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Make It Personal

Greetings from New England where the weather can't seem to make up its mind. Is it still winter? Is spring aware that its "arrival" date has come and gone? Should I start putting away my boots, heavy coat and gloves? What an opportunity to laugh at ourselves as we expect one thing and get another. 

Let's dive right into this week's Seed, a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. president at the turn of the 20th century:

"Nobody cares how much you know, 

until they know how much you care."

This one really hit me when I read it. I grew up in Massachusetts, an area of the country that placed a lot of emphasis on academia. My parents struggled to buy their first home in a town that was known for its exceptional school system. That was more important to them than how far a commute my Dad would have into work. It was expected that most of us would go to college. There are 64 colleges and universities in metropolitan Boston and more than 250 in New England. In some of the more well-known schools like Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Boston College, Dartmouth, and others, it's almost assumed that your undergraduate years are simply a prelude to your graduate work and many people "collect" more than one advanced degree. I grew up thinking I had to be book-smart, meaning I would learn and retain a lot of information. 

Fortunately, for me, this was a challenge I accepted and enjoyed. I loved learning. Maybe it was because I was lucky enough to be in a town that fully supported the school system. Maybe it was because I was naturally very curious and always wanted to know more. Who knows, but I thrived in an academic setting. Unfortunately, I wasn't learning a lot about how to "be" in the world. I gathered a little common sense and my parents fostered my independent streak, however I thought life was only about how much I knew. I enjoyed doing cross-word puzzles and always having an answer to a question. I didn't dare say, "I don't know" and thought it was a judgement against my character if I didn't. I don't think I was a very nice person. I don't think I was likeable. 

Along with Oprah, I'm a huge fan of Maya Angelou. So many words of wisdom came from her lips, like:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, 

people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel."

For me, always thinking I had to let others know how much I knew, was a way to feel superior. I didn't look at it that way for a long time. I just thought it was important to show off my knowledge. I had learned to value it -- perhaps too much -- and I figured everyone else thought it was really important, too. Education is a good and necessary part of a rich life, but thoughts and ideas need to be woven into caring, concern, and compassion. 

As Teddy Roosevelt said, if you don't make a connection with people, it doesn't matter how much "good" advice you offer, no one will want to listen. I've come to understand that most of us want to feel good more than we want to get degrees. We may pursue information and strive for intelligence and this is helpful and if we really want to help others, create community, and maybe leave a legacy, we also have to show that we are interested in our fellow human beings and that we give a damn. At least that's the conclusion I've come to for myself and that's what I wish for you. 

Sparkles and Love,


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About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

is a sassy Queen-ager whose mission is to co-create a happier, healthier life with and for others.

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