my thoughts on silence

If you’ve been listening to our podcast, you’ve heard Mary and me talk about the past Three Weeks – the time between the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the Fast of the 9th of Av – in which we have switched off all of the music in our lives. For Mary, that also included not going to the gym regularly, where they blast the power workout music, and for me, that meant not listening to my beloved podcasts or my classical radio station, which fill my home with voices and soothing music, so I don’t feel alone.

For THREE WEEKS.

It’s actually a surprisingly long time. In the long run, it flies by – no sweat. But in the short run, when you’re really “feeling it” every day, it is a while.

Note: we chose to do this not only because it’s traditional, but also so that we would “feel” the mourning we’re supposed to be doing for these three weeks, in keeping with Psalm 137:5, where we put Jerusalem over our greatest joy.

Obviously, we can’t control the fact that stores often play music for their customers, or companies play music for customers on hold. But with the exception of the grocery store, I don’t really shop that much, and I didn’t shop at all these past three weeks. And I avoid the phone like the plague, so I didn’t have hold music, either.

Interestingly, when I cut out the music I normally listen to, and replaced it with nothing, I found that my mind reached way back into my childhood to find songs to hum or sing. I had been listening to a lot of Ingrid Michaelson and Colbie Caillat before the Three Weeks, and I was surprised to find that I really didn’t automatically start humming those songs when no music was on. Instead, I had my standbys – “And He Shall Feed His Flock” (from Handel’s Messiah – don’t ask my WHY this is the song that is ALWAYS in my head! it used to be the Can Can, so this is at least a step up…) and “La Vie en Rose”. Then, one day, I randomly started singing “Can He, Could He, Would He”, which is a song my dad used to sing to us when we were really little. I don’t even know more than the one line. So that got repetitive… Then there was the day of “I’m Inright, Outright, Upright, Downright Happy All the Time” from my children’s church days. ?!

Anyway, it intrigued me to find where the musical sector of my mind would go when I didn’t input anything. It turns out I have a lot of history in there. Perhaps you should try it sometime, too. Maybe next year? :-)

 

P.S. – I looked up “Can He, Could He, Would He” on YouTube while penning this post, and it turns out I had absolutely no idea what that song was about. For some reason, I had connected it to a man who swam the English Channel, or something like that… Totally wrong. Wow.

breaking bread

I recently came across this post, which I found so incredibly inspiring. Obviously, you should read it. I will give you a moment to do so.

 

Ok, so I was so glad this author emphasized how rewarding it is to have people in your home. How easy it can be. You realize that 138 dinners in one year is well over twice a week, right? Isn’t that awesome / incredible / inspiring?!

When Joshua and I got married, we had already talked about how much we love hospitality and having people in our home (our parents homes, then). We were so excited about the opportunity of having our own place and being able to host people for events and meals. Our culture is sliding away from having people in the home – we are much more likely to go out to eat. Personally, I think it’s a combination of laziness (don’t want to cook, don’t want to clean) and control (want to leave whenever we want). It’s so sad, because a restaurant is not the same as a home. You know what I mean.

This man is [apparently?] single, and I think things would need to be different when there’s a marriage and a family to prioritize. However, I come away from a post like this with a warm desire to have more people here for dinner. Maybe brunch. Possibly lunch on a Saturday. Drinks and dessert? Like he implies throughout the post – it really can be so easy. So simple. So doable.

So let’s do it.

a good argument

We recently had some interaction with a company, and I came away thinking, “Not impressed.”

As I muttered this to myself, it occurred to me that the only time I can remember anyone ever saying this in real life was a teenage girl, and she was speaking to me.

You see, I had just addressed the male section of the choir we were both in, and one of the comments I had made rubbed her the wrong way. She went on a long and uncomfortable explanation about men (especially young men) and their egos and the fragility thereof, shifting from one foot to the other as she talked to me.

I was nodding along understandingly, quietly taking the correction from someone YOUNGER than me, trying to control my embarrassment that she felt the need to do this (which is really the only right way to take correction, isn’t it?).

Anyway, so then she ended with the absolute worst line you can ever use with someone who took debate or whose father taught them apologetics and how to argue. She said, “I was, like, really not impressed.”

When I heard that last line, I very nearly let the whole conversation slide right out of my mind like it had never happened. YOU’RE not impressed? Why would I need to impress you? Who cares? You’re not an authority figure in my life! What, are you grading me?! If your whole point was that you were, like, really not impressed, then, like, I don’t care. The world just doesn’t revolve around you and not everyone needs to impress you.

Fortunately for the both of us and men everywhere, G-d gave my eighteen-year-old self some wisdom and grace and I chose to let the last comment slide and take the first part to heart, for the most part. After all, we can learn from everyone.

 

But just as a note to those who critique and correct: don’t ever base your argument on the fact that you were unimpressed. It’s completely immaterial. Let’s use some black-and-white, indisputable Scripture, ok? It works SO much better. :-)

pickle pickle

I made pickles yesterday!

I also made pickles on Monday, but I’m going to tell you about the time yesterday, because it was momentous.

I’ve been doing canning projects with my mom for a few summers now. She’s the real expert – I’m still learning. Actually, I hadn’t made pickles all by myself before this week. (!)

Something scary about a HUGE pot of boiling water, and dropping things into it.

Anyway. My mom is out of town this week, and my garden is producing a lot of cucumbers. Way more than Joshua and I can eat by ourselves. Because I now have a photo on my iPhone of my mom’s incredible bread & butter pickle recipe, I decided to make pickles all by myself.

So I went over to my mom’s house and stole all of her canning supplies, because I really don’t have any. I went out and bought my own jars, and I used all cucumbers from my own garden. About 5 pounds of them! It was incredible!

Everything worked just the way it was supposed to. I did make a bit of a mess doing it, but sometimes that’s part of the fun. Most importantly, none of the jars broke and ALL of them sealed! So now I have six jars of pickles that were made all by myself with cucumbers from my own garden!

This really feels like a rite-of-passage. I’m all grown up! :-)

 

P.S. – I returned all the canning supplies, washed and dried. If my mom wasn’t an avid reader of my blog, she would probably never have known.

can’t help the way I feel

Joshua made me a lovely mix-CD with songs from Ingrid Michaelson‘s newest album, “Lights Out“, and miscellaneous Colbie Caillat songs of which he approves (Joshua is very discriminating when it comes to music, and will not buy any songs that focus on negative emotions or contain profanity, among other things – I feel very protected).

One of the songs, Colbie Caillat’s “What Means the Most“, contains the line, “I can’t help the way I feel.” Sometimes a song gets a little fuzzy, and we can’t understand some of the lyrics, but this line stands out clearly. I can’t help the way I feel.

I find this very interesting.

I so totally disagree with this concept. One of my pet peeves is emotions and the control we have over them. I used to say (often) that I didn’t have any emotion; that I was stone cold and didn’t feel anything. In exploring my softer side, I have since discovered that I do, indeed, have many emotions. I just have a lot of control over them. Sometimes I have too much control, and don’t allow myself to feel anything when I really should feel something.

However, in our culture, it seems to me that we are raising a generation of emotionally-irresponsible adults. Children are told all their lives that emotions are something that happen to them. We can’t help who we love (because love is an emotion), we can’t help the way we feel about something, we can’t control depression (except with pills).

This is ridiculous.

Emotions are mind games. We can rise above, we can beat them down, we can banish them from our minds and spirits. We CAN help the way we feel. That’s how people who have been married for 50+ years do it: on the days you wake up without a shiver of love in your heart for your spouse, you CHOOSE to love, you CHOOSE to stay and care. Colbie Caillat would have us believe that we can shrug and say, “I can’t help the way I feel.” No wonder over half the world is divorced.

I cannot remember a time when my emotions overran my more rational, logical side, so I cannot help those of you who are being overpowered by the beast. All I can say is, it can be done. We most certainly can help the way we feel. It is difficult at times, but it CAN BE DONE. Emotions are not something that just happen to us. Emotions are things we can harness and control and release when the circumstance demands it. Emotions can be put to good use.

Don’t let your emotions control you. Help the way you feel.

deer me

Joshua and I were honored to be invited to dinner at an older couple’s house this past week. I say “older” in the most respectful way possible, basically just to indicate that they are two generations ahead of us.

One of the primary reasons we were there was to enjoy what we might call “hand-shot” venison, like we would reference tomatoes from the backyard garden as being “homegrown” and sweaters as “handmade.” You know – Mike went out to the 54 acres he leases and shot the deer himself. And then lugged it by himself back to his gargantuan pickup truck. While he is completely capable of processing the deer himself, as well, he chooses to outsource that to a mom-and-son (?!) team in the area.

Isn’t that SO cool?

I mean, even if you’re not into the whole hunting scene, the idea of being able to do all of this is mind-blowing.

The venison steaks Mike and Mary Anne prepared for us were also delightful. I could definitely get into venison.

By the way (and this is kind of an aside), but did anyone other than my family grow up reading that children’s book, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel? And isn’t it HILARIOUS that the steam shovel’s name is Mary Anne?! Even more so because this Mike, that we visited, is definitely the same kind of can-do guy that Mike Mulligan is. We toured their adorable home, and much of it was made by Mike, fixed by Mike, and/or improved by Mike. Mike made the deck with his bare hands (and maybe some tools). Mike made the mantel. Mike *moved the door of their laundry closet* without leaving a trace.

I told Mary Anne that she is a blessed woman. :-) The thing I like most about Mary Anne is her ability to keep conversation flowing without a single hiccup. It makes talking to her so easy, and I get easily panicked by trying to make conversation with difficult people.

I think that what made our time with Mike and Mary Anne so special is how easily we are able to connect with them, and they with us, even with the age gap. They are totally wonderful people, and their stories and life experience are unparalleled. The air is always filled with a lot of laughter when we visit.

Now we’re talking about a nature walk in the future. :-)