Tag Archive | Mark Twain

THINK about the Gift of Language

Do you hate the political ads on TV as much as I do? Which ad do you hate the most? Is there any ad, from either political party, that you really like?

I’ll be so glad when the election has come and gone and TV can get back to its usual commercials that we can simply ignore, rather than being manipulated into getting angry about the “factual” distortions that are being shouted at us.

political ad cartoonSomething that makes me even angrier than the political ads on TV is some of the political diatribes posted on Facebook. I have FB friends on both political extremes as well as all along the continuum from left to right. The tone of some of their posts is extremely condescending toward their “friends” who hold differing opinions. I’m tempted to unfriend some of them, but then I reconsider, hoping that posts will get friendlier once the election is over. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I may be proven wrong, but I’ll wait and see.

I really don’t believe that God gave us the gift of language so that we could create political ads and Facebook rants.

T-H-I-N-KOur pastor said something in church (MessiahChurch.com) a couple weeks ago that I’m trying really hard to remember. Pastor Jeff said that he and his wife Melissa are trying to teach their kids to THINK before they speak, especially when they are responding to something that irritates them. They need to THINK before speaking – to ask themselves the following questions about what they are going to say:

  • Is it TRUE?
  • Is it HELPFUL?
  • Is it INSPIRING?
  • Is it NECESSARY?
  • Is it KIND?

Those key words form the acronym THINK. (You can watch a 12-minute video of his sermon here – and click on the arrow for the October 19, 2014 Sermon, “Pick the Correct Song!”)

Can you imagine what political ads on TV would be like if the creators of the ads had asked themselves those questions – if they had taken the time to THINK – before creating the ads?

Can you imagine how much kinder your friends’ Facebook posts might seem if your friends would take the time to THINK before they post their comments?

I’m trying to imagine how I might respond differently to friends, acquaintances, and strangers if I would take the time to THINK before communicating my responses to them. Is my comment TRUE? Is my comment HELPFUL? Is my comment INSPIRING? Is my comment NECESSARY? Is my comment KIND?

Thanks, Pastor Jeff, for telling us about the THINK approach to communicating – to THINK before we speak. Your comments were HELPFUL and INSPIRING.

One more thought. To all those questions: TRUE? HELPFUL? INSPIRING? NECESSARY? KIND? I’d like to add the comment, “and the greatest of these is KIND.” That brings me back to my favorite Bible verse of all time. Here it is as I memorized it 60 years ago from the King James Version:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. [Ephesians 4:32]

kindness kittenThe most important question for me to ask myself before speaking (or messaging, or posting on Facebook, or blogging, or communicating in any other way) – “Is the comment I am about to make kind to the person who will be receiving it?” If not, let me re-phrase the comment, or maybe even keep quiet.

Language is a precious gift. I guess it’s prudent to THINK before using it.

Kindness - Mother Teresa quote 2

 

 

I can’t put it off any longer

File DrawerIt’s time. I added it to my to-do list on January 1, 2014. It’s well past time to pull out the 13 bulging folders from the file drawer, the folders labeled “January 2013” through “December 2013” and “Misc. Tax Info.”

I haven’t clicked on the QuickBooks icon on my desktop since last February, when I finished “doing the accounting” for 2012. For me, “doing the accounting” really means entering receipts and expenses for our businesses into the computer and printing out a few reports to give to a real accountant who will prepare our financial statements and our taxes.

Organizing and entering a year’s worth of transactions usually takes me about a week of 10 to 12-hour workdays. Every year I think about changing my pattern and “doing the accounting” on a monthly basis, but I’ve stuck to the same annual pattern for 15 years, so I doubt that I’ll ever change. My week for “doing accounting” early in the new year always becomes my least favorite week of the year, but I survive it. I guess this practice is part of my disguise – so no one will ever guess that I have an MBA from one of the most prestigious business schools in the country, the University of Chicago. My guess is they would not like to claim me as one of their own.

Anyway, I can’t put it off any longer…

Elsie at PresHouse

Mom working at Presbyterian Student Center at UW Madison

I think I learned something about procrastination from my mom. She was always very organized, and she got everything done that needed to be done by the time it needed to be done. But I remember once she told me that she always ironed my dad’s shirts last. Back in those days, housewives ironed almost everything, from sheets and pillow cases to shirts and pants, even handkerchiefs. My mom had a full-time job as a financial secretary for the Presbyterian Student Center in Madison in addition to being a farmer’s wife and raising three kids, but she still ironed everything – until she could teach me to take over that job. One day she told me about how she ironed clothes. She hated to iron my dad’s Sunday shirt the most of all, so she ironed it last – just in case the end of the world would come before she got to it.

Pablo Picasso thought a lot like my mom. He is quoted in www.goodreads.com as saying, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

That sounds like a good case for procrastination to me! If I die before I get the accounting done, that’s fine with me. However, I’m sure Mim wouldn’t like it.

Mark Twain shared his words of wisdom on procrastination, too. He said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” I guess that’s my justification for doing accounting once a year instead of once a month.

Well, I guess it’s now “the day after tomorrow for me.” I really need to click on the QuickBooks icon.

Something that helps me focus on getting something done that I really hate to do, like accounting, is promising myself a reward when I complete the task. I’ve already ordered my reward from Amazon.com. Since my special word for 2014 is JOY, I’ve ordered the book CHASING JOY: MUSINGS ON LIFE IN A BITTERSWEET WORLD by Edward Hays. The book should arrive today or tomorrow, but I won’t let myself start reading it until the accounting is done.

I’d better get busy.

Chasing Joy