Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

by Beverly Hobbs Shea From as early as I can remember, my parents used to say to always “own” my words and actions, to take responsibility when it was mine to take, and to let integrity be my both my inner guide and the one hallmark of my existence. That was in the 50s and 60s – long before it was a fashionable retro quality to be referred to. That was the time when I roller skated with a key hung around my neck and no helmet, when I left the house right after breakfast and returned when it got dark (sans cellphone), and when teachers walked the classroom aisles with threatening wooden ruler in hand because no words were needed. It was clearly a time when self-discipline, internal fortitude, and respect molded us into the adults we were expected to be. Everyone has their own path; it’s not for one to judge what’s in another’s heart and mind. But while it’s not right to judge, it’s hard not to observe the fruit of those early years as it ripens with age and manifests. Speaking strictly for myself, I’ve often wondered what happened to many of those roller-skating neighborhood kids as I now interact with them as adults; I just remind myself that adults are just kids in bigger bodies (myself included)! What happened that our generation collectively forgot the values of hard and honest work, and of teaching the ones that look to emulate us? Did we abdicate our duty to demonstrate that it’s more important to stand for what is correct and right than it is to sit for what is popular and mediocre ? And as I did when my own children were young, I now seek to operate with the very same values the preceding generation passed down to me -- not just parents and teachers, but early employers and mentors who modeled skill sets both professionally and personally. I find myself grateful now for the opportunity to look people in the eye and say what I mean, and mean what I say; and to know that actions always speak louder than even the loudest words. Visit