneficial for society.  The ramifications for this are also explored in detail.

One of the most interesting threads for me was the discussion of how churches are set up and geared almost exclusively toward extroverts.  One example--the 'meet and greet' time that is part of the worship service of churches all over.  I HATE this.  Absolutely hate it.  And it has nothing to do with being an introvert.  I just know that it makes all kinds of people uncomfortable, and gives them yet another reason to check out of church.  I mean, seriously, how does that make people feel comfortable and welcome?  If people want to talk to or 'visit with their neighbor', then they will make a point of doing on their own, not because someone in the front instructed everybody to do it at the specified time.

Quiet was an interesting book, and one that I think is of particular importance for people in organizational leadership.  Diverse voices may be quiet, but those voices are important nonetheless.

You can read from the first few pages of Quiet here.

Mutiny at the Book Club


I love book clubs.  I have been a mostly silent member of several book clubs at different times and in different states.  Most of them are a pretty pretentious lot.  The last one I was involved with was particularly so, full of literary types and adjunct professors that not only loved their opinions, but felt like it was their duty to pass them on to others.  I knew it was time for me to step away from that group when we had to go around the room and state who we thought the most interesting fictional character is.  I happened to be last, and after listening to all manner of drivel and foreign sounding names, I answered, "Ignatius J. Reilly" (the main character in A  Confederacy of Dunces, who is a lazy slob with absolutely no good qualities--not exactly their caliber of book, even though it did win a posthumous Pulitzer for the author).  Come to think of it, at another book club, I sat listening to a group of women debate over which movie role Ralph Fiennes most made his own, and I quipped that he did a really good job as Voldemort.  I don't think they took me very seriously after that.  I can't imagine why not ...

Anyway, I haven't been able to attend a face to face book club for a while, so when I read about a couple of bloggers who were starting a virtual book club, I thought it would be an interesting thing to check into.  Amy and Steph decided to open up a discussion about Jen Hatmaker and her newest book, 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  I was not familiar with Jen Hatmaker, but since the download didn't cost much, I figured I would give it a try.  After doing a little research, it turns out that she has written many books and has been on the lecture circuit for a while, which just goes to show you that I must have been living under a rock for quite some time.  And let me just say this now before I forget--I absolutely love her writing style and voice.  She seems real and approachable and fun.

7 is the story/guide/documentation of the 7 categories/months that she and her family decided to make some radical changes in their lifestyles, in terms of excess consumption.  For example, one of the seven categories was food, and Jen ate only 7 foods for that month (chicken, eggs, avocado, spinach, green apple, and two other foods I can't remember) in an attempt to become more cognizant of hunger and excess.  One month she focused on clothing, and wore only 7 specific clothing items for that month.  The focus here was on dealing with appearances and wasteful excess related to how we dress to impress others.

So, for the book club part, Amy asked for volunteers to blog about specific chapters, and I stepped up to discuss the chapter on going green, like recycling and composting and taking care of the environment.  My official post on this isn't until next week, but I've been wondering--what about you?  Is there anything in particular that you do to lighten your carbon footprint?  Do you think it is important but don't really do anything?  Or is it a non-issue for you?

I really want to know what you think.  You know, so I won't come across as one of those professors who only passes on their own opinions.  And while you are at it, go ahead and add your most interesting fictional character choice, too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

On Politics, Religion, and Hippie Tattoos

I'm sitting here at my keyboard, at a relatively decent time and all of my 'have-to-do's' for the day done, and I can't think of a single coherent thing to write.  All week long I have had so many things I wanted to get on here, but I didn't have the time or energy to do it.  Now I am here, and there are just random thoughts running through my mind that have no common thread.  It is very representative of the chaos that has become of my life in the past few months.  Since my life has been dictated lately by bullet points and lists, I guess it just makes sense that my writing about it should follow suit.  So, here goes nothing.

--For the first time in the history of my mommyness, I have a child completely packed and ready to go to summer camp three days early.  That is only because we thought we would be heading to Houston to see a cancer specialist today and would have to have everything ready at a moment's notice (which didn't happen and still has no resolution), but still--a very big deal in our house.

--I watched last week's episode of Glee for the first time all year, because it was the one with their National's competition, which always has great performances.  The regular Glee kids won, but the other team was SO much better.  It made no sense.  Just kind of blah, and felt like more of a wasted hour and a half than usual.

--I am SO excited that Whole Foods is coming to town.  The crunchy folks that I have surrounded myself with for years at the local health food co-op just seem to get more and more out there every year, and not in a good way.  Maybe I am just getting too old--I really want to sit some of them down and point out the realities of extreme body piercings and full facial tattoos of amphibians.  That salamander may be kickin' now, but when the wrinkles come and the skin starts to sag (and it most definitely will), they are just going to be the laughing stock of the skilled nursing facility.

--I saw a full page ad for used luxury cars.  A 2008 model something with 60,000 miles that gets less than 20 miles per gallon, and it still costs $65,000.  Are you freakin' kidding me?  Unless it comes with a built in cook, maid and masseuse, why would anyone spend that kind of money on a car, even if they had money to burn?

--Organic food just tastes better.  Buy identical brands of apples or grapes--one organic and the other not organic--and do a taste test.  No comparison.  And speaking of tastes tests, how would anyone in the '70s and '80s not be able to tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi?  Taste challenge, my foot.  BTW--definitely Coke, even though I was a Tab girl myself.

--My oldest can't do even the most basic things by himself, and gets around like someone who has had a stroke.  That will get better, but it is like a have a newborn again, with all the getting up at night to help him with something.  Yet another thing I am just too old for anymore.

--His cancer is 'gone' for now, but any cancer patient/family member can tell you story after story of how that is no guarantee, and how an all clear one scan can change to '6 months to a year" on a dime.  The only cool thing about that is that individual moments and days are not taken for granted.  Nothing in this life is guaranteed, except for death and taxes, of course.  And that saggy amphibian faces aren't attractive.

--I haven't been able to go to church since Christmas day.  Having to stay home with a non-ambulatory, immuno-suppressed kid will do that.  For some folks this is just a way of life, but not for me.  Churches tend to have a funny way of frowning on having a minister whose wife doesn't bother to attend the services.  I think this is affecting me more than I realize.  All I have to do is read back over these rants that are obviously just below my thought surfaces, since I have been basically typing my current stream of consciousness.  I'm really not a complainer by nature, but you sure wouldn't guess it reading this post.

--I really need to spend some time down south where the waves are crashing in on my toes.

OK, that's it.  I think I am going to hang out with Beth Moore for a little while now.  I like to imagine that me and her and Lorelai Gilmore would have the best time hanging out.  I guess I am just delusional that way.

Like everything else lately, I'll just blame it on the chemo.

Friday, May 11, 2012

There Are Worse Things Than Cancer

I had the wonderful pleasure of being able to spend  an hour or so today with one of my very favorite people to hang out with.  M is what Anne Shirley would call a 'bosom friend'.  We met the first year both of us got married, and hung out together as couples a lot.  Then they moved, and we moved, and we both had kids, and we stayed in touch as much as anyone can stay in touch with someone who never answers their phone (that would be me).

M is going through a divorce.  It is a place she never, ever imagined she would be, and she is dealing with all the details and ramifications as well as can be expected.  Things are getting progressively uglier, and my heart just hurts for them both.  She shared her stories and listened to mine as I talked about Harrison and the fact that we have just found out that the past 4 months of chemo did nothing to kill the cancer cells in his tumor.  That tumor is out now, but we are still left to decide what happens from here on out as far as further treatment is concerned.  She mentioned that she hears my story, and thinks it makes her situation pale in comparison.  I told her that I think just the opposite--her story and circumstances seem so much worse than mine (Harrison may totally disagree about that...), because no matter what happens with Harrison, we plan to come out of it with as few regrets and bitterness as possible.  It is becoming more and more apparent that M, and her whole family, will not have that same outcome, and she knows this.

As I was headed home after saying goodbye for a few more months, I got to thinking about how many people I know who are going through such terrible, sad circumstances that are so much worse than cancer.  Just a few examples from the lives of people I know--

--going through cancer with no insurance.  Or family support.  Or with a spouse that is selfish/addicted/checked out/loser-y.

--getting over cancer, but living in so much fear and worry about it coming back, that you just stop fully living while you can.

--finding out that their husband/wife has had an affair and wants out--after leaving a parting gift of an incurable STD (has happened to THREE people I know of in the past year!).  Seriously, how could that person ever fully trust another partner again?

--having a child who completely disrespects you and refuses to obey or abide by the family rules/values.  Or is making destructive choices.  Or is a lazy slacker with no goals that don't involve a remote or game controller. (Spouse could be interchanged with kid here)

--having to explain to your child--yet again--why daddy won't be getting them this weekend after all, or why mommy yells and throws things when she is tired.

--being married to a crazy person.

--feeling ugly, worthless, hopeless, and completely unworthy of love or acceptance by anyone.

--being an orphan or foster kid that is never adopted.

--going through cancer (or absolutely anything else) without running water or electricity, which would be the reality at any other point in history and in many geographic places now.

--being addicted to porn or gambling or pain meds--or any other such thing.

--going through any of these things with no hope in or understanding of God's provision and comfort.

Yep, there are worse things than cancer.

But cancer is still really, really bad.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You Have No Idea

It is that time again, when I get to tell you about a book I actually got paid to review.  Getting paid to read - the best mini-job ever.

You Have No Idea was written by Vanessa Williams and her mother, Helen Williams.  Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America in 1983, and had to resign before her reign was over due to a nude photo scandal.  She later moved on to singing and acting.  My favorite role of hers was as Wilhelmina Slater in the TV show Ugly Betty.  I still miss that show...

I liked this book.  It not only told Vanessa's story (and her mother's insights into it all), but it resonated with examples of perseverance and not being defined by past mistakes or poor choices.  Helen's portions were surprisingly poignant.  She is a mother who has always stood by her daughter, in spite of poor choices and painful consequences.  It was interesting for me to relate more to Helen as a mother, knowing that my own children will have to make their own choices as they grow up, and  that some of those choices will go directly against my wishes or even basic common sense.  I also couldn't help thinking of  my own hometown's Miss America, and how she could probably benefit from learning to not live in the past.  Just sayin'.

You can follow and participate in more discussions about You Have No Idea at the BlogHer Book Club.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Will Survive

I love music.  Lots of different kinds of music.

Especially 80's music.

For whatever reason, this song came to mind today, and I was able to very quickly find 3 different versions/interpretations of it.

This first one is by the group Mercy Me (of I Can Only Imagine tear-fest fame).  They have a really fun thing they put out every so often called the 'Cover Tune Grab Bag', where they play cover songs from days gone by.  They always look like they are having so much fun.  I think this is an early recording, but it made me laugh out loud this morning.

This next one is about homeschooling.  Some days, trying to survive is the best we can hope for.

And then, there is this one, possibly the most realistic of all--   :)