Values: the life blocks, the moral foundation

We just ended this excellent series at bible class on how we communicate to family members. Amongst many other things, the series involved identifying our personal styles and reactions in times of conflict, and having a look at other historical examples in the bible. I am kicking myself at the moment because I’d stored my notes from 2 weeks ago in a real safe place… which of course now means I can’t find them. But I did remember that the first question on the top of the list had to do with personal values.

It was something along the lines of,

Have your told your family what your personal values are?

It’s a great question, at least for me. Mostly because I have no idea what my personal values are, much less thought about articulating it to my family of origin, or to Tony and Arddun. It’s also a great question because it highlights that most fundamental assumption that trips all of us up: just because we’re in the same family, doesn’t mean we all inhabit the same attitudes and exhibit the same behaviours.

It’s like common sense in housework. It’s not actually that common. So if that’s tricky enough to determine sometimes, then we need to start talking out loud about what we think our personal and family values are.

A quick look around the interweb has produced a number of familiar and less familiar examples. More than anything, I’m awed and rather ashamed that I had never thought to do this.

In This House

I’ve seen this around. Like it, but only two out of three of us do Loud really well. And even then, I’ve mellowed lots.

Steele Family

Ooohhh I like this one

Family words rather than values per se

Something more abstract. Not sure that I care for this “Tag Cloud” style

One-word family values list

Also like this one

Homemade family values flower

Clearly, there were SEVERAL family meetings and a parenting textbook/workbook attached to this one. Wow!

Christian Vanilla

The Christian Comprehensive approach

We Are Kind

The Focused approach

Jennings family values

I thought I recognised the handwriting!!! I’ve seen that poster before!!! #kjennings #whilerandomlygoogling

Of course, articulating family values is something that needs to be discussed and agreed on, and not just cobbled together by me, the overenthusiastic part-time SAHM. But even before I’m ready to go broach the subject with Tony (and Tony, my love, consider the subject already partially broached!) I need to work out what it is that I value.

I’m still working through the list, but I thought I’d start with what I already do. I think we ALL like to think that we champion huge concepts all the time like Love, Justice, Loyalty, Kindness, Purity, Courage. And we aspire to be diligent and successful in areas like Health, Beauty, Finances. Still, I think we all know that attitudes don’t speak the loudest – actions do.  So here’s what I’ve come up with so far this week, based partly on what I spend my heart on. And I’m sure there’s more to come.

My Personal Values (that I’ve come to recgonise anyway)

I value continual self improvement, hard work, and the desire to reach my full potential

This one took a while for me to get to, especially the bit about reaching my full potential. I think we get constantly inundated with the World’s vision of how someone reaches their full potential. They get a Nobel Peace Prize, for instance. Climb a mountain. Start a company. Become a celebrity. Write a book. Write 10 books. Work 85 hours a week. Have 7 children, foster 10 more, adopt 3. Basically spend every waking moment Living and Doing, in the hopes of becoming the best version of themselves.

I believe it’s no coincidence that I choose to be a Christian. It’s also not a coincidence that I choose to blog. The former requires a lifetime of a renewing of the mind, and the unlearning of old ways while putting on Christ. The latter is one of my means of documenting the process, and checking in. My problem is finishing – I’m not great at that. But I do genuinely seek to do better, and I do spend quite a bit of time examining my faith, my actions, and my shortcomings. Which is why I’m constantly goal-setting (but still suck at seeing some of it through). And also, I get REAL excited putting together a 23-step program to get me there. That’s probably the funnest bit for me.

I value Discernment, Sagacity, Temperate Judgement

This one came about because I’m increasingly aware of how I balk when given “expert advice” on many subject matters – health and nutrition, parenting, technology, religion, self-help… I am especially leery of magic bullets. Yet when Celina and I were growing up and identifying our polar-opposite traits, we had always regarded her as the suspicious one, while I would swallow a concept whole first because I trusted people so quickly. That seems to have changed along the way.

Don’t get me wrong – I can still get incredibly excited over new shiny concepts. But Tony often balances off such enthusiasm with a measured, factual response (and the occasional eyebrow-raise) that I’ve grown to appreciate his cautiousness. And I’ve become a lot more moderate (and sadly, a little cynical) over the last decade and a half, after an entire adolescence of my mother tsk-tsking me for being Too Emotional.

I value having the courage to speak up, to change, to meddle

While packing my old bedroom in Singapore last year, I came across a letter I had written to a sister in Christ and it took my breath away. It was basically me broaching the subject of how I’d noticed her changing away from God and church, and how I really yearn for her to hang on to her faith. It was earnest, it was honest, it was surprisingly loving and gentle (not my best traits), and because it had been such a long time since I’d done something like that, it touched me. Weirdly, I wish others had written that way to me when I was going through big stuff in my late teens and early twenties. I wish I had sent that letter to that sister. But perhaps I only wrote what I needed to hear for myself. Communicating through the prism of my own love language.

I can be blunt now, I know. I have a forthright manner. I call a spade a spade, sometimes worse. But I think I’ve mellowed. I used to have a lot more courage to speak up for the underdog, to broach difficult ideas, to poke at the glass ceiling, question the status quo, meddle with love. Of course, that also meant I tread on many toes, flummoxed many Aunties and Uncles in church, intimidated others without necessarily winning them over, and made enemies. I still do some of these things quite well. :-(

Coming to a different country and starting out as an outsider has subdued me somewhat. I am also more mindful, now that I’m married, of charging ahead but leaving my introverted, circumspect husband and partner exposed and hating it. And yet I wonder if I’ve swung too far the other way, like a pendulum. Where the good stuff is getting muffled with the bad. I believe I still have it in me to fight the good fight when it counts.

This personal value isn’t so much one that I’m exercising regularly, but one that is dormant and needs refining.

 

I’m sure there are many others – the dead obvious ones like I Value Beauty (which is why I window shop so much), and the more surprising one like I Value Family, which is why I’ve put the corporate career ladder climbing schtick aside for now, and am still working out how to reinvent that bit. This isn’t a comprehensive list, like I said, but it was the first 3 that came to mind and it’s an interesting start.

 

Soooo… what are your personal values?

Categories: Looking Around and Looking Within | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The successful failure

One of the perks of being a part-time SAHM before Arddun goes to preschool is the time we get to just hang out together and try things.

We were going to surprise Tony with cookies when he returned home from work this week (He’s working longer and longer hours, and has to deal with interesting staff. Not his favourite two things.) Decided to try out a new recipe from a book I’d bought cheap from Borders years ago (American measurements, with metric translations). Was supposed to be brown sugar cookies with a drizzle of lemony icing.

Wasn’t too sure about the recipe halfway through but because I’m no baking diva, and we were having too much fun, I pressed on.

Collage of Arddun with cookies on tray

Cookies are looking good on the tray at least

Arddun profile baking collage

Arddun’s chief role: beater eater

 Sadly, when we pulled the trays out 12 minutes later, everything was le splat. Just too much butter, methinks. And waaay too salty.

I was pretty disappointed. But Arddun just walked over, looked at the trays, said “Oh dear, Mummy!” and then patted me gently on the back. “Oh well. It’s okay. Nevermind. You alright?”

Prompting me to question who had the more adult response, really. What a crack up!

Strawberries and chocolate dipping sauce

When all else fails as spectacularly as it did, go to chocolate-drenched fruit

Arddun eating a strawberry

Happy with consolation prize

Categories: Moments and Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TTT — Parking, Piccies, Pregnancy

Great parking when I needed it

This piece of gratitude actually came about the week Andrea and Ben were here. I hadn’t included it in last week’s list because going all swoony over parking is, frankly, a little embarrassing. But I think all drivers can relate to that punch-in-the-air feeling when you score the perfect parking space. As it turned out for my cousin’s visit, I scored a parking space riiiight in front of Jollimont Centre (the coach station here in Canberra) the day of their arrival… and then I scored a parking space at the side of Jollimont Centre on the day of their return.

Noice.

Parking around Jollimont Centre

So nerdy, but HAD to take a photo

I was especially thankful to get the second parking space, as that allowed me a good half hour coffee with Andrea and Ben before they boarded the bus. Precious times.

Selfies with Arddun

Arddun is beginning to get curious about photography — probably because I keep taking pictures of her on all mobile devices and now, an actual camera. She hasn’t quite understood the concept of looking through the viewfinder of a camera to take a shot, but I think she’ll get there soon. She is now fascinated with selfies, though. (I’m not altogether sure how to feel about that one.) We had a mini indulgence one recent lazy morning during breakfast, and for some reason I wasn’t quite prepared for how she snuggled up against me to take a bunch of selfies. Heart melted, blub blub…

Selfies with Arddun

Cruisey pregnancy thus far

I’ve heard that second pregnancies are harder on our bodies, and I’ve personally found that to be true. Muscles are looser, which means things get sore quicker; the pelvic pains I got on the last week of pregnancy that made walking difficult is something I’ve now been struggling with since the start. My nausea had hit harder, I feel more tired, I lose energy quicker. I’m sure part of it has to be with age and the fact that I’m running after a dancing toddler, too.

But I am so thankful that my pregnancy is boring. “Boring,” my midwife and obstetrician sagely reinforced, “is a great thing when you’re pregnant. No events. That’s what we want to know.”

There are other pregnant women who really struggle with the big stuff, even the possibility of severe complications leading to death. And I know none of us is immune. I try to remember this whenever I wake up in the middle of the night with blindingly painful leg cramps, the kind that contort your face into The Scream, or when Boy Blob decides to break out dance moves violent enough to cause me to jump. Because all this is temporary, and I know I actually have it real good.

Categories: Gratitude and Grace | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Look, mama! I’m Rapunzel!”

IMG_0648.JPG
You crack me up, kiddo.

Categories: Moments and Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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