If you can’t Dufresne, bring your hip-waders!

I’m just not a camping kinda gal. I went for the first time with a co-worker when I was in my early twenties. I was so excited! The thrill lasted about five hours until I realized much to my dismay, that how you pitch a tent is as important as where! It started to rain heavily. We put the tent right next to a little creek because I thought “oh won’t that be pretty to wake up to?”. At 2 am in an unexpected heavy downpour the view looses its grandeur, trust me! We spent the next three hours huddled together like drowned rats under a wet blanket, muttering to ourselves as we kicked the rain off the top of the tent.

If you ever find yourself in that situation, don’t go for the “I’m so miserable and angry kick”. It won’t end well. Just when you think that you are truly despondent, you will soon find out how wrong you are! We finally gave up when the tent came down. The rest of my group just sat on the picnic table in the rain and watched the sun come up .  I was shunned at that point, so I sat in the corner on the wet grass.

In a good faith effort I offered to help with every camp chore. I just kept hearing my mother’s voice in my head “Elizabeth, what is wrong with you?” It doesn’t matter how old you are, you will always hear it. It’s like  the voice of Jiminy Cricket, only it’s less magical and has no cool sound effects.

My mom came to the U.S.A. when she was seven. She didn’t know how to speak English. The one phrase that she always used on my brother and I when we were getting out of line was “I considered myself lucky that I even got an orange for Christmas”. That one sentence carried enough guilt to last at least a month; more if she threw in the finger wag and raised eye brow.

When my brother and I were growing up we got what we got, period. We didn’t whine about it! We knew better, and we knew better because of the orange! My brother and I received a decent education because of her, and I thank God every single day for it. I learned many important lessons there.  The most important back then though was “if you choose to speak your mind,  you should be prepared to sit in the Principal’s office”.

Fortunately for me, I always had a buddy to sit with.  Syd and I spent more time in that office than I think any other student in the history of that school did! Even now, all these years later we still give each other grief on Facebook. His family is truly amazing, and I love them dearly.

The Principal’s office lesson was back again this evening.  Apparently, I needed a refresher course. I did something that I felt terrible about, and all I kept hearing was “Elizabeth, what is wrong with you?” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone had that voice? I could record it and loan it out. It’s pretty powerful stuff!

I have always been the “glass is half full” kinda gal.  I owe my mother that much. The lessons she taught me about kindness, humility, and putting others first have stuck with me. The rest I learned on my hands and knees scrubbing the Teachers lounge with a toothbrush!


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