Woman v. Snake

I passionately, sincerely, fervently hate snakes! I believe deep in my soul that “the only good snake is a dead snake,” as my mom always says. Did I mention how much I loathe snakes?

As a home owner, every year I feel especially confronted by this hatred. I find myself debating between raking the leaves which seem to make a lovely home for snakes between each bush and tree– and in doing so potentially discover their hidden existence; or I can leave the leaf homes for the snakes and live in the test of Schrodinger’s cat– there may be snakes, there may not be and I won’t know till I rake the leaves.

This year, I once again determined to face my fears and attempt to rid my yard of both leaves and any discovered snakes.

I prepared myself with garden gloves- which seem to be at least some protection- my limb cutters, rake, and trash can. I watched in trepidation as I began to rake the leaves, fully expecting to find some nasty creatures lurking beneath.

When I discovered the first snake I responded as most people would when startled: I screamed, stepped back, and stood shaking for a moment. Unfortunately, the first snake escaped during my moment of panic. But I determined to remain undaunted.

Two more small, slimy snakes were discovered- I dispatched each in the same way. I believe in being absolutely certain the snake is dead before I toss it into the trash can. Goodness knows I would panic if one somehow survived and I found it slithering around in my garage!!! I grabbed my garden sheers and smashed the tiny disgusting animal until it seemed impossible that it could have survived. I was horrified to see that its tail kept twitching even after its demise. For safety sake I left the corpse on the ground for several minutes to ensure that it was not somehow still alive before I tossed the body in with the leaves.

I am happy to say that my yard now has two less snakes in it’s population. I only hope the survivors are not plotting an uprising.


Seeing the Good

We live in a world that seems to focus heavily on the negative. Many people will not hesitate to write a scathing review of poor service or bad food. Yet it seems much more rare that we stop to notice the positives. I have noticed lately, especially since I have gotten married, how much negativity is directed towards men. So many movies and TV shows tend to portray them as arrogant bullies or incompetent buffoons; while women tend to be portrayed much more frequently as intelligent and strong leaders. Of course, I understand the need for strong female lead roles, however it seems a shame to put down men simply to make women look better.

I have frequently heard women put down their husbands for their tendency to avoid doing anything around the house. In fact, I have heard so many women complain about their husband’s bad qualities that I had rather believed that most men must simply take little to no initiative at home.

However, my own experiences have been quite different. I truly desire to see the best in my husband and to notice the things he does well, instead of tearing him down for the mistakes he makes. With that thought in mind, I decided to brag on him for a moment.

Ever since this summer, I have not been feeling well. I had been loving being a housewife and keeping the house all sparkling clean and in order. Unfortunately I had days, and sometimes weeks at a time, when I barely had energy to get up off of the couch. On one occasion I was stressed and nervous so my husband suggested that I take a deep breath. I just look up at him and said “I’m too tired to breathe.”

I found myself feeling more and more frustrated with my inability to accomplish the tasks that I had set for myself to complete. Each day, my husband would come home from his stressful job without a single word of complaint. He never got frustrated or angry with me when the house was messy, or the laundry hadn’t been done, or the dishes were still dirty in the sink. He didn’t complain when the bathroom was a mess, the floor hadn’t been vacuumed, and I asked him to pick up our dinner on the way home because I didn’t feel like cooking.

Instead, he continuously reminded me to relax. He reminded me to let my body rest. He would encourage me that even though we didn’t know what was wrong, surely something was, and I needed to give my body time to heal. He even lent me his shoulder to cry on for more than one occasion when I was frustrated with my continued sense of laziness.

I always assumed that when I got married, I would take care of most or all of the household chores. Now that I am a housewife, I could think of no logical reason that my husband should come home from a busy day of work to yet more tasks at home. Yet, he has loaded and unloaded our dishwasher, made the bed, and taken out the trash on so many occasions before I could even think to ask. He has volunteered to help with anything around the house wherever I needed him.

I knew when my husband and I got married that he was my soulmate. I knew he was the love of my life. But I feel that these past few months of being sick have proven to me that he is a tremendous blessing.

I am NOT Martha Stewart, and that’s ok!

I have always dreamt of being a housewife; at least for as long as I can remember. I always imagined I would be something like Martha Stewart. I would bake incredibly impressive meals every night: the kind of meals that include homemade butter shaped in pretty little hearts, or vegetables with yummy sauces. I thought I’d spend my days making detailed little crafts. That woman seemed to be able to turn just about anything into an amazing project.

When I got married, I was so excited to find that my husband actually liked the idea of my being a housewife. He felt that if he could take away the stress of us both working, and allow me extra free time, then all the better. I was ecstatic! What would I do with all that free time?

Then I got sick. Doctor’s visits, tests, and stress all piled up. I had so many days where I just couldn’t bring myself to get up off of the couch. There are no words to describe how much of a failure I felt myself to be. My husband, the ever understanding and rational one, constantly told me to relax and take it easy. He said it was ok to not get everything done, I was sick and shouldn’t stress myself out needlessly.

But I couldn’t accept that. I wanted to be Martha Stewart. I wanted my house to look like it should be on a magazine cover: everything perfectly spotless and in place. I simply could not accept the fact that sometimes my bathrooms went weeks between being cleaned. I wanted to change that. I wanted to get up and get things done. I certainly had plenty of time! But I didn’t have the energy or strength to try.

Well, I finally have a diagnoses, which is at least somewhere to start. The doctor said Fibromyalgia, which isn’t exactly good news. But it is so much better than cancer or something else life threatening. The best part was he told me it was ok to say “no.” I needed to learn not to give myself unneeded stress, and I had to learn not to push myself so hard.

That is definitely easier said than done. Did I mention that on the one week when I finally had a burst of energy I decided to paint my entire living room and dining room? I am certainly an all or nothing girl.

Still, hearing from someone else, an expert, that it is ok to take things easy; it is ok to slowly work back up to normal and not to try to just jump back into a busy routine : it made all the difference. Nothing can describe that weight falling off of my shoulders.

I have been a perfectionist and a people pleaser my entire life. It is hard to accept that sometimes I simply can’t do everything, sometimes I can’t be there for everyone. I’ve decided my new life motto will simply have to be “Let it go!” Because I can’t be Martha Stewart, or at least it will take me awhile to get there, and that’s ok!

I am NOT for Sale

*Disclaimer: this post is in response to a book on human trafficking and is not appropriate for a younger audience.*

I read a book today about human trafficking. I will admit I had walked past this book at my library for weeks before I dared to pick it up, and it was with much trepidation I picked it up today. Once I began to read it I was too horrified to put it down.
Reading this book evoked similar emotions to a book I once read about the Holocaust. I remembered being doubtful at first– surely this is a sensational account, surely this sort of thing doesn’t/didn’t really happen. Then I felt sick– how could human beings do such horrible things to each other? Then I felt angry that the innocent, weak, and powerless so often fall prey. But at least when reading a book on the Holocaust I could simply remind myself that this was an event in history which has now passed. All I could do was prevent it from happening again.
However, stories of human trafficking are all too real to ignore, and they are not just a tragic history of past failures on the part of mankind.
The author of this book–Not for Sale, by David Batstone– posed an interesting thought. He asked how would we react if placed in the shoes of those in Europe while the Holocaust raged on. Would we turn a blind eye and pretend that our Jewish neighbors were not disappearing rapidly? Would we aid the enemy in finding and capturing them? Or would we be some of those rare few who rescued and tried to hide them?
His idea was all to clear. It’s easy to look back at an important point in history and condemn those who did nothing to stop the evil around them. It is easy to say that I would have behaved differently in their shoes. But with that idea clearly in mind I must ask myself what am I doing now?
We can shut our eyes and pretend that slavery has been eradicated. It’s merely an uncomfortable time in our history that we can learn about and wish had never happened. We can ignore that women, children, and men are forced across boarders– or lured across them in hopes of achieving a better future for themselves and their families, only to be taken advantage of and forced into slavery. A slavery that happens right in front of our eyes, yet we still don’t see it.
What moves me most is the horrendous idea of sex trafficking. I still have not seen the movie “Taken”, I was too terrified to think something so horrible could happen to a normal girl like me. But the truth is that it does happen, to more women and children than I even want to think about.
The idea makes me too sick to my stomach to even contemplate it. I feel I could write a hundred blogs all in response to this book– but one idea moves me the most.
There is one thought I can not shake– many women and children are trafficked in order to fulfill the supply and demand for prostitutes. It occurs to me that there is only one sure-fire way to destroy the sex trade– destroy the demand.
I can not help thinking that if men would only rise up and call foul. If they would stand up against this injustice. If they would protect the innocent and weak instead of preying upon them. The sex trade would utterly fall apart.
I think of my husband, a man who has continually shown me that he would make any sacrifice for me. I can not help but feel safe knowing that he loves me unconditionally and will always seek to protect me. I just don’t understand why all men do not behave this way? Why do some men seek out opportunities to prey on the weak? I also think of the many husbands who have been led astray by pornography who have then sought out the excitement, or maybe change of pace? that prostitutes can provide. Why?
I can not understand why. Why do men seek after prostitutes? What bothers me most is knowing that many women who have been commonly looked on as criminals in our society for this profession, have been forced and manipulated and degraded only to be constantly taken advantage of.
One story in this book struck me more than any other. It was a story of a girl who accepted a job in a foreign country hoping to make a better life for herself, only to find out she had been tricked by traffickers. She was put to work in a brothel. She begged her captors to let her make a call. She knew someone who would save her. She called an uncle, who then paid her ransom and set her free.
I was struck by the idea that this is exactly what these women need. I don’t mean that we should start collecting large sums of money to buy off the pimps and thugs– as the author of the book noted they would simply find more women to increase the supply if we began to work on their terms. But I do believe these women need to be rescued. They need men around this world to stand up and say that the way they have been treated is wrong. They need men who will treat women with respect and care, not as a piece of property to be bought and sold.
Yes women can be strong, but perhaps we would not have to fight so hard to protect ourselves if men would rally around us and join the fight.
Will we pretend that slavery does not exist and turn a blind eye? Will we allow ourselves to be part of the problem? Or will we stand up and say “I am not for sale, you are not for sale, no one should be for sale!”

Why fight?

In a world where so many people seem intent on expressing their feelings and emotions, regardless of how they might affect those around them, some people seem to think that fighting/arguing is a necessary part of any relationship.
Some people seem to think there are only two options: to ignore problems and allow them to fester, or to argue in order to settle the issue.
However, my husband and I both hate arguing. I especially hate to argue because I dislike confrontation and being yelled at.
Is it possible to have a healthy relationship without fighting? That depends on your description of a fight. Of course every relationship will have some disagreements or difference of opinions that have to be settled. However there are a multitude of ways to handle those disagreements.
As a married couple we know said they don’t argue they have “intense moments of fellowship.” Remembering that they are a team, they simply find ways of communicating through their differences.
My husband and I have used their suggestion in our own relationship. Endeavoring through open communication to avoid the huge blow ups that seem so common for some. I will admit it’s easy to communicate with my husband because he’s a very good listener, and he always allows me to tell him how I feel.
Yes, some have told us that because we’re still in our “honeymoon phase” everything about marriage may seem easier than it really is. I just have to admit that I really want to prove them wrong. I wonder if all couples communicated openly about their thoughts and feelings without being judgmental, critical, mean, or angry– perhaps divorce wouldn’t be so common.
Although, sometimes I also think I was just blessed enough to marry a man who makes marriage easy. 🙂

Manners in a Rude world

Almost every time I have checked my Facebook recently I have found at least one post addressing an increasingly frequent problem in our society: an over-attachment to technology. It seems that everywhere I go I see people who are completely unaware of their surroundings because they are completely focused on their phones. When did our “smart phones” become the center of the universe?
I went to a very conservative private college– and though some of their rules seemed out of date or strange– I was grateful for some of the lessons I learned because of them. It may sound strange for me to admit that I actually loved one rule that seemed so out of date– we were not allowed to carry our cell phones on campus. At my college, we were only allowed to have our cell phones in our dorm rooms or while we were off campus.
This certainly required a great deal of adjustment. I was used to having my cell phone always with me. However, my friends and family quickly learned that if I did not respond to their messages or calls immediately, I must be in class or at a meal with my friends.
I remember walking between classes and actually having conversations with my friends. I would sit at lunch or dinner and chat with those who had chosen to eat with me without once having our conversation interrupted by a phone call or a text message that they just had to check. I remember actually looking people in the face as I walked, instead of being glued to the screen of my phone.
Yes, this rule seemed incredibly old-fashioned. However, I learned something about manners and how to behave in public. Sadly, I have found myself reverting more and more to my previous tendency to keep my phone always in the palm of my hand, and I am ashamed to admit it. I have had too many conversations with friends that I missed because I was half-listening and half checking my phone.
I think it’s time that I made a change in my own life. There is a time for technology– for checking social media, blogging, texting– but that time is not when I am with my friends, family, or driving. Call me old-fashioned, but I miss face to face interactions that are not interrupted by technology.

Lessons in Etiquette

I have always been fascinated by books about proper etiquette. Perhaps part of my fascination is based on an interest in how the rules of society have changed over time– especially from the strict formality that used to dictate how people behaved. But I think most of my fascination stems from the fact that I have always been especially susceptible to making little societal blunders.
When I was a little kid it seemed that I could do no wrong. I occasionally felt that people even thought some of my comments were just the words of a precocious child. But as I grew older, I especially remember my sister’s attempts to correct my little societal blunders. Unfortunately I tended to be too unaware to understand the problems with my own behavior; or perhaps I was simply to intent on
hearing my own voice to consider how sharing my thoughts might hurt another person’s feelings.
Of course, as an adult I have now learned a great deal more about how to behave properly. Still, I enjoy occasionally brushing up on the proper rules of etiquette.
I recently read an excellent book on the subject: As a Lady Would Say by Sheryl Shade. This easy to read little book was filled with various scenarios and the appropriate responses. After reading the book I summarized a few general rules of etiquette that ought to be common-knowledge but that seem to be more than occasionally forgotten.
First, as Thumper said in Bambi “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” There are so many situations when no response would be much better than a rude come-back. She especially listed several situations when a person could avoid being impolite in response to another person’s lack of manners.
Second, if a situation is none of your business, then keep your nose out if it. The answers to so many scenarios that she listed were just not to ask for information that were unnecessary or might cause the other person embarrassment.
Finally, always behave politely even when others around you behave badly. You can not be responsible for any other person’s behavior– but you always have the choice to be the better person and be polite even when others are rude.
I read her entire book in an afternoon, but I have a feeling that will not be the last time I pick it up. I know I still make my fair share of blunders, but I’m hoping that if I try to apply a few simple general rules of etiquette I might avoid future embarrassing moments.