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Kitchens: Advice to those just beginning

Posted: May 28, 2017 - 1:18am

Even at this mature stage in life, I've never spoken to a graduating class, though I have had the honor of attending a few, calling names and handing out diplomas, but if I were asked to give a five- or 10-minute address, I'd probably focus on, and try to impart, what I have learned in my past six decades, albeit, pretty much nothing in the scheme of things.

I shouldn't have to tell you the three most crucial "don'ts," I'm sure. Don't finish a meal that tastes yucky. Don't finish a book that bores you senseless. And don't wear shoes that hurt.

But all joking aside, first of all, I'd really say practice kindness whenever and wherever you can. It doesn't usually cost you a thing and can easily make the difference in someone else's life. To paraphrase American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, that guilt-ridden, great-great-grandson of a judge at the Salem witch trials, "Deliberate unkindness is perhaps the worst affront of all." The behavior of most of those around Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter attests to that.

Secondly, IF possible, choose a profession in which you can earn a supportive living, not just a week-to-week paycheck. I know my generation, especially, wanted "to find ourselves, man," but in truth, a reasonable, even a lucrative, salary is not antithetical to a noble career. When the septic tank needs pumping out, or a tooth won't behave, enough money in the bank to fix the problem DOES help solve the issue.

It's not money that's the root of all evil; it's the love of money.

Thirdly, save more than you think you'll need to. You can only spend your income once, as my dear mother said, and then it's gone. Don't buy anything you either: A) don't need, or B) don't love.

By the same token, don't live penuriously either. Enjoy a concert sometimes, splurge a bit on a massage, bring home flowers, just because. Plan to do it within boundaries, however, and make it a unique pleasure, not a constant expense. How many folks do you know who literally yawn at the thought of another meal out because they frequent restaurants far too often?

Life is honestly too short to be afraid or hesitant. Don't put off that trip you've been wanting to take too long, or that puppy you should cuddle, or a painting you'll enjoy every time you look at it. Sometimes, and I speak from sad experience here, we delay until all our chances are gone.

Try to remember people are not property, even our children. When they are young, of course, we try to care for and provide for them. We teach them all we can about right from wrong, and we endure what may seem like countless diatribes and accusations. But they are His, not ours. They are on loan to us and are separate souls. At some point in the game, they have to stand on their own and dance to their own music. Love is not enslavement.

If you lose a job, through your own "fault," or someone else's, or for whatever reason, don't beat yourself up too viciously. Your job is not you. It is a job; it is usually a way to earn a living. It seldom solely defines your character or intellect.

And while we're on the subject of professions, choose something you'd probably do even if you weren't paid much to do it. I know, I know. There I go contradicting myself again, but if that alarm goes off for the next 40 years and you are horrified, what's the point in anything?

Guard your health. In the best of circumstances, illnesses and accidents occur; don't add fuel to the fire by drinking too much, or smoking, or taking drugs, or sitting on your booty day and night. Feeling good does impact almost everything; you can't fulfill any dream, or task, if you can't function.

Finally, expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Hope is about the only common denominator left to us sometimes. We have to hold on and not give up, or in. But we're fools if we think something disastrous "can't happen to us." It can and, eventually, it generally will.

And now, looking over my words of advice and encouragement, I actually feel only one point, the most important one, is all I truly need to say after all.

Love Him and love one another. The rest will fall into place.

Mindy Kitchens is a newly married, retired English teacher, and long-time resident of Columbia County. Until she gets her e-mail changed, you can contact her at mindyjeffers@hotmail.com.

 

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