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In 2000 I met a young gal by the name of Stephanie. She was in her twenties. Due to a birth defect, she had limited use of her hands and arms. Nevertheless, she completed college and earned a degree in special education. Her goal was to start up and operate her own private school for the handicapped.
She loved antiques. Her mother had a house full of beautiful antique furniture. It was just a simple cape cod style home. Maybe not more than 1200 square feet. But it was loaded with antiques. You’d think you were in a museum.
Our paths crossed one day as they were interested in purchasing the building I was utilizing as my office when I still lived in Illinois. It was a historic mansion built in 1889. Naturally this family and the old mansion were a perfect match.
Stephanie’s eyes lit up the first time she walked through the mansion. With her disability, in order to get down the staircase, she had to lean against the wall to help balance herself being that she was unable to hold on to the hand rail. She couldn’t wait to jump in and do what she could to decorate and take care of that grand ol’ home.
Then there was John. He was in his mid fifties. He’d been a friend of mine for several years. He was well educated. He was an accountant. He had a talent as an actor and was involved with community theater. But he was always depressed. He came from a family where both mom and dad discouraged him from following his dreams. They wanted him to get what many refer to as a “real job.”
John rented a room at the mansion for a short time. Part of the agreement was that John would take care of the building, mow the lawn, etc. But unlike Stephanie, he took no interest in it. He took no interest in life. He went to work. He came home and either watched television all night or spent his check at the local casino and managed to gamble himself so far into debt that he would never recover from it.
After he moved out of the house we lost track of John or, he lost track of us. Through a mutual friend we heard that he had a stroke and was in a nursing home but we never could find him.
When I think about Stephanie and John, I remind myself that life and how we live it all comes down to attitude and choices. There are people in this world that have nothing and yet choose to do all they can with what little they have. Then there are those who are blessed with all sorts of abilities and opportunities and yet they choose to waste their lives.
I can’t totally blame John. If parents give their children support, guide them without dictating to them, give them love, give them their time, celebrate their achievements, explain why something they did was wrong instead of just telling them they were bad, more children will be able to walk through this world with the same positive attitude Stephanie had. When parents tell their kids that they’re no good and that they won’t ever amount to much, when parents don’t spend time with them, when they don’t let them explore what’s in their heart, when they yell at them just to show them who’s boss, there’s no doubt children will end up with a poor self-image and low self-esteem just like John.
That’s just my opinion. I’m no psychologist and I never had children of my own and that’s because I’m too busy with my business and I know having kids is a commitment. If I ever had kids of my own I would want to give them as much time, attention, and love as possible.
But regardless of how we’re brought up, once we become adults the responsibility falls back on us. We can blame our parents and circumstances all we want but the bottom line is, we all are responsible for making choices and we are all responsible for our own attitudes. It’s up to us. It’s our choice. Who do you choose to be like, Stephanie or John?

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