Tuesday, December 26, 2006

January is National "Get Organized Month"

And I am not getting organized. Yes, you heard it here, no more moaning from me that my house is a mess. My friend Karen sent me this great article from the New York Times. Below are my favorite points:

It was the overall scumminess of Alexander Fleming’s laboratory that led to his
discovery of penicillin, from a moldy bloom in a petri dish he had forgotten on
his desk.

“My wife has threatened divorce over all the piles,” continued Dr. Pollack, who has an office at home, too. “If we had kids the health department would have to be alerted. But what can I do?”

Mr. Freedman is co-author, with Eric Abrahamson, of “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder,” out in two weeks from Little, Brown & Company. The book is a meandering, engaging tour of beneficial mess and the systems and individuals
reaping those benefits, like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose mess-for-success tips include never making a daily schedule.

Mess is robust and adaptable, like Mr. Schwarzenegger’s open calendar, as opposed to brittle, like a parent’s rigid schedule that doesn’t allow for a small child’s wool-gathering or balkiness. Mess is complete, in that it embraces all sorts of random elements. Mess tells a story: you can learn a lot about people from their detritus, whereas neat — well, neat is a closed book. Neat has no narrative and no personality (as any cover of Real Simple magazine will demonstrate). Mess is also natural, as Mr. Freedman and Mr. Abrahamson point out, and a real time-saver. “It takes extra effort to neaten up a system,” they write. “Things don’t generally neaten themselves.”

“When I think about this urge to organize, it reminds me of how it was when Americans began to take more and more control of their weight: they got fatter,” said Marian Salzman, chief marketing officer of J. Walter Thompson and co-author,
with Ira Matathia, of “Next Now: Trends for the Future,” which is about to be
published by Palgrave Macmillan. “I never gained weight until I went on a diet,”
she said, adding that she has a room in which she hides a treadmill and, now,
two bags of organizing supplies.

His studies and others, like a survey conducted last year by Ajilon Professional Staffing, in Saddle Brook, N.J., which linked messy desks to higher salaries (and neat ones to salaries under $35,000), answer Einstein’s oft-quoted remark, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?”

My favorite quote from the article would be the ever popular phrase "violently messy."

With all of this said, I'm going to continue my life the way it is, only I'm going to accept the mess. Wait, I'm not only going to accept it, I'm going to embrace it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gold, Frankincense, and What's that Other One? by Jayne Martin-Dressing

Gold, Frankincense, and what’s that Other One? by Jayne Martin-Dressing

My children are caught up in the Christmas frenzy, and I don’t just mean the bright lights and the never-ending candy, though those have taken their toll. I’m talking about the Christmas story; the birth of the baby Jesus. They love this story. When my daughter was about three a good friend of mine bought her a book of the Nativity story complete with the word “virgin” and full frontal nudity of the baby J. She loved this book, and wanted to read it over and over. I can see why it’s fascinating. You’ve got babies, donkeys, barns, sheep, presents, angels. There’s a lot to love.

At first the liberal mom in me wasn’t sure I wanted to go down this road, I mean we do have the Easter story in a few months which is not so pleasant. But they believe in Santa Claus, the giver of gifts, why not promote this tiny baby who started the whole crazy season anyway? This year, my daughter now 7, my son 3, we checked out quite a few new stories, all with different twists on the classic Bethlehem mystery. They loved The Crippled Lamb (sad, sad title), all about this one little sheep who doesn’t get to go with the others because of his bum leg, but ends of getting the all important job of keeping the baby J warm because the holy family chose his barn in which to give birth. Then there was The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (serious tear jerker, I had to choke out a couple of pages) about a wood-carver who is called gloomy Toomey by the town children. We find out the cause of his gloominess is that he lost his wife and baby years ago to illness, and he has never been the same. His outlook changes when he is asked to carve a Nativity scene for the town widow and her young son. I thought it would be over my 3-year old’s head, but he was mesmerized by the illustrations (the curly lamb is cute), and the repetition of the little boy’s requests to make the figures as he remembers them. We also read The Christmas Rose about a little shepherd girl who follows the shepherds who’ve seen the angels as they watched over their flocks. She gets into the city of Bethlehem only to realize that she has no gift for the baby. Of course, an angel appears and blooms of Christmas roses appear everywhere which she gathers to give as her gift.

My children loved these books, and it’s been really fun to give our Christmas a less secular slant this year. The stories emphasize that this season is more about giving than receiving, more about the simple gift of love, than the pleasure of new things. As I tucked my daughter into bed the other night, I told her the story of The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry. She gasped when she realized that the woman was cutting off her beautiful hair to have enough money to buy her husband a gift. We don’t see much sacrifice in gift-giving these days. As I was turning out the light, she asked me, “What are the Magi?” I explained that the Magi are the three wise men who invented the idea of gift giving with their visit to the baby J in the manger. I asked her if she remembered the three gifts that they gave him. She thought about it for a minute, then said, “Gold, Frankincense, and…Curry.”

Monday, December 18, 2006

Looking for a Job?

One of the many great aspects of the Working Moms Against Guilt blog is the frequency for which it is updated. So with that said, I'm again looking for additional writers. I'm thinking we could divide and conquer like the working mom's do.

So here is the repeat request from last December: (no stuntbec, you haven't been fired, we just need some help)

Qualifications of the job:

  • Be willing to work for free (we will split the profits if that ever happens- click on advertising, please!- or order your Amazon stuff through our search box on the site)
  • Be willing to write an occasional article
  • Be able to accept occasional criticism from our readers, or a differing opinion
  • Have the courage to edit any article where a mistake is noted (I seldom catch my own mistakes)
  • Can be a mom in the "working outside of the home world", a mom that "stays at home" or someone who would just like to add another perspective

Please email me articles or your request for "full time writing status" at Stuntmom@gmail.com Feel free to submit any articles on any topic. If you are a frequent contributor, you will get your own password to publish- just imagine you too could be a stuntmom! Thanks and happy writing!