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.



Luck Takes A Lot Of Hard Work!


Being Lucky Takes A Lot Of Hard Work

Luck takes hard workA few years ago, my daughters and I took a “girls” trip to Chicago.  By chance, we were lucky enough to be there during the city’s weekend celebration of St. Patrick’s Day!  The Chicago River was dyed green and the surrounding city streets were lined with a number of vendors selling their food and unique holiday wares.  A fun variety of festive activities went on throughout the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  After that experience, I realized that as much as I like to celebrate holidays, wearing green and serving green tinted pancakes for breakfast hadn’t really done the holiday justice!  It also got me thinking…just how much does luck really factor into our lives?Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day

When it comes to luck, I know my parents were more of the mindset that you worked hard to define your own destiny, as aptly stated in this quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“I’m a great believer in luck, and the harder I work, the more I have!”

More often than not, I tend to uphold the way of thinking mentioned below.  Perhaps counter intuitive when it comes to experiencing “good” luck!


All in all, I suppose the challenge for each of us in trying find luck in life, is to learn better from those loved ones who have preceded us, and tried their darndest to teach us from their mistakes!  My husband was always telling our children that they didn’t need to always reinvent the wheel, so to speak, each time they were faced with a challenge.  Instead, they might actually be able to benefit by learning from a few of our struggles, and in turn save themselves some added grief!  With that said however, there just seems to be some hard life experiences that no matter what, each generation is destined to repeat!

During the initial setbacks of World War II, Winston Churchill, the prime minister of England at the time, and a strong ally of the United States, made this statement during the peak of events with Germany during the war:

 “Each misfortune you encounter today, will carry in it the seeds of tomorrow’s good luck.” 

What I’m learning now is…

In reviewing the experiences of my parent’s lives, I know that they did their best to acknowledge the wisdom shared by their parents and other ancestors, as well as learn from their own mistakes, so as to make our family’s life better as a result.  What I’m learning now is that if we are lucky enough to have parents who’ve helped us set a solid foundation for seeking after a way of life we love, then the real challenge I think, is for us to try and have enough courage and committment to live it to the fullest!

What are some of the “lucky” achievements you’ve worked hard for in your life?



Words Of Wisdom…Oh The Fun Of Learning From Our Children!

Words Of Wisdom…Oh The Fun Of Learning From Our Children!

Norman Rockwell Family Image

“Children have a way of making your life feel important!”  Erma Bombeck

My mom was a fan of the “words of wisdom” and satirical views on motherhood by the humorist and author, Erma Bombeck.   The quote above was written on a slip of paper that was kept on a book shelf by my mom’s desk in our family study.  Erma Bombeck was also the author of the quote:

It goes without saying, never have more children than you have car windows!”

I like the Chinese Proverb:

“To understand our parent’s love, we must raise children ourselves!” 

So true, don’t you think?  Talk about building character!

One of my greatest hopes is that when it’s all said and done, in some small way, I’ve left the type of impression on my children that my father’s parents seemed to have left on him…

“I appreciate the fact that my childhood included so many things which seem to belong to that period of life.  I feel that my family, friends and all who touched my life, knowingly or unknowingly, did so in such a way as to give it direction…I acquired a value system which in spite of weaknesses, has saved me from serious mistakes and helped me reach up, in a measure at least, to what my better self was capable of becoming.”  

–from the history of LeRoy Jorgensen

Words of Wisdom From Our Children Help Define Our Lives, As Well As Theirs!

children are the promise of the future

If you’ve read my about me introduction, you know that I have been a nurse on a women’s unit for many years.  This profession has allowed me the privilege of witnessing the birth of many babies.  After all these years, I am still in awe of all the amazing things that the birth process entails.  I’ll never forget the framed quote on the wall of the first Newborn Intensive Care Unit where I worked as a new nursing graduate.

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”  Carl Sandberg  

"Baby's hand" picture

Erma Bobbeck had a comical, if not wise take on motherhood…

“Giving birth is a set of contractions granting passage of a child, it is then that a mother is born!”

During my childhood and youth, I loved that my parents seemed to give as much credibility, if not more, to the dreams I had for myself, as they did the ones they envisioned for me.  Their motto for raising children seemed to follow the advice stated rather matter-of-factly in one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein, in his collection of poems and drawings entitled, “Where the Sidewalk Ends”. 


Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child

Listen to the DONT’S

Listen to the SHOULDN’TS


Listen to the NEVER HAVES

Then listen close to me–

Anything can happen, child,

              ANYTHING can be!               

Some words of wisdom that my mom’s dad, my Grandpa Mecham, used to be fond of sharing was that, “Insanity is inherited, we get it from our children!”  I think any parent out there can certainly attest to the truth of this statement at some point during their tenure as parents.  My dad would also wax strong with a bit of wise counsel himself on occasion; they were words of wisdom that I did not fully appreciate until I had children of my own…go figure!?  Perhaps in trying to ease some seemingly tentative moments as a concerned parent, my father would lovingly lock me in a gentle neck hug, and tell me with an ample amount of jest that he and my mom loved me, and then he was always quick to add, “especially when you’re asleep!”

 What I’m learning now is…

It’s so cliché, but wise to recognize, that childhood can be a magical time and truly does go by in ‘a blink of an eye’ !  What I’m learning now is that much of our immortality does indeed seem to be found in the lives of our children.

Immortality found in the lives of your children

Jake, Mandi and Malia Wilding (1987)  Where have the years gone?

What are some profound “words of wisdom” your children have shared with you over the years!  Let’s enjoy some good laughs and insights together!


“Becoming a grandparent is one of life’s rewards for surviving raising your own children!”  Erma Bombeck