Comparing how it is, to how it should be

Here in the land of Oz, it’s supposed to be getting cooler; it is autumn after all, and has been for nearly a month. The only problem is that it hasn’t been getting cooler at all. It’s actually been very hot.

Lately, when we’ve had 42 degree days (that’s about 107 F for all you northern hemisphere peeps) and the most common cry around our house was “It’s not supposed to be this hot!!” And that’s a fact, it shouldn’t be this hot at this time of year – but it is.

I think it feels worse because psychologically we were all geared up for it to get cooler. So how we ‘feel’ it, is more intense because “it’s not supposed to be like this!” When it’s the middle of summer and it’s 42 degrees, we just shrug and say “Well, it is summer!” We’re not surprised because our mindset is in summer mode.

And we do this with other areas of our lives, don’t we? When what should be happening is at odds with what is actually happening, we find it harder to cope with. I remember years ago talking to people older and wiser than me about a situation involving someone I love and saying “But they should be coping with it by now!” And the response that came back has always stayed with me, although I don’t always remember to live by it. “You have to deal with things/people as they are, not as you think they should be.”

We can’t change how those around us are living by telling them that they should be living differently. The only person we can change is ourselves. Whether we think people ‘should’ be over something, coping with a situation or showing progression in their thinking and growth, if they aren’t, they aren’t. And I have no business saying it must be otherwise.

Once again we find that if we focus on our own journey and are less concerned (in the right way) about where others are on their journey, we will have less time to pass judgement on those around us.

If we can accept that sometimes where people are is more important than where they ‘should’ be, we can truly begin to make a difference in other’s lives and grow ourselves.

Important conversations

The other day, my eleven year old came home with the school-set task of writing a speech on cyber bullying. One of the benefits of being slightly skilled with words is that one’s children deem it useful to have one read over their work; and this has the added benefit of me being very up to date on what they’re studying at school.

I was startled that at eleven, she had been shown a video of a girl who had ended her life due to cyber bullying. I was already formulating my complaint to the school, deciding which teacher to take it to first etc etc. And then, as the discussion went on, I realised how thankful I was that she had been given this assignment. It had paved the way for a great conversation on cyber bullying, its effects and sometimes tragic consequences.

It’s scary to talk about these issues; issues like suicide, self-harm, depression, eating and anxiety disorders. They make us afraid; as though talking about them and acknowledging their existence will somehow beckon them to our door. Sure, we all know in our heads that talking about these issues actually reduces the chances, but in our hearts, it’s still scary.

It’s confronting to hear these words coming out of my barely pubescent daughter’s mouth. And part of it, actually, nearly all of it, is that I don’t want her to see this ugly, awful, nasty side of life – of people. I don’t want her to be confronted with the cruelty that is cyber bullying and the devastating ramifications of it all. I want her to still believe that bad things don’t happen to good people, that “it will never happen to me” can be true, that if we just all try hard enough to get along, peace will reign. And I want to believe those things too. Oh, how desperately I want to believe them.

By the end of the conversation, we had talked about the reasons why bullies bully, why it effects some people more than others, and, importantly, what to do and how to feel if it ever happens to her. We talked about what to do if we see someone being bullied. We talked about social media, its dangers and its benefits. We talked about when to believe what someone is saying to you or about you. We talked about who to believe and who not to believe. We talked about remembering that God made us and that His opinion is the only one that matters. We talked about how hard it is to remember that sometimes. We talked. And we talked.

What started out as a conversation about an assignment, became one of  the most important conversations we will have.

And the real kicker at the end?

“I love talking to you, Mum. Especially about things like this that really matter.”

Some conversations are hard to have; have them anyway.

 

 

Do you need adjusting?

After my unintended hiatus from posting, I’m back, ready to start the year. Yes, I know it’s March but close enough is good enough, right? 😉

 

This year, our family routine has had to change significantly. With only one child now at school and the other doing a gap year and not having her ‘P’s’ yet, we find ourselves with only a semblance of routine from one week to the next.

It’s funny how much we rely (well, I do, anyway!) on the rhythm of life. Whether it’s a fast rhythm or a slower one, it brings a sense of order to our days and usually means we are more productive and have a clearer head space.

Yet, the fact remains that nothing stays the same, and we must, indeed, accommodate and adapt to the changes that life brings us; we need to make adjustments.

The word ‘adjustment’ is quite interesting, definition wise. The fourth and fifth definitions are as follows:

adjustment: 4. the act of bringing something into conformity with external requirements: the adjustment of one’s view of reality. 5. harmony achieved by modification or change of a position: They worked out an adjustment of their conflicting ideas.

The act of bringing something into conformity with external requirements. Sounds negative doesn’t it? For most of us, conformity is a dirty word and we will avoid ‘conforming’ at all costs. In fact, look on any social media at the moment and you’ll find nearly every ‘self-help’ message is generally about encouraging people not to conform. And absolutely, there are times we shouldn’t conform. The world would be a bland and boring place if we all conformed about everything.  So, here, making an adjustment is something we might well buck against.

But I love the fifth definition – harmony achieved by modification or change of position. By making a few adjustments in our lives, sometimes, harmony is the end result. Just tweaking things slightly can make a huge difference and bring cohesiveness to situations.

We all need to make adjustments, don’t we? Our youngest is having to make some big adjustments as she steps into high school; our elder daughter needs to adjust to life outside the school routine; and we need to adjust our lifestyles and habits to make room for the changes in our girls’ lives.

It’s important to be able to make adjustments. And it’s important to teach our children how to adjust too. Life will never be smooth or simple or easy, no matter how much we want, or strive for, it to. Not teaching them to adjust, to bend with the ebb and flow of life is to do them a great injustice. If we are always trying to make ‘the world’ fit around them, instead of encouraging them to be adaptable, we are setting them up for hardships and failure once they are out from under our care. Many researchers cite that the ability to be adaptable is essential to success – and not just in a material sense, but in a human sense. We need to be able to make adjustments and be adaptable in order to not just survive but to thrive.

What adjustments do you need to make in your life that could bring harmony into your world?