Write Right No Matter Who is Reading

I am both blessed and thankful for all of the opportunities my education has and will continue to afford me. Thus, seeing and hearing people bash education or say it isn’t necessary, makes my stomach turn. As an educator, I realize that school is not for everyone. Heck, my own brother is one of the most well spoken people you’ll ever meet and he only spent two years in higher education before deciding to stop out. However, I also appreciate that deciding to stick it out sets you apart from the masses.

One simply cannot brag about not being educated, then speak or write in a way that says it without requiring their bragging. In other words, those among you who are educated can tell you are not educated by the way you both speak and write. Now, I do have to admit, that there are some folks that graduated from college and still speak like they attended Backwoods University. Thankfully, that is only a small number of people. Frankly, all that means to me is that you were not completely invested in your time spent at college. Also never forget that self-education is where true knowledge lies.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh, E! You only care because you were an English Literature major in undergrad and grew up with an English teacher in your house.” While all of that is true, I’m not the only one who still cares about grammar. A professor at my job just asked me if we had someone in our office who could help one of her students work on his basic writing skills because an email he wrote to her was subpar. Even punctuation and grammar still matter in little things like emails.

Just this morning I stumbled upon a blog post by CNN anchor, Fareed Zakaria. He was asked to be the keynote commencement speaker at Sarah Lawrence in New York. He wrote about the power of a liberal arts education, realizing very quickly that anyone can memorize and regurgitate stuff they’ve memorized, but expressing his own ideas was altogether different. “Whether you’re a novelist, a businessman, a marketing consultant or historian, writing forces you to make choices and it bring clarity and order to your ideas,” says Fareed. See my point? I’m not the only one who thinks this matters.

Let me be clear. In no way am I saying that everyone should be like Maya Angelou when it comes to writing; no one can be like her because that was God given talent. Nor am I saying that I am the bees-knees when it comes to writing/editing. What I am saying is that having the ability to write (and speak), sets you a part from a whole lot of people. Like Fareed Zakaria said, Whatever you do in life, the ability to write clearly, cleanly and, I would add, quickly, will prove to be an invaluable skill. I could not have said it better myself.

This piece is dedicated to Maya Angelou. I find it uncanny that I would need to write something off of my chest the day of her death. She has inspired myself and so many other to tell his or her story. May she rest in power. 

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Lighting that Comes From Within

As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.  –Mary Anne Radmacher

This quote immediately brings to mind both Oprah and Ellen.  Each has amassed fame and fortune owing to, I believe, their heart’s propensity to be generous, lighting an eternal flame.  One can only imagine the millions of dollars these two have donated to families in need, schools, and charities.  While you and I may never have bank accounts that look like Oprah’s or Ellen’s, we can agree that giving is a reciprocal and precious commodity.  In fact, it yields the keys to happiness.

Do you volunteer a Saturday each month at the local food pantry? Do you mentor a young adult who has taken an interest in your profession?  Taking advantage of these kinds of opportunities will benefit everyone involved.  When we take a genuine interest in things like this, something deep within us begins to develop. That “something” may turn into a passion. What if you discover that your talent makes the critical contribution to the local junior high musical?  What if teaching a cousin to play basketball leaves a smile on his face long after your game of “horse?”

I hear you saying you don’t have time.  Just make sure your heart is part of whatever is your chosen contribution.  If you do what you love, the time spent will not feel like work and you will be more likely to do it again.  Step outside of your comfort zone; outside of your comfort zone is where you discover yourself, and on a larger scale, the world.

This is meant to simply encourage you to look at the plethora of benefits in giving.  It may help you to connect with someone you never thought you would have, had you not struck up a conversation with that person.  Maybe it will be so powerful that it inspires you to start an organization like TOMS.  He got that idea from some kind of service, right?  Taking us back to the quote we began with, I think we can all agree that it has brightly lit his way.  Make a pledge today that you will find a way to create light for others.  There will be nothing that compares!

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