Spring Cleaning! Cultivating A Good Work Ethic!

Spring Cleaning–It’s A State of Mind

Cooking and Cleaning ImageI had a good laugh when I saw this phrase on the front of a greeting card when I was browsing Easter cards a few weeks ago!  The woman pictured definitely looks like a woman from my mother’s era, however, as a child I was convinced that all women at that time were born with the perpetual cleaning gene!  They also seemed to be diligent about carrying on their spring cleaning attributes into every other season of the year, as well.  As an observant and work induced child, I also realized that my mom not only seemed to really enjoy cooking and cleaning, she always looked really fabulous doing it!  In the fanciful memory of my childhood, I can’t recall my mom ever resembling my sweaty, grimy look after a day spent cleaning or working in my yard!

I have to admit that it did my heart good when I read in my mother’s journal recently that she often felt the burden of fulfilling the demands of the many roles placed on her as a wife and mother.  My mom’s response to these concerns however, was made with her usual upbeat candor!  “I’ve just had to rely on my long-established motto of putting my best effort into whatever jobs were at hand.”  My mother never seemed to shirk her duties as she helped our family learn to set a good standard in all areas of life, which most definitely included cooking and cleaning!  She established a routine that I remeber well…it’s best outlined in her own words.

“I developed a routine with the children that included teaching them various tasks, working with them on the tasks until they could work independently, then inspecting their finished work.  That way I could monitor how they learned the things I taught them.  Of course, their work had to be redone on more than one occasion.  The kids teased me about my “Eagle Eye” inspections.”

from the history of Merle Jorgensen

Eagle Eye work inspections It was a fun challenge for me to work hard at my jobs so I could pass the great “Eagle Eye” inspections of my mom!  The sense of accomplishment you feel when your “best effort” pleases your mother is really wonderful!  But it’s an even better feeling when you do your best just because that’s what you want to do!

Cultivating A Good Work Ethic Can Actually Be Fun

vintage cleaning bucket and mop

All joking aside, I appreciated the sense of camaraderie and fun that both my parents brought to the everyday workload of raising a family and keeping a household running smoothly.  My dad and mom tried to be very conscientious about dividing up the chores into do-able doses.  If certain jobs were completed without too much fuss, then we were rewarded; we could decide on a special treat or receive a monetary payment as a way to earn money to buy something special that we wanted.  Watching the energy that both my parents exhibited when working beside me, made it easier to put forth a better effort so I could keep pace with them.

One of my fondest and most vivid memories is how my dad was usually the first to jump up from the table when a meal was finished, and after gathering an arm full of dishes, he’d fill up the sink with sudsy water and throw out some dish towels to the rest of us. The lively discussions and wet towel flipping contests that ensued were family entertainment at it’s best!?  Later, when I was older and my parents had a dishwasher, my father still kept up this dish washing tradition, despite fervent and earnest pleadings to just load the dishwasher!

antique dish rack

(An interesting irony to the story above is that my husband grew up in a family of nine children and did his fair share of dish duty.  Much to our children’s dismay, he also enjoys the tradition of doing dishes together by hand.)

Cultivate A Good Work Ethic By Seeing Work From A Different Perspective!

farm life

I know whenever I get feeling a little downtrodden, especially this time of year, with a long spring cleaning list that I want to get done, I’m reminded of the many stories that my dad shared with me over the years about his parent’s life.  My father told me that in spite of the fairly grueling lifestyle, there was a congenial sense of community and a tremendous work ethic that was shared by all the farming families where his parents owned their farm land.  My Grandpa Jorgensen really enjoyed farming and once told my dad that the farm was his “health spa” because the work always kept him healthy and strong!  My dad joked that his father dug post holes and built a fence around his farm while the horses rested.  More importantly though, he detailed the duties of his mother:

“After my parents were married and I was a small child, my mother spent time at the farm.  During the summer she gardened and cooked and often baked bread for a number of the men who were single or who didn’t have their wives with them at their farms.”  

Vintage garden tools

Hearing these stories definitely puts a different spin on learning to appreciate the ability to cultivate a good work ethic, especially since we enjoy so many modern conveniences and often buy our bread at the store.  Yeah, our kids will roll their eyes at the stories about the hard times of previous generations, we did when our parents told them, and someday they’ll share their stories with their children; I would imagine they’ll get a similar response!

What I’m learning now is…

I’m so grateful that my parents taught me the importance of a good work ethic, as well as the importance of being willing to help others.  What I’m learning now is that like so many things in life, learning how to work depends largely on a “can do” attitude.  I watch my children now as they work hard to establish their families, homes and careers, and I’m so impressed with all they are accomplishing.  It’s also a thrill to watch my cute granddaughters get excited to pitch in and help.  I tell my daughter it’s because they want to share in all the “fun”!

april and mayWhat good work ethics have served you best in your life?  I’d love to hear how you teach your children good work habits.



Life Lessons And Easter Blessings!

Life Lessons Learned

This is a wonderful list I came across a few years ago.  Regina Brett, who wrote a column for the local newspaper, The Plain Dealer, in Cleveland, Ohio, made this list to celebrate life lessons learned while getting older!  I suppose at any age there are life lessons learned that shape the character and soul of each person.   I know when my father got older, he was a bit reflective on occasion and would tell us that he was somewhat sobered by the ability to look ahead with certainty to only about five, ten or at the very most, perhaps just fifteen years, instead as in the past to twenty, thirty or fifty years.  After his leukemia diagnosis, he seemed especially grateful for a life well lived and the lessons life had taught him!

Life Lesson and easter blessings! www.mytributejournal.com

I hope this list helps inspire all of us to think of the lessons in life we have learned so far… and be glad that we’re still learning more!

Wishes for Best Easter Blessings

Easter Basket

Spring is my favorite time of year!  I love opening windows, getting outside again and sprucing things up in the yard after the long winter months.  As everything takes on a new freshness, it just seems inevitable that we should take note of all our blessings!

“Open my eyes to see wonderful things.”  –Psalm 119:18  Celebrating Easter

What I’m learning now is…

During the last months of my father’s life, while experiencing the weakness of illness and disease, he made the comment that his body had been a good friend to him!  “My parents blessed me with a healthy body,” he said, “it has most certainly helped me accomplish many important things throughout my life.”  What I’m learning now is that time and age seem to play a significant role in helping people truly be in awe of the many blessings life offers!  This being the case, I hope we can all nurture our inner wise, old souls!  

What are some of the life lessons you’ve learned?  Share them and add to the list above! 



Be Interesting…And Interested!

Be Interesting Yourself…And Interested in Others!

As I’ve mentioned before, my dad and mom worked hard to give me a wonderful upbringing!  In the chapter of his history entitled, “The Time for Marriage and Family”  my father expresses that he and my mom had a heartfelt determination to be…“equally committed that in all areas our children should have the opportunity for full personal development.”   It’s true, I grew up benefitting from a wide range of experiences and feel that my parents most definitely helped me become a more interesting and well rounded person as a result.  My parents also tried to instill in me good habits of being able to recognize and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of other people too.

I think most of us remember that defining turning point in our lives, where wise parents made us a little more aware of the fact that the world didn’t necessarily center around our every need?  (Imagine that!)

Peanuts comic stip-Lucy pyschiatric help!For me, it was one weekend evening when I was eleven or twelve years old. As I lounged in the middle of my parent’s big bed with pillows piled under my head and fuzzy purple slippers adorning my feet, I chattered away while watching my parents as they made final touches to their attire before leaving for a night of social commitments.  Much like Lucy, a character in the  “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles Shultz, I offered up my five cents worth of wisdom and lamented about the fact that their evening was sure to be less than eventful.  In the loftiness of my pre-adolescence, I’m quite certain that I wondered aloud how my dad and mom could possibly go and be charming with people who I was sure had to be very boring!    As my mom spritzed on her perfume and my dad smoothed the tie he had just knotted, my parents exchanged knowing glances.  When they turned to exit the bedroom, my father spoke in somewhat of an exasperated voice, one that seemed to mimic my own previously stated glibness to a degree. “Mary,” he said, “I hope you’ll soon learn that life becomes a better experience when you’re not too self-centered!”  

It’s always an ongoing process to live outside ourselves a bit, but my parents provided sublte examples of how it can be done in very gracious ways!

scan 43 editMy dad and mom were always quick to greet friends and associates they met with a smile and a handshake, and ask for quick updates on their lives.  My parents would often offer recognition for recent achievements and express sincere concern for any pressing worries the person might be facing at the time.  They always seemed to take to heart the advice wisely given in one of my favorite booklets, “Live and Learn and Pass It On”  by H. Jackson Brown. “I’ve learned that you can’t really expect your children to listen to your advice and ignore your example!”  

My friends always seemed to enjoy being at our home and often got a real kick out of my dad when he shared with them some of his favorite record albums as he played them on our oversized stereo console.  Eddy Arnold’s song “Green Green Grass of Home”  and  “Moon River” by Andy Williams, were among his favorite.  I think my friends were also quite impressed that my father took the time to listen to the teenage accolades of their many music interests too!  The back and forth banter that my father shared on many topics with my friends was sometimes a bit embarrassing for me, but I know it was his way of showing an interest in our lives!

Being Interested In Others Often Means Hanging Out The Welcome Sign 

You're welcome at our home!

My dad and mom often hosted extended family gatherings, as well as eclectic mixes of neighbors and friends where someone’s recent trip adventures were highlighted or community activities and service projects were organized.  In these seemingly simple ways, without much bravado, my parents showed that they were genuinely interested in others.  Showing interest and doing these types of activities together seemed to make it easier for everyone to offer support during more trying situations.

My husband has said that one of the things he loved most when he first met my dad and mom was that they greeted him warmly and made him feel especially welcome.  He noted that my parents were always quick to put aside whatever it was they were doing at the time, so they could sit down and visit with him and give him their undivided attention.  I know my husband and children, along with many others who shared the privilege of visiting with my parents, can vouch for the fact that this was their customary fashion for welcoming others into their home.  To this day, I have had some of my parent’s friends, and many of my own, tell me about the special memories they have of the kind interest they were shown by my dad and mom!

What I’m learning now is…

In his popular book “How To Win Friends And Influence People” acclaimed author, Dale Carnegie, outlined a good formula for making our lives more worthwhile: smiley-face

Principle 1:  Become genuinely interested in other people.

Principle 2:  SMILE!      

Principle 3:  Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Principle 4:  Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Principle 5:  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Principle 6 Make the other person feel important–and DO it sincerely.

In a nutshell, what I’m learning now is that my parents loved their family, and like most parents, they worked hard to provide opportunities to help each of us reach our individual potential.  In doing so, they also knew that we needed to extend our view of the world, so to speak, beyond the narrow scope of our own lives!  If ever there was a lesson that my parents tried to teach me, this is the one I wish I had been better at doing while they were still alive! 

Dr. Seuss quote

Please share ways that your parents have helped you know and love others better.