Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Can't

© 2009 by Angie Ruark

Every family has its rules. One of our family’s rules was set by my husband and I will be eternally grateful to him for it. It’s simple, yet profound. By being bound by this rule, you actually are granted freedom. The rule is this: never say “I can’t.” This does not have to do with whether or not we are free to go to the movies on Saturday, but rather with what we are capable of doing in life. For example, our oldest son, Matthew, was born pretty much legally blind. He sat up and walked a little later than babies do as a rule because of this. One day, when Matthew was about nine years old, we were told in front of Matthew by his ophthalmologist, “Matthew will never play sports, especially baseball.” That was all we needed to hear. The very next day, we signed him up for baseball. He hit a homerun his first time at bat. Now he is nearly seventeen years old, has piloted an airplane, is a pro-marksman with the National Rifle Association, an all-state linebacker, all-district running back, captain of his state championship football team, and now attends a prestigious college-preparatory school. Matthew speaks at youth events to share his story.

I love to share Matthew’s story because it is so inspiring. You see, even though someone else said “he couldn’t” Matthew did not say it and neither did we. This attitude has spilled over into other areas of his life. It has become such a way of life now that Matthew and his younger brothers don’t put limits on what they can achieve. Neither do I. Neither does my husband. We refuse to let the world label us, categorize us, rank us, or put us in a box or a mold.

Most people go through life being told what they can’t do. They accept the limits the world and other “well-intentioned” people place on them. Even worse, they put limits on themselves. I believe that this is the opposite of the way we were meant to live. How does someone else know what you are capable of? How do you know? Don’t you want to find out?

We were created with passion. I believe we were meant to live that way too.

“Behold I set before you an open door.” --- Revelation 3:8

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Death and Taxes, Dishes and Laundry

©2009 by Angie Ruark

My dad used to tell me that “the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes.” I respectfully and lovingly disagree with my dad’s statement. We have recently seen just how uncertain paying taxes can be- some people get away with not paying them at all! But that’s not what this article is about. Most of you reading this will probably agree with me that we could update my dad’s saying by changing death and taxes to dishes and laundry. Until someone invents disposable clothes (see my post “A Plea for an Invention”) we are faced with the inevitable burdens of dishes and laundry. Every day. Rain or shine. Hot or cold. Summer or winter, spring or fall, come what may, we have dishes and laundry! Even on vacation there is no escape! Even if you eat at restaurants the whole time, you still have laundry!! How about the cooler in the car “to save some money on eating out?” Ugh! That’s just one big dishes item to deal with when you get home and are exhausted and it smells like bologna sandwiches. Forget it!
I used to take a little pride in my housekeeping (when I was a stay at home mom and could actually stay at home, which, by the way, did not last long.) With sincere conviction I used to say, “I will never pay someone to clean my house. I will always take care of it myself.” Ha! What a joke! I am certainly singing a different song now! Funny how a few years have a way of completely reversing an opinion. I just wish I could afford to pay someone to come in and clean my house! Although, I know that I would clean it all up first to make a good impression. Might as well tell it like it is! While I’m at it, I would also like to hire a chef too. And a personal shopper. You know, those really do exist and people really do hire them! Wow! Can you imagine?
But I should get back to reality: dishes and laundry. They are there waiting for
me in the morning (at least a cup or two are and always clothes because they reproduce on their own of course.) It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, you WILL have dishes and laundry in some form to deal with. But it’s not so bad, at least we have death and taxes too!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Paper Trail

© 2009 by Angie Ruark

Everywhere I go, I am surrounded by paper. As I go, I collect it. It’s everywhere: in my house, my car, and purse. This is not something I do on purpose, it’s just a part of life. It really builds up quickly too. So quickly, I can barely keep up. And now I have reached that time of the year where I have to go through all of the boxes of paper I have been collecting in my bedroom (and my purse.) What usually happens when I do this is I sort through it all, find a thing or two I didn’t know I was missing, and then end up transferring the paper to a new container and putting it in a different spot in my bedroom than it was before. I enjoy this for a few reasons. First, I feel pretty good that I found that “long lost to do list I made for myself” two years ago. Second, I went through all the stuff I had boxed up so I know where to find important pieces of paper when I need them. And third, I get a sense of having re-decorated my room since I moved the box somewhere else. What would be really great is if it was actually just one box. It’s not. This year, it’s more than one (but I won’t say how many!)

But this is not my fault! I am too worried about identity theft to throw anything away. So I have to shred everything. Which would be fine if I had time to do it. It takes about fifteen minutes of every day to shred all the receipts and credit card offers we get on a daily basis. Who has that kind of time? I am not even counting the extra time it takes to unplug the shredder, go get a fork, and pry out the jammed wads of paper that clog my shredder every few pages. So as my busy days zoom by, I toss things in a “to shred” box and I put things to file in a “to file” box. Ok, actually, they are plastic grocery bags most of the time and I stack them up in a laundry basket. This is because the envelopes always tear the bags so when I pick one up to sort through it, all the papers and envelopes fall out. I love this. Nothing makes my day more than picking up a bag I didn’t really want to look at let alone touch, only to have all of its contents spill everywhere. Especially receipts. Those are my absolute favorite. I particularly enjoy how long my grocery store ones are. And how I get more than one with every purchase. This gives me more shredding to do at home. Fun! My sixteen year old son offered to make a bonfire in the backyard to get rid of it all at once but I said, “NOOOOO!” This wasn’t because of the fact that we are not allowed to burn inside city limits, but because I had conjured up this image of a receipt being propelled aloft by the flames, getting caught on the wind, and floating lazily away into the greedy paws of an identity thief!! Yikes! Then what? I do NOT want to end up working in that piratey-fish food restaurant like in the commercial. So I tell my son that it is a great but impossible idea. He can, however, burn some in the grill. He’s satisfied and so am I. We can put a lid on the grill so no receipts will fly away.

So here I am on the kitchen floor, sitting on a pillow because the floor is cold and hard, in the middle of a circle made of my shredder, the radio (gotta have something to listen to during all this!), an actual box this time for “to file” papers (which, by the way, is a whole other matter I don’t want to get into), the inevitable grocery bag for the newly named “to grill” papers, a garbage bag to really throw some things away this time, and some stacks of things that ended up with these papers that don’t belong, like a dollar bill, a two year old Christmas gift card that I hope I can still use, an earring, and some photos that make me look fat.

My purse is also part of this process because it is a receipt abyss. I know exactly how Mary Poppins felt when she dug through her bottomless carpet-bag. Only my purse is a bottomless receipt receptacle. I am amazed at how much you can actually cram in there. I am glad to be cleaning out my purse finally because it gets embarrassing to have to look through it when I am out in public. I try not to let people hear the paper crinkling and crackling as I dig and dig and dig to find my pen or my keys, but I know they can hear it. I also try to angle myself so they can’t catch a glimpse inside. No matter what I do, though, a tell-tale receipt will jump out with anything else I grab. So much paper! I think it would be easy to find me if I were ever lost in a forest- just follow my trail!

You may be wondering why I am taking on a project of this magnitude at this time of year. This is simply to begin to get ready to do another one of my favorite things- taxes!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Plea for an Invention

©2009 by Angie Ruark

Laundry piles up everywhere in my house. I really don’t know how in the world we generate the amount of laundry that we do, but it keeps appearing day by day. I am starting to consider the possibility that it is multiplying on its own somehow. One night, I thought about sneaking around to check the piles to try and catch it breeding, but I was too tired from folding clothes. Maybe that is its strategy! At this rate, I will never be able to sneak up on it and catch it growing.

I do a little every day, but it's like trying to move a mountain using a spoon. Once in a while I resort to throwing some of the dirty laundry away so I don’t have to wash it. My reasoning is that if I have been able to live the past month (or two) without that shirt, maybe I don’t really need it. It’s kind of a good strategy I think. Maybe I could take it one step further and buy inexpensive clothes every week and just throw them away when I’m done wearing them. This could revolutionize everything! Disposable clothes. Think of all the energy we would save by not using the washer and dryer. Think of the money we would save on water and detergent (not to mention time!) We could make them out of cotton. They would be biodegradable. It would boost the economy because the cotton industry would flourish. Grocery stores could sell them in the paper towel section. This would also solve my sock problem. I have already resorted to buying socks weekly so we have matching pairs once or twice a week. My youngest son claims he has never had a matching pair that he can remember (he is thirteen, so that is sad!) I just bought a pack of ten socks and as soon as we got home, my thirteen-year-old grabbed them all and wrote giant J’s on them in sharpie to claim them. I don’t blame him. Not only does he want matching pairs, but he also says he wants socks that aren’t “crispy.” Or permanently charcoal gray when they should be white.

Disposable clothes would also cut down on stress, thus they would have important health benefits. Nothing gets my heart rate pumping from stress like the question: “Honey, do I have any clean socks I can wear to work today?” Notice the word 'matching' is absent from this question. We know in our house not to even consider something like that! Also, disposable clothes would cut down on the amount of socks that disappear into the Land of Enchantment (at least that is what we call it in our house- the place where socks go after you put them in the washing machine.) Another important stress-relieving benefit of disposable clothes would be that I would never have clothes that have become too small from me working my butt on.* Also, I could enjoy shopping each week for new outfits guilt free. The more I think about this the more I see how important an invention like disposable clothes is. As a matter of fact, I can't see why no one has done this yet! Forget the light bulb or telephone! Disposable clothes will be the invention that will revolutionize the whole world, save the economy, the environment, and peoples' sanity!

*See my blogpost “I've Worked My Butt On!”