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We Can Do It!

we-can-do-itBoth of my grandmothers were young wives during The Great Depression, although my paternal grandmother had already given birth to my father and lost twin-sons in a premature birth by the time their Kansas farm blew away in the dust bowl.  My maternal grandmother was a bit younger than my paternal grandmother.  My mother–my maternal grandmother’s first-born–wasn’t born until 1936.

What do these two women have in common (besides their grandchildren)?  They both were adept at “starting over” by leaving family and friends and moving to the Promised Land of California.  They both knew how to turn a seemingly impossible situation into a possible situation.

My maternal grandmother was a sickly woman–she never really fully recovered from a childhood illness that my mother thinks was tuberculosis.  Yet she managed to be the proprietress of not one, not two, but three beauty shops all of her adult life.  Sadly, she passed away when I was a young child.

When I was a teenager, I would ask my paternal grandmother questions about how she was able to handle moving away from family or dealing with The War and so forth.  Her general response was “I just did. That was the way we did things back then.  We just did what we had to do.”

This morning I was pondering the “can do” spirit that is part of the American mythology.  I can’t help but wonder if we have lost some of the spirit….that attitude and determination to do what we have to do, whether we like it or not.  It seems to me that our culture seems stuck in finding the easy way out of doing things.  Frozen entrees are a very simplistic example of this “short cut” and “easy” way of doing things.  I’m sure you can think of dozens of more complex examples.

But I also think we’ve become so focused on why we can’t get something done that we’ve forgotten how to roll up our sleeves to do the impossible.  Surely, if we can put a person on the moon, we can do things that would be a whole lot easier if we just changed our framework.

Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.  Sometimes those things are hard.  But, that’s just what grownups do.

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  1. I totally believe it’s the “woman” in us or among us that carries us through adversity — the “women are the backbone of America” concept. But these days we have so much of the entitlement mentality — “the system owes me.”

    Yes, the strength that you note in your grandmothers is worth pondering, worth developing in ourselves. If we develop it in ourselves and set an example within the home, I believe we’re also strengthening our communities and the world. I like to think of it as a kind of serenity that is untouched when the going gets rough. But it doesn’t just happen — it has to be cherished as a desire until it deepens character. I believe our grandmothers’ generation(s) saw this issue as most important in themselves and their children. (Remember “Happy Homes and the Hearts that Make Them” by Samuel Smiles.)

  2. I was watching a television show recently about a young couple who wanted to buy their first home. They had no money saved for a down payment and were relying on getting 100% financing for the house. At the last minute, the bank informed them that they would no longer be offering loans to buyers with no money down. Did the young couple then decide to save money for a down payment and buy at some date in the future? Of course not! Her parents stepped in and gave them the money for the down payment.

    Being responsible for saving at least part of the money for the down payment would have been a better choice in my book. It would have made it easier for them to transition into maintaining adequate savings to cover the inevitable household repairs that come with being a homeowner.

  3. This ‘can do’ spirit has been rising in me to counteract the procrastination. I’ve found that my sense of peace and calm is greater when I just roll up my sleeves and attack the things that I really don’t want to do. Excellent post!

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