Etiquette In a World That Glorifies Mediocrity

I’ve hesitated on how/if to write this post. However, after numerous emails from people who are mainly put out with friends and family who seem to promote tardiness and flaunt disrespect, I’ve decided it’s time to go ahead and lay it all out there.

Today’s world seems to glorify mediocrity.

You’ve seen the memes that say, “I respect parents who have it all together. But parents who stumble in to drop their kids off at school, looking like they just got attacked by a flock of angry birds? Those are my people.” This post is not intended to shame anyone who is doing their best in the season they’re in. I’ve been there. I’ll soon be there again after baby #3’s arrival. (Side note….we need to pick a name…) There are seasons, sometimes ones that last for years, where we have to give ourselves lots and lots of grace. Perfection isn’t attainable all of the time. Nor is it wrong to show our realness and our flaws. But by promoting that it’s not only acceptable but desirable to be someone who isn’t considerate of other people’s time by being late consistently – where does this come from? Why do we accept the status quo and try play up the “cuteness” factor of not having it all together?

After truly thinking and praying on this subject, I think at the core, the real issue is that we have a culture who glorifies busyness. If you seem like you have it all together, you must not be doing enough. You must not be a parent who lets their kids be involved or you would be late to everything. You must be a subpar employee or you wouldn’t be able to leave to make your kid’s soccer practice on time. It’s almost as if someone decided that if they can’t be perfect all of the time, they’re going to do a 180 and be imperfect all of the time. We incorrectly associate busyness as progress. It is not.

If you bring Brookshire’s chicken to a potluck at church instead of fixing homemade, that is wonderful. If you deliberately show up 20 minutes late with wet hair and nothing in hand, I do think it may be time to step back and reexamine your priorities. We cannot do it all; why, though, are we allowing this to keep us from doing anything?

I’ve said it over and over, but it bears saying again. Etiquette is about respect of others and respect for ourselves. We should each respect our self enough to choose to be our best self – it will be unique for each person. We know, though, deep down, if we’re doing enough to just get by or if we’re choosing to prioritize ourselves and others. It is a subtle difference, but it’s enough to get recognized by others. Trust me when I say that people are drawn in by and attracted to this trait. It’s 100% okay to not be the best. Why, though, would you not want to be your best you?

 

 

Southern Traditions

I am absolutely mesmerized by various Southern traditions. The South is uniquely made up of various culture, creating a new one in its own right. I love this so much. However, it’s easy to be drawn into other cultures and fail to see what’s so special about your own.

For me, this is best highlighted by my own family’s Christmas Eve meal. Instead of having the same food each year and having that be our tradition, we explore new cultures and even time periods. In 2016 we had an Italian feast, and in 2017 we were transported back to the 1950s. This is our personal tradition.

I’ve always been one to romanticize what others do. After watching Pocahontas, I desparately wanted to be Native American. It’s this way with everything, though. I think it’s what makes etiquette so special to me. Traditions are the foundation of who we are, making traditions a cornerstone of culture. I get such a thrill learning about new people and new cultures.

I had the opportunity when I was in undergrad to study abroad in China. Again, I was struck with wanderlust. I genuniely felt sad at the thought of leaving this world without ever having seen it.

While we may not be able to travel extensively now, I enjoy bringing other parts of the world to my family.

However, it’s also important for me to not forget about the culture I live in. I mean something on a more micro level, though, than Southern. The South has several regionally distinct areas that all have their own sub-culture and traditions.

Today I want to highlight a favorite tradition of mine here locally in Hopkins County, Texas – Hopkins County Stew. It’s amazing. If you’ve never tried it, I enjoy mine best with crackers crushed in it to soak up some of the broth, loaded with cheese and a side of pickles (which may or may not also end up in the stew). It’s simple and comforting. If you’ve never made it before, this cold weather is the perfect time to start! Enjoy! Learn more about our annual stew contest! Fun fact: I worked this event the day before Grant was born!

P.S. If you try it, let me know what you think!

 

Traveling and Culture

Hi, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to post. For 9 days my husband, kids and I were out of cell phone range, which, to be 100% honest, was actually wonderful!

“At Mother Goose’s (Mary Goose) grave in Boston”

We had the opporunity to go to New Hampshire, Boston, Cape Cod (the Mayflower Beach in Dennis was beautiful!), Plymouth, Martha’s Vineyard, Maine (another favorite), and my husband went and ran the original Spartan race in Vermont. Overall, our trip could not have been better! We spent time with family who live in New Hampshire and disconnected from the outside world for a while.

However, this trip and its lack of cell phone signal did not give me any opportunities to update, so I apologize for my absence.

I was very intrigued by some of the regional differences in New England and the South. My aunt told me that the people are very nice in New England (and they are), but they’re not as initially warm. There’s definitely a sense of formality in how they act. That same formality, though, does not extend to dress, and I was mildly surprised that most did not seem to dress up as they do in the South. In fact, at the church we visited, I was the only female (aside from my daughter) in a dress. Y’all know my tendencies to wear dresses, though.

“At a lighthouse in Maine – one of our favorite stops!”

Additionally, people did not seem to initiate conversations, but they were happy to talk once they began. We dropped off my cousin and her two friends at a middle school dance, and the parents lingered briefly, but it definitely wasn’t like some of the local dances here where the outside of the dance seems to be a social gathering for the parents.

At Martha’s Vineyard, I was doubly shocked that people didn’t seem to ever stop for pedetrians who were trying to cross in the cross walk during their turn, but they seemed to have no problem wearing white after Labor Day. A lady I met at the above mentioned dance (from Florida) said she has still not gotten accustomed to the white after Labor Day she saw there.

However, even with the differences from “normal” life, I truly loved and appreciated our time there. Culture is so unique and diverse, and it should be. Out of all the places we visited, Martha’s Vineyard was actually my least favorite. Maine and the North End of Boston were my top two. When I visit, I don’t want to feel like a tourist; I want to be submerged into the culture.

“View from Gay Head Lighthouse in Matha’s Vineyard”

Martha’s Vineyard is undeniably beautiful. However, while we were there, other than the scenery, I couldn’t find anything about it that really made it unique. The shops were very similar to one another. Ice cream has to be the top trade there.

“Sharing ice cream on vacation”

On the other hand, in the North End, I walked into a cafe to order a cappuccino, and I had to find a waitress that spoke English. Fresh pasta was in the windows of a couple of the markets. There were fish markets, produce markets, meat markets, etc. I could have stayed there for days. By the end of the day we stayed there, I felt like I truly experienced the North End – I can only imagine how much more engrossed I would have been given more time.

I am so thankful my family and I had this opportunity and this time together. Getting to experience life in a different area is something I will never taked for granted. Is there a culture you truly enjoy experiencing other than your own? I’d love to hear!