I no longer remember who linked the article, but a friend of mine thought I would be interested, and as it turns out, I still am. The article was about a topic that isn't relevant to me anymore, but the ideas inside of it are still pertinent. Most of us have habits or behaviors that we recognize as being less than ideal. When I was younger, my mother told me to sit up straight. The first time she told me, I remember thinking, 'but I was sitting up straight'. I didn't know that the way I was sitting was suboptimal, the article would label this mentality as unconsciously incorrect. After my mother explained how to sit up up in a spine friendly manner, I entered the stage of consciously incorrect because now I knew what I hadn't been doing right earlier.

When I started taking my mother's words to heart, I entered the the third stage which is consciously correct. I could sit up straight, but only if I paid attention to my posture, and after a while, I'd start slumping back down, and rounding my shoulders. I can't speak for other women, but sometime around breast development, I became conscious of my chest, and started rounding my shoulders further. Today I am still not at the ideal stage of unconsciously correct posture where I automatically sit up straight at all times without even thinking about it. Throughout my day I see people being criticized for not knowing things that others think they should know.

Even at the three year old level, an idea exists that it's okay to ream out others for not doing things the way that children think they should be done. When I watch the children after school, the same playground rules apply, only I don't know all of the rules so sometimes the kids are able to get away with things that they wouldn't during normal recess time. When I observed recess, there was a five foot hill of snow on the playground, so a few things have changed, and I'm not a teacher, so I may not always be picking up on things that I should be, and I may be overly harsh others would be more lenient.

Today I was thinking about yesterday, and where I'm at with regard to certain areas of my life. While I can't brag that parenting and finance classes have magically transformed me into a consciously correct parent and money manager, I'm more aware of the mistakes I was making, and the mindset that I was in previously. Saturday morning my daughter and I were behind a woman who was literally screaming at her children. Several cashiers and other patrons were either staring outright, or standing in embarrassed silence. This woman probably knows that yelling at her children is ineffective parenting, but she might not know how to be more effective after her children have pushed her to her limits.

Perhaps some of you would say that she knows she shouldn't yell, this is probably true, but I'm just guessing that all of us have resorted to raising our voices, or otherwise acting in a manner that we knew was inappropriate. Too often I see people labeled and criticized when I think that what they could really use is some kind words, removal from the situation, and some better approaches or more knowledge. I'll probably always have some degree of trouble with impulse shopping after I've been on a saving streak. I doubt I'll be able to ride my bike or do my yoga DVD's as often as I would like to be doing them. But the more often I complete these tasks, and the better I feel after doing things that are in line with future goal achievement, the stronger those connections in my brain are going to be.

Right now the people I live with are making decisions to be consciously incorrect when it comes to food, money, and fitness. Children form habits early, they learn from watching their parents, and I was really glad when we gave my daughters some money to spend on clothes, and my oldest went straight to the clearance rack. There's a discount grocery store here in town. My oldest snubbed it when I pulled into the parking lot, but we spent $20, and I think we would have spent about twice that at the regular store. It won't be long before my girls are out on their own. My step-daughter left home, and now she's back because of decisions she's made.

She could be making better decisions, but she's choosing to feel sorry for herself, and she's rejecting the idea that her habits and behavior can change because she views the process as painful. I'd like to tell her that it isn't easier to discipline yourself at almost forty than it is at twenty-two, but telling people things robs them of the chance to discover it on their own. I went for a long bike ride yesterday. Today I'm pretty sore, but it's mostly the good kind of sore from using muscles that haven't been challenged in a while. I'm going to get a job. Money is a part of the solution to some of the problems I have, but if I can't manage small sums of money, larger sums are going to create more debt issues for me.

In the past I've had calendars that I haven't used. This year I invested in a booklet style one that can sit on my desk. For some reason that works better for me than the kind that hang on the wall. Initially I felt guilty about spending the money on it since I had a perfectly good wall calendar, but this one actually works for me, and I've been much more organized about who is going where these past few months. The other day I bought a book that was expensive, but if it helps me achieve my goals in the kitchen, then it was a purchase I'm not going to regret. I still have a long ways to go in many areas, but I'm proud of the advancements I've made because this formula is helping me identify weaknesses, and giving me a strategy to help me change my behaviors.

Here's a quick review for anyone interested in the continuum:

  • Unconsciously incorrect
  • Consciously incorrect
  • Consciously correct
  • Unconsciously correct

Be well, and have fun.


Since I got my current job I drive on average over 1,000 miles a week. Yet I rarely get held up by auto accidents. Today was completely different.

I was downtown moving at two miles per hour when my local NPR announcer told me there had been a fatal truck accident on I-70 eastbound just outside the outerbelt. That didn't bug me too much as I was heading west. Yet I was barely past downtown when I spotted a burned out semi that had once headed in the other direction, surrounded by wreckers. A forklift was unloading the trucks cargo into another rig. A flatbed to carry away the carnage stood by. I got through it and figured I was on my way.

I was wrong. That blackened, ruined truck was just the overture.

Traffic sped up then slowed down again as I got to the outerbelt. Time to creep along again at two MPH, wondering what was happening. Four miles later I got to see the remains of the most horrific accident I have ever seen. Two jack-knifed semis in the middle of the highway. A white and a black minivan, each with the passenger compartment amputated. As in nothing there. The black one was in two completely separate pieces. I presume some of that came when the rescue crews came to cut the victims from the wreckage. But gone? Cars today are safer than ever, in part because energy-absorbing crumple zones have been designed in to preserve the passenger compartment. When the nose and rear are intact and the passenger compartments are not you know it's bad. There were no ambulances still there. The helicopters had already departed, assuming one had been called. You don't call a helicopter for a corpse. I almost reached for my cell phone camera, but it seemed so ghoulish. That wasn't an image I wanted to remember. It's one I'd prefer to forget.

It took another half an hour and eight or so miles to get out of the traffic jam. WThe police squeezed us down into one lane to allow the miles of trapped vehicles to turn around and use a different route, because they weren't going east for a long, long time. One or two had wisely set out lawn chairs. I drove on.

I know what happened. Somebody wasn't paying attention. It was 'oh shit', jam on the brakes then watch a minivan got punted. Maybe from the inside That's what happens when a two-ton object meets a forty-ton object at speed. Newton gets proven right violently one more time. Back when I was in high school, they used to show us films made by the NHTSA films showing the bodies after a horrific accident. The idea was to make us feel mortal, and it worked for a few days. Today I feel mortal. I'm an excellent driver, but I'm not perfect. Early news reports had a truck rear-ending a car and then boom. I can control what i do, but I sure as hell can't control the people around me. We trust them to do the right thing, knowing full well sooner or later somebody nearby won't.

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