Friday, September 18, 2009

Good Enough: The New Achievement

So the other day, someone passed around an article about how “Good Enough” really is acceptable now. Okay, so I get that I’m a bit of a freak-o, over-achiever by nature and I don’t sit and do absolutely nothing well (note: I’m actually WAY better at that than I used to be; I can sit and watch a show without multitasking…true story!); however, why is good enough and average now acceptable?

This thought process has actually been building all week for me. The week started with me hearing a news story on how the American economy is number two for the first time ever (we’re now behind Switzerland). No knock on the Swiss, but really? I was shocked by this one...but apparently they’ve really got it together over there. Well done! On the heals of this I was told by a co-worker that their child’s new schedule was really putting pressure on them because it caused them to have to spend more time at night reading and helping their kid adjust to their new grade level and work load. (Uhm, isn’t that part of the parental gig?) But the topper for me was then the aforementioned article.

This all has me thinking now (shocker, I know) about how we as a society have changed. Good enough and average are now the norm. Few seem to strive for something different…for something better. Outside of the sports realm, what do we try and excel in, collectively, on a regular basis? Sure, we say “we’re the best”, but story after story shows that we’re falling behind other countries in education, humanitarian efforts and scientific advancements.

You might be thinking, “but these days have overloaded scheduled thanks to play-dates and excessive sports activities”...right? Perhaps I should clarify then…when I say excel, I don’t mean at things like exhausting our kids with superfluous time fillers and jam-packed schedules. Nope, I’m referring to us seemingly accepting average levels of effort in things like grades, our levels of parenting/hands-on involvement, or advancing and achieving as a society and country as a whole as being “good enough”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...sure, I see that I’m getting all Andy Rooney on you here, but really, why is good enough okay now, but for the generations before, for the Great Generation and Baby Boomers, good enough wasn’t even an option? Yet some how, when my generation, Generation X, took over, we moved the scale over a tad so we could what, kick back and play with our iPhones more? And while I’m on it, heck, we couldn’t even be bothered to take the time to come up with a generation label that stood for something...we’re now Generation X who has given birth to Generation Y. Lame!

Now I’m not saying that I’m going to look at my baby girls and ask them when they get a 97 on something “what happened?” What I am saying is that if they continually bring home 75s, for example (that’s a C, or “average”, here in Texas), I’m gonna have to re-evaluate the current state-of-the-state to see what we can do drive that up to a B or an A.

I’m also not super keen on being second as a Nation. Haven’t we always prided ourselves on being ahead of the curve...being innovators...being the best of the best? Good thing Einstein and Franklin didn’t just accept the status quo as “good enough”; just think of where we’d be if they had? And what if in the 1960’s the young people of the Nation had decided good enough was in fact, just that? Think of all the injustices that would still be in place.

Why not hearken back to a better system of “normal” when we as a country, united to make things better? Why not help those around us and not simply brush it off as someone else’s problem; push yourself to give a little more. Why not want better for your kids than you had; there’s nothing greedy or wrong with that, is there? Let’s not just hope for a better future for our kids, let’s help create one.

As a generation, let’s demand a better label than “X”...better yet, let’s earn a better label! Why not put more value back in academic achievements rather than in sports; perhaps then it will be cool, once again, to excel in school and not to simply “get by” so long as the student remains eligible to play in the big game this weekend.

Perhaps consider teaching our kids that good enough really isn’t, but that their personal best, whatever level that might be, is what’s more important. Remind them that one person can make a difference and that every voice counts; so learn what you can, help who you can and try and make things better than they were before. Tell them and show them, through your actions, that good enough really isn’t...”For the Times They are A-Changin'” and good enough just won’t do.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Last night, I'll admit, I actually watched the finale for America's Got Talent. Yepper, I watched it all the way to the end. Sure, I had better things to do with my time than spend two hours of my evening watching television, but something about last events mesmerized me. Maybe it was the flashy outfits; perhaps it was the anticipation as they whittled down the top ten to the top five and then finally, the top two; or perhaps it was simply my anthropological curiosity that kept me tuned in. Who would American pick? What do mainstream Americans feel is talent, worthy of $1 Million dollars and their own headline show in Las Vegas?

I was with them on the top five; yep, it made sense to me. Then suddenly, I found myself honestly gasping out loud as the top two were announced (I was really getting into the show at this point)! Why was I so shocked that the general public actually selected an opera singer for one the top two spots? They got rid of the only act in the top ten I could literally see headlining in Vegas (Recycled Percussion, in case you were wondering). Honestly, all but one of the top ten seemed like great acts to me...but an opera singer? As I drove in to work today, the answer hit me.......

You see, there was a point in the show last night when a scantily clad, if you can even call what she was wearing "clad", Shakira took to the stage to perform. It was announced that she'd be performing her new single "She Wolf". Now, to the untrained eye, her lip-synching as she bound all over the stage was, in fact, what she was there for. "Ah yes, what a talented little singer that Shakira is," I just imagined people saying all over America as she began her, uhm.....performance? Suddenly the lip-synching to the horrifically overly dumbed-down lyrical contraption called her "hit single" turned into a night at a local strip club! What????? Wait, let me quickly cover my daughter's eyes and grab my dollar bills before you continue young lassie!

Seriously, I'm not making this up! That skimpy leather draped blonde suddenly began to gyrate on top of a wait....make that, air-hump the speaker; yes, I believe that's what the kids call it these prime time!!!!!! Holy Ed Sullivan, Batman.....what just happened? I was under the impression that this was a family show? Perhaps my family is the wrong demographic for this experience?, back to my car and the drive into work this morning.....OHHHH I get it...THAT'S why I was so shocked! I was stunned to see the top five, no wait, make that even the top two acts, actually showed true talent; not skin.....not the ability to roll around on the stage or dangle themselves from a cage above a crowd while sporting stilettos and a thong like Britney Spears does in her current Circus concert really, these people actually came out and displayed pure, true talent.

As I continued tooling along down Highway 114 listening to my Rosemary Clooney CD (yep, really), I couldn't help but wonder to myself, "WWJD if he saw last night's events?" Nope, not THAT "J", I am referring to John Lennon of course; truly one of the greatest composers and entertainers of our time. John, let me stage a bed-in to protest my feelings of war or write a song that will forever live on epitomizing the level to which all humans should aspire, Lennon.

Could you imagine John, or any of the Beatles for that matter, rolling around on a stage in leather, humping the nearest speaker during a performance? I mean, even Ringo, who made perhaps one of the worst films ever ("Caveman"), would have more dignity than to behave in such an ill manner! When did we go from creating and performing songs that made you think or touched you deeply to accepting songs about hunting down men to have our way with them and strip-club-like dancing as entertainment?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sooooo not a stick in the mud or your average prude by any stretch of the imagination, but when I sit down with my family to watch something on prime time television, I don't expect to have to race my husband for the remote to change it when a "teen icon" hits the stage to perform. At what point did we allow the sheer greed of the entertainment world to take over and dictate to us what is the new acceptable form of entertainment? At what point did we all decide it was okay for young girls (remember, mine are seven and four-months) to look up to role models, at term I use loosely, who promote sexuality in the raunchiest sense?

Why, just imagine...what if what I witnessed with the top two acts of last night’s finale became the entertainment norm again? What if we went back to celebrating true talent and entertainment that didn't make you cringe? Well, you may say I'm dreamer, but I find it hard to believe that I'm the only one.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lowering the Bar

I discovered last night that someone apparently lowered the bar and changed the rules of decorum for parenting somewhere along the way. I was at the first PTA meeting of the year for my oldest daughter's school. Shocker I know....I'm an actively participating parent...HA! We arrived five minutes before it was scheduled to begin as I was always taught it more polite to be early than late to an event. To my absolute shock, we were the first ones there. What????? Finally around 7:10 p.m. the room was in full buzz with about 60 people, including parents, children and teachers, so they called the meeting to "order".

Yeah, it's that "order" thing that is stuck in my craw this morning. To me, when a meeting is called to order that means it's officially underway and we're all paying attention, seated quietly and participating. Apparently that's what we call an "old school" definition as there was not one shred of order in that room for the next 35 minutes.

For those of you playing along at home, I have ears like a bat; why yes, I can hear, as the saying goes, a mouse fart in the other room, so I get it that I'm a bit sensitive to noise.....but come on! What I witnessed last night was not due to my sensitive ears, it was totally due to the lowering of the bar and the new non-tactile expectations of parenting in the suburbs. See, I've had an issue with this for years, but man, last night really sent me into a tizzy! During that entire meeting, not one parent asked for quiet or for the kids to sit down. Not one teacher said a word in protest. The principal himself simply stood in the back of the room writing in some notebook and was otherwise oblivious to the entire experience. What??????? (And no, I didn't say anything as I sat there with my child, as a new parent to the school, in shock!)

Now I've been called a strict parent before, and for a while I took a bit of offense to that label; however, as day breaks on this bright Wednesday morning, the day after the PTA rodeo, I now see that statement as a badge of honor and a sincere compliment! Darn tootin' I'm a strict parent! Why, my child sat with me quietly for the entire meeting, never once protesting my insistence at her silence (in fact, I don't remember ever having to tell her to be quiet); never once darting up from her seat to dash across the room while a board member attempted to relay pertinent PTA information. Nope, my child sat happily, contently beside me the entire time. And yes, she did partake in the ice cream sundae stand they set-up, but she also ate it without smacking and cleaned-up her own mess, a claim that none of the children also sitting at our table can dare make.

When did this happen? When did we decide that parenting no longer involved the teaching of respecting our elders and the idea of common courtesy? At what point did we as a society take on the belief that children should be allowed to run amuck in restaurants, school events and church gatherings? Why is it now okay for children to be taught "helplessness" instead of being taught how to do for themselves? What kind of future adults are we creating?

Look, I'm not saying that children shouldn't be allowed to be children for heaven sake; no, I'm just saying that if I've been to pep-rallies that were more controlled than this PTA meeting, then perhaps it's time to revisit our collective parenting expectations and responsibilities and raise that bar back up a bit. Think about it, when was the last time you heard a child say "yes sir" or "thank you" without being prompted? Taking a minute to pinpoint that moment are you? Well then, that's too long.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday...Bee Gees Style

Above and Beyond, I believe I would say the Bee Gees are Really and Sincerely my favorite group. I find their catalog of songs to truly be a Buried Treasure in the music archives. And the fact that most people don’t know ALL their songs, well to me, that’s just a Tragedy! For this reason, and the fact that I have found myself a bit Carried Away today, I write this blog around the songs of the Bee Gees.

A Long Time Ago, when I was but a wee babe in my Childhood Days, I discovered the greatest sound ever...the Bee Gees! I was definitely what one would consider to be a Boogie Child as I loved me some disco; to this day 70’s is still my favorite music...I Can’t Help It!

As I grew, I realized that the Bee Gees’ songs held the answers to most of the challenges encountered in an Ordinary Life. Whenever I’ve hit a bump, there they were...the three of them, singing away my misery. Just In Case you don’t believe me, let me show you what I mean:

* How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? – The Remedy is to become Shatterproof and realize that Life Goes On; heartbreak is just another one of the Lessons In Love

* Forgot to study? – Better hope to be Saved By The Bell before anyone calls on you

* Where to go for lunch? - Subway

* Never lie – Always tell the truth and Watch What You Say because your Words can last Forever

* Think Mr. Wrong was Mr. Right? – Well, that was The 1st Mistake I Ever Made, and as luck would have it, it would be like Déjà Vu for me as I repeatedly found myself Paying The Price for Love

* How’s my day going? – So Far So Good

* Crap...missed my curfew, now what do I do? – Take The Short Way Home

* What should I be doing now? – You Should Be Dancing

* Got knocked down? Why, what to do now? – Easy...Never Give Up

* Think you’re having a girl? – Name her Rebecca, of course!

Now I could go on doing this With My Eyes Closed, continuing the Method to My Madness for today’s blog...Until I cover every song, which I’m sure you all Desire...but that could make for The Longest Night.

So instead, I’ll pack my belongings and head Back Home, hoping to cross your path again Down the Road.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pause for Punctuation

I was told recently that I misuse the semi-colon. What? Me? Well I must tip my hat to the person who felt the need to call that out. On my blog....why yes in fact I do! I love me a little semi-colon action! If you've been following me long then you'll notice I don't just have an over zealous love for semi-colons, why I also dig me some explanation points!

Here's what it all boils down to for me. My brain is a continual synaptic symphony of thoughts....yes thoughts, not just one, but many random thoughts constantly popping in and out, over-lapping each other during most of my waking moments. During a slow period I might only have one thought or song stuck in there. I'd love to be one of those people who can make their minds go utterly blank....truly! Wow, a real moment of silence, what that must be like. Nope, for me, even during yoga, the brain is still humming along with thought after thought after thought. The point of that rather lengthy explanation was to state that I write like I think or one long rambling cadence of overlapping thoughts; thus the reason I embrace the excessive use of said semi-colon. Semi-colons allow me to stick the never-ending string of thoughts together on paper the way they appear to me in my head (my head - a.k.a. Becky-land, it's a rocking crazy place to visit actually).

Here is an example of my thoughts at work. I was in the car at a Walmart once and was really deep into a story (about what, I can't seem to remember). Suddenly, as I'm pulling into a parking place, without a beat skipped I said, "Wow, seriously? Mirrors....get 'cha one!" I then immediately apologized for my comment stating, "Oh my! That was catty! Sorry!" and then in the same breath, picked-up my story right where I had left off. My poor car passenger had the strangest look; it was kind of a cross between someone who just saw a true UFO and someone who just spent 10 minutes listening to George Carlin...kind of a half-smile and a WTF look!

Which brings me to the exclamation point; for me, it's the most under used member of the punctuation family we have. I totally heart the exclamation point! (again, probably because of how I talk.) I tend to be a bit, uhm, shall we say, animated? I get excited...a little punchy.....often giddy and that tends to come out in my writing. My favorite “School House Rock” segment was the one on interjection; why that was an entire 3 minutes song and cartoon dedicated to the beauty of the exclamation point! And why not use it, I mean THEY wouldn't have given it to use when creating the English language had THEY not wanted us to use it. Why not be excited? See I think our every day lives are missing excitement any way. Remember being a kid? Remember being excited over almost every story you relayed to your parents?

For all you nay-sayers and critics of free-lance punctuation usage, I say to you, get over it! A blog is a happy fun place to just share your thoughts and hopefully, connect with other people, allowing them to ponder the questions you left with them or to give them a boost in their day via something you wrote. Sure, we all learned the rules of correct usage in school, but hey, sidebar here....we're not in school, so we're not being graded here. In the name of the Blue Book of Grammar I remind you that it's just a blog!

So for all my followers, I give you permission to embrace your inner voice and relay it through word with whatever punctuation you feel best expresses your need. Over use those semi-colons to connect your rambling thoughts and create excessively long sentences. Embark on an exclamation point campaign and show the world just how happy or excited you are about something!!!!! Heck, feel free to end a sentence with a preposition and start one with "and" or "but"; maybe even toss in an emoticon here or there in a personal email. Go on, try it! Not to worry, I won't judge. :)