Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 5

#5 - "Above all else, never be common."
As you've heard me say before, mom was subtle in her lessons, so I had to think about this one for a while, and the more I thought about it, the more complicated it became. What is "common?" Who says? In the words of Leon Trotsky, "Everything is relative in this world, where change alone endures," so trying to measure commonness felt tricky, illusive, and a little dirty. My measure of common tends to look like a high-school dropout with three crying babies, living on welfare and watching soap operas in her trailer while a pit bull on a chain barks all day. However, if I asked that gal her measure of common, it might be her meth-junkie mother who raised her kids in a car while she did tricks on the street for drug money. Someone probably thinks I am common because no one would recognize the name of the college I graduated from, and because I buy my clothes at Target and consider Ellen Tracy "designer."

On the other hand, I recall vividly the day that my daughter "called me out" on this issue when she heard me say something demeaning about someone we know who sports a beer belly and says, "ain't" and "done good." She said, "You know what mom, he may not be polished, but he's one of the nicest people I know and he has a really good heart." I looked into my daughter's eyes and I don't know if I ever felt more common in my life, because I was judgmental and unkind. Common isn't about how you compare to others, it is how you compare to your best and worst self.

When my kids were teenagers and struggling with their identity and obviously torn to fit an image of the pretty/handsome, popular, cool teen-kids, I would say to them, "No one is better at anything than they are at being themselves." "So do what you do best."

Mom was right. Above all else, never be common, be our best self. I hope you have an uncommonly peaceful and fulfilling day!

Two great pieces of news - Welcome to the world Flora Harper (born yesterday to Mary and Will Harper), and, drum roll husband and I just made our last house payment!!!!! Our mortgage is paid off! Yea us!!



  1. Congratulations on the mortgage - as long as the taxes are paid, you'll always have a roof over your head - smile! You two should be proud - especially in these times when so many are losing their homes.


  2. Congrats too on the mortgage. What a wonderful feeling (I can only imagine). Can you believe an unknown New Mexican with 50-1 odds won the Derby?!? I get cold chills every time I think about those last few seconds. I do love the races!! LOVED your last blog about commonness and what Jolene said. She is so spot on about so much. Love, Doob

  3. hear, hear on the common remarks,( or is it here,here) and thank god almighty the house is paid for-- what a great feeling--you won't know what to do with all that extra MoneyHA Linda Sue

  4. What kind words of advice from Jolene - I am not surprised. Amazing what we can learn from our daughters - especially when we thought we knew it all. Your blog is very readable - good work. Charlena

  5. Your blogspot has been posted on my announcement page in etsy:

  6. My grandmother used the word common but she said "common as pig tracks" if someone in the family acted common like taking something that didn't belong to them or hurting someone else. Common can also be defined, in my opinion, as "lower consciousness" that is, unaware of ourself or the effect of our actions on others ( or the universe, for that matter!) Love the blog,
    Sharon T