Author Archives: Margot
Author Archives: Margot
We are all guilty of being pedantic about something … maybe even a little obsessive compulsive at times?
I like to snip the grapes into little bunches so that you don’t have all those sad little stalks sticking out like dead things, when people eat a few. It’s weird I know, but that’s my thing.
Am I pedantic because I believe it is the best way? After all, haven’t I refined this process over a long period of time? But if I’m honest, I have noticed a reluctance to change even when I can reason that change might be an improvement, I just don’t want to do things differently. But … isn’t there always room for improvement?
For example, if I get used to driving a certain route between two destinations and even though I know there might be a better way due to changed traffic conditions, road works, new information etc., I am reluctant to go a different way. It’s comfortable traversing the well-worn path, safe.
Interesting … but does this make me unteachable? Perhaps, unless I’m open to changing cultural perceptions and new technological developments that could make life easier for me.
My Mum taught me to iron the tea-towels. (I’ve heard some people even iron their bed linen.) But my daughter pointed out that ironing the tea-towels is really quite pointless. After (quite long) reflection, I had to agree. I don’t iron them any more but it took me a while to give myself permission to stop, to decide that it really wasn’t worth the effort.
A friend was talking recently about the use of a delay cycle on her washing machine. You can put a load on but set it to start first thing in the morning, for example, ready to be hung out when you get up. Useful feature in a busy household. When she was explaining this to her mother, her mother refused to use the capability, even though her washing machine provided it and it would improve aspects of her lifestyle.
Irrational? Unteachable? Maybe. It’s easy to stand in judgement, but I know I’ve been guilty of dodging change in order to stay feeling safe.
I’ve even heard peers, on occasion, boasting about not taking up new technologies (e.g. refusing to have a mobile phone). It’s interesting the stories we can tell ourselves at times to justify our resistance to change.
It’s like a constant battle inside … change or not change. But I realise that if I don’t change I’ll get left behind and become an irrelevant, irrational, pedantic old lady. As much as I try though, I actually probably already am an irrelevant, irrational, pedantic old lady. Sigh. It’s an on-going work in progress.
( Confession: I still iron the pillow cases … oops!)
Gossip, is it bad? We all do it. We all talk about each other. We all believe we shouldn’t do it, or that’s it’s bad … but is it really? I’m not talking about vicious rumour-mongering, I mean simply talking about other people when they are not present.
For example, the closest person to us is usually our partner. I am most likely to talk to my partner about other people in my life (though of course there are sometimes strict confidences withheld). In this talking, it seems to me I get an opportunity to work through my understanding of life and other people to some extent. This talking helps me to analyse other people’s behaviour, measure their ideas against my own, even perhaps helps me to understand myself better. The person I might be talking about might be really important in my life, or maybe an acquaintance I’m just getting to know.
Is that wrong … or essential?
Another example. I might talk to one friend about another friend because these friends are unconnected and unlikely to ever meet. I feel this is a safe environment to share confidences in a way that is not going to bring about betrayal. The individuals are not known to each other and not likely to be known.
Is that wrong?
However, we all know that dreaded feeling … that feeling you get when you realise someone heard what you were saying, and you didn’t intend them to hear. It can make you sick to the stomach. Why do we feel like that? We wouldn’t feel sick if they hadn’t heard. It wouldn’t prick our conscience one little bit.
Interesting … why?
Is it because we manage our inter-personal relationships on different levels? There is the face to face aspect, where we carefully consider what we say and do. Then there is the non face-to-face aspect where we consider it acceptable to say different things, as long as the target doesn’t hear. Is this necessary? Or is it somewhat self-indulgent and questionable behaviour?
I had cause to reflect on the nature of gossip during my Master of Arts. I read an academic paper that positioned gossip as an essential component of establishing self-identity and the human condition (by Hazel Smith The erotics of Gossip). Hazel quotes Eggins and Slade who argue that “gossip is a way of making people conform to social norms, while conceding that it affirms relationships.”
It caused me to reflect on the strict social boundaries we have, often unspoken, about how we talk about each other, who we talk to about each other and how we know instinctively when a confidence is implied … or broken.
My conclusion is that we talk to each other, then we talk about each other … it’s a fact of life. The nature of ‘confidence’ is subjective and interpreted.
It’s never going to change. It’s part of the human condition. What do you think?
What is your family culture?
It can be hard to ‘see’ the culture within your own family. Why? Because it’s normal. It’s what you grew up with. You are imbibed with it.
Perhaps you might have got an inkling as to your family’s culture when you stayed the weekend with a friend from school. Or better still, when you met your partner’s family for the first time. Perhaps you may have even been forgiven for thinking that the other family was just that little bit … weird?
Isn’t this because their value systems differ from yours? For example, one family may value punctuality and see it as a manifestation of integrity and reliability. Another family may value spontaneity and see it as being responsive to those in need in a timely manner. Two such values can be quite conflicting.
Another family might value honesty (though we are never really completely honest) but another family might value protecting each other from emotional upheaval as more important.
We value competition in our family and it permeates our reactions to everything that happens. So much so, that I find it hard to imagine a family culture that doesn’t have competition at its core.
Of course all this can become a bit challenging when Person A marries Person B. For the marriage to work successfully, it seems to me that A and B have to make compromises to their value systems. You could call them adjustments. Perhaps this is one reason why the first year of marriage can be so HARD. But if A and B work at it, they end up developing a new value system which is a blend of A and B’s original values. Sometimes the compromises that A and/or B are being asked to make prove too great … and consequently they may decide to separate. That’s fair enough when you think about it, but painful none the less.
The blend of a couple’s two value systems ostensibly turns into a family culture as children appear. All of us work really hard on this, embracing our sense of ‘rightness’ and wanting to raise children with the strength of character we deem important. It’s critical to parenting.
And so the world goes around and generations repeat.
Perhaps if we understood how our value systems differ from our neighbours, might we be just that little bit more tolerant? Love to know what you think.
I had the pleasure just before Christmas of having my nephews come to visit, David and Luke. They paid me a treasured compliment. They said I ‘seemed young’. Woo hoo!
It caused me to ponder why that might be. Here are a few thoughts …
Firstly it could be because I’ve come to accept that my generation’s values are different to those of the current generation … not ‘better’. Every generation has unique challenges – pros and cons to being born at that time. There is no better or worse there just is.
(As an aside and if you are interested in this topic, here is a great article Zoë and Mel shared with me recently that puts it all in beautiful context. http://m.huffpost.com/us/
Secondly, I recognise that my children can teach me things … that they are quite likely to know more than me on many given topics. It’s my observation that as we age its easier than ever to become dogmatic. C’mon we’ve had decades to try things out and think about things! It’s easy to slip into that sense of superiority that we know things the younger generation don’t. Big mistake. I believe indulging ourselves in this way inhibits our ability to listen to and communicate with them … sets us apart from them and creates the generation gap, I guess.
Thirdly, I’m able to accept my children as young adults with thoughts, perceptions, feelings and conclusions that may be similar to mine or different. Either way is okay. At some point I accepted that they were responsible for themselves (during their teenage years). It wasn’t my job to train them anymore. Of course it is lovely when they come for advice or to talk things over, but in the end I respect the decisions they make in their lives.
Is this why my nephew’s perceived me as ‘young’? I wonder.
Perhaps it’s because I try on some level to embrace some of the emerging thinking and changing cultural values, despite my baby boomer conditioning.
Perhaps it’s all a mix that just comes out as ‘me’.
I’d love to know your thoughts.