Thursday, August 29, 2013

Follow What?

I had a conversation this week with my friend and her mother when I went to meet her sweet 2 week old daughter that was so adorably small that I could just eat her up (not literally, of course, because cannibalism is generally frowned upon in most social circles). We were talking about this tiny child's future and how we as parents can counteract the entitled culture in which we live. Though I'm certain we have different opinions about a lot of things, we hold very similar beliefs in parenting. She began talking about education and respectfulness and then spoke with sarcasm and disdain those 3 little words that I have also grown to detest.

Follow your heart.

"Follow your heart" makes me want to punch someone. It's hands down the worst advice we could ever give someone, especially our children.

Why are we buying into this pop culture's line of crap and encouraging children to follow their hearts? It's essentially saying, "follow your emotions, follow your hormones, follow your whim." Why are we encouraging each other to let our feelings take precedent over our brains?

As my friend stated so eloquently, "Why are we telling hormonally charged middle schoolers to follow their hearts?" Isn't it essentially giving them permission to do whatever they want and take whatever and whomever they want regardless of consequences? This mentality is creating selfish, careless, disrespectful children.

I was at my favorite fro-yo place last Sunday and it happened to be a slow time of day, so it was only my family there. The only employee was a fresh-out-of high-school girl working her way to beauty school. I asked her a couple friendly questions and she began telling me that during busy times, teenagers will enter through the back door, fill up their cups and run out the back door without paying. I was (and still am) appalled at the fact that these kids have not been taught one of the most simple commandments, "Thou shalt not steal."  But, aren't they just following their hearts? Their hearts told them, "I want fro-yo. I want it and I deserve it and the store has so much money so this pocket full of my dad's cash is not necessary."

Just a minute...

Let me pull out my soap box...

Here are 10 better alternatives to "follow your heart."

1.  Follow the rules.  Rules are there for a reason. They make us better citizens, better humans and help us have better relationships. The 10 commandments are here to make life easier. Don't steal, murder, covet, cheat, etc. A moral code that is designed to protect us from unnecessary pain and consequences.

2.  Follow the leader.  A good one. As long as it's not someone like Jim Jones, it's good to follow the leader. Leaders help us grow. They teach us. If it's a good leader, she or he will care about you and your success. A bad leader manipulates and controls. Follow a good leader.

3.  Follow good examples.  We are examples for our children. Though we probably don't really want them to learn the outbursts of emotion and frustration from us, they follow us and learn from us. Our children will follow our example anyway, so start early in living an upright lifestyle.

4.  Follow Jesus.  He's the best example of how to live our lives. Even if you're not a believer in his Diety and his death and resurrection to save mankind from eternal separation from God, no one would deny that he is a great example of how to live and love.

5. Follow the plan.  Plans are good. Though they get disrupted and sometimes it's good to deviate, plans are essentially good. I have an eating and exercise plan. I've actually had one for a long time, it's just that I'm finally following it (for now). It's healthy. I'm healthier.

6.  Follow directions.  There's a reason there is an instruction manual in the box. There's a reason maps and GPS exist. Directions have been thought out and laid out to make life easier. Directions are there to help us get from one place to another. They are there to guide us.

7.  Follow the ball.  My husband played football, basketball, tennis and baseball during high school and college, and he would tell you that the key to many successes in ball sports is following the ball. Keep your eye out. Watch carefully for what's coming your way, so you can get the best out of it.

8. Follow through.  Keep your word. Finish your project. Keep working! So many kids and adults lack the capacity to follow through with much these days. Parents are constantly stepping in to save the day and finish the task,  leaving no consequences to learn from. Yes, as parents, we want to protect our children, but we are not doing our kids any favors not letting them suffer natural consequences of laziness or poor choices. There is a fine balance. I know someone who has not held a steady job his entire adult life and is still living off his parents' credit card at age 43. Apparently, his heart keeps telling him that he's too good for his job.

9. Follow your nose.  Instinct is God's gift to us to help guide us in making decisions. Not to be confused with the heart, the nose can sniff out bad investments of time, friends and money (among others). It can smell danger. Many years ago, my mother followed her nose to take her 6 week old son to the E.R. in the middle of the night instead of waiting until morning. It saved his life. He was in heart failure and the doctor said he would not have made it through the night.

10. Follow my blog.  For the occasional snark, tutorial or my latest rant about parenting or rush hour traffic,  click the "follow" tab.

Following your heart is different than following your dreams. Dreams and goals aren't bad, but you'll notice I didn't include that in my list. Dreams are good. Life happens. Dreams change and morph. Dreams are shattered. Some people are blessed enough to live out their childhood dreams, others don't get the opportunity. He dreamed of marriage and an active life; he was in an accident that left him a quadriplegic. She dreamed of a family that loves Jesus; her husband left her for someone else. He dreamed of a good stable job; the company downsized. She dreamed of a big family; she couldn't have children. He dreamed of paying off his house early; he married a woman who loves to shop (sorry, Honey! Your wife doesn't love to follow the budget). If we hold on to our dreams too tightly, we can miss out on enjoying the life we have or we can become bitter when those dreams die. So, sure. Follow your dreams...but hold to them loosely.

You can follow lots of good things. Just please don't follow your heart. Your heart lies to you. It tells you that grass is greener. It tells you that your wants are needs. Your heart tells you that "just this once will be fine." It tells you you won't get caught. Your heart tells you that you deserve. It tells you that you are at the center of the universe.

The prophet Jeremiah so eloquently said it this way:

"The heart is more deceitful than all else, and desperately sick.  Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9)

Who indeed can understand how wicked the heart is?  You wouldn't follow someone capable of cheating, swindling and lying, would you?  Then don't follow your heart.

Just. don't. do. it.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

dabble in dance?

I want to admit to the world how perfect I really am.  I know you're all terribly jealous of my endless talent and size 0 post-baby body (notice I have not updated my photo in many many years).

I joined the Y recently because, well, I love Body Pump.  And by "love" I mean "hate." And by "hate" I mean "it's my favorite way to get and stay in shape, even though I hate working out."  I decided, after 10 long months of seeing the scale move up 2, down 2, up 3, down 4, up 1, etc., that I should maybe do something besides starve myself.  And by "starve" I mean eat potato chips, ice cream, cookies and pasta.  Those extra 25 lbs. aren't going to maintain themselves!

Are you following my code?  Good.

I would like to tell you all about my amazing dancing talent by describing my latest experience with Zumba.  (And by amazing, I mean...)  Zumba is SO very cool for those of the human race who were blessed enough to receive the gift of coordination.  I'll give you a window to my world of mad skills.

I enter the class at 10:05 and it is filled with ladies of all ages, shapes and sizes along with one middle aged man.  I think to myself, how hard can this be?  The lady behind me has got to be at least 90.  I find my friend, stand by her, and the instructor asks if anyone is new.  I do not raise my hand.  Normally, I'd love to draw attention to myself, but not this particular Thursday morning.  My friend informs me that the instructor is a sub and that the regular girl who is super fun and cute was the one she really wanted me to meet.

The music starts. Step touch, step touch.  Hey this isn't so bad! I've actually done this step touch thing before when I took a community ed tap dancing class 12 years ago.

Now she adds arms.  Up and out, and other arm, up and out.  Whoa, hold on. I'm just getting into this step touch thing.

As soon as I feel confident enough in my feet, I attempt to add the arms, a good 16 beats behind the rest of the class.

And suddenly...change everything!  Step kick and slide and kick. And one arm up and bend and flick and turn and belly roll and thrust and jump.

I find myself standing still while the old lady behind me is following along perfectly and dancing her adorable heart out in perfect rhythm.  Maybe if I watch the Italian (or Greek or other exotic ethnic) beauty in the front row, I can copy her graceful moves and catch on better.  Hey, yeah!  That's totally working!  I'm not so bad after all!  Here we go! I'm totally gaining some confidence now.  I've got this!

Then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realize I'm only swaying to the music.  Crap.

End of first song.  I grab some water, not because I'm thirsty, winded or even warm, but because everyone else is doing it and it's something to which I actually can follow along.

And that's the first 6 minutes.  I only have to repeat this process for the next 54 minutes.  Oh joy.  This is like a bad dance audition, except at dance auditions, I'm sweating more because I'm so stressed out that people are watching and judging (instead of watching and laughing). I suffer through the next song, then the next, then only 5 more while I watch the clock go more slowly than ever.

And the instructor thanks us all for coming while I laugh at myself and invite my friend to join me in making fun of my mad skills.

Though I'm not really sweating or winded at all since it was more a spectator sport for me, I did get a great ab workout from laughing so hard!