Sunday, January 5, 2014

On Doing Stuff Badly: Weekends with Chesterton

Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things is hosting a great link-up discussing quotes and thoughts from G.K. Chesterton.   Reading more Chesteron is one of my goals that I've never actualized, so this link-up is the perfect opportunity.  I'm always looking for new fodder for my blog and reading and writing more about Chesterston seems like a great way to do so.

Today's quote is one of his more common ones, and one I've actually quoted before.

Chesterton wrote this in his book, What's Wrong with the World, which was published in 1910. 

If you read this link, you will see that Chesteron was mainly referring to hobbies and the rearing of the children.  Not that the rearing of children should be done "badly" but that it should be done by amateurs, that is by unpaid people who do it out of love (ie. parents). 

We live in a world where more and more things are being left to specialists. Everyone is expected to be very good at one thing (their career) and leave everything else to the experts.  We hire teachers to teach and bakers to decorate cakes and house cleaners to clean and photographers to take pictures and farmers to grow food and factories to process it.  There is no such thing as the "jack of all trades".   The art of "knowing how to do stuff" is lost.  People think that they shouldn't sew, or bake or build something if they can't do it perfectly. 

But there is value is doing something yourself...even if it's done badly.  I am terrible at sewing and at cake decorating (see above picture) and explaining fractions and teaching reading.  Yet, I still do all those things (okay, so I rarely sew) because they are all things worth doing and I don't think they are necessarily things better done by professionals.  I'm sure that cake up there would have been an actual train cake instead of a train wreck of a cake had a professional decorated it...but even in it's amateurish state it still tasted great and the birthday boy loved it. 

We live in a Pinterest world....where we are led to believe that real moms throw perfectly decorated birthday parties with perfectly themed refreshments and party favors and crafts and activities and everything fits a perfect theme. The centerpiece looks like a kitten and there is a perfectly adorable kitten cake and there are kitten crafts and kitten party favors and the napkins are folded like a kitten and by the end of the party, everyone is all kittened out.  You know have just as much fun at birthday parties with a homemade cake decorated with sprinkles, a bowl of chips, a bunch of juice boxes and a big yard to run around in. 

How many people don't throw parties or invite friends over because they are afraid they can't do it perfectly, because their house is too small or their furniture doesn't match or they think they can't cook.  But, you know what, I'm sure a lot of people would rather share a bad meal with friends than dine alone.   I'm sure a lot of kids would be thrilled to attend a party, even if it's not Pinterest perfect.

Things like being hospitable and raising kids and cooking dinner and making cakes are all things that have value...and they are all worth doing, even if at times, we have to do them badly.   So this year, I'm going to make more of an effort to do those things that are worth doing (like inviting friends over and throwing parties and baking cakes) even if I have to do it badly. 

And, since it's Sunday, I'll show you another thing worth doing badly.  Dressing up for Mass. 

Here's what I wore today.  It's probably not the best outfit and it's far from perfect, but here it is.

Sweater: ThredUp
Tank: given to me
Skirt: given to me
Boots: Wal-Mart
Glasses: Zenni

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  1. I think its a great outfit, I kind of love your skirt. And I agree, most things I am not awesome at, actually few things can I do well, but they are still good to do. Happy Epiphany!

  2. Great Chesterton quote and post, Amelia! And I don't think I could decorate (or even make) a cake that wasn't a rectangle, so major props to you for the cake you made. :)

  3. Great post, Amelia. Sometimes I think everything has gotten so over-the-top these days--every event is so handled in a way that is so...Pinteresty, for lack of a better term. And then you start to doubt whether what you're doing is enough. Our boys had parties that included pizza, homemade cake, ice cream, pin-the-tail-on-the- donkey, and running around the back yard--and I always thought their birthdays were plenty fun. When I see what goes into birthday party prep now, I think I'd be a total stress case if I was trying to keep up with everyone else.

    I love your Chesterton quote, and I find it very inspiring! And of course your son loved that awesome choo choo train cake--I know my boys always appreciated having one made by me, and would have been bummed if I'd resorted to having it made by a stranger.

    You have inspired me to have people over for dinner or even just a drink--something we haven't done enough of lately. And also to stop comparing myself to others and thinking I'm not measuring up!

  4. I love this! I really like how you say, "I'm sure a lot of people would rather share a bad meal with friends than dine alone." Yes!

    I love Pinterest as much as the next girl, but I do think it has ramped up the "keep up with the Jones" mentality to a new level.

    For love of God we can do anything poorly and still He will be pleased by it! :)

    Thank you so much for linking up! I'm much more likely to stick to my goal of really diving into Chesterton with friends going the road with me. :)

  5. This is a great post -and I gave you that skirt! It looks great from the other side of the continent! :-) Theresa B

    1. I know! I think of you every time I wear it! I love that skirt! Thanks again!!!

  6. I threw a party just last night and it was not perfect but it was FUN. : )

    Popping over from Sarah's to say "Hi" and Amen! to these sentiments. Have a blessed & beautiful week!

  7. I love this post. I am guilty of this. Maybe my house isn't nice enough, or my cooking isn't good enough or worse of all, maybe no one will want to come!
    My daughter is turning 1 next week and I invited a bunch of neighbours and aqquaintances to her party and I am so nervous. Definitely out of my comfort zone. But for her I will do it. Ha, and you know what some people I didn't expect to come are coming! Perfect post for me to read today. Thank you

  8. And this takes courage!

  9. I love this. We're in such a Pinterest-perfect world of social media, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and under-qualified.


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