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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eat Your Vegetables...

Nana in Nursing School
   When I was little my grandmother used to make sure I ate my vegetables every day. It was easy then because my grandmother always grew them herself so they were extra yummy. They were always fresh (or freshly frozen) and I knew that my grandmother wanted to keep me healthy, so I obeyed. I was always pretty good at doing as I was told when my grandparents or my Mom were the ones doing the telling. I had so much respect for them and I knew that they always had my best interest at heart. My grandmother grew up in a 'depression era' atmosphere and survived it well. When food and clothing became hard to come by, she didn't whine about it. She gardened and learned to sew, and did both very well. She was kind but stoic, heart-centered and hard-core; the matriarch of my beloved family. My elders were always kind and benevolent; if I asked "why?" they would take the time to tell me. They weren't just ordering me around to feed their egos, and it was obvious.

   I have always been exceptionally grateful for the stability of my childhood, but it left me with high expectations in terms of how people should treat each other. In spite of some of the tumultuous relationships of all kinds that I've had over much of my adulthood, I still expect (and always will) to be treated respectfully. I don't respect bullies, I respect people who respect me. I heard a quote some time ago that I really like, but can't seem to find the author. It's: "The ability to control other people may make you powerful, but the ability to control yourself makes you more powerful still". Whenever I've found myself in a position of leadership I've tried to remember that. It seems that most of the folks that I've encountered who really seemed hell-bent on controlling the lives of other people had little to NO control over themselves or their own lives. They were essentially bullies with a more subtle affect. And I had zero respect for them.

      I think we all have something special to offer, and if we look at people as that 'something special' that is unique to them, it's not difficult to be respectful. I don't care about your income or ethnicity, what job you do or what you aspire to; we all deserve to be treated with respect.

   I am writing this as a reminder to myself. I have no worries at all that I will be disrespected or disrespectful, but having highlighted that aspect of human interaction, it is in all of our best interest to learn how to work cooperatively. That hasn't always been my forte. I have always been the most comfortable sitting at my keyboard in relative isolation, but even I am not an 'island'. As much as I love reaching out with words, sometimes there is no substitute for actual face-to-face contact. It is time to learn something new: It's time to have a little faith in other people, to give away some of my power. Not in a demeaning way, but because it is now in my best interest to do so. The people in my life now are benevolent and kind. They have my best interest at heart and they know more than I do.

   I find myself now surrounded by people that I respect deeply; it's been a long time. It's time to eat my vegetables.

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