Adventures in Cleaning the Fridge

A Step by Step Guide, or a Cautionary Tale Depending On Your Perspective

I wrote this as a helpful guide for my millions of rabid readers out there who have always been wondering how I clean my fridge.  Now you can know, and die happy.  (But please don’t die just because you know this now.  I just mean, you can be fulfilled in your life.  Don’t die.)

Step 1

Make yourself a frappe.  This is my version of a glass of wine to make things more enjoyable and/or bearable.

Blend:

6 cubes of frozen coffee (or really strong cold coffee and ice)

1 Tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk (I used 2 today because … hello!  Cleaning out the fridge …)

1 Tablespoon Nestle’s cocoa powder

1 Tablespoon of protein powder to make this drink good for you

water so that it will blend

Pour into a glass, get a pink straw, sip it and take a deep breath

Step 2

Cue up a good station on your Pandora.  I listen to one entitled, “Hey There Delilah”.  Don’t judge me.

Step 3

Run a sink of hot, soapy water.

As an added bonus, get your game face on.  This is my game face.  I look so confused because I rarely clean my fridge.

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Step 4

Take every single thing out of the fridge and set it on counters.  Have a brief panic attack knowing that you won’t be returning things for at least 45 minutes (you’re not really being realistic there, it’ll be like an hour and a half,) and how many days should you be deducting from your milk’s expiration date by letting it sit out so long?  In the next nano second have a good, hearty belly laugh when you remember that you just bought this milk yesterday, and it will most definitely be gone by tomorrow.

Click here to see what a good belly laugh looks like.

Throw all the bad stuff directly into the trash can and wish that you hadn’t put so many things into containers that you’re unwilling to part with.  Put the disgusting containers in the sink full of soapy water.

Step 5

Pull all the shelves out.  This could take a while if you wait as long as I do to clean out your fridge because your shelves are sticky with something dreadful that someone spilled who knows how long ago.  It has also pooled and congealed at the bottom underneath the crisper drawers.  Suppress your gag reflex when you realize there is also a refrigerated fly stuck in the bottom of the muck.  A fly?  What on earth?!  Spray the empty fridge with Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Multi Surface Cleaner and close the door.

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Your kitchen now looks like you set a bomb off in it and you can’t imagine it ever looking good again. Take a deep breath, and a sip of your mocha.

Step 6

Wash all the shelves and drawers.  This is problematic if you have a sink as small as mine, because none of them actually fit into the sink all the way, and the parts that stick out shed water onto the counters and the floor.  As a bonus step, you may want to mop up the water on your floor.

Step 7

Open the fridge and realize you forgot to empty the door.  Sigh and empty the door taking a brief moment to ponder why someone who lives in a household with only one person who likes mayo, and even they only use it like twice a year, has so many opened jars of mayo in the door.  The mysteries of life…

Step 8

Wash out the goo on the walls and floor of your fridge.  Feel a brief moment of sadness for the fly who either froze to death, or starved to death stuck in the goo.  Then remember that flies are disgusting little carriers of disease and that this very fly could be the reason you had the stomach bug last week.  Suppress the gag reflex again as you wipe him out and all his legs stay in the sticky mess.  It’s no worse than all the gross food containers you just emptied though.  Get over it quickly.

Step 9

Pat yourself on the back because your fridge is now sparkling clean and ready for the return of your shelves.  Now it is time to try to figure out all the exact spots that they go in, especially the door guards because for some unknown, god-forsaken reason, they are all customized to specific moldings!  Why?  As you work, compose a letter of complaint to the manufacturer:

Dear Director of Operations at the Frigidaire off brand fridge plant,

Why do you hate us?  We are your customers, and the reason you have your job in the first place.  I mean, not me personally.  I was given this fridge by my brother-in-law who found it on Craigslist from a college student who was giving it away, but that’s hardly the point here.  Cleaning out refrigerators is complicated enough without you specializing every single shelf and door guard. (Are those shelf holder thingies in the doors called door guards?  I feel like I just made that up to sound smart.)  Shelves in fridges are fairly straightforward, so just stop with all the custom molding nonsense.  We look into these fridges like 18 times a day and still can’t remember where they all go once they’re taken out.  Help us out here.  Things are tough all over.

Sincerely,

Mom of five who’s barely hanging on by a thread

P.S.  Your CEO probably makes $800,000 a year or something, right?  Despot.

Now that you feel a little better, and hopefully have figured out where all your shelves go, smile.  You’re almost done.

Step 10

Return all your non-spoiled food to the fridge, categorizing things to your heart’s content.  This is actually a fun part.  I put fruit in one drawer and veggies in the other.  I put all the cheese and meat that wasn’t petrified or fossilized into the actual cheese and meat drawer.  All dairy goes in one little section, tortillas in another.  “I will keep it organized like this forever,” I croon softly as I work.  “This shelf will always be where leftovers go. This perfect little customized spot in the door (mentally redact angry letter to Frigidaire conglomerates) will be where jams and jellies are lovingly replaced. And seriously, with all those mayo jars?  For the love of Hellman’s.”

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Step 11

Look around your kitchen and realize you still aren’t finished.  There are nasty containers to be washed and trash that stinks so badly, because the smell is why you cleaned the fridge in the first place.  Heave the trash out to the dumpster and wish your husband was here so you could pretend you can’t lift it and could make him throw it in.  Throw it in like a boss and then rush inside to make an appointment with your chiropractor.

Step 12

Now you’re finished.  Take a picture.  Vow a vow that you will do this more often.  Make a mental list of which shelves you will clean each week so that it never gets in this condition again.  Pretend you don’t hear the fridge chuckling at you as you leave the kitchen, and whispering, “yeah right, Jules.  See you next year.”

Then remember that you were going to clean the freezer out today as well.  Meh, there’s always tomorrow.  After all, it wasn’t the frozen stuff that was stinking. I’m sure the freezer looks awesome.

Also …

I edited out additional steps which included stopping approximately 85 times to make snacks for the little people, and three lectures on the starving little kids in China who would be HAPPY to have half of a recently defrosted cinnamon and raisin bagel for a snack.

You’re welcome.

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Broken Crayons

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Image courtesy of trashfreeliving.com

I walk around this house all day picking things up.  You would think that my house would eventually get clean because of this, but the truth is there’s always “stuff” where it’s not supposed to be no matter how many times I clean.  Lately, the things out of place that I find most annoying are broken toys, particularly crayons.  My three-year-old is a little creature of habit and lately he has been cultivating a habit of breaking crayons for the mere pleasure of hearing them snap.  Also, there is a lovely feeling of power that fills him when something solid cracks between his herculean fingers.  Behold the mighty Caleb who has the ability to snap crayons in a single blow!  I guarantee you, he is thinking along these lines.

The most irritating thing about broken crayons is that all their potential for coloring is still intact.  They are still as color worthy as before, but now, no one will touch them because they present a slightly more complicated grip, pressure on paper, they aren’t as pretty etc… Grr!  Even Caleb, the great breaker of the crayons himself, no longer has any use for them once they are broken, unless it’s to peel the paper off and leave IT scattered around with the crayons.  Paper ripping is just an added bonus to ruining crayons.

There always seems to be someone in my life who is very difficult to deal with.  I used to think that they were placed especially in my path because I had some sort of knack for working with hardship cases, and now I’ve come to the conclusion that, as I am not the least bit adept at dealing with these people, they merely come into my life so much because there are too many of them to avoid.  Grown up people, looking for the rush that comes with the power to hurt something that appears solid, have snapped them in half with their words, or actions, or an artful combination of the two.  Unfortunately, broken crayons and people are everywhere.

Lately there has been a particularly hard individual.  Don’t worry, if you’re reading this blog and you’ve recently made my acquaintance, it’s not you.  If I thought there was a chance that the person in question read my blog, I wouldn’t mention them at all.  Now that we’ve got that settled, here we go.  This person is more difficult because unlike most of the broken people in my life, I have discovered that I don’t like her.  It’s a weird feeling for me.  I usually like everyone.  Truly, even people that are super broken, unlovely, hard to deal with, I’m all over it.  But not with her.  So here are things I’ve learned about dealing with difficult people …

1. Every person is important because they exist.

People don’t earn importance because of the things that they do.  People are important because they are flesh and blood.  They are living here on this planet, so they’re just as valuable as I am.  They possess just as much potential for coloring this world with their existence, and there isn’t any option about throwing them away just because they are broken in a couple of places and have some of their paper ripped off.  SOMEONE somewhere will have to deal with them.

2. I don’t like everyone and that is just life.  Unfriending them on Facebook just makes me immature.

Again, a very hard concept for me.  I can usually find something about a person that I just love and that makes me connect with them all the better and like them even more.  Enjoying people’s peopleness is usually easy for me.  Here is the shocker of the day.  I almost unfriended this person on Facebook.  I know, right?  The ultimate disgrace!  Being “unfriended” on a social network.  That’ll teach HER to be hard to deal with!  I didn’t actually do that, I just wanted to. But then I realized that, I am actually a grown-up so I should act like it, and all people deserve some dignity … even in the Facebookosphere.

3.  Everyone is broken, just in different places.

There are people out there who find me a difficult person to deal with.  Somewhere, someone might even be writing a blog post about me and how annoying I am.  It’s true.  There are no perfect crayons in the box of the world.  We are broken because the world is broken.  Because people say the wrong things at the wrong time.  Because humanity has fallen.  That’s all.  It’s just us here.  Some of us have just been melted, pressed back into place, and had paper rewrapped around the weak spots, but some people have no one to do that for them.  So their brokenness is just out there, for everyone to see.  It isn’t fair, but it is reality.  I have mostly surrounded myself with people who are willing to put up with my breaks and bulges where I got fixed.  They know that the paper isn’t hiding my other faults very well, but they don’t care, because they love me.  Everyone needs people who pretend the paper is doing its job.  We should be those people for the other broken people.

4.  Jesus liked the broken crayons best.

I imagine that if Jesus came into my house and sat down to color with Caleb, He would not reach for the newest box of crayons.  He would probably use the smaller pieces, the blunt edges, the ruined parts to make his work of art.  When I complained to Jesus about the person I almost unfriended on Facebook, He said as much to me (not out loud).  He reminded me of Mary Magdalene, one of His favorite followers, who was a prostitute before she met Him.  And of Zaccheus and Peter and … of myself.  All of us hopeless cases.  He had the time to mess with us.  He used our broken parts to make His story more beautiful and more interesting.  How could we not take the time for these others?

5.  People stuff does not fit nicely into a crayon box.

There are no really perfect categories for humanity.  We’ve discussed this before.  Shoving people into little boxes just doesn’t seem to work out.  We have no idea of the depth of most people.  I can’t remember who said it, but someone famous who’s name you would surely be impressed with said once that “The most complex character in fiction is not remotely as complicated as the simplest person in real life.”  Something like that was said by someone famous once.  I promise.  You get the idea, of course.  People don’t tell us why they are the way they are.  Most of the time, they don’t even know it themselves.  They don’t apologize for being hard to deal with, for lying horizontal, when you need them to stick up straight so you can fit more things into the box.  People just are what they are.

6. The Earth revolves around the sun … not around me.

Obvious.  I know that.  In my head I know it.  But still in my selfish heart there is the thought that this life is a movie with me as the main character.  Everyone that comes in and out of the scenes does so to further my story.  Wrong.  People who decide that life is all in the pursuit of their own happiness are delusional.  I’ve seen many quotes swirling around on Facebook and Twitter: memes to the effect of, “if someone is in your life that isn’t contributing to your happiness, walk away from them,  Life is too short for that”.  Some are a bit more subtle in their selfishness, “A person who hurts you gives up their right to be in your life”… blah blah blah.  It all comes to the same thing.  Broken people sometimes look for others to break because they think it will make them look less broken.  So they hurt people.  They hurt you, or me.  But life is not just about us.  Sometimes people-breakers have to have someone stick with them.  Someone they have hurt even.  I have had many people stick with me in the past even after I have stabbed them in the back, said the wrong thing to them … hurt their feelings.   I’m glad their only source of humanity wasn’t wrapped up in the wisdom of Facebook memes.  If any of you friends are reading this post, thanks for dealing with this difficult person.  I love you.

So maybe all of this doesn’t help when dealing with the crayon pieces scattered throughout your life, but it helps me.  A little more perspective is always a plus for a brain like mine.  I tend to think that everyone’s life experience is similar to mine, and therefore, they should all behave exactly as I do. However, the ramifications of there being 6 billion Juliens running around in this world are so catastrophic, I just don’t let my mind settle there.

 

P.S. Just to clarify, I am in no way recommending that someone stay in an abusive relationship.  I am talking merely about hurt feelings here, and figuring out people at large.  If someone hits you, or is cruel to you … get away from them immediately.  Someone else can help them with their brokenness.  That doesn’t need to be you.

Things That Go Bump in Your Life

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Fear has always been a ridiculously big part of my life.  As a kid, I had so many irrational fears that my parents monitored every single movie and tv show I watched, and every book I read.  “Goosebumps”?  Ha!  Forget that!  I could barely read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” without having nightmares.  I was petrified of the dark, I was obsessed with the idea of a kidnapper coming in the middle of the night and snatching me.  I had nightmares of these two boys at church who were actually quite nice, but in my nightmares about them they had glowing red eyes … which I picked up from the “Care Bears Movie”.  I know, right?  The one movie you’d think would be totally safe for your children to watch and not gain any new phobias.

I was deathly afraid of heights.  Riding roller coasters was completely out of the question.  I went to Six Flags once with our youth group and our youth director MADE me ride one of the rides.  I’ve never quite figured out why it was such a big deal to him, but he forced the issue and I rode it.  It was one of those that goes forwards and upside down a bunch of times and then hits the height of its horribleness and does the whole thing again in reverse.  I nearly threw up on my youth director afterwards, and he stopped insisting I ride things.  I still feel it might have served him right to get puked on.

I’ve learned lots of things about fear over the years.  Some are easily conquered.  I thought I was afraid of bugs until I moved to the country and our house has various, harmless bugs in it all the time.  I’m more afraid of the toxic chemicals filling my kid’s lungs than I am of there being live june bugs around, so I put up with the june bugs.  Also, I have a weird aversion to the crunching sound they make when you kill them.  I still hate scorpions with a passion, and I would never crush one myself until I had kids.  You wouldn’t believe the stuff you can do when you think your child might get hurt if you don’t.  It’s a truly awful sound though.  ((Shudder))

I still squish every spider that I encounter.  Jason assures me that there are only two kinds of spiders in Texas that are dangerous, the black widow and the brown recluse.  So, I squish every spider I encounter just in case its a black widow or a brown recluse.  I mean, if you google images of brown recluse spiders, EVERY brown spider you’ve ever seen comes up!  No joke.  There’s no telling what these monsters look like.  Death to all brown spiders.  As a side note, you should never google “brown recluse spider bite”.  Trust me on that, you don’t want to know.

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I’m pretty sure this isn’t even what they look like. There are six other spiders under this heading that are completely different. One is quite clearly a tarantula. Just sayin’.
The fear of unknowns in the future are always big with me.  I used to fear losing people that I love to death, or that my kids would get sick, or that I would die and leave them with no mom.  My mother reminded me of something very important that has helped me cope with this one.  She reminded me that God gives us just enough grace to be sufficient for what we’re going through right now.  Not the grace to go through the problems others face, or the grace for everything that will happen in our future … just right now.  But, when we need it, that grace will be there.  This has proven to be absolutely true in my life.  An unexplainable peace surrounds me when I’m going through something incredibly painful.  I remind myself of this quite frequently when I’m drawn into fearful speculation about the future.  Don’t rob what is good today just to worry over the future.

Most of my current fears are not that serious, but they can have a hugely negative impact on your calm.  Fear of what others will think of me … or my kids … or my husband.  Just whatever, it is immobilizing.  And kind of silly.  Here’s the deal, you can’t control other people’s minds.  Short of like, hypnosis or something, which my voice is not soothing enough to master, people can think whatever they want.  It’s an American thing.  We can say we don’t care what they think but we do, and sometimes we even should.  Not caring what anyone else thinks of you can get you into trouble.

I strive to have a healthy dose of self-awareness and leave behind the self consciousness.  I want to be presentable, to comb my hair, to not wear pants in public that were clearly meant to be pajamas … those sorts of things.  However, the self-consciousness thing hits me at the worst possible times.  One of my children throwing themselves on the floor and crying … in the doctor’s office waiting room, while two dozen elderly people stare at me like, “In my day, I never would have allowed my children to behave that way in public.”  Yeah, I think, but in your day CPS wasn’t really a thing either.  Instead of saying that, I calmly scrape my child up off the floor, threaten them under my breath and propel them through the door into the doctor’s office.

A little known fact about me is that just when I think I look like a dignified, put together person, I trip.  Literally.  I physically trip over my own feet when I think I’m handling this whole walking thing really well.  So now you know.  If you see me walking down a perfectly straight, completely obstacle free hallway and stumble headlong over thin air, you will know that was a moment I was trying to look cool.

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This is how Lily faces her fears. She may be onto something here.
Facing fears is never simple, but we have to do it, or we’ll just walk around being perfect basket cases all the time.  I push aside my fears of the things I can’t control.  I swallow hard and close my eyes and ignore the sound of that scorpion crunching.  I simply avoid heights at all costs.  That’s a lot easier when you’re an adult.  People can’t force you to ride roller coasters any more when you hit your thirties.  Nice perk.  I actually get a little freaked out still to go grab something from the car when it’s dark outside.  Anything could be lurking in that black void.  You just never know.  As far as what people will think if you fail, no worries.  Edison, Einstein, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling … all of them faced multiple and brutal failures before their success.  They still thought Edison was nuts even after he succeeded.  And did you know Harry Potter was rejected like 28 times before someone finally published it?  I bet those other jokers are pretty bummed out right about now.  I bet Jo Rowling is pretty glad she kept trying.

Fear is normal.  We all do it.  So dream big, lift your head high after you trip and smile like you did it on purpose, plunge into the darkness to retrieve the phone you left out in the truck … it’ll be okay.  Everyone is still afraid of the dark at 34 years old.  They’re just too cool to admit it.  Also, I’m NOT afraid of thunderstorms or clowns.  I just feel like I should get some credit for that.

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I’m pretty sure this is what an actual brown recluse looks like. See what I mean? Totally different spider than the first picture!

You just went and googled “brown recluse spider bite” didn’t you?  I was right, wasn’t I?  Disgusting.  Told you so.

People Boxes

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I’ve always liked boxes.  Especially shoe boxes because you can sort things into them and stack them up neat and tidy.  They provide structure and organization, which the teacher side of me thinks is just awesome.  However, the artsier part of me takes over sometimes and goes for bags, you know?  They’re softer, so they don’t stack well, but you can fit more in them and they have a lot of “give”.

Our “people boxes” are an interesting conundrum.  On the one hand, it’s a very convenient organizational system.  It’s just easier to say, “you know, and then he went all ‘engineer’ on me,” instead of “it was two o’clock in the morning and he started talking about the compounding chemical structures involved in the formula for the bulletproof paneling they make at his company.”  You get what I’m saying of course.  Calling someone artsy, businesslike, teacherish, engineer, Christian, there’s nothing wrong with having a system … is there?

There was a particular guy that I grew up with who liked his organizational system, but maybe a bit too much.  The boxes he put people in were labeled, based on a first impression and pretty much permanent.  I was unknowingly in the “silly little girl” box for years with him, and never could figure out why he didn’t like me.  One night on a train ride to town we had a conversation about Edgar Allen Poe and the change in him was instantaneous.  All of the sudden, he talked to me like I was a human, not just then, all the time. It was so drastically different that I had to ask a couple of his friends what I had done to suddenly merit his favor.  They told me, he had put me in that box years ago, labeled it, and never thought of it again until the Poe conversation.  Really?  Yikes!

Here is my theory on people boxes (feel free to chime in with theories of your own,):  They are a byproduct of the fact that many people never mature past a high school mentality.  We still think of people as jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, etc. But I think people do better in bags.  Breathable bags of course, not plastic.  Something for people to stretch out in and have more than one facet.  I am a very cheerful person, which does sometimes translate to silliness, but I also love Dickens, Poe, diagramming sentences and reading my Bible.  I read this quote once and it has changed my perspective on people forever, “The most complex character in literature is far more simplistic than the most simplistic person in the world.”  I’ve read some pretty complex characters.  David Copperfield, Elizabeth Bennett and Harry Potter to name a few. Literature is full of brilliant characters and they don’t scratch the surface of a real live human being.

That “little old lady” who sits in the back at church, she was alive during times in history that we study about in books.  Her husband was killed by a drunk driver when she was in her late twenties, leaving her with three boys and an 18 month old baby girl.  She used the insurance money to buy a house so that they would always have a place to live, and she planted a garden so they would have food.  She raised those four children alone, keeping them in church and every activity in school that she could afford.  They had nothing, but she never complained, she was too busy to complain.  She taught her children that sometimes life was hard, but it was just life.  Her children grew up to be four of the most brilliant, hard-working, non-complaining, selfless people in my life to date.  One of them is my mother.  “Old people”: how did they merit only one box for all 476 million of them?  Horrifying.  We should fix that.

Should we even have categories for people?  We’re probably going to, whether we should or not, right?  So how can we keep our people organizing from being stifling? Of course we should burn the cruel categories.  That should be a given.  Obviously let’s not do the loser box, or stupid, or waste of skin.  I do think we should make an exception in the case of bad drivers.  Right?  Can we keep that one?  Okay.  Also, we could let go of the first impression rule.  Of course it’s lasting, but it doesn’t have to be permanent.  Otherwise, perhaps we’d be better off categorizing by lists instead of labels.  Bags not boxes.  Remember that homeless people have a story (one that you probably don’t even WANT to know), that artsy people have their mathematical side, and that rocket scientists sometimes play the piano.  Nerds make really good friends. The beautiful homecoming queen from high school that you thought was a snob actually grew up to be very nice!  I’m crazy extroverted and occasionally I just want to be alone and quiet.  Sometimes atheists believe in God, and sometimes Christians forget that He exists.  People are complex … and wonderful and they don’t fit well into boxes.

Also, you should never, under any circumstances, ask an engineer (out of politeness) how they are liking their new job at the bulletproof paneling place … just don’t.  Especially not at 2:00am.

A Eulogy for Dead Chickens …

My husband, Jason, and I are hobby farmers.  I mean by that, that we started out planting a huge garden every year, and we’ve recently added chickens.  So I feel we can upgrade our status from just gardeners, to hobby farmers.  I just think it sounds cooler.  Anyone can be a gardener, but it takes real skill to raise live things like chickens.  Cluck if you agree.

So, some sweet, well-meaning person I used to buy farm fresh eggs from asked me if we’d like their year old flock of 21 chickens.  I gave her an enthusiastic yes and Jason went and picked them up.  So exciting.  Of those 21, 17 are still alive. I think that’s fairly good odds … for us.  Just last Saturday I stopped for chicken feed and mysteriously came home with 6 new chicks and 2 ducklings.  Not sure how it happened, at least that’s what I told Jason.  Of those 6 chicks, only 4 are still alive.  So, see what I meant about the 21/17 odds?  You have a better shot at survival at my house if you start out full grown and somewhat able to fend for yourself.  Just sayin’.

I’ll come back to that later.  I actually want to talk about regrets.  I know, right?  Makes perfect sense with the way this post started.  Regrets are interesting little boogers.  We all have them of course.  Some people seem to handle them well, rolling with life’s punches and getting on with the good stuff.  Others can literally let regrets rip them to shreds.  Sometimes it’s the actual regret that is seemingly insurmountable, but a lot of times, it’s just in the handling of it.  I’ve seen people bounce back from some of the most devastating life choices.  People that God actually names as great leaders, prayer warriors and friends of God overcame things like murder, thievery, other things that were truly despicable and I don’t want to talk about them.  So, how do some deal successfully and some fly apart?  I have steps … of course.  These are just my opinions, my ways of dealing, or things I was taught by people who are smarter than I.

Number One:  Focus only on what you know is true.  Have you ever met someone who is suspicious of everyone?  They always think someone is mad at them.  No one has “liked” their Facebook Statuses lately.  So and so didn’t call them back when they left a message.  Their friend said such and such, but they really think they meant -.  You get the picture.  We all do it, so don’t be high and mighty.  Sometimes this is true.  Someone actually is mad at you.  Sometimes it’s made up in our minds, because we’re too sensitive, or because someone else isn’t sensitive enough.  I’m usually the latter.  Mostly we just need some chocolate.

I used to tell my college roommates the first night they moved in with me, “if I do something that makes you upset with me, please let me know.  You can ignore me for a week and I will never figure out what I did, or worse yet, I won’t even notice.  Also, if you think I’m mad at you, you’re wrong.  I’m not two.  If I’m mad about something and I know I won’t just get over it, I’ll tell you.”  Most of them took this to heart, did as I asked and we all got along swimmingly.  They’d tell me if I upset them, I’d apologize (not a lame, fake apology, but a real “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” apology) and we’d all live happily ever after.  One girl never did say what was troubling her, but we figured out that she was most annoyed when we didn’t keep our side of the room tidy enough.  We fixed that problem, and boom!  she was happy again.  Sometimes with quieter people, you have to do detective work.  It’s a thing with them.

Here is the solution to this that will absolutely work for you, because someone else smarter than me thought it up (God).  Focus your energy only on what is true.  If you know you said something to that person that would have hurt their feelings, then go to them and tell them you’re sorry.  If you know they are upset, but you don’t know why, go to them and ask if there’s something you can do to make right whatever has upset them.  Don’t give pathetic apologies.  The anger will only build from there.  An, “I’m so sorry, would you please forgive me?” will go a lot farther toward healing than, “I’m sorry I made you feel that way, but-” No!  Scrap the “but”.  Would you like to be apologized to that way?  You’re just making excuses for yourself.  No healing will happen as long as we excuse our behavior.  The flip side is, if you didn’t do anything and they assure you that they aren’t upset with you, act accordingly.  Don’t keep going back and making sure they really aren’t upset.  Life is really too short to waste in paranoia.

Number two:  Get out of the brain cycle of “if only”.  This takes practice.  When I was in my early twenties a renown psychologist in our area taught my Sunday School class.  Most of what he said was far too brilliant to penetrate my 21 year old brain, but a couple of things stuck.  One was, “When a negative thought pops in your head, stop it immediately.  You then have about 5 seconds to change the tape.  Refocus your mind and move on.”  I have practiced this since then.  I’m still not great at it.  But I’m trying.

Number three: Remember just how important and valuable you are.  Whew!  I think this is the hardest yet.  The other thing that Dr. Myers (Sunday school teacher) said that stuck with me forever was that “Jesus would rather die than live without you.”  I realize it’s hard to focus on your eternal value when you’re doing twelve loads of laundry, stuck in traffic, staring at a computer screen for a living, but it’s absolutely true!  You are so valuable that the One who had the power to speak the world into existence would rather die a brutal death than live without you.  That’s some crazy love, friend.

Number four:  Because some of you just never will believe number three, here’s another starting point for getting away from the “if only” brain cycle.  Do something nice for someone else.  Make yourself more valuable.  Stick with a strength.  Our technology guy at our church, Bubba Stallcup, fixes computer problems for church members for free in his non-existent spare time.  When my mom felt down she always used to make banana bread or cookies and we would all take them to a nursing home.  If you can’t bake, just take them flowers.  People in a nursing home just want some love and attention.  Go hug them.  Nothing will make you feel more valuable than spending time with someone who literally has no one that cares about them.  Pay for the person behind you at the drive through.  Nice people have more friends.  That’s just a fact.  I believe the statistic is that the most reclusive person in the world touches at least 10,000 people in their life time.  Imagine if you’re actually trying!

Number five: Eat more chocolate.  This requires no further explanation.

What does all this have to do with my propensity to kill chickens?  Ah!  You smart aleck thing you, it doesn’t really.  It’s just my life.  No, honestly, the unfortunate chickens triggered this thought because I used to be devastatingly scared to try something new.  I was paralyzed by past failures (I have a surprising number of these for how young I am).  I let regrets and fear run my life and keep me in my comfort zone all the time.  If a chicken had died in my care back then I would have cried for days, given all survivors to a chicken expert with years of references and never tried anything new ever again for fear that I would stink at it.  What fun is that?  My lifetime friend, Sara Pullen once asked me, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” My current answer –  I’d start a blog, write my books, have a bunch of kids and homeschool them, hobby farm.  Accidentally kill chickens.  You know, the usual stuff.

 

I do feel that I should add here that the chickens and chicks died of natural causes.  I wasn’t negligent or anything.  Just in case you were worrying about the survivors.  We’re doing all we can here!

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