It would be nice to be in a movie

As an American, I get carried away by the heroism and overcoming of huge odds.  For instance, in the latest incarnation of Robin Hood, Russell Crowe’s title character goes from being an archer in disregard, to a rich thief, to a baron’s son, to being happily married to Cate Blanchett.

No one bothers to question him as to why he is riding the king’s horse when he returns to England and he seemlessly becomes lord over a great number of servants who can cook for him.

And I know that you can drive across England in a day, but can you really ride from the northern area where Nottingham is all the way to the southern coast in a short enough time that you don’t need cooks, cattle, and food for your army?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the movie which I enjoyed immensely, I’m just wishing I could get some of that magic pixie dust.

Instead of having to interrupt what I’m doing, I could simply declare myself the winner of a small lottery and soon I could pay people to do all my food preparation so that I could have time to write instead of having to split cooking and cleaning duties with my wife.

Rather than having to work for weeks and months to lose a few stubborn pounds, I could simply run through the streets with a cool looking dog (which would hopefully eat my family’s cats) and we could just re-run that sequence a few times until I thinned out.

Instead of having these dumb fights with my wife where I my pithiness drops to something like “did not,” I could have a very alturistic argument followed by long winded French kissing to make up for perceived differences.

Alas, I am not in a movie and so I have to work a regular job, use “portion control,” and step away from the keyboard long enough to go for a walk/jog to burn those calories.

It takes a mix of hard work and smart work these days to be a generalist.

To be good at your “real job,” spend time with your family, mow the grass, be engaged at church, stay fit, and to write a book (and invest in all the social media required to become an author).

Someday I should emerge (theoritically) doing well at all those things, but for now, I suppose I will have to make do with the progress and the “joy of it” (which is sometimes there and sometimes isn’t if I’m honest) and keep plugging away.

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What I Learned From a Maple Tree

The New Year starts and you have all of your goals in place, but just around the corner there’s a problem waiting for you.

You may twist your ankle throwing your phone practice schedule and the disarray. Lightning might strike your house and destroy your computer and all of the notes she forgot to back up.

Recently, I got a lesson about resiliency from a likely source. In March of this year, I was true several trees down goalie area of our yard. Out before I could remove the branches so they have lain there until now. The modest chore of cleaning up from that project finally made its way to the top of my “to do” list and was I in for a surprise.

First clue that always right was the fact that there were still some green leaves growing off of the branches. As I tugged on that to inch diameter branch, I noticed that several parts of it didn’t want to come off the ground. Yanking harder, I was able to get all of the side branches loose and what I discovered was that four or five of them had sprouted roots that had anchored the branch to the ground and give it new life.

What a marvelous example for those of us who are chasing long-term goals.

Whether your goal is large — writing a novel, run a marathon, we’re losing 60 pounds — you will encounter some sort of problems along the way.

The difference between those who makes their goals and those who don’t is the ability to adapt and work around these problems.

If a tree that can only follow instinct can survive, so can your dreams.

Maybe a change will add peace to your marriage

 Tired of Fighting

If your marriage is like most marriages, you probably have settled into a familiar routine regarding who does what chores around the house.

For years, I handled all of the finances and the family from the overall budget down to the weekly spending. My wife would call me or ask me if she could spend money on certain items since she didn’t have an understanding of the budget details and because she wanted to make sure that she wasn’t spending money that we didn’t have.

While I appreciated this behavior (it sure beats being married to someone who just spends money on anything they want), it added a lot of stress to our marriage.

If I told her “no” about something, she was gracious about the decision, but that didn’t hide that disappointments that I read in her face and each “no” also poked at my emotional insecurities of being a good provider.

Other times, I would have plans in my head for spending our weekly money — the money that we used for groceries, eating out, and miscellaneous items – and Kradan would spend it.  She would find a good buy at the store and return home, excited to tell me all about it. Instead, I would be upset because I had already allocated that money in my head.  You can imagine that this did not go over well.

Time for a Change

A couple of months ago, I decided that arguing over finances wasn’t worth the hassle it created in our life. So we sat down together and divided up different parts of the budget. I still controlled the overall budget, but making this change gave her freedom to decide where the money went on a day-to-day basis.

I was nervous about giving up this control to Kradan since I enjoy control. Instead of a problem,  I found that it is a win/win situation for both of us.  Kradan has more control and I don’t have to worry about telling her “no.”

For instance, while shopping for groceries, my main focus was always to spend as little as possible regardless of the nutritional quality of the meals.  She would then be required to make with food that I had decided upon.  The lack of nutrition sapped at her feelings about herself as a mom.  Now, she is much happier about the meals that she creates for the family. Control and flexibility over where to shop and how much to spend have allowed her to create meals that feels good about.

 Giving Up Control

The problem with giving up control, of course, is that you really have to give it up. You cannot claim to turn ownership over to your spouse in a given area and then complain about their choices. To make this easier on myself, I made a point when we first changed the system to adopt a very simple mantra, “whatever is fine with me.”

The “whatever” mantra is not a way to avoid discussion, but simply a way to embrace the fact that I have turned ownership over to her. Now when she comes home excited about a bargain that she found, I don’t second-guess her and she doesn’t have to worry about what my reaction is going to be.

 How About You?

Finances may not be an issue for you in your marriage. You may have developed a system already that works without causing fraction.

However, there is bound to be some sort of issue where the above principles may apply. Think about the things that you argue over with your spouse. Somewhere in there is an issue of control or an issue of how decisions are made.

Jot a few things down and talk it over maybe you can find some common ground that will limit made some of the issues that you have.