Blog Archives

Controlling Conditioned Responses

Okay, This probably will be an equal opportunity offender, but sometimes you just have to tell it like it is!

When my co-feminists have said things like, “Men’s brains are in their genitals,” I took offense for men. This was certainly a sexist statement. But recently, I have begun to rethink this issue.

As a little old lady, I’ve made an interesting discovery relating to the differences between conditioned responses and mind over body controls. Little old ladies have little old bladders with diminished early warning systems. So it’s sort of touch and go, or rather see and go, to make it not only into the bathroom, but specifically to the commode. I have discovered that we can maintain control by giving our bladder verbal commands and encouragement. Seeing the commode evokes a primal level conditioned physical response. But language is a higher human ability and engages our minds to respond to the challenge. While it is a matter of mind over body, it seems to require at least mental verbal expression.

Perhaps counting or doing math problems would work. I haven’t tried those. I know that our male counterparts can at least slow down other conditioned physical responses in similar ways. So, I’m assuming, that at least when reasonably sober, they should be able to engage their minds by counting possible negative consequences when their bodies react with a conditioned response to physical temptation.

I think I’ll begin testing this theory at the sight of jelly doughnuts.

Application Strategy: Flash the Chaplain?(Reblog)

I used to think I had some sort of jinx about clothes, but I finally figured out that God just created me for comic relief.

I’ve already told about slipping on my strappy little high heels and bumping down the stairs on my tush when attempting to make a grand entrance wearing a new sexy and sophisticated black cocktail dress for a college date.

Another time I was wearing my more generously endowed debutante cousin’s hand me down evening gown. It was strapless with a lovely flowing soft chiffon skirt with a slight train. I felt like a princess. As I stepped forward to meet my date’s parents in the receiving line, he accidentally stood on the train. I almost made my own debut when I went forward and the dress did not.

In high school I was dating a very nice boy pretty steadily, but out of the blue, he asked another girl to a party at my best friend’s house. I was crushed. Particularly, since the other girl looked so much like me, we could have been sisters. Another boy invited me to the party, but he was a bit of a dork. So, mother took pity on me and let me spend more than we could afford on a wonderful dress for the party. I arrived at the party confident that my new dress would make me look prettier than the other girl.
I don’t know which of us was more stunned when we saw each other…….both of us were wearing the exact same dress. It struck me as funny. I think I made some comment like, “Which twin has the Toni?” But she not only didn’t laugh, she struggled all evening to always be in a different room. Humor won however. My boyfriend asked me to officially go steady the next week.

The clothes jinx tradition continued into my early forties. My husband had started a new business in what turned out to be a recession while we had three children in college, so money was tight. I was applying for a much needed civil service job as an Associate Director of Religious Education for the Chaplains’ Division on a nearby Army Post. I had recently been given several very smart hand me down dresses by my sister-in-law. I chose a tailored A-Line dark blue dress with a high neck and a zipper down the front. I combined it with a camel jacket and matching camel and dark blue colored neck scarf. I felt very chic.

I had to go through several interviews, first with the civilian Post Director of Religious Education, then the head Chaplain for the post, and finally the head Chaplain of my denomination. I made it through the first two feeling pretty comfortable. But, I could tell that the last Chaplain, an old time Catholic priest, had some reservations about working with a lay woman with the credentials required for the civil service job instead of a docile volunteer or nun. I would be working directly for him, but in a secure Civil Service position. I did my best Southern Lady imitation trying to come over as non-threatening. It seemed to go well and I was told to go get some lunch and come back in an hour after all three of my potential bosses had conferred.

As I went out the office door into the January cold, I felt a freezing blast on my chest that took my breath away. I looked down and realized that the zipper that ran from my neck to my waist had broken and pulled apart totally exposing my bra and upper torso. I hastily pulled my jacket closed and ran for my car. In the nearest McDonald’s, I scrounged in my purse and found one safety pin. My jacket had only two low buttons, so I used my safety pin at bra level and arranged my scarf to cover the rest of the gap. By the time I managed to get decent, it was time to return and learn my fate. Nervous and self-conscious, sneaking peeks at my chest, I struggled to sound delighted that I had been accepted for the job and restrain the overwhelming urge to bolt out the door.

I never knew when the zipper had come apart or whether anyone else had noticed, but later when I got to know the very Italian Chaplain, I always wondered if flashing him got me the job.

Well, according to Paul, “Everything works for good for those that love the Lord.”

Total Humiliation or Radical Risk Taking Faith?

Recently in a two week period, I was scheduled to lead Worship Service on the first Sunday, give a presentation to a group of retired teachers during the following week, read the Scriptures for the next Sunday service and then give a different presentation to another group of teachers. All of these in some way included some sort of testimony to the presence of God in our small ordinary lives.
I enjoy both the preparation and presentation for all of these kinds of things, so I was happily gathering material and pulling it together on the computer prior to printing it.
The last presentation involved collecting and printing photographs for visuals to accompany the text. Mid-way in preparing these, my computer became very erratic, sometimes slowing down to a crawl, sometimes losing the material, and then the printer began to stop after a few lines and go to the next page, then eventually to shadow print the text in different colors.
By the day before the last presentation, I was a basket case and my husband had to take time off work to rescue me using his computer.
I had for a couple of months been having sporadic gushing nosebleeds lasting up to two hours. In desperation, two days before the last presentation, my ENT had done an extreme cauterization in my nose, which stopped the bleeding but left my nose dripping so much that I had to tie a bandanna around my head to keep my nose from dripping on the materials I was collating.
As I was picturing trying to give a talk wearing a bandanna wrapped around my head and under my nose, my sinus problem and probably stress set off inner ear dizziness and nausea. This became so severe that periodically I was having to lie down to keep from falling or vomiting.
The stress from this then triggered my Irritable Bowel Syndrome, sending me to the bathroom multiple times at warp speed. At seventy-seven, I also tend to have bladder problems when I cough or sneeze or laugh, so as the day wore on I began to consider all the possibilities for total humiliation and to wonder if God was possibly telling me to not give this presentation.
So, I sat down with my Book of Daily Devotions to check out what the one for the next day might say. This sentence immediately stood out, “God honors those with radical risk taking faith.”
My first thoughts were of my grandson teaching in Afghanistan and my son teaching orphans who are HIV positive in Cambodia. My presentation was about the orphans and the volunteers from all over the world that come to help them.  Then it dawned on me. Surely, risking spurting blood, dripping mucus, falling down or vomiting, or possibly even peeing or pooping in public while giving a talk about helping the helpless qualifies, at least, as risk taking faith.
So, I trusted God enough to go ahead with the presentation, but hedged my bets by not eating or drinking anything before hand and clutching one of my husband’s large white handkerchiefs the whole time I was speaking.

I do believe.  Help thou my unbelief.

Family Traditions or How Many Generations of Teenagers Can One Woman Humiliate?

Sweet memories.
My great-grandson, Aaron, played the xylophone in the junior high band last night. What fun! I could actually hear him, since there was only one xylophone.

He is following in the foot-steps of his great-uncles and great-aunt; Mike (trumpet), Steve (trumpet–until his friend, Donna, drove over it–then a flugel horn provided free by the school), and Julie (flute).

Fortunately for Aaron, if he ever plays in the marching band, I no longer have the stamina to run down Main Street alongside the band with tears of delight streaming down my face. I wonder if Mike has managed to blot that total humiliation out of his memory? Probably not.

The last time Steve came home for a visit, he was still shuddering over his memory of sitting on the junior high school bus with all his friends watching me collect pinecones from under the schoolyard Pine tree.

In spite of starting out frozen with embarrassment, Julie eventually forgave me for attending Parents’ Night on Halloween in a witch’s costume, because her classmates thought it was cool.

But, you are safe Aaron. I have gotten at least a little kinder with age, plus I no longer have the energy required to totally humiliate a third generation of teen-agers.

I now even have a plan for when I get really squirrelly in my old age. I already talk out loud to myself at home and laugh out loud at funny thoughts while driving. So when I noticed an older woman at a crosswalk talking out loud to herself as she walked along, I thought, “Oh dear Lord, there I go in a few years.”
But then I remembered a couple of friends who are at about my level of squirrelliness and it occurred to me that if I just keep hanging out with them, when we walk around together talking to ourselves, it will look like we are talking to each other. The key to old age is to travel in packs.

Plan in place. Problem solved.