Sunday, August 21, 2011

National Entitlement Awareness Day

Linda and Richard Eyre will be releasing their newest book, The Entitlement Trap, on September 6. They are currently offering a great promotion for anyone who would like to raise less entitled children. Anyone? For details, visit the following website:

AND Speaking of entitlement, I have a few thoughts of my own (don't I always?)...

...the online Free Dictionary defines the term entitle as "to furnish with a right or claim to something." So when we discuss Entitlement among the next generation (Isn't it always a vice of the NEXT generation?), we are referring to their belief that they have a right or a claim to something that they haven't necessarily done anything to earn. When played out, it isn't pretty.

As much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes see it played out in my own life. I feel entitled to buy butter instead of margarine, chicken tenders instead of whole chickens, and fresh blueberries instead of frozen. I feel entitled to have a car to drive, shoes to wear, and lip balm. I feel entitled to running water, cool air, and a loving husband. Wait. Stop. Check that last one. Actually, I have NEVER felt entitled to have a loving husband. Or have I? I nearly always feel grateful for my sweet, thoughtful, and attentive soul mate... but there are times that I probably haven't treated him that way... times that maybe he wondered if he was really appreciated.

And isn't that the saddest, most caustic symptom of Entitlement? Ingratitude. It is ugly from every angle. We like to feel appreciated. We like to know that our existence matters. By the same token, it feels good to appreciate OTHERS--to value their contribution.

How do we overcome or avoid the damaging effects of Entitlement? In a nutshell, I think LESS is MORE. Thankfully, my children don't have a lot of expectations when it comes to Things, and during this period of unemployment, I have been most grateful for that. On the first day of school, not one of my four school-aged children started with new shoes, shirt, or shorts. They didn't even complain. My oldest son was itching for a new backpack--he had used the same one from kindergarten through sixth grade--so he found one he wanted online, and we split the bill with him. He didn't complain. He just had to decide how badly he wanted THAT backpack.

The less we have, the more we value what we DO have.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Speaking of Unemployment...

I think I am stressed. My ability to focus is worse that it normally is. I am not sleeping well. In fact, lately I have been reaching the end of rather long days only to find myself lying awake thinking. Just thinking. I prefer my old collapse-into-bed-and-immediate-slumber self. These days I find myself trying to talk myself into sleep. It sounds something like this...

Self: Just go to sleep. It's late, and if you drift off right now, you are only going to get five hours anyway.

Slumber-resistant Self: But I'm NOT tired. Maybe I should get up and write in my journal. Or read. Or make a blog post about how I can't sleep.

Self: Listen to your body. You can do any or all of those things tomorrow. You are getting sleepy... VERY sleepy.

Slumber-resistant Self: I sure like my house. I hope we don't lose it when we don't find employment in our near future.

Self: I said, "Go to sleep!" You are such a cynic when you get tired.

Slumber-resistant Self: I wonder what living in a shelter with six children will be like. I wonder if it is worse than sitting on a bench with them BY MYSELF every Sunday at church. Probably only worse because it could turn into days, weeks, or months (heaven help me!) of the same.

Self: Did you know that when you dream, you can dream yourself anywhere you want to be? Try it--it will make you feel better.

Slumber-resistant Self: Who does the cleaning at shelters? Do they mark the entire place off, grid-like, and then hand out rags and assign coordinates? I wonder if it would give my children a new appreciation for Saturday chores. Another plus would be the de-cluttering that I would be forced to do before we moved out.


Slumber-resistant Self: Hey, keep it down--I am trying to sleep here.

So, yes, my husband and I are in the throes of unemployment. For the most part, it's been fun. With my paper route, I have become what we call the Sole Breadwinner. Isn't that an illustrious title? However, I can't really claim to be "bringing home the bacon,"--more like the beans... bacon and fat are luxuries. Remember that.

Plus, I have had full-time help. Every summer I have been tempted to hire a nanny (at least one day a week), but this is WAY better than that! We were both quickly amazed (especially when school was in session) how my job could keep two adults so busy.

April 1 marked our first "official" day of being unemployed. April Fool's Day. Hmm. I won't think too hard about that one. My husband resigned. Yes, you read that right. He wasn't laid off. Fired. Let go. He resigned. With the economy in the toilet, we decided it was the right thing to do. Actually, WE didn't really decide anything. Heavenly Father told us it was the right thing to do. We just trusted him. Just.

For the first few weeks, I can honestly say that I was giddy with excitement. I was excited to discover the adventure around the next corner... or the next... OK, maybe the next. Because really--who in their right mind just up and quits a perfectly good job? OK, "perfectly good" is stretching it, but still--we had bacon.

Since then, there have been highs and lows. I won't lie. As sure as I am that resigning was the RIGHT thing to do, I get a little nervous to find out why. I mean, I don't THINK Heavenly Father would want us to lose our house... but then I know some perfectly wonderful people (REALLY perfectly wonderful) who have experienced just that. Maybe He thinks we need to be taken down a notch... but then, doesn't everyone? OK, not EVERYONE.

Right this minute I am feeling more optimistic than not. Hopefully, that optimism can get me at least one good night's sleep. But if not... at least I know how to blog a post.

At any rate, one thing I have learned over the past four months is...

It's not about the house, which reminds me of one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?

The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of– throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

I must admit I had gotten quite comfortable with the cottage plan.