What tools did you get?

I got some pretty neat tools as a kid to carry with me in life.  I had a mom who was always encouraging creativity and making something fun and exciting things out of nothing, and a dad who taught me that not all work is pretty or clean.  Sometimes you have to get dirty, and you have to crawl into some pretty tight spaces that smell like, well, crap.  But, those places are what keeps everything else upstairs working.

Some of the best memories I have from childhood are spending time at my grandparents’  farms.  One was on the 5th line in Maryland.  The other place where we went was my uncle’s house, near the Steele Line in North Onslow, which was where my dad grew up.  They’re both in the Pontiac.  I remember on Sundays eating toasted ketchup sandwiches in my grandparent’s kitchen in Maryland.  I loved those sandwiches.  Me and my grandpa.  Toast made on the wood stove…

Some might think that it is an impediment, but my scoliosis was also a physical tool that I got.  It not only got me out of gym class, which wasn’t my favourite anyway, but I got out of school alot too for my regular doctor’s appointments.  This allowed me to visit my grandma when she lived over by Carlingwood.  Not so bad.  I remember once when my grandma and I went for Chinese food at the mall.  That was fun.  I sure wish I had her to talk to now I tell ya.  She was a wise lady, I know it.

I had lots of time to write and draw when I was a kid too.  I wasn’t overscheduled, or forced into anything.  My first good story was on floppy disks for a Commodore 64 and it started with “It was a dark and stormy night…”.  I had a TRS 80 to.  I learned how to program and ripped through the Basic book as soon as I got it.  I was pretty fortunate to say the least.

I also had an older brother and sister.  Much older, so they were mostly out of the house when I grew up.  Because I never had to compete for attention, I never got the tools to deal with sibling rivalry, but I did learn “competition” at school.  I always wanted to be doing things a little differently, either ahead of the pack or on a different track altogether.  Being like everyone else didn’t appeal to me.  Dressing like everyone else didn’t appeal to me either.  I didn’t grow up with a sense of labels or why they would be important.  My favourite sweater I ever had (and still do) was handmade by my mom.  And, when I worked the summer I was 15, I bought a really expensive, mostly one of a kind, lamb-skin leather jacket.  I don’t think I would spend that much money now, but it’s what I wanted at the time…..

So, I often found myself in competition with grades in school.  I usually didn’t go looking for it, but others would try to poke me about one mark here or there.  I didn’t buy it.  I just did what I did.  I wasn’t great at everything, but I could usually get by.  And then there was the Grad Yearbook, but I won’t even go there….

I also excelled pretty quickly in every job I had (except for the one where the Regional Manager told me I would never amount to anything because I couldn’t fold a t-shirt).  At my tele-marketing job, at Cotton Ginny, at Wallack’s.  Fast-tracked, every one.  Even at my current job, considering I was a senior consultant 9 months in.  And on the Board of Governors at Heritage – I think I’d been on the Board for a month of so when I became the chair….

It’s fun doing an inventory of your life and seeing what tools you got and where they come from.  We’re all so different, and we should celebrate the differences…but sometimes people get jealous because you have something they don’t and they might try to make you feel bad about it.  Or they try to make you jealous of something they have.  I don’t get it.

The way I see it now is, people are built up from a bunch of material and a bunch of tools.  I prefer not to highlight people’s weaknesses, but rather shake the dust off strengths that people didn’t even realize they had, or something that got beaten out of them as kids.  Aren’t we all acutely aware of what our weaknesses are already?  Why do people insist on pointing them out to us?  I live with myself everyday.  I know what my kryptonite is.  It takes a pretty messed up individual to prey on the weaknesses of others.  What kind of tools did they get I wonder?  They weren’t as fortunate as I was, that’s for sure.  I know where I’m from and who I am, and I’m definitely okay with both.  If someone doesn’t like me, well, that’s their problem, not mine.

I don’t always buy the fact that you have to get rid of your weaknesses.  Sometimes we just have to rediscover our strengths, let them shine, and find the person that we never lost.

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About mizmulligan


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