Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I went

My DH and I spent the weekend in DC, at the Restoring Honor Rally. It was--words fail right now. I'm glad I was there, and it gave me plenty to think about. What I want to do in this post is explore the reasons I felt compelled to be there.

I like Glenn Beck. I think he is a smart guy who has been through a lot in his life, much of it by his own hand. He has found a faith that I don't share--I mean, I'm not Mormon. I am a Christian, so I think I understand the depths of his love of God. And we both look to the Bible for our guidance and understanding. (Okay, I could digress a lot here but I'm going to focus on the rally.) I also think Glenn is over the top quite frequently, and I think he knows it too. He believes that a huge portion of the population is blind or sleeping, and this is his way of grabbing us by the lapels and shaking us.

I think he's wrong some of the time. I think he goes too far on plenty of occasions. And I'm pretty sure he'd agree with me on all of this. But most emphatically I don't look to Glenn for a messiah figure, or even a Moses figure. I don't look to him to form my worldview, and I don't do things just because "Glenn says."

So, when this guy I listen to on the radio says "Come to D.C." I didn't jump. But I thought about it and prayed about it for a while. Last Sunday, six days before the rally, we bought our plane tickets and got our hotel reservation. Here's why:

  • I was curious. Glenn had played this one close to the vest, not really saying what this would be. I wanted to see it.
  • I wanted to be a part of a message of concern and encouragement. The country feels unhealthy right now. I don't mean Washington. I'm talking about the culture. Sometimes it feels like my friends and I are the weird ones, the ones who believe in traditional marriage, who think that everything that feels good isn't necessarily good for us. The ones who want to take care of our neighbors because that's what people do. This small group...we're not the only ones, are we?
  • I wanted to be heard. This is the same reason we went to the national Tea Party on 9/12 of last year. The actions our government is taking, like universal health care and the refusal to prosecute the Black Panther voter intimidation case, feel foreign, deeply un-American, to me. So that was a political motivation for me.
  • I feel afraid of the path our country is on. I was looking for comfort and reassurance. I got that by the ton at the Tea Party last year, and I wanted to go back to the well for more. Political? Kind of. More cultural--like, I am not the only one who thinks we're driving off a cliff.
  • I didn't want to miss out. I thought--what if something really wonderful comes out of this? I want to say "I was there when..." and not "Wow, I wish I'd been there."

So we went. We met people from all over the country who had gathered. It was what I expected and nothing I expected. My DH and I left feeling challenged, with plenty of ideas to mull for a while.

Two more things to say: first, it was emphatically NOT political. Plenty of lefties will say that's not true, but I listened with ears ready to catch anything. I heard something approaching politics twice: first, a reference by Sarah Palin to a phrase that is used by the Obama administration. Frankly right now I can't remember it, but I remember thinking "Oh, there it is" when she said it. Second, there was only one reference to Islam, in mentioning "Churches and temples, synagogues and mosques" toward the end. There were no imams in sight and no reference to needing to respect Islam. I have my thoughts on that subject so I actually had no problem with this lack of "inclusiveness."

Second, it felt healthy to hear public readings of the Bible and "American Scripture," the Declaration of Independence and the writings of the Founding Fathers and other Patriots. I remember hearing the Gettysburg Address last year, on 9/11, and crying buckets because it spoke to our battle now. Glenn read it out loud at the Rally, and it was moving there, too. Try to find a recording of it and listen with ears to what it says NOW. I believe Lincoln was touched by God when he wrote that. The Bible readings were about restoring, rebuilding, and were mostly Old Testament. They were an encouragement.

I hope I've shared a little of our motivation for attending the rally. Was I satisfied with it? Well, I've certainly got a lot to think about.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


So I'm trying to decide how busy is too busy. We've had exactly four piano practices in two weeks (among four the math), and I don't know how to pack it in. Matching socks are nonexistent in my house, and the last three days at least four pieces of clothing from the kids have come directly from the dryer. My husband and I are trying to carve out time to just talk to each other without my falling asleep right there. That's not a commentary on him--I'm just exhausted. We get up at 5:45 to get moving, have a cup of coffee before the kids are up and trying to find their clothes.

We have a pony 20 minutes away who needs to be ridden at least four times a week. We have three lunches that must be made. Two loads of laundry a day to keep up. (Where do those clothes come from?) One business that needs to be run well. You can't keep great employees running a shop half-way! That doesn't count my husband's business which is actually how we eat, sleep, swim, vacation, school, everything our children and our life. So my shop is only for me. And possibly my shoes...the shoe money.

I feel like I'm not running my true calling, my home, to its best. But I stayed home for eight years with no outside occupation. And when I did that, I went NUTS. Literally. I have the doctor bills to prove it.

So now I'm wondering...what price sanity? What about the balance between my sanity and my home's? Maybe this is just the same boring old balance blah blah blah. But it is weighing on me. The shop may be coming out of the slump of summer. But will it be enough?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The value of horses

I am so lucky, because one of my children was born horse-crazy. Neither my husband nor I grew up around horses. We just had the little bit of contact with them that second-generation-removed-from-the-farm, suburban kids have: occasional rides on bareback with the docile old farm pony, summer camp rides for an hour or so. Certainly nothing about taking care of a horse. The bridle and bit seemed to be incredibly mysterious and complicated. No more.

DD3 was born with riding boots on, I think. From about the age of three she was obsessed, seeking all things equine out in books and at farms, wanting to ride, ride, ride. For a couple of years all the farms I could find just said, "No, too young, she needs to be seven, maybe eight." Until one day, a friend of mine, a rider, suggested I call her barn. And so DD3's love affair began in earnest at age six.

It so happens that as she was starting to ride, we had her learning disabilities diagnosed: an extreme deficit in short-term memory, particularly visual memory. (Can you say "sight word?") My poor sweet girl's confidence had been shaken mightily at school and she was unwilling to guess with anything. Our wise tutor knew she needed more than drills for memory and encouraged us to pursue the riding to build DD3's confidence.

Oh, how it worked! She embraced controlling this large animal using reins, legs and voice, and she welcomed the challenge of figuring out the tack. It makes me smile thinking of my sweet little thing holding a hoof in her hand and scraping out the ick, or pushing the horse's hindquarters around because he wasn't standing properly. And tack? It was no mystery at all.

My sweet girl became supremely competent at caring for a horse as well as riding it, jumping in the ring and taking the horse on trail rides. She learned how to be strong but gentle, with a firm hand to guide a feisty pony. And of course she continues to learn--she turns nine next week and shows no signs of tiring of her big friends!

Her little sister also rides. DD4 is a lovely, flightly girl who loves absolutely everyone and finds a way to put herself into the middle of anything that's going on. And she's blond, God love her. But for her, riding requires her to be more serious than at any other time. If she doesn't pay close attention she'll miss her jumps or not ride the correct way. For DD4 this level of concentration and quiet attention are a gift.

After seeing his two younger sisters ride, my oldest son decided to give it a go. This is such an unusual activity for a boy, even though many men are champion riders. DS1 is now a middle-schooler, and he has a tendency to be harsh. He is constantly reminded to temper his anger as he deals with an animal that may or may not be cooperating! There is NOTHING I can do for him (or to him!) that would give him this experience. But through this wordless communication he is learning how to be firm and determined but still kind and gentle. Great lessons for a young man.

There's also just so much stuff that goes along with horses: brushes, combs, sprays, picks, blankets, leather of all sorts. It all has to be cared for, especially because it doesn't come cheap! It is so wonderful to have them learn to take care of everything at the barn, part of learning the good with the bad.

We just went to a horse show this morning with our new pony Bailey. He did okay, but the kids did great managing this green little horse. So I've had horses on the brain. Just wanted to share a tiny bit of our experience. Yes, they are frightfully expensive but there is a lot to it, and I am so glad we've been able to give out kids this chance to learn from them. I can't encourage it enough.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Arrogant or Incompetent?

Which is the preferred trait in a leader? Neither is great, but is one less bad? DH and I discussed this last night as we watched O'Reilly. Chris Wallace was the guest, and after much pulling and prodding O'Reilly finally got this newsman to offer his opinion. (That's not his job, but that's another issue.) Wallace believed that Obama's problem, his tone-deafness, is due to arrogance. O'Reilly reacted strongly against that word, pushing Wallace to back down from that word and chalk the disconnectedness in the White House to incompetence. Wallace was firm, and stuck by his analysis of arrogance.

BTW, the purpose here wasn't to critique O'Reilly. That would take SEVERAL more posts.

So DH and I started talking about it...would we prefer a leader who is arrogant or incompetent? Well, of course the right answer is "neither," but I think we are stuck with at least one of these traits for two more years. Arrogant--there was no one with a bigger ego than Bill Clinton, but I think he wasn't terrible. I completely disagreed with his policies, but he was sensitive to the electorate, infuriating to his opponents, and endlessly creative. A leader who is arrogant will stick to his own point of view rather than reach out for others. He'll claim credit for anything good that happens, and find ways to pin blame for the bad on those who are outside his circle. He'll try to lead by force of his character. Humility? Unheard of, in the leader or those around him. Be humble around this guy and get run over. Hmmm...the shoe seems to fit.

An incompetent leader, on the other hand, will lead us down the wrong road. "President" is a big job, the biggest big-picture job in the world. Not only do you need a big picture outlook, you must surround yourself with people who can do the same within their own spheres. Look at who runs this administration: more Ph.D.s and non-profit/government workers than any previous administration, and fewer private, business-oriented, big picture citizens than ever before.

My DH, a Ph.D. himself, has said more than once that as you proceed through higher education, you know more and more about less and less. Eventually you know an infinite amount about the asshole of an ant. A person can be brilliant but incompetent, failing to see the big picture. An incompetent leader might surround himself with other experts, all various asshole experts, but not realize he also needs to understand the general manure pile. (Man, that metaphor is stretched way too thin. Sorry. I'll quit.)

They've all convinced themselves that they are experts, but things keep happening "unexpectedly." When was the last time you heard a piece of bad economic news that didn't include the word "unexpected?"

The worst possiblity is that these two traits aren't mutually exclusive. An incompetent AND arrogant leader may be what we have. Someone who fails to learn from past experience and says that he doesn't have anything to learn.

The arrogant/incompetent meme seems to be gathering steam. Just this morning I saw this from Commentary Magazine:

It’s a deadly combination — intellectual arrogance and lack of sympatico with the public — that leads him again and again to stumble. And when his shortcomings lead to embarrassment or failure, he strikes out in frustration — at Israel, at the media, and at the American people. The image of himself clashes with the results he achieves and the reaction he inspires. No wonder he’s so prickly. You’d be, too, if everyone your entire life had told you that you were swell but now, when the chips are down and the spotlight is on, you are failing so badly in your job.

So we may be in for a "prickly" couple of years. Arrogant, incompetent, or, tragically, both?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Feeling inspired

And maybe restless. A lovely friend, a homeschooling mom, is so faithful about posting to her blog, and I love to read it. And I want to join in the noise again!

I've delinked my blog from the shop, so my customers can't find it unless they really really look. That way, maybe, I can share a little bit of what the view is like from behind the counter. I also have discovered a new passion, horses, and my children continue to grow and change before I can even take a deep breath! Oh, and we're are helping to start a new congregation here in our little town, a Lutheran congregation, but so far unaffiliated with any particular "flavor."

I miss the sharing, although it always feels like I launch my words into the ether that is the interwebs. I've noticed from sitemeter that I've been getting a few hits a week even though the blog has been sleeping, so maybe it's time. Aim low.