Thursday, September 22, 2011

Questioning Fixing My Facebook Status


There it is - that sweet sound of frustrated people pounding their keyboards expressing their displeasure with Facebook … it surrounds us.

Once again, Facebook has changed its formatting, thus making their subscribers cranky. Status lines are filled with displeasure, petitions are being formed, other social networks are being explored by people who are not happy, people accustomed to going right to the things that interest them most and bypassing the items that don’t, people who are resistant to change.


One Facebook status line caught my eye … “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?"


Sorry. Couldn’t help it. I had to laugh.


If it ain’t broke, why fix it could be the slogan for most of the items in our daily lives!

I like to use Tide laundry detergent to wash my clothes. My mom used it and I learned from her about the good job it did. That’s not to say I didn’t try others. I went to college … I’ve been broke … I’ve tried others over the years. But I always seem to come back to Tide. I like the way it cleans my clothes and the way it smells. FYI … I’m referring to the ORIGINAL Tide. Not the one that’s “mountain fresh”, not the one with softener added, not the one with Febreeze scent added. I don’t need the “improved” versions. The original wasn’t broke, so why did it have to be fixed?

To make it more marketable?

Because if all you offered was an item that did a really good job, people wouldn’t buy it?

Does anyone else see the weirdness of that statement?

Remember when you could get a pack of 10 sticks of Wrigley’s gum for a quarter? Remember Bazooka Joe and the bubble gum you could get for a penny and snap irritatingly large bubbles, the powdery sweet taste staying longer on your tongue than the ability to blow the bubble?

I don’t chew a lot of gum lately but if I did decide to buy a pack, I’m not going for one the fancy, schmancy brands that come in plastic tubs, or boxes, or bundles. Why do I need to buy a piece of gum that has flavor that lasts forever and costs as much, or more than a candy bar, when all I want is a bit of sugar and flavor and chewing action? My name is not Violet Beauregarde and I’m not looking for a stick of gum to chew so long that I have to stick it behind my ear while I eat my dinner.

Gum wasn’t broken, but it had to be fixed … improved … because “new and improved”, even if it is more expensive, gets purchased more than good taste and low cost?

Don’t even get me started on the cola products. Or their “new and improved” water. *snorts*

What about those coffee makers that require an engineering degree in order to operate, not to mention the powders and liquids and flavors and whips that are added to “improve” that caffeine jolt of java? Do we REALLY need get up earlier in the morning so that we have time to stop and get a drink of something that costs more than an entire breakfast platter at IHOP? Couldn’t those extra moments be spent having a nice breakfast at home, with family or … in my case … pupper? *insert smiley face*

The act of brewing a cup of coffee (or steeping a cup of tea) hasn’t changed. It wasn’t broke. You just need hot water and a pot. No. The act of brewing just got fixed.

Our athletic shoes have gone from a basic pair of white keds or converse high tops to pumped up, balanced, cushioned, air soled wonders that trim our thighs, work our calves and round our tushies.

Our phones have gone from switchboard party calls, to trimline phone with a cord, to a cordless phone, to cell phones, to iPhones and Androids.

Our home entertainment has moved from a single radio to a giant, wall gripping flat screen high def television complete with blue-ray player and surround sound stereo.

We’ve moved from the anticipation of a letter from a relative arriving in a couple of months, to the instant texting, emailing, and Skyping.

And a bottle of cola can now, instead of being regular or diet, be original, sugar-free, caffeine-free, cherry flavored, vanilla flavored, raspberry flavored, zero-calorie wonders. (I told you not to get me started!)

The thing is … those original items weren’t really broken.

I’m really not saying that change is a bad thing, or that variety isn’t fun to try. Let’s face it … I always enjoyed the variety flavored box of instant oatmeal. But do we have to have the lower sodium oatmeal, the heart healthy oatmeal, the higher fiber oatmeal, etc. etc.? Isn’t oatmeal already supposed to be all of those? Maybe we just like to have the shelves of the grocery store decorated with pretty boxes?

I realize this sounds rather simplistic and I suppose, in a way, it is. Technology continues to pave the way. Our children know more about computers at the age of three than most fifty year olds did at the age of twenty-five. However, “new and improved” seems to be more and more a way of saying “we’ve taken something that worked for you and changed it, thereby making it more expensive to make and/or use”.

Again, I’m not saying that change is a bad thing … I’m just asking why did we have to go to such extremes?

Do consumers REALLY need to have a multitude of laundry detergents to choose from?

Does a single piece of gum truly need to last FOREVER?

Is what you have to say to me so important that I have to take my laptop to the restaurant so we can Skype while I eat?

Do Facebook users REALLY need to be told how to know which status updates are recent and which are new and which are considered “top stories”?

It wasn’t broken. Why did it have to be fixed?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Understanding Peace


It has been on my mind this morning. No matter what I find myself doing, I seem to keep coming back to it.

I’m not talking about peace, love, & caddyshack. *grins*  I’m talking the peace that passes understanding. It’s not really describable and yet, here I am making the attempt as it appears to have taken root and is willing me to do something I haven’t done in quite awhile … write … and something I haven’t done in an even longer while … post.

This morning I was not just awake, but also up (as in the "out of bed and dressed" kind) before I wanted to be through no one’s fault, not even the small, white ball of fluff that seems to rule my house and my schedule. As a matter of fact, the small one was still nestled on the bed, sleeping quite peacefully when I decided that we would go outside and check the early morning. It was a bit before 7am and the sun had just crested its way into the sky. I stopped to brew a mug of tea from a blend gifted me by the eldest girlie Friday night before grabbing leash and pupper and making my way out of doors.

According to the weather I checked before leaving my phone inside, the temperature was a light 69 degrees. After weeks of 110 plus – either from heat index or, worse, actual temperature – the morning seemed almost chilly. Almost. Yet while the breeze was cool, the rising sun was bright in the clear blue palette of sky and was warming. Not hot. Just warm. The morning was perfect.

We walked for a few minutes, my pupper and I. Not far. Not to the field. Just down the sidewalk enough to give him some places to sniff and me a feeling that I’d stretched, however little. Then we went back and I relaxed, in my chair, sipping my tea, while he searched for something elusively scented under his bushes.

It was quiet. Not silent, just ... quiet.

Our morning's musical underscore was a combination of the birds, busy with beginning their day, and the gentle breeze, which was enough to give a rustle to Fluff’s bushes and toss a couple of dried leaves across the driveway for him to give chase before another scent caught his twitching little nose and he began exploring again. The birds made me think of Harold and Francine, my cardinals. I wondered where they were and if they had already begun another nest, hopefully in a safer location than my tree and window could evidently provide, but they are nature’s creatures and I just gave another quick thanks to their Creator for allowing me the chance to view their life for a short time.

I lay my head back, closed my eyes and felt, simply put, the perfectly peaceful morning flow around me, welcoming and embracing.

There was nothing to understand, nothing to sort out. There was just peace - of mind, of body, of soul.

Yesterday afternoon, after an early morning trip to the Farmer’s Market, combined with real estate wandering (aka. driving around looking at houses for rent & for sale and checking out garage sales), not to mention a brief errand, my youngest girlie settled herself curled in my big chair whilst I worked in the kitchen for a bit. It didn’t take long for the quiet and lull in activity to settle her into a soft sleep. While I worked, I found my eyes drawn to her slumber, my hands gentling the sounds so I didn’t disturb, and my mind casting back in memories so thick and rich, they seemed to wrap themselves around me like a warm cloak or a soft comforter.

Memories of girlies of varying ages and sizes … curled separately or together … on the couch, in the chair, on my shoulder, in my lap, on the floor, in the car … sleeping the quiet, yet not so quiet, sleep of innocence … of childhood. Tucked up on pillows or hands, nestled in blankets or not, they dreamed the dreams cast by their hearts, minds, and imaginations. Sometimes they might wake startled by nightmare or illness, but the moments passed quickly and sleep would always return to give them peace.

Ask me of one of my fondest memories and would reply something like this:

Take any weekend filled with laughter and playtime, movies and books and end it with girlies asleep in their beds as I finish out my day. Then, after closing down the house and securing our safety, I would turn out the lights and make my way down the hall. Aided by small nightlights, I would stand in the juncture of the hall, looking into both rooms, reveling in the gift of time spent before tucking each one with a small kiss and phrase, then gratefully giving thanks to the Creator who made them and the parents that shared them.

That moment. That memory. That was my feeling of peace.

According to the dictionary, peace can be defined in multiple ways. There is the one of the “normal, nonwarring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world” which is in parallel to the one about “an agreement or treaty between warring or antagonistic nations, groups, etc., to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting or antagonism” to be followed in the same genre as “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations”. There are also the definitions of “being deceased”, of “maintaining order”, of “refraining from speaking”. One definition that kinda made me giggle, but that could be because of the way it is phrased, is the one where peace is definined as “a state or relationship of non-belligerence”. Not sure why it made me giggle, except perhaps because I hear this English voice in my head from a movie I know I’ve seen and yet cannot place at the moment (when it comes to me at 3am, I’ll be sure to post it for you) of the good guy fighting the bad guy and calling him a “belligerent bugger”. But that’s a side trip in the realm of definitions and not where I was heading.

Where I am heading is the simple and concise definition of peace as “untroubled, tranquil, content … a state of stillness, silence, or serenity.”

These are the words that define my memory of those quiet moments. This is the feeling ... is the peace ... I had this morning as I relaxed with my tea outside while my pupper explored before starting my day. This is the sense of self that is welcomed each weekend to rejuvenate my mind and, more specifically, my soul in order to approach the coming week.

That is my description of peace.

It is the gift that surpasses all understanding, flows like a river and is only truly received when heart and mind are surrendered to the One from who it is given.

My prayer this Sunday morning, before my pupper and I came inside and truly began our day, was … is … for each member of my family, each of my friends to be blessed with their own moment of peace. And ... when you find yourself in that moment, do two things.  First … give thanks to Him who has bestowed it, and then, secondly, pass it on. You know the adage … if you tell two people, then they tell two people, then they tell two people, and so on, and so forth?

Is your imagination good enough to imagine what would happen?