Mary Beth Writes

I mentioned to Len this morning that this year I am going to make a New Year’s resolution. Usually I don’t make resolutions because I don’t believe people change (very much) by determining to “do better starting tomorrow.”  The person who works mightily to stop eating cookies tonight - while there are still cookies in the house - is probably going to become healthier than the person who is going to Stop Eating All the Sugar and Only Eat Roasted Brussel Sprouts … starting tomorrow.  Don’t ask me how I know.

So when I mentioned to Len that I am going to try to become more stubborn in 2018, his first response was so much laughter he had to take off his glasses and wipe his eyes on the neck of his sweater.

Apparently, after 30-some years living with me, he doesn’t really see me as a pushover?  I can see how he might have this opinion. There have been some moments….

But this is what I have been thinking about this week.

Stubbornness is one of those attributes where we pretend it is an affront against a person’s character, but is in fact – it is usually a compliment.

We sigh and say the toddler is stubborn, but what we mean is that child is exhausting us but we are glad she is that way.

We say that boy is stubborn, but we are glad he keeps playing basketball, or working on his robot team, or refuses to give up on his friends even when his friends alarm us. 

We admire people who have worthy goals towards which they keep working until they get what they need and want.

But I think most people are stubborn the way I am.  I push on behalf of people I like and love.  If you are my kid, I will push you hard, and then I will push hard at the institutions around you who are not giving you (in my opinion) a fair shake.

But being stubborn on our own behalf?  We have to believe that what we want is worth our attention and effort.  We have to have the courage it takes to stick to a person, project, or action that we are not 100% sure is the right person, project, or action.  We have to believe in what we want, even when we are smart enough to know there are almost always choices and options. We have to have courage to stick with our best idea and plow ahead.

That is the territory I want to stake out. That when a project is hard, to not find an easier or different project to do. Sometimes people have complimented me by noting, “How much you do…”  I generally know what I was avoiding while I did the thing people noticed. 

This year I am going to work at having enough courage to stick to hard and interesting projects and to say no to my own imagination when it wants to distracts me with unnecessary tasks.

(No, I don’t need to paint the hallway, or leave this paragraph to wipe the kitchen counters, or the other cool ideas I can always dream up - but you get the gist.) 

My resolution is to be more stubborn. Being stubborn requires slow, persistent courage. To be courageously stubborn on behalf of one’s own visions, hopes, arguments, and mission – there is a scary but interesting resolution. 

Let’s see how it goes.

Are you making a resolution this year?


I am forming the very same resolution, and you put it so well. As part of working with a spiritual director I've explored the Enneagram as a way of understanding my personality (again? still?) at this stage of my life, moving over the next five years from my current work as a pastor to working, but differently. I tend to not be stubborn on my own behalf, but stubbornness will be needed if I want to launch myself, moaning and bitching or cheering and sighing in relief probably, over this particular finish line and onto a new, exciting, scary path. So yes, stubborn will do nicely.

You go, Girl. I grinned largely because I can imagine Len throwing back his head and laughing u til he cries. I don’t think I am going to make a resolution this year - but, I am going to try and take care of myself better. Physically, and mentally - so, I guess that is a resolution u can periodically remind me of

Yes, isn't it amazing that at this point in our lives, we're still working on this stuff? But we are, so there you go.

Love the photo.

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That Thing You Found or Made

Last week I went thrift shopping with my friend Franc. We saw this mobile made from dried paint brushes.  It’s hanging from the ceiling in the Habitat for Humanity reStore in Wauwatosa. 

I appreciate eclectic things made by real humans – as opposed to all the cool, anonymous stuff straight from a design team in some random place you’ve never heard of, that comes in an appropriately designed box, and it looks just like everything else. 

What is an object in your life that you love, that you would like to take with you to your last apartment and beyond?

Chicken to Eat and Three Billboards

I found an inexpensive, ethnic recipe for chicken, so I asked Len to buy a couple pounds of chicken legs or thighs while he was out. Humanely raised chicken breasts were the least expensive cut at the store he visited, he bought them.

So now I need to upgrade my recipe to be worthy of the meat he brought home.

This happens to me a lot. I have a somewhat energetic idea and the world responds with abundance, as if the world doesn't know how to do "just enough."

Wheels 4-Sale #2 Offer on Behalf of my Grand-Pup Bean

See the Story of Bean in Offer #1 on Behalf of my Grand-Pup...

Are you a high-end bicycle rider person?

Yeah, me neither. I like my bike and ride it some. Len is a bike guy 30 years now; he's been out for several long rides already this spring - when it was spring. It's winter again, so not today. 

#1 Offer on Behalf of my Grand-Pup Bean

FIRST – THE OFFER IF you live in Waukesha or Racine.

Len and I are going to Madison this coming Saturday. We can pick up a handmade-from-scratch frozen pie for you - and Len and I will deliver it TO you (probably) on Sunday afternoon.  That is – March 11.

Pies are $14 each and you can choose your flavor – Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Peach, Peach-raspberry, Strawberry-rhubarb

Put the frozen pie into your oven at 325 for about 3 hours.  Or, thaw and bake around an hour - in either case bake til you can see the filling bubbling a little.

Not Admiring Duty

Duty without empathy and imagination is handsome.

And dangerous.

This is what Robert E. Lee said. “Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more; you should never wish to do less.” 

This is what I say. “Duty” is a clichéd moral value lobbed at us by men (sic) who seem to assume leadership is about getting other people to do the work and take the risks at hand.”

What's in that Museum?

Do you go to museums? I enjoy them, but I think they are more complicated than we give them credit for.

This past weekend Len and I and our daughters, plus Len’s sister and her teenage sons, spent the day at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. At 400,000 square feet, the MSI is a huge old place; the buildings were part of Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 that were re-purposed into the Museum during Chicago’s 1933 Century of Progress. (An aunt once told me about seeing a black and white electrical show in a box at the Century of Progress. They called it television.)

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