Wise Words from an Unlikely Source

SpongeBob SquarePants (character)

SpongeBob SquarePants (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is my column for this week. Despite the fact that it is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, I still had my Monday morning deadline. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Canada and Good Day to the rest of the world:

 

   “You never really know the true value of a moment, until it becomes a memory”. – SpongeBob

 

            Who knew that such wise words would come from a cartoon character—one that my youngest son, Tyler, tells me is “one of the most famous ever” and does his owners (Nickelodeon) proud in that it makes them millions. For those of you not familiar with SpongeBob Squarepants you obviously did not have kids of a certain age. He was popular at my house about twelve years ago—as he was my youngest son’s prelude to walking out the door to school.

            I know, I know, he probably should not have been watching television while having his breakfast, but that ship has sailed. I was once “one of those kind of moms”—the kind who would not let her kids play video games, the kind who made them healthy snacks, packed lunches that had no garbage so they could be part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” crowd at school, made sure they watched non-violent TV (though I don’t think SpongeBob was particularly violent), and dressed them preppy-like. I fell off the “crazy mom” wagon eventually, but according to my 22 year old son, not soon enough.

            Anyway, back to the premise of this column which are the wise words of that colourful talking sea sponge. I know that his creator penned the words, but how bad can a cartoon be if these are the types of little gems that drop from the character’s mouth? Are these not the kind of things we want our kids to be exposed to? Here is another exchange that while funny is also heart-warming: Patrick Star (Spongebob’s starfish friend) says: “Knowledge can never replace friendship. I prefer to be an idiot”. And SpongeBob’s response: “You’re not just an idiot Patrick, you’re also my pal.” While kids would think this was comical, they would also be getting a lovely, if droll message about friendship: you accept your friends despite their flaws.

            “You never really know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory” is on the surface a seemingly charming sentiment, but delving shallowly below that surface it really means that we tend not to enjoy the moment we are in. We savour our memories but should realize that the moment is just as enchanting when it happens as when we look back on it. I tend to forget this and live through the moments rather than in them.

            As I write this I am fondly remembering the Thanksgiving meal we had yesterday—but in order to make it possible a lot of work went into the process. As I am by no means a domestic goddess (which after speaking to a few people who have read this column, comes through loud and clear) I tried to enjoy the preparation of the meal instead of just the end result. I convinced myself (and it took some convincing) that all the fuss and bother, cooking and cleaning were worth it, because I was doing it for the people I love. And magically, it worked. The turkey was particularly succulent, the roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes were perfection themselves, the gravy was silky, and the dessert–wonderful pies (which I cannot take the accolades for) were made more magnificent by the purchase of salted caramel ice cream which complemented them exquisitely—and was my contribution.

            Why did I enjoy the meal so much? Not because I created it—but because the people I made it for were highly appreciative. They raved a little bit (knowing their sister, wife, and mom was not a natural cook), and I basked in the moment. I appreciate the memory today, but I really did know “the true value of the moment” while it was being lived.

           

English: A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pump...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And when I got up this morning—I lived in the moment again—I had pumpkin pie for breakfast!

Side notes: SpongeBob was created in 1999 by marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg and voiced by Tom Kenney.

Politically Incorrect Wonder Years

Wonder Bread Hometown Fresh Sign

Wonder Bread Hometown Fresh Sign (Photo credit: joseph a)

As politically incorrect

as a bologna sandwich

on white bread

with mayo or mustard or sometimes both

topped with iceberg lettuce

and cut into dainty quarters

accompanied by salted potato chips

on a styrofoam plate.

Gulping down a coke

with its empty sweet but oh so delicious calories

while watching TV

a rarity in my childhood house

where most meals were served

at the dining room table ~

meals that included meat and potatoes

and a side of vegetables or two and a salad

on china plates.

Dessert

Dessert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And in those days dessert ~

because my father

who expected little, did expect dessert.

Bliss then was

a rare sandwich for supper

instead of the usual heavy healthy fare

and the best sandwich of all

was politically incorrect.

What did you eat that gave you bliss when you were a kid (or even now) that seems out of step with our nutrition crazed (and rightly so) world?

My Street

Silence

Silence (Photo credit: requiemm)

Day

Dog barking

Motorcycle revving

Grass growing

Refrigerator humming

Phone ringing

Water running

Toilet flushing

Radio blaring

Night

TV off

Blinds drawn

Lights dimmed

Clock set

Book retired

Sleep calls

Blessed blissful silence…………………

Arf, arf, whoof, whoof ~

Stupid dog!

What breaks up your bliss?

Published in: on April 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm  Comments (42)  
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Sometimes Giving In Is Bliss

English: Various remote controls fot TV-set, D...

English: Various remote controls for TV-set, DVD and VHS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love my husband. I do. But he has some annoying habits.

First of all, he thinks that the remote control for the television is his. He really does. It kills him when someone else has control of it. Perhaps he feels the world is out of control, so at least he can control something.

Second, he hardly ever watches one program at a time. Even if he likes a program, during the commercial he will turn the station to something else, and forget to turn it back, until I quite sweetly and politely ask him to. (Okay, maybe not so sweetly and nowhere near politely.)

And then he has a habit which drives me even more crazy than I already am. If he cannot find a program he likes, he just keeps hitting the remote and changing the channel until I get up and leave the room. I am pretty sure he does not do this on purpose. All the time. But once in a while, he does do it on purpose even though he says he doesn’t.

Why he thinks the television is his domain is anyone’s guess – but I am guessing that he is not the only husband who has these tendencies.

Sure, he is wonderful on so many levels that I let this one go (most of the time). But really, how funny are wonderful things?

Sometimes bliss is leaving the room and reading a book. Does your significant other have a funny annoying bad habit?

books

books (Photo credit: brody4)

Published in: on February 17, 2013 at 11:42 am  Comments (77)  
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Can Routines be Blissful?

January 2010 Snow Scene

January Snow Scene (Photo credit: ς↑r ĴΛϒκ❂)

It is January. Yes, I have always been one for the obvious. Christmas seems like eons ago, New Year’s resolutions have been (for the most part) forgotten, and we are supposed to get on with our lives. School is back in session; everyone has returned to work. But do you suffer from holiday hangover? Not quite up to getting back into the stream of things? Want to make this year a little different than past years, and rid yourself of drudgery and delight in the things you found no pleasure in before?

Well, sorry – I don’t have a solution, other than the fact that holidays that go on too long are dangerous in and of themselves. At first, we luxuriate in time spent with family and friends. We read the new books we got for Christmas, listen to the new CDs, play our new games, and eat our little hearts out. Then what? Boredom starts to creep in. We get a little antsy. We want to get back to our routines even if we are not all that fussy about some of the things we have to do.

I looked up some quotes about “routine” on brainyquote.com, and out of three pages of quotes I found only a few that were even remotely positive about routine. A quote from Cardinal Henri de Lubac serves to sum up the masses: “Habit and routine have an unbelievable power to waste and destroy.” Rather heavy handed in his assessment I think, he was never-the-less in the majority when it came to thoughts on routine. But I beg to differ with the masses. Routine can be defined in two ways. de Lubac’s definition would have most likely included the words dull, repetitive, tedious, and mundane. And when looked on in this fashion, routine is none too inviting.

But routine has another side. A more pleasant cousin. Routine encompasses the regular, the everyday, the habitual, the scheduled, and the customary. And these attributes, if used wisely, can achieve a lot. Routine does not have to be mindless or boring—it can just be the set of procedures you use to get things done. And is not the everyday what we experience every day on a regular basis. Do we not use schedules to tamper down chaos? And much can be said for the customary, which gives us a bit of a map to either use or reject to forge forward.

One of the four quotes I found that did not skewer routine was from novelist, William Golding who said that: “Novelists do not write as birds sing, by the push of nature. It is part of the job that there be much routine and some daily stuff on the level of a carpenter.” Being a self-proclaimed writer married to a carpenter, I cannot agree with him more. Without deadlines and the rules of the trade, where would any of us be?

Cropped screenshot of Hedy Lamarr from the fil...

Screenshot of Hedy Lamarr from the film Dishonored Lady. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actress, Hedy Lamarr seemed to be putting routine down, but she really wasn’t when she said, “Some men like a dull life – they like the routine of eating breakfast, going to work, coming home, petting the dog, watching TV, kissing the kids, and going to bed. Stay clear of it – it’s often catching.” Admittedly today’s men are a bit more well-rounded than in Hedy’s day, but a lovely and homey routine is nothing to shake a stick at.

Another champion of routine, actress Andrea Martin says: “For pragmatic reasons, I love…routine. I love the structure of it. I know my life is kind of orderly. I just like that better.”

I am giving the last word to Yale educated actress, Jordana Brewster who says simply: “I like to have a routine, because everything else…is so unpredictable.”

None of us want predictability all the time—we need a little room for magic and miracles, but if you woke up every day not knowing what to expect, it would certainly not be a very productive day. At one time I railed against routine and predictability, the regular and the customary, but now I see the benefits of these little “organizers”. I love a break from routine, from the everyday, from the rules, but though I have not achieved the holy grail of wisdom, I am now more studied in my acceptance of those things I once rejected.

Like many of you, I am ready to get back to work, ready to take on the day, ready to return to routine. But not the routine of the rote or boring, but the routine that keeps chaos at bay. (And who says you cannot include some delights in your routine?)

Can returning to routine be part of a blissful life?

(This is my column for the January 15th edition of  The Kingsville Reporter)

Sunday Bliss ~ 1/6/13

Bliss first logo (2006-2008)

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday bliss is:

1. Having just enough syrup to cover your pancakes, a special Sunday breakfast that is a change from our usual oatmeal (or as my husband calls it gruel) and multi-grain Cheerios.
2. Tickets to a movie with popcorn and a drink included. We are going to go see Guilt Trip–which looks like it is funny, and I don’t know about you, but I find funny blissful.
3. A tentative agreement with the NHL – does not really affect me, but I know that it does thousands of people and for you I am happy.
4. Watching Sunday Morning on CBS. Absolutely love this program and love Charles–he calms me for the week ahead.
5. Getting ready to take on the work week with renewed vigour (at least at this point).
In my quest to find my bliss, I am going to feature some of my followers and how they find bliss. I do not refer to the next blogger as a follower (which someone pointed out sounds rather cultish), but as a good friend. Over the last six months we have shared important life happenings as well as jokes and fun. Check her out, but especially check out her Friday Mystery Photo day–we have a riot trying to guess the mystery photo. And it is another form of bliss for me. Without further ado, this is how she found Saturday night bliss:

Cindy from photosfromtheloonybin:

Sitting on the couch with my feet up after a great supper, checking my emails, watching TV with my hubby and smiling as I look around at my clean house = total bliss :)

Give me an example of your total bliss.

Family Life – You Gotta Love It!

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” ~ Harry S. Truman

Wise advice that I have learned the hard way. My sons are in their twenties. They are wonderful, kind, and considerate except when they are not. I live in a 1950’s sitcom world where the young kids are fresh faced and innocent, and the older ones always willing to lend a hand to mow the lawn or carry in groceries. In my little world, there is no discord. There are no raised voices. There are no arguments.

Cut to real life. I am just going to have to realize that real life has facets of my ideal 50’s sitcom life, but that is not always how things are. My youngest son came home from college for the Christmas holidays on Saturday, and on Saturday night, my husband and I were in the living room. Youngest son joined us, then oldest son came in and sat down. Then the cat came and laid on the floor. It was bliss. We were all warm and fuzzy, and all together. It is the way I imagine Christmas Day should be, but it happened on a nondescript Saturday.

I paused. I took note. And I enjoyed the camaraderie. I enjoyed having my family all in the same room, under our roof. It was cozy and we watched TV and snacked and joked. And I decided right then and there to enjoy the moment and not wish it away, or wish that it would happen at a prescribed time and place.

Since Saturday, there have been a few arguments, there has been a bit of discord–we are, after all, a normal family. There are going to be good times and bad. There are going to be warm and fuzzy times, and times with raised voices. I am just going to have to deal with the times that are not perfect, and recognize and enjoy those times that are.

Family life is not perfect~but I would not trade it for anything else in the world. (Okay a couple of million would be a nice addition but not instead of.)

Do you have some perfect and not so perfect family times?

Random Things

English: Sorting a random list using merge sort.

English: Sorting a random list using merge sort. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cristian Mihai wrote a blog with ten random things about himself and he got 150 likes and over 50 comments, so I thought I would give it a try to see if I can garner stats like that–so far only my About page has come close to that in “likes”, over a period of a year, not a day. (I have had some good “like” days, but never 150).

So here they are:

1. Like Cristian, I thought driving was too complicated, so did not get my licence until I was 35. Cristian is right, driving is too complicated.

2. I went to University until I was 27.

3. I love frozen Hostess chocolate cupcakes (the ones with the squiggle on top). I deny myself this treat until I can deny myself no longer.

4. I love watching General Hospital. This is a very difficult thing to reveal as it is my guilty pleasure. I have been watching it since I was fourteen. I gave it up for years cause it got weird (someone froze Port Charles or something)–and I don’t get to watch it everyday–but my answer to all of those who scoff at soaps — it does not kill your brain cells. This btw is my big reveal.

5. I love to read cook books. I don’t love to cook. Actually the cooking part is okay, it is the cleaning up part. I can channel my favourite food network cooks and chefs all I want for inspiration, but I know they do not have to clean up their messes.

6. I am not half as interesting as some of my favourite bloggers, but that does not stop me from posting.

7. I love the fall and all things autumnal. I love the word “autumnal”.

8. I was born on the same day as Queen Elizabeth, just lots and lots of years later. I consider her my soul sister. Can two very white women be soul sisters? I think so.

9. I have noticed that when I make a posting–if it is one where I need to be bolstered, the blogging community goes all out with kindness and compassion.

10. Despite what I write about my cat, I really do like him.

There you have it — ten things you could have lived your life quite happily without knowing.

 

Comforts ~ Day 16 or Grateful Does Not Need a Laugh Track

Lady Grey Tea

Lady Grey Tea (Photo credit: tyfn)

One of my favourite songs is from The Sound of Music. Called “My Favourite Things” I can conjure it up in my mind’s eye easily and  hear Julie Andrews singing it in her imitable lilt. The last stanza says it all:

“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.”

My favourite things do not necessarily mirror those in the song—raindrops on roses is a lovely and lyrical sentiment and whiskers on kittens is cute, but not really my cup of tea or glass of gin and tonic with a twist (or for that matter a cold beer or icy Coke—but now I am just getting carried away). Some of my favourite things are the things I am most grateful for, and are little scenarios that get played out in everyday life. I am grateful for

1. Family gatherings at holidays, but also impromptu gatherings of friends. Too much planning kills my enjoyment—but just enough planning makes it special. When you hit that balance, it is gold.

2. A good book, a cozy corner on the couch, a soft blanket, with gentle music in the background, sipping a cup of Lady Grey tea and devouring half a package of shortbread cookies.

3. Watching the television program “Community” with my youngest son; attending a “gig” of my oldest son’s band (even at a biker campground); and watching Power and Politics with my husband and having a lively political discussion.

I like to write on the “lighter” side and throw in a few quips and what I consider clever asides—but I find it hard to do when I am being grateful, and maybe that is alright. Maybe being grateful does not have to be clever~

Gin and Tonic

Gin and Tonic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Comforts ~ Day 9 Or Cookies and Milk

My three things today may seem pedestrian, but they are what get me through the hard times:

books

books (Photo credit: brody4)

1. My books – I can lose myself in a good book (or magazine, or newspaper, or mouthwash bottle, or cereal box – I will quite literally read anything)

2. The Food Channel, Community, Downton Abbey, The Big Bang Theory, and sometimes when I am feeling really low, I watch really crappy TV to make me feel better about my life (LOL)

3. Comfort food – which generally includes something sweet and a glass of milk. The glass of milk cancels out the guilt from eating the something sweet – after all, we all need calcium-right?

It may sound like I am not really trying today, but seriously these are the things I am grateful for when life gets just that little bit too difficult.

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