Meandering Along in the Journey of Mediocrity

I’m not very good. But I’m not very bad either. If you compare me to many others, I will come across as average, bordering on inferior. According to most, I’m mediocre. I guess that’s the problem with comparisons – particularly when we’re comparing people. If you compare me with someone like Mother Teresa, for example, then every act of kindness I have ever done will suddenly seem so insignificant – and yet, in that moment of time, it was greatly significant to its benefactor, and it made me more than just mediocre.

Did you know that when we trace back the history of words, we can sometimes gain a whole new perspective on the particular word we are tracing?

In a society where everyone seems to be competing and comparing, and realising my inadequacy when I tend to do this to myself, I had a look at the word mediocre.

I found the word history at yourdictionary.com rather interesting : it stated a conclusion something like this :

“Something that is mediocre is only midway up a mountain or rises up to only half a mountain’s height, as it were—the thing goes just halfway to the highest point of excellence.”

I’ve seen, and met, people who seem to be at the highest point of excellence – but true to the old adage, things are not always as they seem. If we were to take their lives apart, bit by bit, we’d find little moments when they were not excellent, and where they still struggle to strive for excellence.

Could I have done more with MY life? Of course. Could I have behaved differently, acted differently, made different decisions and choices? Heck, yes! Do I dream of perhaps still doing more / being more? Absolutely!

But let’s take a look at that ‘word history’ again.

Highest point of excellence? Would this not mean we have achieved perfection? To those who compare and feel they are superior : nobody in this less than perfect world is perfect; therefore, although you may be superior to me in certain instances when comparing our lives, you’re not perfect. In fact, you’re kind of mediocre.

This is not necessarily a bad thing – it all depends on what you do with it. If you stay in the attitude of mediocrity, satisfied to always be just average, then you need to try and change that mindset. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, or listen when you’re being compared – or you may never be anything BUT mediocre. Strive for excellence to the best of your ability – but never forget where you came from, lest you become one who compares.

Let’s look at that ‘word history’ once more.

Midway up a mountain / rising up to only half the mountain’s height? But did you SEE what was in that first half of the mountain? Do you have any idea what I had to go through to get to this halfway mark?

I climbed over boulders of bad situations and circumstances; I swam through rivers of anger and pain; I battled creatures in dark forests who carried weapons of despair, depression and hate. Looking back on that first half of the mountain, there have also been those moments where I feasted on berries of love and laughter; was comforted by the foliage of friends; and able to follow the pathways of hope and courage.

I may only be midway up the mountain – and who knows what else is in store? I may be mediocre for now, still stuck at that halfway mark. But my life is not yet over, and I hope for more days to fill. So I will pack up the tent I have pitched, and kill the embers of the fire of mediocrity in my life. Here’s to stretching my legs, and continuing the climb.

I may always be mediocre to some – but to those who don’t compare, my life will always be a ‘journey to excellence’.

Advertisements

The Terrible Tooth

What did the Judge say to the Dentist?
“Do you swear to tell the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth?”

That is one of daughter’s favourite jokes, and the last time she lay in her dentists chair for a check up, she amused him with it so, that he rewarded her with a genuine laugh – I haven’t heard him laugh before. But that’s probably because I have been the one in the chair – although I am always pleasant and friendly. I just don’t make small talk or jokes – being in that chair, for me, is no laughing matter.

As per an article I wrote recently, which you can read here, my life is sometimes a song – and the last 24 hours have been a mix between ‘Highway to Hell’, and ‘Pain’.

Toothache. Not much worse, for me. I have a high pain threshold, but when it comes to these little white things in my mouth, I revert to being a baby. (A dentist’s appointment does pretty much the same thing.)

The offending tooth started niggling yesterday morning, and by last night was full blown agony. I didn’t sleep much.

A trip to the doctor this morning (a place I rarely visit for myself) confirmed an abscess – and produced a script for two antibiotics and a pain killer. Problem not solved as yet – these things take time. Sigh.

My own fault, really. If I would just pay more regular visits to the dentist, I probably wouldn’t be in the agony I’m in now. This tooth has been a problem before – in fact, it flares up every six months or so. My last ‘dental visit torture’ was about three years ago.

Usually, the tooth can be placated with an anti-inflammatory, and rights itself after a couple of days. Not this time. I suppose this time I will be forced to face the Dentist Demon and get it seen to – once the abscess is cleared, of course.

I’m still not entirely sure why I am so afraid of a Dentist. It’s never personal – they’ve all been really nice men, from what I can remember. (I’ve only ever had two.) The one from my younger years was a kind, older man (unless I have blocked something out from childhood); but I am told that when he would see my name in his appointment book, he’d be the one taking the pain medication ahead of time. (Apparently, I kicked him once, at about age three. I have an excellent memory. This, I do not recall.)

(This is probably a badly written blog. I wish I could blame it on painkillers – but I still have half an hour before I am allowed the next lot. We’ll blame the pain – and the not so pearly-white monster that has decided that it will no longer have mercy on me.)

The strange thing is that on the last few forced trips, the ‘new’ dentist has not caused me one iota of pain – and he’s really easy on the eyes. So what is with this mental block against his services? Am I alone in my irrational fear? Is it really irrational? Or is there just something ‘Dark’ about a Dentist? Hmmmmm.

Little Word Worm Children

I love to read. It upsets me greatly that so many today lack the desire to read, particularly when that ‘many’ is children. They say that a child who reads will be an adult who thinks – is this perhaps why there are generations of thoughtless people out there? Jacqueline Kennedy said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

(Of course, I am biased!)

I have always been an avid reader. I learnt from a young age that reading most certainly is for pleasure, and not just because school makes it a requirement.

My children were still in my belly when I began reading to them. Late nights and early mornings of Dr. Seuss, while they floated around in amniotic fluid, completely unaware of the antics of “Sam, I am”.

My daughter is ten, and can read for herself – which she very often does. But, at bedtime, when she is snug (and I still have a million things to do before I can disappear into duvet folds of slumber), there is this little voice that asks,
“Mommy, please can you read to me for a bit?”

And suddenly, the laundry and dirty dishes disappear from the foremost parts of my mind and there is no hesitation as I reach for her book, and begin to read.

The benefits of reading are evident in both of my children. My son has achieved an Honours blazer at school for excelling academically, but specifically for his contribution to the Council of English Education in our country – he has achieved gold awards four years in a row for contributions to short story writing, poetry, and language papers. (I have to add that the Council participation is voluntary.)

My daughter has been selected three years in a row to represent her school in the junior section of competitions for this same council, as part of a team, for language skills. (Selected as one of six, in a school of about six hundred.) They have won two out of three competitions – taking runner up in the one that they didn’t win.

Both of them have a talent for stringing words together, and no-one will ever be able to accuse them of having no expression or imagination. Yes, I blame reading. More importantly, I blame the fact that they were read to.

There is just so much to say about the subject of reading. But I am going to limit this post to the one thing that bothers me of late – the fact that these days so few children read, and almost as many parents just don’t seem concerned with this at all.

I love children. I love reading. I love teaching. Okay, so those are three things I love (plenty more, the list is endless) and I also happen to be a very passionate person. So in an effort to combine the passion of these three things, and of course my disappointment in the disinterest of children and reading, I started a reading club for kids. I read to them, and we discuss what we have read. It’s great fun interacting with 6 – 9-year-olds.  I also add a fun filled activity to each session where they get to exercise their imaginations. The results are amazing.

I have seventeen little ones in my club. In a school of six hundred, this number is ridiculously low. I really wish more parents would encourage their children to read, because ultimately it is the parents who make the choice as to whether or not their children attend – and a lot of the children who attend have not ever picked up a book to read for enjoyment. This disappoints me.

But I’ll tell you what inspires me. I am told by my little students that I read ‘out loud’ so well and make it all sound so interesting that they have started reading at home. Mission accomplished. Hearing that my reading is the first time anyone has ever read to them (besides during school hours) is heartbreaking for me.

And then there is the kid who has made such good progress, and actually read a whole book for pleasure, who will no longer be attending reading club. His mother tells me they decided not to send him anymore, because now ‘all he wants to do is read’. She says this like it’s a bad thing?!?! What is happening to this world?

I end with this Dr Seuss quote : “You’re never too old, too whacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child!”

To love or not….that is the question

I have decided I must be a romantic at heart. Because if anyone should have been ‘put off’ by love, it’s me.

I’ve had all kinds – but never the mythical movie romance.

Although, to be fair, I know a few people who have something close to that myth. I’m just not one of them.  I fear I may have been ‘put off’, although somewhere deep inside the walls of my heart, I suspect the desire still lurks.

My mind is good at chasing that ‘lurker’ even deeper into those walls.

It reminds me of the time I dated the perfect guy, only to find he was not only a cheater, but that he looked better in heels and a mini-skirt than I did.

It reminds me of the guy who couldn’t read, and thought that ‘rules’ said ‘ribs’, and made sure a good few were broken.

It reminds me of the family destroying cash flow problem that comes when you get involved with someone with a serious gambling addiction.

It reminds me of the doctor who had a prescription drug problem, and the farmer who needed rehab for his drinking.

But more importantly, it reminds of who I am now. It reminds me that although I don’t have a handle on the whole low self-esteem thing, I now have the knowledge that I am still worth SOMETHING more than to be treated like less.

It reminds me that I am actually happy enough in myself to not NEED to be defined by someone else.

It reminds me that I have matured – and all of a sudden, in my late thirties – I am actually quite content with my life, my kids, my dog.

Do I wish for love again? I guess I do. It might still be nice to find the man who was created with a hand that has fingers made to fit perfectly in between mine.

But older, wiser, and a better judge of character, I fear he will be a needle in a haystack…and with my failing eyesight I’m just not sure!

My dog ate my homework

In my house, this old excuse rings true.

Except it’s not just the homework that suffers.

My dog eats EVERYTHING. Some days I’m offended, and wonder if we smell bad – because so far, the only ‘things’ he hasn’t tried to eat in our house are us humans – although playtime results in some pretty nasty scratches, both from teeth and paws.

We got him from a private rescue facility when he was seven weeks old. Some idiot threw him out the window of a car, in a plastic bag, when he was just three weeks. At five weeks of age, he contracted ‘tick bite fever/biliary’ – a disease that usually kills quickly. He beat that. He’s a survivor, this pavement special of ours.

And he’s probably one of the most remarkable dogs I have ever owned. I am a little biased, of course, but when I think of my dogs in the past, he’s something special.

I never had to house train him – he just knew.  Although once or twice, if I didn’t wake during the night, he’d disappear into the shower, and relieve himself there!

He also knew how to play fetch. That was great, until he started not only bringing me tennis balls, but socks, shoes, underwear, knitting needles, dish towels – pretty much anything he could find.

Placing these items in the middle of the counter didn’t help either. He has these ridiculously long legs that he uses as cat paws, to stretch and reach an item and pull it towards him. If he’s not caught in time, and it’s close enough for him to take in his teeth – then the game is on. Yes, he knows how to play ‘catches’ too – except we’re always the ones who are ‘on’.

When his water bowl is almost empty, he tips it up and watches the last of it form a puddle. Then he picks it up, and trots around with it until he finds one of us humans to give it to.

He trots. Like a horse. And when he’s excited about who is at the door, and is patiently waiting for you to open the gate and let them in, he trots on the spot, like a show horse.

But back to the water. I don’t know about you, but when I was a child I was often in trouble when we went to eat out at restaurants. I would put my straw into my glass, and blow into it, making bubbles. Sometimes, I was so loud, people would turn to look.

We’d had our pup for a month. One night, I was sitting at the computer in the lounge, and he was chewing on his bone behind me. My daughter was sprawled across my bed, reading a book (you’d think she doesn’t have her own room sometimes).And I heard someone blowing bubbles through a straw. I yelled for her to stop. She came to tell me she wasn’t doing anything – and the noise miraculously went away. Until a few minutes later. This time, I turned around.My dog was standing with his head in his water bowl, snout pushing down against the bottom of the bowl, and blowing through his nose! Then he would lift his head, and try and catch the bubbles in the bowl – I kid you not, I couldn’t make something like that up if I tried! He used to do this a lot, but he’s just over a year now, and doesn’t do it as often.

I used to have a lovely back garden. In fact, I’d planted a whole bunch of new flowers about a month before we got him. I worked really hard in that garden. Used to. It’s his now. And of course, there’s not a flower in sight – although what he did with them no one knows.

I used to have a couch. I never really liked it, but at least once upon a time, it was whole. I’m thankful we can at least still sit on it.

couch

In the morning, if my daughter has not yet woken, I tell him to go and wake her. He dutifully trots off to her room, and presses his snout against her nose, lavishing her with soppy kisses. (Of course, this is sometimes a problem when she is woken from a deep slumber by him.)

At night, he seems to know when it’s bedtime. Naturally, he sleeps with me. He eases himself onto the bed, usually in my spot, and curls up as best he can with his long legs, on my pillow. Of course, I gently shift him across to the other side of the bed, amidst moans of protest from somewhere deep in his chest. Some nights he shows his disgust at being moved by moving again – to plonk himself on top of my feet. And that is where he sleeps.
But there are those nights where he is accepting of his position, and he continues to sleep. And just to show he’s still not entirely amused with me, he snores in my ear for the rest of the night.

toffee

If you ask him if he wants a hug, he comes to you and stands on his hind legs. I lean in, and he places his paws on my shoulders. I step closer, and wrap my arms around his body. He curls his paws, so that you can feel them on your neck. He then ‘stretches’, but the curled paws make it feel like he is hugging you. It’s the sweetest thing ever!

His latest antic was earlier today, and I am happy to report that no actual harm came to him – although I was very worried initially. I super-glued a frame, and then placed the super glue, and frame, on top of the microwave, which sits ON TOP of the counter. Don’t ask me how – I don’t think I’ll ever work it out – but in the two minutes it took me to get the washing out the machine, he got the glue. I came through to find him lying on the couch, not looking too happy, ‘chewing his cud’, with the super glue tube in front of him. Sigh. Another baby in the house?

I have to add, because those who hear tales of his antics all suggest it, my dog is not bored or neglected. He has a constant supply of human love, chew toys and bones all over the house. He is regularly supplied with more. He just prefers OUR stuff. AND, he generally only misbehaves when we’re HERE! if we go out, he sleeps, like an angel. The mischief is for our benefit!

And surprisingly, I am okay with that. He’s not just ‘a’ dog. He’s OURS. And we couldn’t have asked for a better addition to our little family!

Hello World!

In the world of blogging, your first blog post could make or break you. (Or so I have read.)  The pressure is on! Of course, amidst this pressure, there were other important events taking place.

The dog has been stung by a bee, again. According to ‘legend’, a bee in your house indicates that you’ll be getting a visitor – oh hell, I hope there isn’t company coming. My dining room table is bending under all the clean, folded and ironed washing from yesterday – To-do list activated : put away the clean clothes ‘sometime’ this morning.

The glass jar of coffee in the cupboard has been attacked by the Coffee Critters and is now empty. When I have finished this cup, a trip to the store is in order – To-do list paused, shopping list in my head begins.

A quick glance down confirms that I have yet to get dressed – switch lists – priority on to-do list. I doubt the other shoppers will appreciate my fluffy purple pyjama’s as much as I do.

My preteen is hungry. Again. Breakfast was an hour ago. How much food can one little body consume? And how come the body is still so small after all that food?

Without further ado, I bid farewell to you – I need to beat the other human (teenager) to the bathroom if I’m going to shower and get out to refill my coffee jar!

Hello World, indeed!