We do life in this house

You know those weeks where the Universe throws a message at you again and again? And, in case you missed it, yet again? We’re having one of those in my house.

We have a saying in my home: “We do life.” Meaning, we are fully human, we make mistakes, we figure it out. Rather than hiding behind closed doors and pretending to have it all figured out. We’re here to participate in this thing called life. And in my book, that means learning and experiencing.

But for each one of us that “does” life, there are many more who try to play it safe. They usually come with long, lengthy lists of rules, of “shoulds.”And they seem to have appointed themselves judge and jury.

What brings this to mind today is a middle-aged man walking his dogs. As I walked my rescue across the street from him, I stopped her and made her sit. Even after having her for several years, I cannot train the instinct and fear out of her. Abandoned in the South in a box, she went through some nasty bits before she came to us. And she is very protective of us, her forever family. So, as she barked and strained at her leash because she thought this man meant potential harm, from across the street he gave me a withering stare and said to his dogs, “WE don’t do that.”

First off, I am so happy for the royal “WE” of you. But guess what? My dog does that. Plain and simple. After training and training and training, she still does that. She probably will always do that. And now that I’ve gotten a glimpse of who you are, sir, I don’t necessarily think she was wrong not to like you.

But the bigger point, far beyond the tiny little man across the street, is this: When we appoint ourselves judge and jury, it’s beyond ugly.

I remember writing a scathing letter to a woman I had known in college. She had come to visit me after I moved to Chicago—and let’s just stay her lifestyle was not mine. Instead of knowing how to firmly set my own boundaries, I wrote her after she left to tell her she was not welcome again. The truth is—she was not welcome again, no matter how I said it. But, I regret now the way in which I expressed it. I was ridiculous in my righteousness.

As was the man across the street, sneering at a dog that was physically abused and has not yet gotten over it.

When my older son screwed up royally in junior high, he did so at a time his father was doing the same. I walked through the cafeteria to meet with his teacher and fetch him. I was discouraged, deeply so. And one of his female classmates walked by, giving me a look as if I was the most unfit mother on earth. She oozed self-righteousness. I remember thinking, very clearly, this: “I hope, honey, that you never have to marry or raise a man who acts out. Truly. I hope you never have to feel what I’m feeling now, holding my head up when it is the last thing I want to do. But that look on your face tells me you have lessons yet to learn. And this may well be one of them.”

We are ridiculous in our righteousness. All of us.

Maybe because my family’s life has been so off the beaten track, my view has changed. God, I hope so. Because I am sure we are not done screwing up. Any of us.

But that is life. I prefer to learn through joy, but pain is sometimes a better teacher. So I tell my boys that we do life. And I pray they learn as we do it.

I choose it over hiding behind a façade, doors closed to the big wide world.

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51 Comments Add yours

  1. You have named yourself well, Candid Kay. You lay yourself wide open with your honesty even though it is ever so easy to slip into righteousness when you have the floor. I’m sure I do, no matter how hard I try to walk the line. Thank you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! It’s a fine line for all of us. I appreciate you stopping by my blog and commenting.

  2. My dog is one of the barkers, which gradually declined as he liked sleeping more. However I enjoyed that he barked, and others barked. They are dogs! They will bark get over it

  3. I love that: the (smug) look on her face showed she had many lessons ahead of her. And thanks for keeping it real, K. Always refreshing here.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I find whenever I am smug, a lesson is soon to follow. Usually one in which I fall flat on my face, experiencing whatever I just felt superior about:).

      1. Interesting how that seems to be a law of the universe, no matter what our faith.

  4. mollyb111 says:

    You’re amazing!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). I needed that today . . .

      1. mollyb111 says:

        I’m one of your biggest fans in life. Just remember that. ❤

  5. Great attitude Kristine, it’s so easy to judge and forget that perceived slights are usually all about our own insecurities. Though I would have been quite happy to be righteous about that man’s attitude 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I will admit to an ironic smile and an exaggerated eye roll:). I’m not sure he saw them but I could not help myself.

  6. Roy McCarthy says:

    Yes totally Kristine. It can be a fine line between tolerance and crankiness though, as one gets older. One grows wiser (hopefully) but, as a result, pompousness and condemnation can creep in. If one is content however then it should translate into a positive.

    I’m afraid however that dogs that bark and jump (for whatever good reason) bring out my cranky streak. I can’t go for a jog on the beach outside my window without being assailed by dogs within seconds. Maybe it’s my fault 😦

    1. candidkay says:

      I am sure that’s not pleasant, Roy! The dogs. I’ve had the same, when running–and invisible fences don’t help because you often wonder if the dog will charge right through it. I am always amazed, though, at the runners who will run right at a dog and owner–most dogs perceive that as a threat to safety. And I agree, wiser should be positive if our general nature is to be content or happy. If not, oy:).

  7. I love your attitude. Sometimes I’m so worried about doing the wrong thing that I just stay quiet. I’m learning “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”– you can’t win, so you might as well be authentic. Loved this ❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Authentic is tough because a good percentage of people don’t applaud it, they critique it. It’s learning not to care about anyone’s critique and just forging ahead that’s the tough part . . .

  8. Kristine, I love this. We are all so quick to judge and I love that you didn’t feel you needed to acknowledge the royal WE. Our life is messy, but it is ours. We don’t worry about others so long as we are working as a team. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth trying.

    1. candidkay says:

      I think that’s one of the ways we know we’re truly a “grown-up”–when we realize others’ actions or reactions say far more about them than us. And we don’t react in turn:).

  9. Here I am, again, out here in the wide open universe catching a life lesson from your post. Somewhere between today’s joy and its pain I found deep warmth in discovering through you that wisdom lies far beyond righteousness.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love that. We must be on the same frequency today. I am glad my words resonated with you, as yours have so often with me:).

  10. Archita says:

    Such thought-provoking post, Kristine.:) Awesome!
    Remember how we all had role models and we wanted to be like them when we were growing up? I have a list of people who I don’t want to be. People like the dog walker you mentioned who sweetly passed judgments without knowing your dog’s past trauma? People like the female classmate of your son. In simple words, I’d like to be like people who live and let live.

    1. candidkay says:

      I think sometimes we get sent these people just to verify who we are–or want to be! Each time, we send a rocket signal to the universe saying–yep, I’m sure. Not this, but that:).

  11. dinnerbysusan says:

    As always … such wise words! It didn’t take me long in my own life to learn that every time I passed judgment on the “wrong” way someone was handling a situation, God would chuckle and say, “Really? Well, here you go. Let’s see how YOU do with it!” Taught me to keep the judgment hat off of my head!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh my. We have similar karma then:). Almost instantaneous! It teaches you, very quickly, to be careful what you think and where you step, right? 🙂

  12. Love this! I am going to repeat this to myself when I get overwhelmed with all that I can’t control or fall short in. “Doing life”– it takes bravery.

    1. candidkay says:

      It sure does! Which I know you have in spades, from your blog:).

  13. RuthsArc says:

    What a lovely phrase – “we do life”. We all learn the hard way, the painful way. But that is what life is about. Thanks for another inspiring and well observed post 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      And thank you for reading, as well as the kind words!

  14. Amen!! I had the weirdest encounter today with a guy who was working at a local medical marijuana store. I went in because I wasn’t sure if it was a medical dispensary where you need a prescription or a recreational use place (we have both now in WA). I wanted to know if they carry CBD (cannabidiol) oil from hemp, not from cannabis (good for pain relief, depression, anxiety, but no high because no THC). The guy took a look at me and said he couldn’t sell me anything without a prescription. (I just wanted information). When I asked if he had CBD oil, he said “It’s everywhere! Everyone has it!” I told him I didn’t care about “everyone”- I wanted to know if he had it, and was it from hemp. He kept going in about needing a prescription and treated me like I was stupid or a freak or something. He was really weird. I don’t know what kind of judgment he was throwing on me, but there was definitely something. Maybe he forgot that pot is legal in my state now, or maybe he thought I was an undercover narc looking like a middle aged, overweight housewife with a minivan. The truth is, I bought some of this oil at my local food coop (organic store) and was hoping I could find it closer to home, as the coop is a 30 min drive. Won’t every have to step foot in there ever again. I think the last time I was treated so poorly was when I was collecting unemployment and one of the employees had a huge chip on his shoulder against everyone collecting.

    1. candidkay says:

      , Isn’t it? Your day can be going along just fine and then-bam-a bit of it gets derailed. The further I get in A Course in Miracles, the more I am able to stop myself just reacting to others’ dramas. I’m sorry he tried to pull you into his.

      1. Ah yes, I forgot you’re going through the Course. Excellent! Most of the time these days I don’t get sucked in by other people’s “stuff”. I guess he caught me off guard- I was confused and surprised at being treated anything other than how I treat customers.

      2. candidkay says:

        And even when you’re fully aware, it is still hard to keep that negative energy out sometimes?

  15. They are the biggest teachers Kristine, and in hindsight, I’m very glad of them.
    I have done some things that I’m not very proud of…but….they WERE the biggest teachers, and guided me to where I now am. Without them there is no understanding of our journey.
    It is like flowers all being the one color, or people all speaking the exact same way….we would get used to it and it all loses its purpose.
    They ARE painful, so that we do learn, understand and become that happiness we all seek within. An understanding of ourselves to finally love that one person that we avoid within our journey. And in truth, they are the most beautiful person on this planet, with a love within like no other.
    And once found, in truth, an acceptance is found within, so that old men with dogs, honking horn drivers, and even the closest to us, no longer affect what we have become because we can see within them, what we have already endured. And in that acceptance is the knowledge that they only do these things to find themselves, just as we did.
    Yes, ‘we do life’ down here, but in hindsight, it is a very beautiful life, as we flower into our many different hues and colors to brighten this world a little further 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I love the live and let live tone to that reaction, Mark:). The many hues are what make it life indeed. Thanks for the thoughtful commentary.

  16. A great example of real life! In all it’s good and bad, we do learn more from the difficult days and hopefully create space within to be kind and compassionate to ourselves and others.

    1. candidkay says:

      I have found those that can’t be kind and compassionate to others treat themselves the same way, even if we do not see it.

  17. lisa74 says:

    LOVED, loved, loved this post….I jam watching an amazing BBC show called Happy Valley. and the main character is a female Sergent who kicks ass…the episode I watched last night the Sergent tells a police officer basically, we make mistakes and the point is to grow from them…she didn’t criticize her or made her feel stupid…As I struggle with now two horrible bosses, I so yearn for a boss who does not judge or who is not self-righteous. Being in the social work field you would think that this would not be so difficult to find but so far, I’m 0 for 2.

  18. Doing “Life” it is so true that we can out of fear or anger or prejudice judge others and express this when there is no need to do so. Words stay in the mind for ever some times especially the hurtful ones. But as I have grown older I too have tried to learn my lessons of life and not put on to others my expectations. It’s not easy and now and then I fail but at least I am aware of my failings. I try hard to be kind and it’s always possible. You are setting a great example for your boys to follow and in this way you are leaving a powerful legacy.

    1. candidkay says:

      I think, at times, that courage is more trying to be kind each day than bungee jumping or cliff diving. Because in a sometimes cockeyed world, kindness takes courage. Glad to know you are out there doing your part. Many of us don’t make headlines, but we do make a difference, collectively:).

  19. George says:

    Great post, Kay, something we all need to be reminded of often. There are sometimes reasons for how we act or the type of mood we project that others can’t possibly understand. Joy, as you mention, would be a wonderful way to learn but we all kbthose aren’t the lessons that stay with us or make an indelible mark on our lives. Nicely expressed.

    1. candidkay says:

      I so agree that the reasons are the crux of it. So many people I know walk around carrying a lot internally that others have no clue about–and if it wasn’t shared, you wouldn’t know.

  20. Kay, you have such a lovely way of taking an intimate experience and creating a conversation that invites a community of accountability and growth.

    1. candidkay says:

      Probably the nicest thing I could have dreamed up for you to say to me today:). Thank you. I’m glad my musings struck a chord.

  21. Amy says:

    Self-righteousness is part of what I consider to be a national state of intolerance. I see evidence of this every day: Dieters and gym-goers roll their eyes at the overweight; drivers lean on horns and flip the bird at other cars; politicians sneer openly at other politicians; even dog owners, apparently, say incredibly rude things to other dog owners! I haven’t got a solution for intolerance as a whole or self-righteousness in particular. All I can do is try to be gentle in my dealings with others. I figure that if I can’t change things, at least I can do my best not to ADD to things! I am sorry that gentleman felt the need to insult you and Bailey to your face. You didn’t deserve it!

    Another spot on essay today, my friend. Thank you for sharing it! xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, friend! For your lovely righteous indignation on my behalf:). A Course In Miracles says when one of us gets it (forgive my clunky paraphrasing), we save 1,000 more–who are enlightened from the spark of our enlightenment. I think of you as one of those people–whose gentle example and enlightenment helps us all. XXOO

  22. Preach!!! I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this today. I am sitting here attempting to work & can’t focus because I’m so hurt and embarrassed by something that happened this morning at my kids’ school. I’ll spare you the details (it wasn’t all that bad, just happened at a less-than-secure moment for me) but I am supposed to go on a field trip with my oldest tomorrow (something I rarely get to do) and I’m considering not going because I can’t take another second of judgement from other parents. That stuff doesn’t typically get me down — not to this degree anyway, but lately I feel like I’m floundering in every life area. But you know what — we also DO life in our family, so I’m going to go. Thank you again! And my dog, Molly, is a rescue who sounds so much like your dog. I get plenty of looks from the neighbors when I walk her. Sigh…

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m so sorry about whatever happened this morning. Isn’t it funny how timing can make a world of difference? Another day and you might have weathered it well. But, I am applauding you from afar as you decide to go–bravo! Because, in the end, that is what your son will see and remember. That you went through it with grace and dignity–and you emerged stronger. You are teaching him by example what no words could.

  23. bethanyk says:

    It IS ugly!!!! So true ! Our Molly was abandoned,starved,had mange,etc. we spent hundreds on medical care,hundreds on training, but we could never take away her fear on walks ( or fear of ceiling fans and backpacks for some reason) . Attaching her to my electric wheelchair that weighed 300 lbs was a life saver because she couldn’t pull or lunge. I can’t help but to want to say to your neighbor ” at least we are trying.at least we are out walking our dog.” But there will always be ugly people’s and i guess it would be exhausting to address all of them! I’m glad your dog was blessed to have you.

    1. candidkay says:

      You hit it on the head. The energy we put into addressing judgment is wasted–we should put it instead into loving that dog, moving ahead in life, etc. I am so glad Molly now has you:).

  24. Well said, again! We should all have someone nearby to tell us when we are being ridiculously righteous. I’d like to think life beat it out of me, but I’m sure there are times when I get my dander up and feel all righteous about some ridiculous thing. There are some things worthy of righteous rage, of course, but I suspect that most things aren’t!

    1. candidkay says:

      I cannot imagine you being righteous. Not after reading your book and knowing how life has molded you. I think you seem beautifully non-judgmental!

      1. Okay, then. The next time I catch myself being righteous, I’ll make a note. I’m sure there will be something! Tee hee….

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