Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Unaccountable Misery

Producer Kim and I spoke at our homeschool Mom's Night Out last night on the subject of "Methods of Motivation". Ironic considering how profoundly unmotivated I have been lately. And miserable. I woke up this morning just miserable.

Why? Who knows. There's any number of possibilities. Sleeping lousy. Getting my monthlies. Eating crappily over spring break and the holidays. Gloomy weather. Spiritual malaise. Some long-term, low-level illness I seem to have been fighting for a few months. Not exercising for a week or so. Brain chemistry. Hormones. Honestly, who knows.

Against all my instincts, I'm fighting the urge to spend too much time trying to analyze the whys here, because I doubt I'll figure out why and the inquiry will only make me more miserable. I'm trying to focus on what to do. The things I know to do.

No junk food today. Vegetables. Fruits. Lots of water. Easter candy and frozen cookie dough balls are OUT.

I forced myself to work on the exercise bike for a while this morning. It was only about 10 minutes, but it was something. I'll force myself again later.

The sun is out. I'm going to spend as much time as I can in it. And outside breathing fresh air.

No sitting and vegging at the computer. No isolating myself -- I 'm going to talk to my kids as much as I can make myself do it. I'm going to make jokes. I'm not going to whine or complain.

I'm going to make myself pick up things around the house, just one at a time, until my environment is a bit less cluttered.

And I'm going to praise God. Even though I don't feel like it. "Rejoice in the Lord" is a command, one not dependent on my mood. The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of his people. If I want God around -- and I most certainly need that today -- I need to open the door to where he lives.

I don't want to do any of these things. I don't feel like it one bit. This is a live-one-moment-at-a-time kind of day. And my task for this moment -- smile at my daughter's request and get up to get her a calculator. Thank you, Lord, for calculators . . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Communism in my Home State

I'm back! Long time, no blog.

Had an interesting talk with my father-in-law over the Easter holiday. He used to be the business manager for his school district. Now that he's "retired", he still works for the district, managing grounds and maintenance or something like that, I believe. He does a million things for them. The man can do just about anything, really.

We were talking about the district budget and I asked him what percentage of their money comes from the state and what percent from local taxes. Turns out, in Kansas, the state tells every school district how much property tax they have to collect for schools. Then it takes all of that money and redistributes it equally to every school district in the state.

I'm trying to understand how this is NOT educational communism.

My husband offered an idea. What if the people in, say, Shawnee Mission school district (a wealthy KC suburb) wanted to pay more of their own money to improve their children's schools. What if they doubled their own property taxes, agreeing that a good portion of that extra money would stay in their own district and the rest could be distributed to the other districts in the state. Every school would get more money. Who loses there? But no, Dad said, that would be wrong. The rich kids' schools would have more than the poor kids' schools. Unfair.

There's something very disturbing in the basic principle here that I'm having a hard time articulating. Let me try it this way . . .

Because of our current financial state, we are able to have internet access in our home, which provides our daughters with a lot of educational resources. Some parents can't afford that. Does this mean we should not be allowed to give our daughters this resource, because another parent in town can't do the same?

Because of our current financial state, I am able to buy fresh, healthy organic foods for my children. I am also able to stay at home with them, which gives me more time to prepare healthy home-cooked meals. But some parents aren't able to do that, at least not without some stress and sacrifice. Does this mean I should not be allowed to give my children the best nutritional experience possible, because another parent in town is not able to the same?

This argument comes up with my in-laws when we talk about homeschooling, which they aren't crazy about. When I homeschool my daughter, I'm able to give her a better education than the other kids in public school get. But other parents can't homeschool and give their kids that kind of education. So, when I homeschool, I'm giving my daughter an educational advantage over other children. Can't do that -- it's not fair.

Are all "advantages" unfair? Are we never to be allowed to give our children anything that is beneficial for them unless we can make it available to every kid in town -- or the state -- or the country?

There is a basic faulty premise in this argument. Inequality does not necessarily signify injustice. The nature of what it means to be equal is being warped and misused. This is so much a "duh" thing in my mind that I can't even effectively explain the problem in the reasoning.

Unfortunately, none of the rest of us were able to explain it to my father-in-law, either. Amazing how people can see the world in such fundamentally different ways. I think this particular fundamental difference is at the heart of much of the current political strife in our country. Wish I could find a way to clarify the matter for people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Not About You

I went to the post office yesterday to mail our tax returns. They were asking everyone to fill out a "survey". Apparently, the postal service is considering closing down this particular post office. The employees are unhappy about it. The customers there with me were unhappy about it. This survey was apparently supposed to communicate that unhappiness to the powers that be and convince them to change their mind.

I declined to fill out the survey. (Actually, I lied and said I'd already filled one out. Yeah, I'm a little ashamed. But just a little.) Mainly I declined because I was getting annoyed at the comments floating around the room concerning the matter. Comments primarily along the lines of, "I don't want to have to go all the way downtown to get to a post office."

Well, I don't either, but sometimes that's what you have to do. I don't know why they're considering closing this post office, but I assume, considering the dire financial straits our government is in, it has something to do with operating more efficiently and cost-effectively. I doubt they just decided to lay workers off and inconvenience their customers on a whim. And if that's what the post office needs to do to stay solvent, I'm not going to complain.

I forget which president it was (Reagan maybe?) who asked the American people during his campaign to consider if they were better off now than they were when the incumbent took office. I know a friend of mine, several campaigns later, used that argument as the basis for her vote: "I know four years ago I had a job and now I don't. Let's get that lamebrain out of office."

What a stupid reason to vote for someone! Basing the decision entirely on your own personal situation. In the words of a well-known author, "It's not about you."

Your personal life situation has much more to do with yourself and your own decisions than governmental policy. Maybe you were not a good employee. Maybe you picked the wrong career. Maybe your industry is suffering a temporary setback and you need to buck up for a bit -- or maybe your industry is on the way out and you need to find a different direction entirely. In any case, your life is your responsibility, not the government's. The president isn't elected to keep you well-fed and living in two rooms and a bath. That's YOUR job.

We are a very self-absorbed nation. We vote for candidates who promise programs that will make our lives easier, no matter what it's going to do to anyone else's lives -- or our children's lives, who have to pay for all this caretaking eventually. We don't vote on principle, because we're not a people of principle. We're a people of pleasure.

So, fine. I'll go downtown to mail my packages. Because it's not about me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wonder-Working Power

I know. I haven't written in a while. My play with the homeschool middle and high schoolers is next week. We've got to get lights together tomorrow, along with all our set changes and music cues. Next week is dress rehearsal and filming, then performing twice on Friday. And Tuesday's rehearsal didn't go very smoothly. I'm a little stressed. Next year, I have to make this a bit less complicated.

I also have a sketch this Sunday morning with two different casts for the two different sites. One cast has changed actors twice now, the other is now having to film ahead of time -- tonight. Long, complicated story.

Then the next Sunday, I have monologues with two more actors -- one of whom is in a community theater play opening this week, so he hasn't been able to practice yet. The other is a brand new actor for my team who lives out of town, which complicates rehearsal scheduling.

Complicated seems to be the theme of my life these days. I don't like complicated.

Our small group is studying Ephesians, and last Sunday, we read the end of chapter 1, where Paul is praying that the Ephesians will know God's "incomparably great power for those of us who believe." That power which is "the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead." Power that we have access to today.

It's as if God has called me to go to San Francisco and given me a jet to fly there -- but instead of flying, I'm sitting in the cockpit, taxi-ing down the highway. He's given me POWER. And I don't even try to use it. I work in my own strength and quit as soon as I get to the end of that. So I never take advantage of what he's given me. So I can't say I really know he's given it to me.

I need power these next couple weeks -- power to concentrate, organize, solve problems, motivate people, keep peace, be pleasant, and just generally keep on keeping on. Time to take this scripture at its word.