Am I really a Dinosaur?

(This was a bit stream of consciousness and therefore a tad rambly, apologies for this!)

dinosaur bones

I was late to the blogging game, I fully admit. By the time I got here the days of high profile blogging were already long gone. Meaning that today, in order to get “seen”, you have to exceedingly special or, in some cases, brave, in order to be heard above the crowd. Is it OK to be average? Is that allowed?

I once worked for a woman who constantly reminded me that it was alright to be ordinary. In her view, to underachieve was disrespectful to one’s self, while overreaching expectations could be disrespectful to one’s colleagues. This was difficult for a here-to-fore overachiever to wrap her head around. Wasn’t perfection always the goal? Since when was mediocre ever OK?

While I still don’t fully agree with this “tall-poppy”-ish, zero-sum type stance, I will concede that age has taught me a few things about perfectionism and persistence. Mainly that they are relative to your particular situation, and a few other things:

  1. Perfection does not exist. Full Stop.
  2. Comparison is everyone’s Achilles Heel. Even if it’s comparison with yourself in a different time span.
  3. Persistence will be exhausting. Expect it.
  4. Persistence will (almost) always pay off.
  5. Being “average” but persistent, will usually yield better results than being “perfect” but lethargic.

So here I am, hanging on. In a sea of bloggers, all vying for our voices to be heard. Me, without any videos or fancy fonts. Thinking average thoughts and writing about mediocre things. An average middle aged woman with an average day job and an average family.

And I am SO grateful for all of these things (including my lovely readers)!

Am I really a dinosaur (i.e. old and irrelevant)? Probably, but I am learning to see these wrinkles as the reward for a life of effort.

Thanks for listening, stay cozy!

Grateful

Annoyance

One night last week I got home from work to find my home much cooler than usual. I searched the house for open windows and, after finding none, proceeded to play with the thermostat. Minutes passed, the house maintained its chilly demeanor, and the fans that should bring in warm air from the furnace refused to clicked on.

cabin in snow

Courtesy of Pixabay

At first, I was angry. I thought perhaps the gas company had erroneously turned off our service, or maybe the household accountant had forgotten to pay the bill? It was a near-freezing evening and I had a small child in the house. I was irritable and slightly furious at the thought of my poor little one freezing through the night.

I managed to reign in my anger, and my interaction with the gas company phone representative was actually quite pleasant and productive. I wrapped up my son in layers of pajamas and a few blankets, and the gas company sent out someone the next day to solve our furnace issue. Our house is apparently well insulated as the temperature actually only got down to about 64 degrees F inside.

Elsewhere

Fast forward a week, and on my way to work I was listening to the BBC radio crew discuss what is happening in the Congo right now. I was awestruck and dumbfounded by what I heard. The displacement of more than 1.7 million people? The stories were heart wrenching and almost unbearable to listen to; kids starving and dying, families literally ripped apart.

I recall being a teenager and learning about the Rwandan genocide. I remember, then too, being gob smacked by the images and the accounts of tragedy. I felt so helpless about it, and I found myself, for a while, constantly wondering what could be done. The same is true decades later during the recent civil war in Syria.

Although I do attempt to educate myself about politics, I’m afraid I am no expert in foreign affairs and I do not claim to understand the circumstances by which any of these conflicts have taken place. There are much more intelligent people out there who can understand and explain that part so much better than myself.

What I do recognize, is the humanity.

When I stop for a moment and try to put myself in the shoes of someone who has just lost literally everything (granted, I understand that I can never really know how someone feels or thinks), I feel my soul ache. I begin to see the gaping yawn of hopelessness, and I still can’t imagine experiencing it real life, rather than from the safety of my pretend perspective.

africa

Courtesy of Pixabay

This is not a movie. This is not a story. This is happening in real life, to real people.

I tend to believe that life exists on a knife’s edge as it is. However, when confronted with the pictures and reports of what some of these people have experienced, I feel that knife getting thinner and thinner.

(What’s the best way to help? I’m not sure yet, but if I can, I will.)

Meanwhile, I get frustrated with my electric kettle because I need to get to work. I need coffee now, and 2 minutes just seems too long to wait.

My car is starting to show its age and recently the automatic door locks have stopped working, which means I now have to reach across the passenger’s seat in order to allow entry for a fellow traveler. Not that I carry passengers in my “work” car often, but it is annoying all the same…

…until I remind myself of what others are dealing with.

So, what am I grateful for?

So much.

I am grateful for the kind and decent human beings of the world who are working to help the people in places like the Congo, Rwanda, and Syria. They are heroes. I am hoping that they can forge a way for peaceful resolutions and avoid further catastrophe.

I am grateful for the place I was born. No country is perfect and I certainly would not contend that mine is, but I have had rights and opportunities opened to me here that I may not have had in other places. I live in a place that allowed me to get an education and give my son a more secure childhood than I had. Sometimes I contemplate chance itself and the fact that I could have been born anywhere, perhaps into great wealth, but most likely into even greater poverty.

It is complete happenstance that I ended up where I am, and it is a privilege to live my life for this reason alone.

beach heart

Courtesy of Pixabay

I am most grateful for the people I have had the honor and privilege of knowing.

My husband: He is an idealist. He is the one who reminds me what the best qualities of human beings are. And he makes me laugh. Considering my relative hermitage, outside of work, he is the one I could be around 24/7.

My son: The kind of care I have for my child is like no other I have felt before. I never thought I could move mountains; I’m still not sure can, but now I’m willing to try.

My mother: Though her life was cut short, her sensibilities continue to inform my daily decision-making. Her compassion inspires me to have love for people everywhere. She used to keep this Maya Angelou quote on her refrigerator (and she lived by it):

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

My father: He is a brilliant man. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but he challenges me to see and appreciate different perspectives. He is sweet and benevolent, in his own way.

My grandparents: The glue of our family, the people who gently and consistently keep tabs on their children and grandchildren. They have raised more children than they asked for, with love, kindness, and grace.

My friends: I only have a few close ones, and they live very different lives from myself, but they are people whom I trust implicitly. I do my best to be worthy of such alliances.

You: I am still flabbergasted that anyone would be interested in what I have to say out here on the web. I am so grateful to all the folks who have read anything here on Cozy and Sage. I am thankful for all the connections that I have made here in the blogging community as well. Thank you for being part of this relatively new and exciting writing journey!

Wishing all peace and warmth; stay cozy!

*This post was inspired by, and written for, The Blessed Project by Susie Lindau. Thanks so much for hosting this wonderful project, Susie! 

The New American Dream, Part 2: Status Symbol

pocket watch, sands of time

Many of us are products of the 80’s and 90’s and can recall some of the items that were popular back then. Certain shoes, cars, and electronic gadgets were considered a sign of wealth and social status (or good credit) at that time. Owning things brought prestige and envy, especially amongst peers and colleagues. The phrase “he who dies with the most toys, wins” was coined.

Fast forward twenty-five years, through 3 recessions, a housing bubble, the healthcare crisis, and crippling student debt. In each case, we have learned something about handling money (or how not to handle it). We have also been awakened to the fact that the economy in most countries, but perhaps particularly the United States, is a living, breathing thing. It is a beast that can both make and ruin people, financially and otherwise, as it waxes and wanes.

For most of us though, through all of the perambulations of the market, there has been the constant of employment. A vocation to pull us out of our student loan obligations and afford accommodations whether they be our own, or rented from someone else. Work, a perceived cornerstone of our nation, and something that we are all taught to pursue passionately. After all, where would all our “things” come from without some form of paid occupation?

flea market stuff

Not to mention that those “things” come with costs aside from their purchase price. It can be alarming to consider that everything you own, you are still paying for (hence, the idea of being “owned” by the objects one has acquired). Ultimately, any “thing” that you possess requires some type of residence, whether that be your abode, a storage unit, or your parents’ house (although those costs may be more intrinsic), and this will usually be something that you have to pay for. These items have physical costs too, such as some form of maintenance, or, at the very least, the time and effort it would require to rid yourself of them.

So, we toil for someone else in order to acquire possessions, we continue to work in order to pay for the said items’ housing and maintenance, and oftentimes must physically use or care for an item to keep it operational. While we usually look at this equation in terms of monetary cost, it could be argued that the largest and most valuable expenditure here is not of dollars, but of time.

wristwatch

Although it’s true that we all get at least some time, it is lamentable that we don’t always get to spend it the way in which we desire. Those fortunate enough to have surplus wealth, however, get the side benefit of utilizing their hours as they choose, rather than for another’s cause.

Accordingly, having “free” time has become a sign of wealth and means. This could be true either because the owner actually has a healthy income, or simply because they are adept at budgeting, and choose time over objects. In any case, the freedom that an individual has due to their possession of spare moments is becoming associated with greater social status, rather than ineptness, as had been the stigma in decades past.

clock tower

Now that seemingly everyone is operating on someone else’s schedule, those that are allowed to function according to their own agenda are seen as the new elite, having escaped the so-called “rat race.” The value of currency is becoming more associated with its ability to grant chronological freedom than the accumulation of commodities. Time, and the freedom to dictate it, are becoming the new signs of prestige, in a nation that has brandished its 40 hour work week as an ideal for so long.

*This article is the second of the New American Dream series.

Stay cozy!