Labor Day Musings

Welcome to my blog, Ground One.

Ground Zero :  Function:  noun; Date:  1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning .

Ground One:  Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s  life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems;  5:  to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.

My Secret for a Happy Life

By Lowell Thomas

Author, News Commentator and World Traveler

“The secret of happiness,” declared the English novelist Norman Douglas, “Is curiosity.” He lived to be 84 doubtless helped along by his endless curiosity.

As a mere youngster at 78, I haven’t had nearly enough time to satisfy my own inquisitive senses. I expect to be at it for many more years. How? Travel. As Lord Chesterfield put it, “The world is a country which nobody ever yet knew by description; one must travel through it to be acquainted with it.”

Quoted in the November 1970 Reader’s Digest, when subscriptions were $3.97 per year, and I was 12.

                People like Lowell Thomas, then Ann Compton, who was then the first female anchor at WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va., and still later, Helen Thomas, whom I interviewed when I was 19, influenced my career path.  These were the big, larger than life, journalists and correspondents who gave my life direction. However, today, Labor Day, I’m thinking of all those people who got me to this point, who are not so famous.

                My fifth grade teacher Mrs. Covey convinced me not only that I could write, but that I could be anything I wanted to be, and still have children. My World Literature teacher Mr. Robinson gave me hope that I could succeed at anything I put my mind to. My college boyfriend, an artist, who left me, also left me with the resounding conviction that I could be more than a student and a teacher, and that I could do it anywhere on earth, even Washington, D.C., even internationally.  My college professors gave me my own voice—to be myself.   My friends, especially Stacey and Ellen, were always there when I doubted myself, because they never doubted me.  My next love shared my zest for life, other cultures, and travel. He also whittled away at me, teaching me to lead in a relationship in a manner much like how an oyster forms a pearl, through irritation. When he left, he left me with his prayer that all my dreams would come true. By that time, I was on a humanitarian career track similar to his. I was melding my passion for helping the world, my writing ability, and my desire to travel, and of course my continuous curiosity to form what I would be doing for the next decade. 

              During this time, my colleagues taught me how to negotiate, to compromise, to manage, to endure.  They taught me what boundaries were and what they weren’t.  When I married, my husband Brian gave me his all—his masculine side and his feminine side, and he compromised in ways that most spouses wouldn’t, so I could continue on my road to self.  My writing group gave me praise and confidence in my ability to write fiction as well as non-fiction, and they pushed me and pulled me in sisterhood until a novel sprang forth.  Of course, my parents and brother were there this whole time, listening to me say,  “I’m not sure I can,” and reminding me that I was the little engine that could. Finally, and most recently, my children see me for the person I am and not just their mother.

                Last week, my son and I were walking off his anxieties about starting two high school-level courses. This will be the first year that exams make his grades. He was nervous. I was telling him about my similar anxieties, how the teachers who told me I could were proven right, and the teachers who instilled fear were proven wrong, not just with me, but with countless others. I was giving a pep talk my father would have been proud of when the talk turned to dating. I told my son about my first crush, my first date, my first infatuation. He asked me why girls wouldn’t talk to him. I told him boys were supposed to be the leaders in my day, all the while smiling at how they really had been as petrified as I was of the whole dating scene, all the while wondering if girls were really all that more assertive in terms of asking boys out on dates these days than in the 1970s.

                “You see,” I said, not entirely sure if I was correct, “girls expect boys to take the lead, to talk to them first, to call them first.”

                “But mommmmmm,” he complained. “It’s too scarey!”

                “Yes, it is,” I said.

                “I don’t know how anyone ever gets married, then,” he said.

                I laughed and said neither did I, but that he needed to start developing his elevator speech anyhow. He needed to start developing his leadership qualities, not just for dating, but for Scouting, for spirituality, for school.

                He was quiet for a split second more, and then he got a twinkle in his eye. I knew where he was going before he said it.

                “So mom,” he said, with a certain amount of pre-teen swagger. “Having men lead…how did that work for you?”

                On this sunny, happy Labor Day, I am thankful to him, and to everyone who taught and continues to teach me, and remind me, of who I am, and why I do what I do.

                My heart also goes out to everyone on the Gulf Coast, who is experiencing this day as one of disaster instead of celebration. More on that next week.