Words Can Break A Heart

Something About Nothing published the Week of April 3, 2016 in the Albert Lea Tribune.

I had to visit the dentist last week and have a tooth pulled. I actually needed two teeth pulled — one on each side of my mouth — but I opted for the right side of my mouth to be tampered with first. It was the tooth that was in the most pieces.
I have a fear of the dentist that goes back to my childhood. An ungraceful badminton racket swing by a friend took out my two front teeth. I moved forward to get the birdie, while my friend moved backward. Amazingly enough it was a perfect swing, catching just my teeth but not my mouth.
The summer beginning my eighth-grade year in school was spent in the dentist office. There was no soft music, gentle touch or pain-free dental equipment, nor was there a dentist with steady hands. The fear fueled by those memories lasts a lifetime.
New technology and gentle hands by both the technicians and the dentist now make a visit to their offices as pain free as possible. My tooth is out, and I am making plans to go back for the next removal. My fear is subsiding, and I found my fear was worse than the visit. But it is hard to remove those memories of long ago from my mind.
Recently, I asked my readers for devastating words said to them at some time in their lives that stuck in their thoughts and hearts forever. I was doing research for a Lenten service I wanted to write. My readers responded, and my heart broke as I read some of the unkind and thoughtless words that were left glued inside their mind.
Here are a few examples:
• I will never forgive you.
• “You’re fat, dumb and ugly.”
• “How stupid are you to adopt disabled children? You’d return any other defective merchandise.”
• “You can’t carry a tune. Your voice is terrible.”
• “I’m going to send you home in a body bag.”
These were just a few of the responses I received. Words hurt just as much, if not more than the dentist drill of my childhood. My fear of the dentist didn’t shape my life, only the care of my teeth. Words said in the heat of anger or to wound can twist someone’s life. Kind words in the future do not seem to wipe out the memories of the past cruelties.
Of these five examples, one person did not sing in public or in a choir again. One, because they felt they were too ugly and dumb, didn’t have the confidence to go on to nursing school. And I can’t even respond to how not being forgiven or your life being threatened would change the way one lives. Luckily the person who was taunted for adopting disabled children did not listen but hurt for the children in their care who were ridiculed.
The words I remember the most from my teen years were when a boy told me I was the ugliest girl he had ever seen. I remember that boy, but luckily I had enough support that I could move on in my life. To this day, I remember that boy because of his cruel words. I always wonder what words I might have said that are remembered by someone, and I hope they have forgiven me for them. But I know they aren’t forgotten. Forgiveness and forgetting are two different things.
There is an old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt.” I’d like to change that saying to “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can break my heart.”

     

Alone With Myself

SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING

by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of March 27, 2017

I was home alone last week. Although my adventures weren’t quite as exciting as the “Home Alone” movie, I did have fun. Grandpa was cat sitting with the catkids. He left his cats at home to keep an eye on me. And they did. They stuck to me like glue.

I like to be home alone occasionally for a period of time. Earlier in my life I did not like being alone. I think perhaps I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, but now I enjoy solitude for small periods of time when I don’t have to worry about meals, dishes, a clean house or doing what might be expected of me. I can be messy. I can be neat. I can turn my music up as loud as I want without worrying about another’s ears. I can clean in the middle of the night without waking anyone or I can sleep all day if I choose. We all need time with ourselves to rejuvenate and be free.

I took my home alone time to make a mess while cleaning closets, cupboards and whatever. When I clean, everything comes out and it is scattered throughout and then I put it back, but when I am alone I can leave it sit and come back to it the next day because I don’t inconvenience anyone.

This past week I found old papers from my mom’s house. I had stuffed them into a closet after she died, intending to read them a later date. I found my grandfather’s last will and testament dated 1923. I never knew my grandfather. He died in 1924.

I read through my mom’s old teaching materials. She taught in country school, and I was told she and my dad dated for 13 years. I found proof of that. It was her old calendar from 1934 where she detailed her day and what the weather was like, what family she stayed with each night when she taught, and the notations about her dates with my dad, where they went and the movies they saw. Yes, they had movies in 1934. I felt close to both of them as I read and I found a little part of my mom’s life before I was born, which gave me insight as to who she used to be when she was younger. They got married in 1946, so they did date for a long time. The problem in that era with getting married was religion. She was Catholic and he was Protestant, and she had a very Catholic Polish mother.

Then I hit the jackpot. I found all my writing papers dating back to high school and beyond. I forgot I took some classes through the mail at the University of Minnesota where I earned credit, and was amazed to find my grades were As. Why didn’t I lock that into my brain to give me confidence that possibly I could be a writer? The most valued paper I found was a speech I wrote about my dad at a time when he was ill. I was a senior in high school, and he died a couple of years later.

Having the house to myself with no interruptions gave me the time to savor the memories. Otherwise I might have tossed and not read this papers because I wanted to get things cleaned up. Like the kid in the “Home Alone” movie, I did have a few missteps. We will save my burned food adventure for another time, and I have instructed all those involved to silence or I may never get left home alone again.

My spouse is now home, and I am glad he is back. I am sure the fur will fly occasionally, although we always have a lot of fur flying because of our cat babies, but taking time for ourselves always leaves us happy to be back together even if he does hang the toilet paper one way and I do it the other. After all I hung it my way for a week. What could be better than that?

 

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.