The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

excuse me, ma’am. you have a shotgun shell on your wall.

Around the turn of the new year, I sat in on a Twitter chat hosted by the editor of The Daily Basics. She is so very bright and comes up with the greatest topics to mull over. On that day, she posed this question: What are your decorating goals for the year?

Admittedly, I wasn’t so turned on…at first. Decorating goals for the year? That’s my sister Nan’s department. She’s the decorating guru.  But, the more I thought about what I really want my house to be like has more to do with the feel than the look.

My response to the question at hand was this: This year, I want to decorate with things that are meaningful to my family…reminders of happy days, achievements, people we care about. Hopefully, people who come visit us will feel the love jumping off the walls (although I could see where one might confuse the love with the deer), relax and enjoy being in our home. But there is also this: when you surround yourself with objects that promote and inspire your very own goodness, you’ll have more goodness to share. This makes it good all the way around.

So, I just finished my first little decorating project – and I mean little. A few Saturdays ago, we visited my parents in South Georgia. It was a crisp and beautiful Saturday, so we decided to shoot skeet. Emma, Ben, Darrell, my Dad and I shot and laughed and teased each other and then we did it all again on Sunday. It was the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time (bruised shoulder and cheek aside). When we finished, I gathered up all the spent shotgun shells and brought them home. I dumped the shells in a shadow box, framed a few of my favorite pics from the day and voila!

 

 

Just for the record, those elk antlers do not hold a special place in my heart.

per emma & ben

This morning over breakfast, I asked Emma and Ben what I should blog about. They both said I should use this great spring weather and the blooming flowers.

hmmm….

“But, what’s the point?” I asked them. “What do you mean, What’s the point?” Ben asked.

Sigh. Twice, for good measure. Clearly they are only into this blogging business for the pictures. Or, what they can complain about since on Friday, Ben said to me, “I thought I told you not to put me in your blog anymore, Mom. Anybody in the whole world can see it.” First of all, I had to talk to him about how young people talk to adults, because he wasn’t doing it right. Secondly, I had to tell him how I have better judgment than to put something compromising about my own child on the world wide web.  It’s not like I put his mug up with a For Sale sign over his head.

………

Sorry. I’m back. My mind wandered.   

So, I explained to them that with each post, I use an everyday home or work situation and look for something useful in it. A lesson. A nugget of truth.

After a few seconds of putting way more cinnamon roll than is necessary in his mouth, Ben said, “Don’t smell all the flowers.”  Emma looked at me nodding her agreement.

Thanks, kids, I’ll take it from here….

They’re right. Not everything that looks good  – is good. There are bright shining objects that get our attention and draw us in. And, there are smooth-talking people that say everything we want to hear. But, it’s up to us to determine if we should actually walk up and take a sniff. So, we’re back to using good judgment. Using discretion and showing integrity. The flowers in your career that you should smell every chance you get are the opportunities to meet new people, to learn new things and to share your knowledge. Focus on what is productive and right. Not just what appears most appealing at the time.

So, thank you, Emma and Ben for pointing us in the right direction.

(See? I do put nice things on this blog about y’all!)

cowboy cool

It’s Friday and I’ve got a little something for you to think about. Other than how sore this guy must have been the next morning.

 

Try not to run through your day like a bull coming out of the chute…aimless and throwing people to the side.

 

Be calm, take in your environment, think through your next move, value people around you so you can learn from them, be considerate, be encouraging, be courteous even when you don’t feel like it.

Just be nice. Be cool.

 

Be Cowboy Cool.

And Have a GREAT weekend!

be sincere, not showy

And, here, I give you…….the power of the handwritten note.

Yes, it’s written on a piece of toilet paper. Yes, it has a grammatical error. There isn’t a comma to speak of. There is no form. But, there is no way this doesn’t make you smile. At least on the inside.

Don’t just think it. Tell somebody. Post-it note. Smoke signal. Pony Express. Don’t stress over making it just exactly right. It’s the sentiment, not the show.

 

don't panic

This morning as I am standing in front of the bathroom mirror, makeup drawer open, hair wet, about to start the great transformation, Ben walked in. With that oh-my-gosh-what-is-going-on-here look, he said, “Mom. What are you doing? We’ve got to go!” How can it be 7:30 already????….my mind and my pulse went into overdrive.

My reaction wasn’t graceful. It was almost as if I had lost my footing. I started picking up things and putting them down in a panic. After I moved around the hairspray, the toothpaste, my bedroom shoes and pushed Ben back with my forearm as if I were protecting him from impact, I grabbed my watch.

7:09. And, he was gone.

I should have known better than to listen to him. This talk coming from the fella who can’t keep up with time for anything?  Who can’t keep up with his pencil at school, who can’t keep up with his pencil at home and has been known to lose his own bookbag in his own room? Still, when someone pairs the facial expression with the words that you are way off base about something, it’s human nature to react.

I knew it couldn’t have been 7:30 already. Deep down, I knew. But, the morning rush is no time for practical jokes. (I think he understands this now.) And, I was just as much at fault for succumbing. (Not really – he’s completely to blame for the bruise on my shin since I would not have used it to shut the drawer had he not started with me this morning.)

So, today’s mantra:  Don’t panic. Especially when people around you are tempting you to do so. Only you know when it’s time for you to panic, so don’t let someone else fling their stricken state on you. Keep your head about you and know that when others are acting with wild abandon (now there’s an image…wet hair, bathrobe, no makeup and wild abandon), you will end up leading the pack with your calm and rational demeanor.

As the posters say, Keep Calm and Carry On.

don’t panic

This morning as I am standing in front of the bathroom mirror, makeup drawer open, hair wet, about to start the great transformation, Ben walked in. With that oh-my-gosh-what-is-going-on-here look, he said, “Mom. What are you doing? We’ve got to go!” How can it be 7:30 already????….my mind and my pulse went into overdrive.

My reaction wasn’t graceful. It was almost as if I had lost my footing. I started picking up things and putting them down in a panic. After I moved around the hairspray, the toothpaste, my bedroom shoes and pushed Ben back with my forearm as if I were protecting him from impact, I grabbed my watch.

7:09. And, he was gone.

I should have known better than to listen to him. This talk coming from the fella who can’t keep up with time for anything?  Who can’t keep up with his pencil at school, who can’t keep up with his pencil at home and has been known to lose his own bookbag in his own room? Still, when someone pairs the facial expression with the words that you are way off base about something, it’s human nature to react.

I knew it couldn’t have been 7:30 already. Deep down, I knew. But, the morning rush is no time for practical jokes. (I think he understands this now.) And, I was just as much at fault for succumbing. (Not really – he’s completely to blame for the bruise on my shin since I would not have used it to shut the drawer had he not started with me this morning.)

So, today’s mantra:  Don’t panic. Especially when people around you are tempting you to do so. Only you know when it’s time for you to panic, so don’t let someone else fling their stricken state on you. Keep your head about you and know that when others are acting with wild abandon (now there’s an image…wet hair, bathrobe, no makeup and wild abandon), you will end up leading the pack with your calm and rational demeanor.

As the posters say, Keep Calm and Carry On.

buzzword: civility

‘Civility’ is quite the buzzword these days.

Yesterday, the University of Arizona announced the creation of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.  With former Presidents Bush and Clinton serving as co-chairs, this new organization is generally geared toward political impoliteness. Oprah, apparently, is preparing to air an entire show on civility. The Today Show, just a few months ago, aired segments on civility that spanned 3 days. Yesterday, I posted a piece on a friend’s blog about childrens’ manners because she had reached her boiling point over the incivility at her child’s Atlanta school.

And all this? It’s just information. Information we ALL already know. America is rude. Our children are rude. It raises our stress level. And it’s bad for our health and it’s bad for our future. I’ll bet very few of you who follow this blog have learned anything you didn’t know before. We all KNOW how to be civil.

But, KNOWING is a far cry from DOING. And, talking about it is a far cry from promoting it, pushing it. You see, ‘promote’ is a verb. That’s an action word.

I wish Oprah would call up Nike and tell them she needs to borrow ‘Just Do It’ so she can work the Oprah-effect on this problem. I don’t know exactly how she gets people to take action on what she says, but I hope whatever segment she is working on has a lot of verbs in it.

Wonder if she’s thought of that….

Another surprise, another lesson

We had the nicest surprise on Saturday afternoon. Friends we had not seen in years pulled up in the driveway! The Hubs and I were thrilled to see their smiling faces! I could not believe my eyes!   And, in hindsight, I could not believe I hugged and talked and laughed like my hair wasn’t wet and getting frizzier by the minute.

Unlike June Cleaver, my house and I are not often company-ready. Company-willing? Yes! I love drop-in company and spur of the moment get-togethers. But my lipstick is usually in the last place I look and my hairdo is usually leftover from yesterday unless I have a reason to fire up the flatiron. Our friends were quick to apologize for not calling first and I was quick to apologize for the Flashdance hair, so we spent a fair amount of time going around in that circle.

We had such a nice visit that I decided right then and there that we should all back off. Yep, that’s right. Back off the rigidity of looking for the perfect moment to make that phone call to the friend of a friend who lost a loved one. Back off looking for that perfect recipe for that delicious pie your mom once made to take to your neighbor. Back off the hesitation to tell your boss congratulations (yes, your boss!) on a job well done because you don’t think you will say it well.  

You may have heard me say this but having nice manners isn’t about following a bunch of rules. However, you should know the rules well enough so that you can show some grace and charm.

Just pull up in someone’s driveway and say Hello. You won’t believe what fun it will be.

now i know

It’s has been 8 days since I posted last. Would you like to know the moment that spurred this break in silence? That one realization that made me say to myself, Self, you have to share this with the world! It’s too important to child-rearers across the globe. Specifically, mothers of boys… I have unraveled the mystery. It’s that simple. I have found the answer.

Nearly 10 years ago, we had this little boy.

And, he’s ALL boy. 

 Cute, right? He looks just like his Daddy. But, lately, there has been something a little unnerving going on.

As a matter of fact, little dog standing underneath the table, I am talking about you.

 

Uh-huh. That’s what I thought.

THIS is what I had been trying to figure out…the smell! I could NOT figure out why this overly cute little boy most often smelled like a dog. But, now I know. And, now you know. Simply put, little boys do things to make themselves smell like they do.

And, from the looks of things, at least one person in this equation is perfectly fine with the way things are. You might call this ‘quiet resignation’. I do not call it that.

Even little cuties can’t go around smelling bad. It’s just not appealing.

So, mystery unraveled. Showers are important. Even for kids.

friday nonsense

1. It’s Friday. That, right there, is something to make you smile. Unless you are a Tuesday kind of person. I’m not, so TGIF.

2. Every night this week, I have cooked dinner in the crockpot. I used Southern Living recipes and they have all been really good. Maybe I’ll turn those 3 recipes into a post for you. Imagine…only 3 ingredients in the crockpot and it’s ready by 7 pm.

3. I have discovered the salads in the bag at Publix. It’s more than just lettuce…it’s a Theme Salad. I made up that name. Nuts, dried fruit and dressing. Ok, I’ll do a post with these food prep tidbits. Crockpot AND a Theme Salad? Oh yeah.

4. I also discovered Angry Birds this week. Well, last weekend, actually. I now have an extension cord from the nearest outlet to my side of the bed so I don’t have to worry about my phone battery dying while I’m playing. Drives me crazy yet I can’t stop.

5. I cut my finger yesterday and almost fainted. I was home alone so I had to cowgirl up.  After school, I showed the cut to Emma and Ben. Ben almost fainted. His face was that same color on the day Emma got her ears pierced. I knew we shouldn’t have taken him. He had to cowgirl up that day because it was NOT his day and I was taking pictures of Emma. He can be such a girl.

6. (To redeem Ben…) He pulled his own tooth at school and plopped it in my lap in a Ziploc bag. It’s not like it was a toe or something, but it was kinda creepy to me.

7. Going to have lunch with my grandmother tomorrow. She turned 95 last week. Really looking forward to it – she is so witty and has the best laugh. There will be something fried, something stewed, something soaked in mayonnaise and somebody cute to eat it with. That’s how she says a quick blessing when she’s eating with friends: “Thank you, Lord, for this lunch and somebody cute to eat it with.” I went home with a friend from college whose dad said the blessing by looking up at the ceiling and saying “Preesh’ate it. Ahmen.”  I use that one when I go through the drive-thru.

8. I started to end this list on #7, but I recently met a lady who has to do things in even numbers. I guess I can see the appeal, but I’m really fine with 1’s, 3’s, 5’s, 7’s.  Wonder if that applies when she’s eating. Does she eat 2 of everything? Now, THAT’S something I could get behind.

Hope you have a great weekend! Stay civil!

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