Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - June 6, 2008

The seven Cs

At times I wonder whether I've taught my daughters what they should know. I'm not a great cook, but both of them know how to put together a tasty, easy meal. I haven't made an outfit for about 30 years, but at least they know how to sew on a button and repair a ripped seam. My cleaning skills aren't up to Martha Stewart's standards, but they can wield a toilet brush, vacuum a floor, wash dishes, do laundry and straighten their rooms. They also know how to mow a lawn, paint walls and save money for items they really want. They've learned most of these things by watching their Dad and me.

All those skills are important. But I hope my girls can also see the value of having a zeal for life. That zeal comes from having a healthy dose of what I call the seven Cs: curiosity, creativity, compassion, connection, commitment, courtesy and common sense.

Curiosity -

Most babies are born with an innate curiosity - to see, hear, smell, touch and taste everything. But curiosity is just as important for adults, for it adds spice to our lives. Every day, I'm amazed by something I see or read or hear. Each spring, I marvel at the greening of the hills, the blossoming of the flowers, the smell of the earth, the feel of the sun on my skin. Every night when I read the newspaper, I find some tidbit that tickles my funny bone or makes me marvel at some advance in science or technology. The girls sometimes tease me that I'm entirely too amused by life. But I hope they've received the message that an insatiable sense of curiosity helps keep life fresh.

Creativity -

Many people feel that they aren't creative if they can't sketch, write a poem, make a sculpture or have some other tangible product from their efforts. But creativity can also be putting things together in an unexpected way that meets some need. So it may be as simple as arranging a family reunion that no one thought could be pulled off or coming up with a new way to stretch the family budget or keeping a toddler amused - anything that solves a problem that others didn't see.

Compassion -

Raising money for hospice, the Red Cross or a church can be the outcome of compassion. It can also be traveling overseas to do mission work or visiting a friend in the hospital. Or it can be as simple as helping a grandparent with grocery shopping, standing up for friends when others are making fun of them or just listening to someone who needs a friendly ear.

Connection -

Opening our eyes to how the past, present and future are related, how humans and nature affect each other and how our actions today may affect what happens tomorrow are examples of seeing connections. Finding out who our ancestors were, where they came from and what they were like is another example of seeing the connections. It can also be recycling plastic, newspapers, glass and aluminum to reduce our impact on the environment.

Commitment -

To live a full life, I think we must be committed, not only to ourselves, but to our families, friends, communities and world. This means allocating the time and attention needed for our education, spending time with friends and family to keep relationships alive, helping out when they need it and being persistent enough to get a job done.

Courtesy -

Our parents were right. "Please," "thank-you" and "I'm sorry" go a long way toward making life run smoother. And little acts of courtesy - like opening a door for someone, letting someone in the check-out line ahead of you at the store if they have fewer items or signaling when you're changing lanes in traffic - will make the world a little kinder and gentler.

Common sense -

It sometimes seems that common sense isn't all that common. But simple things like wiping our feet on the rug at the door so we don't track mud into the house, carrying an umbrella when rain is predicted, putting gas in the car before it reaches E, paying our bills on time and doing laundry before we're down to our last sock can make life easier and more pleasant.

So while I sometimes worry whether husband Art and I have done what we should to give our daughters the helpful skills they need to cope with the world, I realize all too well that many of the things they will need, we can do little more than encourage.

Perhaps an eighth C should be added as well.

Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

That eighth C is courage - the courage to step away from the safe harbor and truly engage in life.

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