My mother used a wringer washer until the mid-1990’s and always
hung her clothes on the line in the yard. We had a dryer, but why use it when
the sun and wind would do the job for free? She prepared a full breakfast for
us every morning and a meat-and-potatoes dinner every night. My parents grew up
during the Great Depression and were frugal; we lived within our means, and our
means were meager.
We lived simply, reusing and recycling long before it was
I have continued some of my mother’s traditions. I still hang
my laundry on the line in my yard, eat a full breakfast every morning and cook dinner
more often than I eat out. By most people’s standards, I am quite frugal—wearing
clothes until they wear out, baking from scratch and keeping cars until they
My father taught me that we all “put our pants on one leg at a time.” He respected people who had earned his respect. In his eyes, no one person was better than anyone else, and he kowtowed to no one. From him, I learned to view all people as equals.
In my mid-twenties, I spent my lunch hour swimming in a
hotel pool across the street from my office. One day, another swimmer
approached me. He and his friends were staying at the hotel for a few days, and
he asked if I could recommend a restaurant. I explained that I was new to town
so I could not help them. He asked where I was from. “Detroit,” I said.
“Hey, Bob,” he called to one of his friends. “She is from
Detroit, too.” Bob came over and we chatted about Detroit for a bit.
The next day’s newspaper featured a picture of Bob and his
friends—he was Bob Seger, and I had no clue. I wondered if he was offended that
I did not know who he was (since he was obviously famous) or if he found it
refreshing that someone who was the age of his fan base was oblivious.
Twenty years later, a friend suggested I get a television so
I could tune into pop culture. He warned that the trajectory I was on would soon
preclude me from social conversations. I relayed the pool incident to illustrate
that I was never into pop culture, nor was I much interested in conversations
Trends have passed me by, and I am ok with that. I don’t
know one fashion designer from another, and I don’t care.
What matters to me is more basic than celebrities, trends or
I care about how ordinary people are living their lives—people
who are facing challenges and difficulties—and where they are connecting with
others for support. I am more interested in where people are finding God in
their lives—those moments of transcendence, of peace and deep joy—and how they
share their blessings.
In the end, I believe those around us are a much wiser investment of our time and energy.