Here Comes The Judge

From the column Something About Nothing in The Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel the week of March 20, 2017

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. 

There have been occurrences in the past few years in my life that have absolutely taken me down to my knees in prayer. If you do not believe in prayer or God, then please don’t read this column today. I seldom write about my beliefs, but this week with Lent and Easter approaching, I want to share some of my feelings.

After going through all the experiences and thought processes the past few years, I came to the conclusion it would possibly be easier to not care about anyone. In that conclusion, I knew if I chose the route of not letting myself feel emotion for others, I would have missed out on blessings in my life.

I have been affected by illnesses, divorces, accidents, addiction, to name a few. It has touched and hurt those I care about and love. People have let me down by their actions. I have been angry. I have been sad and I have also not been able to put a name to some of my feelings.

Over the years I spent time trying to figure it all out and cope with all the human emotions. Here is what I know in my life. We are all flawed individuals. We all hold secrets about ourselves no one else knows. We all disappoint others, and we all make mistakes that affect others’ lives, including me.

Holding on to anger only makes me an angry person. Only forgiveness frees me from my anger. I can’t judge another because I don’t have that right. It would be like the pot calling the kettle black. I sin, and I can’t say my sin is less than my neighbors.

I love my children, and I have always told them I will love them no matter what. I may not always like or agree with what they do or enable them if I see they are doing something that is causing them or someone else harm, but I will always love them. I hate the sin but love the sinner. That is the way I would like to be treated. And I extend that to my friends.

Perhaps that is why I feel uncomfortable with judgmental behaviors hiding under the guise of Christianity. I know even though I was brought up to know right from wrong, I am not perfect and I don’t feel comfortable when Christians judge one another and do not show another person caring, but judgment in a church society. I feel my judgement does and should come from God because He and only Him knows the entire picture of who I am. God gave us the Ten Commandments to live our lives and he will decide if we live our lives accordingly.

In a society we have laws and rules we also have to live by, and if we break those rules we are held accountable. But in that system something more needs to happen. Our prisons are full of offenders of what may be unforgivable crimes. These offenders may be a threat to our society. Yet, we have mothers who have forgiven their son’s killers. We have store owners who have forgiven their perpetrator’s crimes. They know the power of forgiveness over anger. And their forgiveness changed the lives of those who committed the crimes.

I have talked to friends who visit prisons and hold Bible studies or teach language and writing skills to prisoners who have felt worthless all of their life and were taught nothing but brutality and crime growing up. These volunteers are changing the lives of those who have not had anyone care about them before. It is not judgment but forgiveness that changes lives.

Those who are in prison are training service dogs, and these dogs are teaching the hardhearted to love. The dogs don’t judge, but they teach love.

This Lenten season in our churches we are learning the sacrifice Jesus made for us, all of us who are flawed.

It is hard not to judge. I have been a very judgmental person until I was taken down to my knees with experiences that taught me my judgment makes an enormous statement about who I am. It means if I judge, I don’t see my own sin. And I personally need that Christian place where I can visit, know I am a sinner, know I will be judged by my higher power and not others sitting in the pews with me. We are all in this world together. Let us pray.

Micromanager? Not Me!

Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Published the week of March 13, 2017 in the Albert Lea Tribune

This past week someone asked me if I would mind if they changed or tweaked an idea that was birthed from my brain. I, of course, answered, “No problem.” I actually meant that. A few years ago I probably would not have been so nonchalant about someone tweaking a vision I had for a venue.

 I no longer have the need to be in charge. In fact, I don’t like being in charge anymore. I no longer feel threatened if someone feels something could be made better by tweaking or adding their ideas to something I created. I now like collaboration. However, I will say when it comes to my books I don’t always agree with the tweaking, and I will fight tooth and nail in leaving a line or a word or something I feel I believe in and is necessary to a story, but it is not because I want to have the last word but because I want to put out the best work.

I must admit I am still a micromanager. Aren’t we all? We micromanage the little things in our life — that we possibly can control. That can lead to amusing conflicts in our households.

I am the drawer organizer in the kitchen — or at least I try to be the organizer. When the dishwasher gets unloaded, my husband is our dishwasher unloader person, I am the person who hand washes if we have pots and pans. This division of labor works well. I don’t mind washing dishes, but I dislike unloading the dishwasher for some unknown reason. He doesn’t like to wash dishes. This is where one area of micromanagement shows up in our relationship.

He rearranges the dishes I put in the dishwasher. I rearrange the dishes he puts back in the cupboard. He doesn’t understand why I don’t load the dishwasher right. I must admit I don’t understand his formula. I don’t understand why he can’t put things back correctly in the cupboard. My theory is that mixing blades should go with the mixer. Gadgets should go in the gadget drawer. We don’t get each other, and we constantly jockey for our way of arranging things.

When we had the wastebasket sitting in the kitchen, I felt it sat too close to the laundry room door, making me have to twist my body to open the door and squeeze in the laundry room. I would set it where I wanted it. A few hours later it would be moved a few inches to where he wanted it closer to the door.

Our cats get confused when I move their cat dishes where I think they should be, and he moves their cat dishes where he thinks they need to be.

When I fry bacon it is on a low flame and takes a little longer so grease doesn’t splatter all over the kitchen. When he fries bacon, the flame is high. When he is walking past the bacon frying while I am cooking, the flame sneakily gets turned up. I slink past the stove when he is frying bacon and turn down the flame. We micromanage and drive each other crazy with these little things.

Our life becomes a negotiation over the little things, and most of the time neither one of us realizes we are doing it.

I think the same is said for volunteer organizations and our church organizations or even our interactions with our friends. Many of us have a tendency to own what we do, and not give others the chance to help us make our environment or activity spectacular because of team input.

I realized the past few years I probably steamrolled over many people in my volunteer activities or work situations. I so protected my ideas and my vision that I couldn’t see others creative and constructive suggestions would make it better. It was my way or the highway.

A good manager values input, can sift out what will work and incorporate others’ ideas into their vision.

I rejected others’ input for a few reasons. One of those reasons was insecurity about myself and my ideas. It was a threat if anyone threw out an idea that didn’t jive with mine or told me something was wrong. That would make me more rigid in my managing skills. I wanted it my way. If someone rejected an idea, I would feel it was a rejection of me as much as what I had suggested or written. In order to keep that control, I was the one who had to be right.

I make mistakes, and this week I made some doozies on a script I wrote. I make mistakes because I am not really a detail person, and so I make detail goofs. I realized how far I had come when I took ribbing about, and was laughing right along, and able to own up to the fact that — yes, it was my mistake. Although I had made the changes, I didn’t save them so no matter which way you looked at it — I flubbed.

I haven’t grown up enough yet though to not be a micromanager in my house. I must admit it keeps things interesting because each of us never knows where something is going to be moved on any given day depending on our need to control for the day. I can’t control the big things but by gosh, my mixer blades will be in the right drawer.

 

Support Your Local Arts

 

Something About Nothing published the week of March 6, 2017 in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress. I suppose in today’s world I would say I wanted to be an actor. The word actress seems to have gone away in this politically correct world we now live in.

During my high school years I participated in drama and had a few nondescript roles. I enjoyed being behind the scenes, and my insecurities about my looks and my talent kept me from trying out for more roles.

In my middle adult years, I got involved in the drama departments in the high school when my kids participated, mostly behind the scenes with costumes. It was actually during one of those times I took the stage again as the front part of a dancing horse in the “Music Man.” It happened by accident when my friend Peggy and I, who was also doing costumes, put on the horse costume for fun and pranced around the auditorium to see what it felt like inside the costume. Mark Rud, who was directing the extravaganza at NRHEG, saw us and decided it would be fun if we became part of the play. No one would know who we were and we were to dance in pulling the Wells Fargo wagon, do a little jig and exit the stage. I must admit it was so much fun to do and my friend Peggy and I remember it to this day and — we almost fell off the stage because we couldn’t see where we were going.

A little later in my life, I and my family got involved in Albert Lea Community Theatre, my daughter in the musical, “Heidi,” and my husband in “Heidi” and “Peter Pan.” They talked me into trying out for a role in “I Remember Mama.” I actually got the part of one of the aunts. I suspect I got the part not because I was good, because I wasn’t, and the word ostentatious seemed to trip me up on a few nights because I couldn’t remember the word in my lines. Now I ask who doesn’t remember a word like that? I think I got the part because of my height, and I matched the person who played my husband. I felt I had come full circle because I had also been in the play in high school.

My favorite and fun part while being a part of the community theater was in an “Alice in Wonderland” play as part of a program they put on for school children each year. I got to play the Dodo bird in full costume. I loved it. Looking back, I think I would have been a better actress if I would have went for the costumed silly parts, because I loved them and they were so much fun. There were no nerves involved in being silly, even if I had lines.

The Albert Lea Community Theatre has been around for many years. This past weekend we attended a performance of “12 Angry Jurors.” As a mystery writer, it got my creative juices going. The cast superbly played the part of disagreeing jurors. Not only did they show their frustration at the process, but they conveyed the vulnerability of each juror coming from different experiences in their lives. Those experiences might or might not influence decisions one makes about someone else’s life, and in this case, whether a young man will be prosecuted, put in jail and possibly put to death. The cast played all of these emotions and kept the audience drawn in so that the time passed so quickly we were surprised when it was over.

As a writer, I wanted more. I wanted to know what happened when that jury went back into the courtroom and gave their verdict. I wanted to know if years down the road they were right or wrong. I wanted to know what happened to each one of them in their lives, and I wanted to know the impact the discussion to reach the verdict had on the way they would view others when they walked out of that jury room. The director and cast told the story so well they kept us wanting more.

The arts are important. If you have not experienced Albert Lea Community Theatre, I would highly recommend seeing their productions or getting involved as a volunteer. There is so much emphasis on the sporting world for kids, the arts and humanities are not always encouraged. It hasn’t been until recently that arts have come into their own as a respected medium. Our children should be encouraged to explore the arts because not every student has the ability or the desire to participate in sports, but they may be great at acting, painting or expressing themselves positively another way through a different medium.

I, myself, know because I have dabbled in it — acting where you must remember lines is not for me. I am better at the improv. I never could remember lines or deliver lines appropriately even in my good memory years. I wouldn’t know that unless I had the chance to experience it. My children have all had that experience from their high schools and hobbies. One loved it so much it has been a staple of her life, bringing that experience to complement her career.

We are fortunate to have opportunities in our area, even in small communities, to give all the experience of the arts whether it is by participating or viewing. As Mikey from the Life commercial would say, “Try it, you might like it.”