Sunday, June 26, 2011

Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady.

I have a very specific definition of what a "lady" is. Opposite of that is my ingrained definition of a "woman."

Thanks to my mother, my sister and I not only heard about things that were ladylike and unladylike, but we also saw the correct kind of behavior displayed by my mom.

The classic song "Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady" comes to mind as I think of all the ways I've gotten to see my mother act like "a lady, NOT a WOMAN."

First, of course, I saw my mom as, well, my mom. During my growing up years, she was kind to us, but was very much our mother. We were disciplined, we were loved, and we could be stopped in our tracks with The Look. (There's a strong chance we still can.)

Secondly, we saw our mom in her other relationships -- with our dad, our grandmothers, aunts and uncles, friends, coworkers. And if "ladylike" is respectful, kind, fair and generous as we were taught it was, then yes, our mother is certainly a lady in those roles, too.

And lastly, I see my mom as a fellow adult, which is great. The progression has been natural, but the things I'm learning from my mom each day and with every interaction are well above average. To add to her original definition of a "lady" from our childhood, I'd say that as well as kind, gentle, genuine, and not crass, I can include dryly funny, open to new experiences, willing to work hard for desired results, and 1,000%, no-holds-barred, loving.

So this June 27, I'd like to wish my sweet mother a birthday full of the type of happiness she gives to me with every interaction, and has shown me at every turn.

After all, not every 60th birthday girl is once, twice, three times a lady. :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kicking Against These Goads.

I often resist anything involving discipline, or correction, or the general feeling that I'm wrong about something. But, as it turns out, I often AM wrong about things, and do need that discipline and correction.

That happened today. It didn't take long for me to appreciate the correction, which at the tender age of 34 1/2, is sadly still a relatively new accomplishment for me. 

Even odder than my sooner-than-usual gratitude for the correction was the reflection on other areas that much discipline is required for me, and how I should appreciate that, even when I'm the one who has to administer it. (Even after more than a decade of playing it, adulthood can still be a very tricky game for this redhead.)

The whole thought process reminded me of a lyric in one of Caedmon's Call's songs, "Where I Began."  The group sings, "Kicking against these goads sure did cut up my feet / Did Your hands get bloody as they washed them clean?"

The first time I really listened to that song, I was curious and had to look up the word "goad." So, with the risk of thoroughly disgusting every English/composition instructor I've ever had or known, I type the next few words.

Webster defines "goad" as: 1. a stick with a pointed or electrically charged end, for driving cattle, oxen, etc.; prod.; 2. anything that pricks or wounds like such a stick.; 3. something that encourages, urges, or drives; a stimulus.

And as it did that first time I looked it up, seeing the definition now brings to mind all the discomfort of discipline. 

Sometimes it physically hurts (look me up the day after a hard workout). 

Sometimes it emotionally hurts (I can describe way too many details of the day last year that my soul was so wounded by someone's words I felt I could barely breathe).

Sometime it takes its toll on the ego (who wants to be told they're wrong -- ever?).

But always -- whether it's well communicated, poorly spoken, or doled out in a negative or positive manner -- discipline takes its toll on the action or lack of action that brought on the corrective measures. Pavlov's dog is a prime example.

Chances are, I won't stop messing up or being wrong, even after I turn 35. Or even (gasp!) 40. 

And, with any measurement of grace dealt to me, I won't stop being disciplined for those wrongdoings.

So as I see it, the only variable here is how I'll react to discipline. I can kick against the goads, cut up my feet, and have to deal with the wounds and scars. Or, I can accept discipline as the gift that it is and learn from it with grace.

Let's hope I'll choose the latter, early and often. Goodness knows that after three decades, I've done enough of the former.