My brother in law Tony helping the poor

Friday, October 29, 2010

National Do-over Day!

Remember when you were a little kid playing Hide-n-seek or some other great childhood game, and when you lost you would scream out, "DO OVER!"  Well how come we can't do that anymore?  Is there some rule written some where in the "How To Be a Proper Adult" manual that says we can NEVER have a "do over?"

I declare today to be National Do-over Day!  What about regrets?  Most of us will never really know what we regret until we are on our death bed, then we'll say, "I really wish I had been nicer to so-and-so", or, "If I had only done this, or not done that..."  For Catholics, we believe that making a good confession is a practical way to start over.  In my own personal experience I have found confession to be a wonderful cleansing and healing process for the things I should have done better.  But not everything I regret was sinful.  Some things were just bad choices.  For the most part, I regret dumb things like some of the people I have had the displeasure of knowing, or maybe a job that was super disappointing.  I really don't have too many "huge" regrets...well, a few biggies just popped into my head.

That aside, I think it's time for me (and maybe you?) to take real stock of our lives, to think about those people in our lives who have never really appreciated us or treated us the way they should have, or have taken advantage of us, and recommit ourselves to those people who truly love us and treat us with respect.  I don't know about you, but those are the people I have often neglected and I really don't know why.  Perhaps we are the kind of person who seeks approval...from EVERYBODY, even those people who don't love or care about us, or maybe we are people-pleasers and we can't stand it if we think someone doesn't like or approve of us.  It really doesn't matter, for my do-over day, I want to remember those people who have remembered me, who take the time to call me, and when they do call me, they take the time to ask me how I am.

The other day I received a phone call from an acquaintance.  She seemed very flustered and in a hurry.  We finished our "business" and when I hung up the phone I said to myself, "Oh, I forgot to ask her how she was doing!" Then I realized that she never asked me either.  We are always in a rush, always bragging about how "busy" we are, always tooting our own little horn, aren't we?  Well when I am on my death bed I really don't want to regret being too self-indulgent.  I think it is something we all do from time to time, some more than others.  When I hear people talking like that I wonder to myself, "do they have any idea how bad they sound to the other person?  Here's a news flash people, nobody cares!  Nobody wants to hear about your job for an hour, or the "running around" with your kids you had to do.  We all do the same, if not more, we're not impressed!

To be interesting to others you should take the time to ask them about themselves.  Once someone asks you, keep your responses short unless you can sense they want you to go on.  One day I decided to put this to a test.  Try it yourself and let me know your results.  I would be most curious.  One morning I woke up and decided that each and ever phone call or visit I got that day would be different.  I only asked the person about themselves, I said nothing about myself.  I wanted to see if the other person would notice that the entire conversation was designed around them, and to see if that made them eventually feel uncomfortable enough to turn the conversation around and ask me questions, or if they would just continue talking about themselves until the conversation ended.  (Let me tell you, this is great to try at's a real hoot!)

The results, each and every person I spoke to that day, with exception of my husband, spent 90% of the conversation on themselves.  Even when I tried to talk about something going on in my world, they would say something like, "oh, that happened to me and this or that happened..."  It's amazing.  Most of the conversations did end with the other person asking me a yes or no question about myself before I hung up or walked away.  I think people do that so that they can leave the conversation feeling like they were considerate.  Not.

I need a do-over.  I need to start treating people the way I want to be treated.  I want to apologize to all the people out there that I have neglected or mistreated in some way.  I want to be considerate of others.  Lord help me accomplish this because I have NO patience!  Empathetic.  That is what I need to be....but how :(  I want to be heard, I want to be accepted, I want to be loved just like everyone else.  But with all our neediness, nobody is getting anything!  We're like a bunch of drifters floating from person to person hoping that someone will care about us.  So, I am going to be a better lister, and in return, I think I am going to remind people when they are not being good's only fair, right?  :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Imperfect Perfection

This weekend we celebrated my eldest son's 16th birthday with a big clambake at our house.  We had about 45 people over for the event including about 15 teenage girls and boys.  One thing I noticed was how comfortable people must feel when they come to our house.  My one girlfriend brought her teenage daughter and she bought 2 of her friends.  My other girlfriend brought her teenage daughter and she brought her boyfriend.  My sister brought her husband and another couple I didn't know was coming.  In the end, it made me feel good that people felt comfortable enough to bring others to my house without worrying that I would be upset.

We had PLENTY of food of course as any good Italian home would.  In fact, we ended up sending more food home with others then we did consuming that night.  It was great to see so much of my family and so many of my friends all together.  It was a great time.  One thing that didn't go so well was the timing of the clams.  The guy who helped us set up our steamer told us that the clams only take about 20 minutes to open, but we must not have had the heat up high enough or something because it took 2 hours!  Everyone ate earlier and then when the clams were done they wolfed those down.  (I heard they were delicious!)  It was a great party, but it wasn't perfect.  It sort of made me wonder if the party would have been better if it were perfect?

While we waited for the clams to cook, some us sat outside by the fire while others were inside watching the Ohio State game, and the teens were in the basement doing whatever it is that teenagers do.  We all had a chance to talk and socialize and be together.  I think if the clams were done on time the people would have ate them and then left pretty quickly like they always do, so screwing up the timing ended up being the best thing in the long run.  People stayed until very late and it looked like everyone had a great time.

This experience has reminded me that people can make the mistake of trying to be too perfect.  I know a lot of people with kids, and I have to say, I think it is so sad to see parents who try to force their kids to be/look perfect for the sake of what others think.  What is the point of that?  In a way, I think some parents think that if other parents look at their kids as perfect then maybe adults will look at them as perfect.  In doing so, I think kids miss out on being kids.  Everyone needs to have a little 5 year old fun sometimes.  Jesus says in Matthew, "unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  OK, I know Jesus isn't really talking about "acting childish" but He is not putting children down either.

A few times at my clambake I looked through the window of our basement to see what the kids were up to and it was cute.  At one point about 8 of them were sitting on one couch.  I had to go down there and separate them, but they were having fun.  I have to try and remember that high school is a only a 4 year term, then it is off to college and the real world.  I hope my kids have fun and remember high school with fond memories, and make long and lasting friendships like I did.  They have the rest of their lives to prove to the world that they are the best and ever so perfect....not.  Nobody is perfect and sometimes that is the best thing about us!

There are two movies that I love that talk about our misconception of being perfect.  The first movie is my all time favorite, Moonstruck.  Near the end of the movie Nicholas Cage is trying to convince Cher that she should break her promise to her fiance (Cage's brother) and marry him (Nicholas Cage).  He says (and I paraphrase) "Love isn't perfect.  The moon and the stars are perfect, but people and love are not perfect.  We are here to make mistakes and screw everything up."  Cher could have tried to be perfect and ended up marring the wrong man, but when she messed things up, everything worked out.  Another great line is from the movie, Good Will Hunting.  In this movie, Matt Damon (Will), falls in love but is too afraid to ask the girl out because he doesn't want to find out that the girl of his dreams isn't really perfect.  Robin Williams, who is Will's shrink, says something like this to him, "You're not perfect sport, and let me save you the suspense, this girl you met, she's not perfect either.  The question is, are you perfect for each other?"

In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams goes on to talk about how imperfect is wife was (who died of cancer), but he also says that her imperfections were the "good stuff" in their marriage.  Those are the things that make us individuals, unique.  Why would anyone, especially a parent, want to take their child's individuality away in order to have a clone or a reflection of themselves, someone they wish they could be?  I would love for the world to "think" my kids are perfect, but in the end, it is their imperfections that make them so lovable! Make mistakes boys....your Mom does all the time!