Friday, August 29, 2008

What we learn...

As children - how does it effect the rest of your life?
What do you really take with you?

Seems I'm consistently reminded of things I learned growing up - things stick...

We always had pets growing up. Having pets I think is an essential piece to growing up loving and kind. I know that sometimes kids can't have pets - they're allergic, their families can't afford them (my dad always said 'thank god the animals never got sick' because there's no way we could have afforded to pay for their care should that have happened), they live in places they can't have them (apartments, doubles etc.) but every kid needs exposure to them - and not just at the zoo! Having animals in my life (then and know) reminds me that kindness and caring is a vital part to being human.

I remember a time growing up (and we certainly were not well-off. My parents struggled and struggled and struggled to make ends meet and they rarely did. We went without quite a bit but never without the basics and never without family...) when I was at Drug Mart in Lakewood with my dad. We needed toilet paper, soap - maybe something else. My dad also wanted cigars - you know; those real cheap, crappy cigars: Garcia y Vega cigars (so bad). We were in line in the front of the store. There was a woman there with her child and she couldn't pay for her prescriptions; she was crying. I don't think my dad blinked an eye - he paid for them. With what money, I do not know. She wanted to pay him back - get our address - something. He wouldn't have it. I don't remember the conversation but I do remember us leaving without his cigars (these were really his only vice...). I've since then always been inclined to give. Sometimes I give money, sometimes I give stuff, sometimes I give time and energy but: I always try and give.

I remember not always having enough money and my dad cooking with that struggle. He came up with some of the best stuff - just throwing things together in a pot - because that's what we had and it had to work. I'm still inclined to do that - throw stuff into a pot or a pan and cross my fingers. Some of the best dishes, marinades, soups etc. have come from this very process! Things to note: brown rice makes almost any dish filling, add some; not too much - you can always add - you can't take out! Work with what you have (you know you're only buying things you like anyway - try something!) and do what you know.

Lakewood started recycling way back when and I can remember my parents jumping right on that train. Their idea is the same you'll hear me say over and over: you're bagging things and taking them to the curb anyway - why not recycle? I remember using old paint and concrete buckets to collect recycling. I am still a huge advocate for recycling. I recycle for my office, at my apartment building (all the junk mail, I have a box in the laundry room and one outside my door for paper recyclables and I recycle all the laundry containers), where I go to volunteer and I collect paper goods and recyclabes #3-7 from my sister whose city does not yet take paper goods or recyclables outside #1 and #2. I've also learned and seen the easy effects of teaching by doing and of people learning by example. Anyone who drives by my building now on a Sunday night would be floored by the piles of recyclables on the lawn for collection. Several tenants have told me they never knew how easy it was until I told them (I passed out notes about how and what to recycle to all our tenants and give the same notes/memos to every new tenant that moves in).

I learned that you pay your taxes (no matter how much it chaps your ass!), you protect your credit, pay your bills, give back, be responsible for yourself and as much as is possible for those around you who need you. I learned that no matter how bad I think it is: it isn't. Someone else (and they could be right next door) is having a harder time than you. I learned that good health is one of the most precious commodities and that we should cherish it and do all things possible to keep it. I learned that money is not by any means - all there is to it (although I have my mega millions tickets for tonights drawing!). You protect your family even if they make you crazy.

I learned that some tastes never change. I am all about being vegetarian/vegan. I eat products without additives, colorings, preservatives but man-o-man there's nothing like original Open Pit Barb-B-Que sauce (it's still my older sisters favorite too!)!

So - things stick.
This is already a pretty long post but I could continue.
Just a reminder about who you are and why.
A reminder that kids are like sponges - whether you're a parent or not, an aunt, an uncle, a teacher or a neighbor; kids are watching and listening and learning: why not strive to be a really good example? It'll serve you and those around you very well.

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