If you can’t say something…

I don’t remember seeing the movie Bambi as a child (which doesn’t mean I didn’t see it – I am told I saw Snow White but I don’t remember that either), but I certainly knew Thumper’s famous line (quoting his father): “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” I don’t remember whether I actually tried saying something not nice and was reproved by my mother, or if I heard her quote that in regards to things other people said.

I always found it very easy to say nothing at all. I didn’t have to restrain myself from saying mean things – whether by temperament or my mother’s admonitions, I found I could barely imagine saying such things, let alone actually open my mouth and say them. But I also found it difficult to say nice things. I set high standards for myself, and only expected praise if I really did well. I couldn’t see complimenting someone else unless there was something that really merited it.

As a teenager and a young Christian, I was taught that I needed to be saying things to build up other people. When I worked at a summer camp, a counselor challenged me to say three compliments each day. I felt so terribly awkward about it, that if I managed one a day it seemed like quite an accomplishment. The easiest was to mention a nice item of clothing, though it me even that seemed silly – I really didn’t care what kind of clothes anyone wore, so why should I act as though I did?

As with many things, it was having kids that made it easier. I had always felt awkward with anyone else’s kids, but with my own there was none of that. They weren’t thinking about how silly I looked or acted or sounded. They weren’t – at least when they were little – comparing me with anyone else’s mom. And of course I wanted to encourage them, and help them grow up being used to giving and receiving compliments so it wouldn’t be as hard for them as it had for me.

I still won’t say something is good if it isn’t, because false praise only diminishes the value of true praise. But there are so many positive things you can manage to say to a child, about their energy, their imagination, and each small accomplishment they manage. Plus my own kids give me lots more opportunities to get to know other parents, which opens up lots of opportunities to compliment them on their kids and their parenting.

I thought about this today because I also have a self-imposed rule for my blog: if you can’t write something interesting, don’t write anything at all. And that trumps my other rule, which is to find something interesting each day to write about. Somehow, lately, I find it harder to find things interesting. I don’t know if it’s a lingering lack of energy from my sinus infection last month, accumulated sleep deprivation (because my body insists on trying to adjust its sleep cycle to my husband’s, but he works nights and I don’t), or if I need an adjustment to my antidepressant medications.

One day recently I felt the most depressed I had in years. I could not find an interest in anything at all, and just getting through the day was such an effort. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t post anything on my blog that day.) The next day I felt somewhat better, but not entirely. And since then I have felt this undercurrent of sadness if I let myself think about it, and simply indifference if I don’t. I do what I need to do (at least the most essential tasks), but I can’t find it in me to care much about what I leave undone. I don’t want to get feeling sorry for myself, because that will only make things worse. So that’s all I’ll say on that issue (I’m reluctant even to post this much). But if I don’t post anything here, that’s likely why.

I’ve always heard that one of the best things to do when unhappy is to think about what I’m thankful for. It doesn’t cure depression (unless by depression you mean simply feeling “the blues”), but it is always a good for the spirit. So rather than say nothing at all when I can find nothing interesting either in the news or my own life, I decided to try to find positive things to say.

It’s a beautiful day outside. I love the sight of the blue sky, the puffy white clouds, and the green trees. It’s not too hot or too cold. It should be great for the “Olympics” they’re having at my son’s elementary school (by now, I guess I should say that they “had” today).

So far my garden and my son’s garden are both doing well.

I am, in the words of Psalm 100, a sheep of God’s pasture. Regardless of what I feel or don’t feel, I still belong to Him and He is taking care of me.

I have friends and family who care about me – both those I see in person in my daily life, and those I only get to know online.

My supervisor has assigned me an interesting project to work on, which will help me learn more about what our workgroup does, while fulfilling a requirement handed down from management. It also will require more interaction with other members of my workgroup than I am generally inclined to seek out, but having to do that will be good for me.

Today is Friday. Tomorrow morning I can sleep late. (Which is a good thing, because tonight my husband and I are going to the local bowling alley to hear a friend of ours sing in the finals round of a karaoke contest, and the whole thing goes until well past midnight.)

Our local library has a lot more than just books. My younger son asked to please go there tomorrow, because of the puzzles area. At first I thought he meant puzzle books, but then I remember the display on the second floor, with several tables of brainteasers. There are wooden pieces to get through holes, pegs to arrange in the right pattern, numbers to arrange so they add up a certain way, a knot to tie or untie, and several others. Some I managed to do myself last Saturday. But there are more that I haven’t attempted yet. And some are plenty challenging for adults, not just kids.

Licorice tea is delicious.

I have a wonderful Mother’s Day card on my desk, from my younger son, that says:
My Mom is Special Because… She makes my favorite meal … And she can play games most of the time … And she washes my hair … And she works well so she can buy stuff I need … But most of all she loves me!

I have another wonderful Mother’s Day card on my desk, from my husband. Unlike my son’s, it recognizes that our lives are rather busy (I really don’t play games “most of the time” – perhaps he meant that most days I’m willing to play one game). The words are professionally written, but I’m sure the card represents his own feelings:
I want you to know you’re the most important part of my life and having you to share with makes everything worthwhile for me. So when the days pass so quickly and we can’t seem to find enough time to be together, always remember that every moment we spend together is very precious to me.

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3 Responses to If you can’t say something…

  1. tammie says:

    mmm. this is so beautiful.

  2. Karen O says:

    I have friends and family who care about me – both those I see in person in my daily life, and those I only get to know online.

    Yes, Pauline, & I am one who cares about you. 🙂

    Licorice tea? I like licorice & I like tea – maybe I’ll give that a try.

  3. Pauline says:

    The only brand of licorice tea I know is Stash. I once found it in a store, then didn’t find it again for years, until last Christmas when we were visiting relatives for the holidays, all the women and girls went to a tea shop, and they had it. I was kind of hoarding it, but I just discovered they have it on amazon.com, for less than I paid at the tea shop.

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