Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!


Ah yes, conviction from the lyrics of popular songs. Shallow as it may seem, I often find myself challenged by the thoughts and ideas expressed in these silly little songs. Currently, I’ve got the words from Wicked’s “Thank Goodness” bouncing around inside my head and making me think about the nature of happiness and contentment. For those of you unfamiliar with the play, a little plot summary is in order. Buckle up!

Basically, the Wicked Witch of the West is not so wicked after all, rather the Wizard and his PR staff decided to make her the fall person for their mistakes. Their belief is that if people have one thing to fear (that really isn’t a threat to them), then they feel more secure overall when the powers that be wholeheartedly pursue that “evil”. This song comes when Glinda (who has been pressured into being the “nice” face for the Wizard) is announcing a day that’s hopefully wicked-free. She is the third most powerful person in Oz, she has powers beyond her skills, and she is announcing her engagement to the man she loves, even though she knows that he is really in love with the Wicked Witch. Glinda should be amazingly happy. Summation over… here come the lyrics:

That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated

But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
(spoken) Well – not “simply”:

(sung) ‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed

And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still –
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo

Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?

Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

Thomas Jefferson did grant Americans the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Is it really happiness when your wildest dreams come to pass? Just because the impossibly wonderful happens, are you guaranteed happiness? To be honest, that has not been my experience or observation. I know people who, like Glinda, have gotten out of the blue everything they could have dreamed of and more…yet they spend hours upon hours crying their hearts out. I know people who have made their dreams come true… and then they change their dreams and start the pursuit all over again because they are miserable. Then there are the people who have had their dreams crushed, pulled away from them, and shoved out of reach. Yet somehow, even though they aren’t getting what they wanted or dreamed, they find happiness and contentment.

It is too tempting to compromise who you are in the active pursuit of happiness. “There’s a kind of a sort of : cost. There’s a couple of things get: lost. There are bridges you cross you didn’t know you crossed until you’ve crossed.” These are powerful sentiments. Is the pursuit of happiness ever worth doing something you may one day regret? Should we power blindly on in hopes that the end result will justify and wipe out all the things we did to get there? No, it is better to be mildly dissatisfied and unhappy than to have regret. I’ve yet to meet a regret-filled person who was also truly happy- the two sentiments just don’t go hand in glove. I love the scene in All About Eve when Bette Davis is discussing the rise of her career. She’s filled with regret for all the morals, talents, relationships she’s lost because she dropped them in favour of getting to the top faster. Brilliantly, she sums up the problem with this method of living, reminding us that everything we compromise and we will want back because we “forget that we need them again someday”.

I’m not saying that good things coming our way shouldn’t make us happy- I guess that I just see this happiness as much more temporal than other forms. Tonight, for instance, I have every reason to be happy. I helped a friend safeguard precious memories of a trip, went out to a play and dinner for some ever rarer Mom and daughter time, got to talk to some friends, was included in a “super-secret” feature test on Twitter (mm-mmmm, can’t talk about it!), and learned that I’m receiving a new unpublished mystery book to review. I am very, very happy! (Not to mention that I got both my contacts out on the first try tonight. Yahoo!) However, this is all situational happiness. All it will take is a snub, a slight, a stare tomorrow to send me back towards my stressful, wearying world of reality. It’s a good world, please don’t get me wrong, and I am happy; but it is not a euphorically happy world- no one’s is.

The key is to find true happiness; to sit back in the middle of your darkest depression and think of all the wonderful things you possess. To think about the God Who loves you, the glory and grandeur of the world to come, the fleetingness of misery in life, and the permanence of happiness in the kingdom of God. With such treasures as these ahead, what does it matter if things aren’t all hunky-dory at the moment? Happiness is a choice, a state of mind that you choose to indwell. Don’t let circumstances weigh you down, but let the love of God lift you up. In Him you will find the kind of happiness that doesn’t fade away.

Wanna hear the song for yourself? Then click here!

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Last weekend I was able to carve out an hour or two to run down to the botanical gardens. A friend of mine was working on his Eagle Project, and I wanted to snap some photos. A few minutes into my freakishly Alice-in-Wonderland shoot (many, many holes in the ground), a couple of the boys called me over to point out this little fellow:

He didn’t move at all while I watched him, just kept sitting:

And sitting:

And sitting:

I finally got bored enough to wander off and take pictures like this (which I think was his plan all along):

and this:

(I warned you about the Alice and Wonderland angle. Did you believe me? Oh no; I think not.)

Anyway, I had a nice, if all too short of time, and did get a few nice pictures. Must…go…back…soon…

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Everyone deals with frustration throughout life. Normally it is somewhat bearable, but for me this past week the frustration of life has gotten out of hand. It feels as though no matter where I turn I’m being stonewalled. Businesses open or close an hour later than I thought they did, people who are supposed to help me with things turn up sick, people whose help I need disappear, countless forms are filled out for no real reason at all, and the hoops I jump through lead… nowhere.

I’d feel petty if it weren’t for the assertion that this happens to everyone- enough to warrant the creation of the phrase “hope deferred makes the heart sick”. (Proverbs 13:12) Everyone has certain expectations of how life is supposed to go on a day-to-day basis, and most of the time what is expected is not unreasonable. When this happens, the temptation is to lose hope. Hopelessness leads to frustration, which leads to despair, which leads to apathy. Apathy is a dangerous place to let yourself live because it gives you no motivation to start hoping for better things again.

Take the way tonight unfolded for example. My club was to hold an event, but by the way things went in trying to arrange it the past two weeks I didn’t have much hope that it would go well. So, when I arrived to a dissembled meeting area and then only one person showed up, I was (and am) frustrated. Now, I can choose to fall into despair and become apathetic towards the future of the club. Or, I can choose to not dwell on it, think about other things for the next few days, and start thinking of fresh approaches next week. For the good of the club (and my heart), I think that the latter is a better choice.

So, in the words of The Incredibles, I must “pull myself together!”

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A Reformation Too Far

Today, for those of you who don’t go to Lutheran churches and thereby may be in ignorance, is Reformation Sunday. Having never been in Lutheran circles before, I didn’t know until last week that such a day was observed in America. I remember when Psalmyary came to our area, and talked about having Reformation day in Belarus- but here in America? We weren’t even founded at that time, so why should we even be concerned with this? Anyway, Psalmyary had a great song about the Reformation, and if I could find it on YouTube, I’d share it with you. Belarus apparently hasn’t hit the interwebs too hard yet. But I digress….

Martin Luther, Lutherans, Reformation, Wittenburg, Theses… oh yes, it all makes sense now. The Lutheran church we are currently attending changed up its routine, and did a “traditional” service, complete with singing only hymns written by the great Martin Luther. It all made perfect sense.

I’m not against hymns, but I don’t get a chance to sing many; consequently, I knew only one hymn of the nine set up to sing this morning going into the service – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. It was placed nearish the end, and I was looking forward to it. At this point it may be helpful to explain that when I say “know”, I mean hand-me-a-violin-I’ll-play-it-from-memory-while-singing-the-words-because-I-watched-Davy-and-Goliath-growing-up. I had this one covered. So the organ starts, and proceeds to play the verse once through before we all started to sing. The first few notes I thought “oh dear, the organist  is fumbling”. The next few lines I thought “oh my, the organist must be a frustrated Jazz musician. This has a little beat to it.” By the time we started singing I looked down at the hymnal and realized “oh my word; they’ve change the words and the music!”

Reformation itself, by definition, is “an improvement (or an intended improvement) in the existing form or condition of institutions or practices.” This hymn was no such improvement. The congregation couldn’t keep up, the words lost all meaning, and the majesty of the music was turned into a breakneck display of syncopation. It left me and my family speechless. I understand improvement, I understand change. This was no improvement, and an unwelcome change. Excuse me now, I have to go listen to the real hymn….

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Starbucks Domination

I work for Starbucks. I love my job. I love the customers. I love the crazy, insane stories I come home with on a regular basis. I also *heart* my blog readers, so I’ll share these goofy stories here sometimes. Such as what happened today (and I wasn’t even working!).

There are those who complain about the way Starbucks has taken over the coffee industry. Others, myself included, prefer to whine about the people who take over individual Starbucks:

Mum and her friend meet at my Starbucks weekly to have a chat. Today, I dropped Mum off and decided to hang out, chat with my coworkers, and do some light reading. We came in, put our stuff down, and reserved the proper amount of seating (2 chairs and a table for Mum and her friend, and 2 comfy chairs for me and my best friend). Then, as Starbucks customers are wont to do, we got in line to grab our drinks.

Then the locusts descended so to speak. Nine students of various ages poured into the moderately sized cafe, and promptly pulled all the empty tables and appropriated all empty chairs- including the ones we had reserved. In addition to this, they came equipped with their own sodas and snacks, and effectively blocked the only available outlet for laptop use. As soon as an existing customer would leave the building, their chairs were confiscated by more students who arrived in a steady stream. At any given point during the event there were 12-15 students in the group.

Please don’t mistake me- I think that Starbucks is a wonderful place to hold a study group. I mean, if you were really studying. Amongst the bazillion or so people grouped around the tables, there were no notes, no textbooks, and only two laptops (neither of which were plugged in). Rather, everyone just hung out, ate their own food, and grabbed only a few Starbucks drinks in the hours that they dominated the restaurant.

It was all just a little rude, and they treated my coworkers/friends rudely as well as annoying the other paying customers who were enjoying the previous quiet of the cafe to study and connect. Moral of the story- think before you take over a place of business. Please?

So stay tuned…more Starbucks stories to come!

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Open Eyes

Today I had my once-a-year-give-or-take-two-or-three-years eye exam. I know, I know, I shouldn’t wait so long. Actually, I think eye exams are fun in a geeky “choose ‘A’ or ‘B'” kind of way. I really should go in more often; it’s great for comedic relief.

Anyway, I knew that it was time to go check out my eyes when my government professor put a pop quiz on the PowerPoint…and I couldn’t read the questions. Uh-oh. The entire class is already failing, they don’t need me guessing at the questions and bringing down the class average. That is, if the class average could be brought down any more. That’s a story for another time though.

Off to the eye doctor I went. My eyes are slowly getting worse at seeing things far away; but it is very, very slowly- thank heavens for that! The upshot is that I have new glasses on the way, and am in a two week trial period for contacts. Today I wore them for two hours- four hours tomorrow! Saturday I can drive with them! Random fact about me: I don’t blink very often. This must be remedied. :) All of this is just in time for my mid-term! Hooray?

Now is the time for my random spiritual reflection. How often do we neglect our Bible study and developing our relationship with God because spiritually we think we can “see” just fine? Why does it often take failing or nearly failing at something important before we go running to Him to get our vision adjusted? There is quite a bit of drama and pain in our lives that we can avoid just by checking in regularly with God. When our vision is messed up, God’s word always has fresh lenses for our use, free for the taking (which by the way, is very different from the hundreds of dollars we spend on our earthly vision).

Some music for your reading pleasure….click here!

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A Very Good Place To Start

The best place to start sharing your thoughts is at the beginning, so here goes. Feel free to ignore this post if you wish, but do realize this will start to explain some things I say later on:

Firstly, I am not legally Miss Emma Woodhouse, but I might as well be! I really am a “Miss Emma”, and a Jane Austen addict before it was even “cool” to be a fan of her books. I blame it on a mother who is interested in British Literature. Thanks Mom! Having used Emma Woodhouse for so many groups and websites, there are a great many people who don’t know what my real name even is. I am fine with that.

What else should you know? I am a Christian of 16 years and counting, a daughter and sister, a full-time university student, an avid reader, reluctant writer, “weekend” photographer, part-time music teacher, occasional substitute teacher, a barista for Starbucks, a movie lover, and a technology geek.

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