What I Learned Kindergarten

In 1989, on a flight home to Houston from California I read a book that made an impact on me. This little book, “Everything I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum is a collection of essays on how life would truly be better if we all just applied the lessons of kindergarten to adulthood. 

I only have one memory from kindergarten. I remember my excitement when it was finally my turn to use the “fairy wand” to tap all the other kids signaling that nap time was over. Drop the mic. Everything I had done to that point, in my five years of life, had brought me to this glorious moment. I was the nap fairy.

My kindergarten report card filled in blanks where my memory lapsed. Back then, kindergarten was the first foray into the real world. For the first five years of our lives we were sheltered at home with either our mother, trusted friend, or another relative to care for us. Today things are so different; not better or worse, just different. Many of the lessons I learned in kindergaten are now taught in preschool so that by the time children reach kindergarten they are expected to do real school work. For the sake of my point, we’re going to refer to kindergarten as it was back in my day – 1963.

Share…Play well with others…Use manners…Follow directions…Obey safety rules (and all rules for that matter)…Listen when others are talking…Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Practice humility and be kind. It isn’t rocket science. These are the lessons we should be living today.

The last one is quite possibly the most important. With all the hatred being spewed at fellow citizens we have forgotten common descency; or that is what we are led to believe by watching the reports on television and the internet. I don’t see it in my personal life and I live in a suburb of the fourth largest city in the country and the most diverse city in the country. I’m proud of that. I choose to look for the good in people; that is what I expect therefore that is what I receive. I listen more than I talk and I never think I am better or more valuable than any other life God placed upon this earth. 

One last piece of advice…turn off the television and ignore what all those people try to tell you. Look for yourself; think for yourself; and remember what you learned in kindergarten.


Is The Grass Really Greener? 

My drive home continued south on I-69, having picked up my granddaughter and her best friend in Humble. They were busy on their phones and talking to each other, so I retreated back into my head. 

A strange thing began to happen as I rolled through this crazy city: I remembered a seminal moment in my life.

I graduated from high school in 1976, labeled by my high school counselor as “not college material.” I had no idea what I was going to do with my life; what I did know is that I was going to spend the summer with my best friend, Kay, who now lived in the Houston suburb of Friendswood. At this time I lived in California, but from 1969 – 1973 we both lived in what is known as The Lower Rio Grande Valley, specifically Harlingen, Texas. Her family had moved from Harlingen the same summer mine did and we had not seen each other in three years, but had stayed in touch.

To this day I can remember my plane landing in Houston. I was amazed by the greenness. There were trees all around the airport. Southern California hadn’t seen that many trees all in one area in decades. I won’t go into the details of this summer but suffice it to say Houston represented adulthood and freedom to me. When I returned home in August, I promptly announced to my parents that one day I was going to live in Houston. I came home with a direction for my life – I went to school to become a medical assistant which later led to nursing – and the dream of living in this large and exciting city.

Time passed and I moved on. I married a man from Harlingen and moved back to the valley, this time to the border town of Brownsville. A job transfer for him in 1980 landed us where? Houston. I was now living in Houston through no intentional effort on my part. Destiny? Coincidence? Divine intervention?

Call it what you will, I’ve never left. 

I divorced, learned I could support myself and lived on my own for 3 years, remarried, moved to the suburbs, built a life, a business, and now discovered that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Houston gets lots of bad press: traffic, heat, humidity, glass & steel with no appreciation for old, no zoning, and I’m sure there’s lots more but not worth the time it takes to document. I had an epiphany about my place in this crazy city. 

I fit here. Just as Houston is a rambling, free spirited, artsy, weird, friendly, mixture of cultures…so am I. We are fiercely independent and at the same time welcoming. I like that. In Dallas everything (to the casual observer) is tidy and organized, and therefore not quite as accepting of different. I’ve felt it. I’ve also heard from many people who lived there, that it is just a bit snobbier than Houston. They are white collar – we’re blue. I fit. I belong. I am the best of what Houston has always been. Maybe that is why over 41 years ago I knew I would live here one day. I knew back then that I was home.

So, now when I open a real estate app on my phone to look at houses – yea, I still do this – it is not longer the Sears Wish Book to me. It is an interesting almost voyeuristic activity that I now just view as fun. I don’t long for a place or life other than the one I have. I am grateful for my husband, home, and all my family and friends. To discard or minimize these things is to turn my back on the many gifts God has bestowed on my life.

Just one of the many painted walls in Houston.

Life is short and very precious. Don’t waste time longing for things that you think would make you happy; but, if you feel the Lord tugging at your heart listen and trust. Our own thoughts will lead us astray…He never will.


The Myth of Greener Grass

When I was a kid one of the most exciting times of year was the day the Sears Wishbook arrived. 

In a search for the Wish Book I found this one that I actually remember! I was 10 years old and likely still believed in Santa. Such innocent times.

The season of anticipation had officially begun. I would spend hours perusing the pages looking for just the most perfect item to place at the top of my Christmas wish list. I knew that my decision was crucial so this was not for the faint of heart. Choose the wrong item and endure a year of disappointment. Whatever I chose had to have enduring quality; it had to be something I would enjoy playing with for a long time. I was never one to choose something I thought I might become tired of around lunch time on Christmas Day. 

The dream and the planning lasted far longer than the opening of the gifts. All this is still true today; I love to plan. In my mind. On paper. And most of all, on the internet. Ahhh, the “Interwebs.” It is simultaneously the most wonderful and at the same time the most destructive of modern day tools. I know I have said more than a million times, “What would I do without the internet?” But in all fairness to the internet, the fault is really my own. It is a matter of  personal self discipline, but I’ll save that discussion for another time. Today I’m pondering all the wishing I do online and how that affects my psychological state.

My primary dreaming obsession are the real estate apps and web sites that enable one to dream about a fantasy life in the perfect house in the perfect town. Yes, I am one of those people who always wants to live in every beautiful town or city she visits. So, with all this information in the palm of my hand, I can send myself into a state of constant discontent. I allow myself to be lulled into believing that I would be happier if only…I lived in a better climate, smaller town, the country, the city, condo, Victorian, Mid Century Modern, etc. I can almost fill in the blank with anything and just “know” that would be the perfect life. Anyone else relate?

I recently drove to the Dallas area to visit my niece who had just moved into a brand spanking new apartment. She is literally the first person to live there. It is a nice area and the finishes in her apartment are top of the line and far nicer than what I have in my thirty year old house. I had fun doing stuff with her and visiting with my brother. I’ve always liked going up there. The climate is drier than the swamp where I live. The streets are wider and cleaner. Everything is neater and compartmentalized. They have zoning. My inlaws lived there until their passing, so I’ve spent lots of time in the Metroplex. 

Somehow this trip was different. 

The “life there would be perfect” mind set hit me on the drive home. It didn’t help that I sat in horrific traffic extending the five hour drive to seven hours. Lots of time to ponder. But, an interesting thing happened as I got closer to Houston. Partially the relief that my journey was coming to an end, but even more than that, I was home.

…to be continued.