These days, I am loving Rachelle's Magpie Girl blog. Reading articles in the archives. Laughing. Groaning. Feeling challenged and inspired. Printing out lots of stuff and gluing it into my journal. A few weeks ago, she wrote about the potential dangers of listening to conventional wisdom. She wrote: One of the things we’ve been talking about in our Standing in Your Own Power series is the difference between external sources of authority (institutions, cultural messages, etc) and internal sources of authority (The Muse, intuition, etc.) External sources often come cloaked in the guise of “conventional wisdom.” There are of course, good examples of conventional wisdom. “Look both ways before crossing the street” comes immediately to mind. But there are plenty of dubious CW soundbites as well.
So below, I have listed a few tidbits of conventional wisdom that I have heard in recent years - along with a few reason why I am saying "bump your conventional wisdom."
1. All of life is a competition, so give your kids real grades and a real transcript. Otherwise, how will they get into college? WHAT? What on earth does a transcript with class names and random numbers tell about a young man or a young woman? What can a college counselor know about someone based on several pages with numbers? What about a portfolio of photographs taken along with essays written, field trips described, family events and trips documented, and prose descriptions of life here at The Silvermine Academy? Don't those count for something???
2. Homeschooling provides a false sense of security; you can't protect your kids from the real world. WHAT? I'm not trying to protect my children from the real world; I just want to delay their entrance into it. Here's the way I see it: if my children live to be 80 years old and spend the first 18 years at home with me, they will be blessed to have had such a great, family-centered start to life. If, for some tragic reason, my children only live to be 18, they will have spent their entire lives hanging out with and learning from their family members. How can either of those scenarios be bad?
3. Your kids are probably smarter than everybody else; homeschoolers are usually so smart. WHAT? My children are as smart as they are supposed to be at this point in their lives. Far more important than any column of numbers or capital letters on any single sheet of paper is the fact that they are loving siblings and fearless travelers and loyal friends and respectful grandchildren and funny, moody, insightful, curious, stubborn, caring, emotional, multi-layered people who bring oodles of joy and creativity and humor and kindness everywhere they go.
4. You have to join a church in order to participate in the activities of the church. And once you are a member of a church, you have to commit to attend every service and event the church puts on. WHAT? Recently, I was accused of not being in church enough, of not showing up at enough of the Sunday morning services. Is someone really looking out into the sanctuary and taking note that I am NOT in attendance? Since I heard that report (which I hope was merely a rumor) I have made the decision to never attend that service again. I have broken that promise to myself only once - because my daughter was singing with the youth choir. Soon after her choir sat down, I walked out.
5. Family togetherness is crucial, especially in the evening. Having each person go to a separate space in the house is not a healthy way to live. WHAT? See the earlier points in this list - I am a homeschooling mother. I spend all day with my children. So when evening rolls around, if they want to watch American Idol, Ten Things I Hate About You, Glee, or whatever the heck else they want to watch in the family room with their father, I race to my bedroom or my study and hide away for as long as possible. No questions asked. And nowadays I head over to the local community college campus two nights a week for Beginners Italian. By the way, the professor's name is Valentino. But do I really have to call him "Professor" if I am old enough to be his mother - (if I had been a 19-year-old mom)???
6. The number on the bathroom scale or on the label at the back of a garment is a measure of your worth or strength or value or beauty or age or self-control. WHAT? I am 44 years old. Most of my friends are in their 30s or older. When am I going to stop measuring myself by those ridiculous numbers? Not that I should have paid attention to those numbers when I was in my teens or 20s either.
Someone I love dearly has struggled in the past 18 months with her weight - which has risen due to medication she takes. I know it's tough for her to see the number on the scale not go in the direction she wants it to go at the speed she wants it to change. I wish I could throw that darn scale out the window of her bathroom. I wish she would trust her body and herself to learn how to make good choices for food and movement and rest - and love herself every step of the way. Every single step.
I wish "society" didn't plant so many seeds of self-loathing and self-doubt in the fertile soil of our minds and souls with regard to our bodies. Our bodies carry us thru so many challenging situations and into so many victorious ones. Our bodies lift us and move us and hold us. Yet we torture them and starve them and hate them and punish them and never allow them to just be - and love them as they are, no matter what they weigh. Plus whatever odd rules and feelings we have about our own bodies, we often try to foist onto others. We try to tell each other what we are supposed to look like or weigh at a certain height and age. We tell each other what to eat and what not eat, whether or not to cut our hair, what vitamins and supplements and minerals to add or subtract from our regimens, and a whole host of other things. I am preaching to myself here, folks. I include myself in all of this --> I do this same kind of judging and belittling and advising of the people around me. Why can't we all just get along?
If you have a daughter or know and love a young girl or look for glimpses of your younger self when you peer into the mirror, tell her (and yourself) she is beautiful and strong and perfect just as she is right now. I need to do that next time I'm in front of the mirror and the next time I see my daughter. We both need to hear that simple and profound truth over and over again.
By the way, you are beautiful and perfect and strong just as you are right now.
7. Starve a cold; feed a fever. Or is it feed a cold and starve a fever. (This one was suggested by my husband.) WHAT? I try to eat when I'm hungry - and when I'm not hungry too. After all, I don't want to take any chances on being underfed. I try to drink lots of water - but not wait until I am thirsty because by the time I feel thirsty, I'm most likely dehydrated already. And I try really hard not to get sick.
8. Eat your dinner/lunch first. Then have dessert. WHAT? One of the best lunches I have ever had was at a local restaurant called 131 Main. It consisted of key lime pie and a lemon drop martini. Yes, folks - a martini lunch - with pie. Yum, yum! I am planning to die with dessert in my stomach. But since I have no idea of when I'm going to die, I always try to have dessert on hand for spontaneous, "this might be the end of the world" consumption.
Care to share any of your favorite tidbits of conventional wisdom? Especially the ones you have rejected...