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Posts Tagged ‘values’

A true child of the ’80’s am I, raised on the wisdom of sitcoms and television dramas. I admit especially to being a M*A*S*H-aholic. Back in its heyday, my big brother watched it (he being the older, wiser, and more worldly of the two of us) and I admit now to an obsessive need to view the marathons on TVLand and Hallmark Channel every chance I get. Many an important life lesson was learned from that show (along with The Golden Girls) and even now I find that the TV shows of my childhood are still shaping my values.

The episode I was watching earlier tonight was the pen pal letters episode – Hawkeye’s friend back home gets her elementary school students in Crabapple Cove, Maine to write letters to the personnel of the 4077th. In the midst of writing back to the children and amongst the amusing and mundane anecdotes that the staff chooses to tell the kids about, there are several poignant moments in which the staff is forced to reexamine their role in the war – and in life. One of the students writes a letter that Hawkeye must answer in which the student says he hates the doctors because they fixed up his brother and sent him back into combat in which he was subsequently killed. As Hawkeye is pondering how to answer this child, a child is brought in from a local orphanage who has a severe brain injury – and the priest who runs the orphanage prays “Dear God, I thank you for providing….to have them here in this place at this time is truly a sign of Your providence.”  All of a sudden, Hawkeye knows what to write to the poor young student back home, full of so much anger: “I understand your feelings. Sometimes I hate myself for being here. But once in a while, in the midst of this insanity, a very small event can make my being here seem almost bearable.”

I had seen this episode at least 5 times before and yet this was the first time that this whole exchange made me stop and go hmmmm….

I am a woman of strong faith. I have stated over and over and over again that I am sure God has a plan for me, that the struggles and pain that I have suffered for the last 10 years have not been in vain. I constantly recite the AA mantra “Let go and let God.” Despite my faith, I admit that I have often questioned why God has put me in this situation, given me this kind of pain.

Now, thanks to a television show (geez, welcome to religion in America), I have a whole new way of looking at things. Because of God’s plan, I was put here at this moment in time in this particular geographical location for a purpose. Divine providence has brought me to this moment in my life with my own special brand of emotional baggage for a purpose. And, much like Hawkeye, I don’t quite know yet what that purpose is – but I have a strong faith that my small event is coming, that event which will make it all clear.  I have only to wait and to trust in the Lord and to believe that my time is coming. I will let you know when that time comes. In the meantime, I can only hope that I will become Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan when I grow up. But that’s a topic for another day.

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(with apologies to Kenny Chesney)

The other day I was driving through the northern end of my county, largely farmland and saw all these great jacked-up farm trucks and hunters’ vehicles. That got me thinking about how much I miss home and the good, old-fashioned country stock that I come from. Yes, believe it or not, this highly-sophisticated girl (yeah, right) is a redneck at heart! I miss mucking stalls and feeding the animals in the brisk morning air. I miss the smell of newly mown hay fields or leaves burning in the fall. I miss the excitement of sales on Wranglers and cowboy boots at the Tractor Supply store.  I miss the days when a good saddle and a pair of good splint boots were the most valuable things I owned. What can I say, I’m just a good redneck girl at heart.

I do have to take this moment to draw a very clear distinction between ‘redneck’ and ‘hillbilly’. A redneck drives a relatively new Dodge Ram pickup truck on lifts with camo trim – a hillbilly drives a 1971 Ford truck with mismatched quarter panels and partially painted with leftover housepaint. A redneck marries a girl who grew up in the country and shares the same values of family, God, and country – a hillbilly marries his cousin. A redneck finished high school, if grudgingly, so that he could get a decent job – a hillbilly can’t even spell his own name. A redneck clings close to his ideals on politics, family values and religion – a hillbilly clings tight to his ignorance.

So we all know that I find a redneck man very attractive! This isn’t a secret, hell it isn’t even a new facet to my personality. I have always been drawn to those rough and tough types, the more rugged and ‘countryfied’ the better. That must explain why I was married to the only black redneck this side of the Mississippi. From his Dale Earnhardt baseball cap (with the fishing hook attached) to his camo sweatshirt to his Carhartt jacket, my ex-husband was ready for a life in the true country. Honestly, I think that was one of the things that most made me love him – he was a through-and-through country boy, skin color be damned.

I have a sincere love for men who are true country, from their John Deere caps to their work boots, farmers tans and all. There is just something uniquely charming to me about a man who grew up in a small town, with a love of the land, a respect for his mamma, and a connection to the human beings around him. They aren’t buried in complicated technology (unless its the newest Case tractor) and don’t let money rule their values systems. They say “good morning” to strangers, help people in need, and consider cutting their own Christmas trees part of the holiday traditions. They reminisce about the good old days when a man’s word was his bond and trade gossip at the farm bureau dinners or over breakfast at the local cafe.

So when I see a big truck or a tractor, I can’t help but look inside to see if there’s a handsome, teddy-bear of a redneck driving it. To me, those sexy trucks symbolize a truly decent man who is in touch with the country that runs in his veins. This isn’t a materialistic thing, don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t have to be a new or expensive vehicle. In fact, a few dings and a layer of mud are even sexier – shows a man who knows his way around the dirt roads. And heaven help that man if he’s towing a trailer – I might just follow him home! I can’t help it – I just think his truck is sexy…

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I admit to being one of those bizarre, childless adults that loves kids movies. Those movies are an amazing genre that can tackle all sorts of life lessons in the most simplistic and yet wonderful way. They are also the means by which we are teaching the next generation of people how to treat other people, how to be decent human beings, and how to live their lives to the fullest.

I want you to think about some of MY favorite films – what kinds of lessons do kids learn from Shrek? How about tolerance for those that are different. Or to not judge someone on their looks. Or to believe that dreams can come true. And what about The Little Mermaid? Learn that everyone has dreams and wishes, regardless of their species or differences. Or what about the Harry Potter series? We learn about depending on their friends, about not calling other people names or judging them because of their backgrounds, about respecting the rules, about being brave in the face of adversity.

Children’s movies mold our younger generations by posing questions about the world they live in, by taking everyday problems (peer pressure, teasing, telling the truth, right vs wrong, etc.) and putting them in fantastical situations that appeal to their imaginations. But I firmly believe that those same movies can teach us, as adults, those exact same lessons! Too many times in my adult life I have witnessed other ‘grownups’ who need to learn about treating other human beings with kindness and compassion, about not judging people (skin color, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political ideologies, etc.), about truth and honesty, and so many others. Adults are not exempt from the rules of basic human goodness – and if it takes a movie to remind them of that, then I will buy the whole damn world a ticket!

One of my favorite learning opportunities that is cloaked in the guise of a kids’ movie is a treasure called “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.” On the outside it looks like a quirky picture with an oddly-assorted yet mega-talented cast (Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, and Jason Bateman) but on closer examination, it is a wonderful life lesson on the power of belief, discovering one’s self, and faith in things unseen. It is filled with some great gems of wisdom:

Mr. Magorium: Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.

Eric: All stories, even the ones we love, must eventually come to an end and when they do, it’s only an opportunity for another story to begin.

Mr. Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words.

I’ve lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I’m only asking that you turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest “He died.”

Mr. Magorium: We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.

Henry Weston: You know, some people… send flowers, or cards, or… give people hugs. I… make sure their paper work’s all in order. I thought I’d try something different.

Eric: What Mahoney needed was the opportunity to prove to herself that she was something more than she believed.

I often find myself identifying with ALL of these characters – the dreamer, the lost soul, the anal retentive one, the sage, the pragmatist, the inner child. It is truly one of those movies that you find yourself pondering on long after the final credits roll – regardless of the fact that it was marketed to an audience that packs Fruit RollUps and Cheetos for lunch. And it’s a movie that will urge you to rediscover the magical, wonderful, exciting things in the world around you. If you haven’t already seen this film, I HIGHLY suggest you give it a try. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone that you’re watching kids’ movies….

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