What a gorgeous, blue-skied day in June on the date of this writing! We’ve waited a long time for this, and based on my Friday afternoon cancellations on these sunny, blue skied days, folks are taking advantage - have at ‘er! While I’d like to write about the bliss of a warm, sunny day (just go outside people), this month I have something a little deeper to explore.
Not that I am anywhere near “middle age,” (what is that, anyway??). But there does come a time when you have to consider what we are doing here, where we are spending our time, and what kind of legacy are we leaving for our kids and grandkids. I know, deep thoughts for beach season. But I was reading something on Facebook, titled, “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid.” It was another advice article for parents on how to drown out advice from other people. It is amazing how embarking on parenthood suddenly opens you up to worldwide critique from those who have just sat in your immediate area while waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant. You see it in people’s looks, pointing, comments, eye rolls, and often for our family thankfully, smiles. But really, does anyone else’s opinion really matter at all?
How about, instead of a title of “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid,” my title this month is “Flee the Kool-Aid (at all costs!)" Why even read the Kool-Aid, why worry about what strangers, acquaintances, co-workers, and even extended family think from observing you for a whole five minutes? Or better (or worse) yet, what these same people think from hearsay from others?"
How much better would our lives be if we live by the values we have learned, love, and seek to pass on to our children, without a second spent on anyone else’s opinion. Tough stuff I know. It makes me reflect back fondly on my high school band director (and let’s face it, middle school band director, junior high band director, homeroom teacher, and second mom - small school), Mrs. Kramer. I remember her outrageously sparkly royal blue and silver ensembles at pep band appearances and band concerts, and her red hat and purple clothes as she told me about her red hat lady lunches. I would ask her what all of that was about. I am sure I am paraphrasing, but I’m pretty sure it was something like, at my age, you learn not to care what others think so much - that’s the beauty of aging (especially for women).
Fast forward fifteen years, to Mrs. Kramer’s funeral. As a music lover, she had meticulously planned the songs played and sung at her funeral. It was announced that she wanted the song “Jesus Loves Me” played especially for her band students. My three-year-old sitting on my lap at the funeral gave me a knowing glance and smile. Little did Mrs. Kramer know, her free spirit and love for all things life, including a spiritual life far beyond music, had an influence even beyond her students, to my daughter who was happy to sing the words she knew so well, “Jesus Loves Me.”
I love these memories, as I reflect fondly on the hours, days, weeks, and years I was blessed to spend with women of character who happened to be my teachers during my high school years. Some people hate growing up in a small town, finding it confining. I was all in with my hometown of Lena, embracing the unique characters that helped shape and influence me and my outlook on life, more than twenty years later.
Thank you, to Mrs. Kramer, and so many other women, who took time out of their busy lives to make mine so much fuller, richer, and more meaningful. It’s funny how as we age, we think back to what our teachers taught us, and we remember their outlook and approach to life, rather than any academic lessons. Thank you Mrs. Kramer, for teaching me to forget about the Kool-Aid. We are all uniquely created with our own talents, personalities, and skills perfectly suited to where we are or soon will be in life. Instead of comparing ourselves to others (and inevitably not measuring up), be thankful for who God made you to be, and the little people He placed in your home. As any parent and grandparent eventually realizes, it’s no longer about “me” anyway, but rather the thoughts and memories the little people in our lives will have of us and the invaluable lessons of life we are demonstrating to them every day without realizing it. When this becomes our focus, suddenly all the noisy, scolding articles and bloggers disappear, and we can focus on what really matters, around our own kitchen table.
Dr. Jill Murphy
MotionWorks Physical Therapy