No. 399

Do you ever get down-in-the-mouth because of some of the mundane tasks you have to do each day or each week? If you do, I have something to share with you that may change your perspective. To be sure, everything is relative. We don't appreciate the sunshine until it's rained or been cloudy for several days in a row, we don't appreciate good health until we have spent several days in the sick bed or a hospital and we don't appreciate having enough money to pay all our bills until we have been through some really hard times.
And to add one more, a housewife does not really appreciate a washer and dryer unless she's had the experience of a Kentucky grandmother that I read about a few days ago. This grandmother had written down some washday instructions for a new bride. As you will soon see this was many, many years ago before we had any of our time saving, labor saving appliances that most of us take for granted today. If for no other reason, what I want to share with you will give you a new appreciation for what you do have. As I share these instructions, keep in mind that this was not only many years ago, but these instructions are in the original wording and spelling and they even contain a little philosophy.
The central theme is "Honey, it's washday and you better be up early." "1. Bilt fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. 2. Set tubs so smoke won't blow in eyes if wind is pert. 3. Shave one hole cake of lie soap in billin water. 4. Sort things, make 3 piles, 1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1 pile work britches and rags. 5. To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with billin water. 6. Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and then bile. Rub colored don't bile, just rinch and starch. 7. Take things out of kettle with broomstick handle, then rinch, and starch. 8. Hang old rags on fence. 9. Spread tea towels on grass. 10. Pore rinch water in flowerbed. 11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water. 12. Turn tubs upside down. 13. And here is the kicker....Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings."
Well, that's the end of it and I want you to know that the spelling in these instructions drove my computer spell-check crazy. However, I love to read things like this because it reminds me of how very blessed we are to be alive in these exciting times. Why not tape this column up in your washroom and the next time you get to feeling a little low, take a moment and reread it. As I said earlier, it could change your perspective for that day. The people who lived back in the pioneer days of our nation had it much harder in many ways, but they did not have the distractions and the stress that pervades our society today. I might also add that my father was from Kentucky, the 15th state to enter the Union, and this gives me a special feeling for the people of the Bluegrass State.
If you will allow me, I would like to take the balance of this space to just offer you a word of encouragement. Even the most self-sufficient among us gets discouraged and depressed from time to time. It's just human nature for our emotions to do things to us when things are not going right. A good place to start is to sit down and count your blessings. If you are down, what do you have going for you that can help to get you back up? I've found that when I'm discouraged that having a good friend to talk with helps me greatly. There are people who care about you and me and that's one of the greatest blessings any of us could ever have.
The best antidote for discouragement has always been intelligent action. Begin now to make plans for a brighter future. What can you do to serve and help other people? After all, this is where most of our rewards come from. Change your attitude toward others, if that's something that is holding you back. Other than health reasons, most of our discouragement comes when we have failed to do something or someone else has failed us. Several years ago I developed a personal philosophy that has helped me tremendously and I want to share it with you.
Every once in a while I will have someone treat me rudely, fail to keep a promise or not live up to my expectations. When this happens, here is the course of action that I take. First, I forgive them, because if I don't it will just keep me upset and my mind occupied in a nonproductive way for days or even weeks. Here is the thought that really helps. If someone has done something to me and it's undeserved, I realize they already have more problems than they need. So, I don't want to do or say anything that will add to them. I always try to leave others in a better frame of mind than the way I found them. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)