Whenever life's adversities hit, Ethel
used to council me. Her advice was
simple - "Be like Eleanor Roosevelt,
rise above it." While a rather odd
statement to make to a six year old,
slowly it sank in. While quite homely
and member of the highest level of
the upper crust, Eleanor was willing
to get down and get dirty. Wandering
through a slum she never wavered,
always looking oddly crisp in her
floral georgettes. With a wave and a
smile she affirmed that all was well.
The fact is life isn't always pleasant.
Sometimes people do horrible things
for seemingly no reason. Often events
outside of our control can change our
destiny. The only thing we can control
is how we react to it. Eleanor's simple
approach was one of seemingly passive
passion. Always the lady, she moved
through the muck towards her goal
without wavering. When challenged,
she calmly listened, kindly interacted,
and then clearly stated her position.
Standing firm for what she believed.
Throughout my life, the concept
of "rising above it" has helped me
weather even the most challenging
of times. When somebody I loved
turned on me, I turned the other
cheek. When seemingly friends
did hurtful things, I simply smiled
and moved on. And during adverse
times in the corporate arena, I stood
my ground without aggression or
malice. While some have viewed my
approach as passive, in the end what
was right and just always prevailed.
Open to anything
Never construe "being Eleanor" with
piety. You see, the pious are unable
to see anything except their position.
If one practices quiet resolve, one has
to be open to alternative perspectives
and opinions. All inform who we are
and help us grow. With conflict comes
illumination and rather than oppression,
the end result is usually freedom. That's
why I'm always ready to engage in a
dialogue with anybody at anytime.
Who knows what I might learn?
United we stand
My Mother was anything but perfect.
However while seemingly rigid, she
actually hid a fluidity of open thought
beneath her seemingly steely exterior.
When finally confronted with who her
son really was, she embraced me with
open arms. Slowly she learned there
was little difference between a man
loving a man or woman. In the end
celebrating my peace and happiness
even as she worried about how others
might treat me. Maybe it's time that
I start practicing "being ETHEL?"