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It’s not that complicated, except for it is

Everyone has been talking about racism lately. I have been listening and thinking, but I have largely been silent on the internet, though I have talked about it with others. I have felt unsure of what to write–and I don’t tend to just go along with what is trending. I want to be more genuine than that.

I talked with my kids and things seemed really simple: we need to treat people with kindness and fairness. People haven’t done that, and we need to do better.

But it isn’t all that simple. This is about police brutality right now. That’s where the conversation started. I support police reform–my husband was a law enforcement officer for a few years, and I witnessed problems with training, policies, and attitudes. Black lives matter, and there have been horrific and horrible acts, many of which do not make the news and do not ever find any justice or resolution.

But in all of that, there are some issues without clear solutions.

We need to learn to compromise and not maintain all-or-nothing thinking. Public policy is rooted in ethical assumptions that can be complicated–do we value freedom, equality, justice? What do we value most? What does freedom and equality and justice even mean? These are also important questions and we can’t skip over them, assuming that they have easy answers.

And there are many things missing in the conversation, such as gun control, education, the support of families, and building up better communities.

I don’t always have the right words, but not many people do. I feel uncomfortable in my own experience sometimes, uncertain that I have something to say that is helpful or relevant.

There are a lot of problems in the world, and we can’t fix everything at once. But we can just try to be a little better, and to support good causes, and to be compassionate to others even if they don’t agree with us on everything.

 

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Some ideas I’ve had

Sometimes I think a lot about ideas sometimes. Maybe some of these thoughts will be interesting. Maybe you won’t know what I’m talking about. Do you ever have random ideas that you don’t know what to do with?

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When I’ve had some spiritual questions and thoughts and doubts, I’ve often thought that spiritual knowledge functions differently than rational knowledge. I can’t prove spiritual things through being rational, and if I reject spirituality based on rationality, then I have to throw out spirituality in general. The best way to seek spiritual knowledge is to ask God and to trust that answer.

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Null hypotheses are sort of how we operate in life in general. We assume something to be true, and then we have to find enough evidence to convince ourselves we are wrong. We usually don’t set out to learn something; we set out to prove something. But sometimes we are wrong and need to reject the null.

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So utilitarianism tries to maximize happiness, but you could have an ethical system that maximizes something else, like freedom or justice or something like that. And you could also have an ethical system were you could maximize ethics–so if a choice maximizes good choices, that would also be a good choice.

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Money is really only an incentive for the utility it brings us right now instead of the utility it will bring us later. We save because of the security it brings us now. We say we save for the future, but we are really just saving for the future we are imagining in our own head, not the actual future that is unknown.

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words headline lead sentence paragraph

search

make sense of jumbled pieces

words to fit the world together

google facebook new york times

trying to get past paywalls

what is happening

what will happen

millions of answers

no answer

sleeping searching

wake and shut it down.

words don’t exist

noise recedes

the pounding of needing to know fades

left with quiet

stillness

calm

find when I stop searching

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There is always light

Over the past few days, I have read article after article, trying to figure out how we can go back to normal. I read about different possibilities of what might happen and I want to know how this end. But we don’t go back to normal–we find a a new normal instead, something that we can’t wrap our minds around right now.

If we are always thinking about and looking to the the future, we can miss the good that is happening now. Yesterday, I did a video chat with all of my family members. I watched my kids as they played outside for ages. I watched a video of quarantined people in Italy making music on balconies. 

I realized that I don’t have to hope for a better future.

I can have hope for now.

If worst-case-scenario happens and it’s awful, you can tell your children you love them. You can serve in small ways. Worst-case-scenario will never be without hope and happiness somewhere.

There is no hole so deep and there is so circumstance that is too bleak that light cannot enter in some way.

No matter how hard life is, there is still good. Good is infinite and it never ends. Right in each moment, there is something good you can do. In despair, you can do something.

You don’t need to pause your life and wait for things to work out. You can live for now.

As long as you keep creating and loving, you can keep living.

No matter what is happening in life, you have the ability to create something. You have the ability to connect. You have the ability to help.

Music and art and words and laughter and growth and friendship are always there. That is where hope is.

The essence of our lives is not the convenience, but the innovation and the creativity.

If you want joy, create. Draw. Sing. Write. Make something. And then share it. Connect. And that creating and connecting can never go away.

The world won’t end. Because the best parts of life, family and people and learning and growing and being, those best parts can never, ever be taken away from us.

Take hope not in the end of trial, but in that fact that no matter the difficult circumstances, you can wake up, greet the sunrise, and live beautifully right in that moment.

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Thoughts

  • I’ve always thought I had a problem spending too much time on the computer and that if I could just get better, I would overcome the problem and it would be gone. It was my problem, and I had to come up with a solution. But that’s not really how things work: computers and the internet and all of that can be distracting and addicting for everyone. It’s not my problem. It’s a problem that exists, and no matter I do, the problem will still exist. It’s not really a matter of overcoming it. I don’t need to feel guilty because computers are distracting. That’s not my fault. But I can do the best I can with what I have to work with.
  • Being really intelligent is when you can strip away the posturing and just have good and simple ideas without complicated phrasing and appeals to authority. Smart people don’t feel the need to sound smart, and often the simplest way to say something is the best.
  • Money is very tempting to use to quantify basically everything, but the numbers usually don’t tell us much. What is more important is service and caring for other people in small and significant ways, and that can’t be quantified.
  • The most important relationships are with our family.

 

 

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Rejecting Productivity

I’m not great at this. I love being productive. I love getting so many things done in a day. And it sounds like a really good thing: learn and create and do and earn and work and work and work.

I love hard work. But productivity is this whole other thing. It’s the rate of output per unit. It’s being able to do so many things with the hours you have in your day. We celebrate it a lot. More is better (which is usually true in the study of economics, but they have it wrong because it’s not accurate for life).

I find myself basing my self-worth on my productivity levels. Which makes me sound like I’m sort of machine, some sort of statistic as I try to increase my output. But I’m not working for anyone, except for my family, and they really don’t care much about my output at all.

I have these ridiculous to-do lists and goals, and a lot of times, I do a lot. Right now, I’m homeschooling my kids, remodeling a house, and taking two college classes. And I do more too, because that’s life: I blog and I write and I read books and I cook and I clean and I drive a lot. I learn extra things, like R and data science. I’ve been scanning and sorting photographs from my grandparents. I visit friends. I redecorated some rooms a few weeks ago. I play the piano. I exercise. And there is so much that I put on my lists: transcribe, start a business, write a book, etc. etc. etc. Some people are impressed with how much I do, and that feels nice–but I don’t know if it’s the best direction to go in.

I often think about my life in terms of how much I’ve accomplished. I look back at certain times and think that I really didn’t do much because I wasn’t involved in a whole lot of major projects. But I am not necessarily a better person because of my goals and accomplishments. Some things that I really would like to do (go outside more) just don’t happen. I find myself overwhelmed and I shut down.

I have searched and watched and read about how to do more with the time that I have. But doing more just to do more really isn’t helpful. Being productive is not always the right thing to do.

There are meaningful things in my life, things that I love, that I don’t always have time for. And I want to change that.

I’m not sure how. This is more of a question, a beginning, and that’s okay. I hate giving up projects. There are so many things that are undone and so many things I want to do.

A part of me wants to really likes to define my life by how much I accomplished. But so many little things don’t matter very much at all. I need increased focus. I need to learn how to say no. And I need to not do things just to say that I did it, just to increase my output without any reason.

What do you think?

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Good Enough

Sometimes we accept the worst solution because we can’t have the best. But the better thing is available and right in front of us.

  • You decline $40,000 because you can’t have $80,000.
  • Because you can’t save $20, you end up spending $30.
  • You might stay up too late, and instead of going to bed, you stay up even later.
  • You might be hungry, and instead of eating something adequate, you stay hungry.
  • You refuse to eat a chocolate chip cookie because you really wanted ice cream.
  • You might need to exercise, but because you don’t have time for a two-mile jog, you do nothing.
  • Because you can’t solve a complete problem, you don’t solve any part of it.
  • Because you can’t get an A, you might fail a class instead of getting a C.
  • You don’t write anything instead of writing something that’s not quite right yet.
  • You don’t help someone because you’re afraid that you can’t do enough.
  • Or in an attempt to find the perfect place to live, you end up miserable living where you are at.

Just do the better thing in the first place instead of waiting for something perfect to come along.

And sometimes when you go forward with what is good enough, then the best option becomes available.

 

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Schedule or Routine

I recently read a homeschooling book (The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart) that said that you should focus on routines instead of schedule.

What’s the difference between a routine and a schedule? It’s time for some definitions from Google:

A routine is “a sequence of actions regularly followed”

A schedule is “a plan for carrying out a process or procedure, giving lists of intended events and times.”

This is incredibly helpful for homeschooling, because sometimes we have days off. We can’t really meet deadlines and sometimes we end up doing things before deadlines. When the kids wanted to work on their handwriting books and finish them that day, I let them. There are days we spend reading all the time. And then we drop back into our routine (journals, workbooks, etc.).

Sometimes putting dates on everything makes life a little bit too stressful, especially when those dates and schedules are our own expectations in the first place.

I think there are times for schedules. I’ve made schedules to finish books and classes. But sometimes we put expectations on ourselves that we just don’t need and we forget why we are doing things in favor of keeping our schedule.

Schedules are helpful, but they are a means to an end, not the end itself. If schedules become more important than people, than that’s a problems.

Routines can be helpful too, and at times they can be more helpful than schedules because they are in place when they need to be, and then when life happens, they can be put aside while we deal with things.

And when you are behind schedule, since you can’t change the past, then your schedule has simply changed.

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Parenting Goals

Mostly positive attention for my kids
Listening instead of lecturing
Compassion and love
Setting a good example
Apologizing for my mistakes
Guiding and helping more than punishment
Always keep a respectful voice
Yelling is only for emergencies
Setting clear limits and rules
Teach children what is right and what is wrong
Never, ever help my children do the wrong thing
Lots of wholesome recreation and time together
Gentleness, meekness, kindness, and mostly love

Good parenting is two things: first, love and compassion (mercy). Second, setting limits and teaching right and wrong (justice). You need both working together.
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Questions to ask for conversation

Is there anything new happening?

What are some challenges you have right now?

What sort of music do you like?

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Have you read any good books lately?

Where did you grow up?

Watched any good TV shows lately?

What projects are you involved in?

What do you like to learn about?

Is there anything you would like to learn?

How do your religion and beliefs affect your life?

Do you have any good recipes?

What are the things that you struggle with and what are the things you feel you are doing good at?

What do you wish you could do but you never get around to it?

What is a regret that you have and how did you learn from that?

What have you learned from the people you love?

Where have you lived over the years?

What is your family like?