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Priorities, Wants, Needs, Money, Choices, Family, Career
Courtesy, Challenges, Diversity, Non-Fiction, Self-Help


Read the few pages. - Enjoy!


This recitation, for that’s exactly what it is, is meant to remind you what it was like to sit and listen to an old auntie or grandparent. The transfer of information from one generation to another has lost its soul, its personality. Long before internet and social media, emails, faxes, computers, typewriters, or even pen and ink, life’s lessons were transmitted from our elders to the young through stories…and that’s what this collection is: stories.

 There are stories about the young and the old; there are stories about the middle years.

 You may like reading something that sounds like someone speaking just to you. You may not. I will not take it personally if you don’t. I do, however, hope you learn something because that’s what this is all about. It’s not Confucius or Lao Tse. It’s just common, day-to-day experiences about real people that may or may not relate to the world that you are currently living in.

 This book is about finding the priorities in your life. It will try to show you the difference between what you want and what you need.

 I hope you enjoy it.

Elizabeth Stuart-Grimes






“I am, no more, no less, the reincarnation of the collective voice of my ancestors put back on Earth to teach my children and my children’s children what is important to learn in the brief period that we all call ‘a life’. I have, however, taken advantage of this time to observe and learn by watching others and to interpret my observations and lessons into the tales told by those who have gone before me.

Elizabeth Stuart-Grimes



Daily Life

Can you honestly say that you have everything you need?


For most people, yes, you have a nice home with a lovely yard, two cars, 2.6 children, a dog or cat, the children go to good schools – perhaps private or religious schools – you have a good job, your spouse has a good job, you have nice neighbors – well, maybe one or two that you could live without. The cleaning lady is honest even though you don’t understand the language she speaks. The kid who cuts the lawn seems bright enough. You get to go on vacation once a year and you were able to buy that awesome home entertainment system last year.  So, yes, you have everything that you need.


Fine. Let’s look at the question again in detail. What do you NEED? If you had to cut your expenses down to the bare minimum tomorrow, what do you absolutely have to have?


That’s simple isn’t it: You need shelter for your family, heat, food, a decent school, and, if you’re lucky, a good job where you are appreciated. You don’t really need more than that. The rest is gravy.


Look at the increasing amount of ‘tiny homes’ popping up in internet articles and deco magazines. They are people who have scaled down to live with only what they NEED.


This isn’t a lecture with a moral at the end; it’s a reality check, that’s all. Your home is where you live with your family, whether it’s a tiny apartment or a luxurious estate. You buy a house or an apartment -- you make your home. What did the grandmothers of this generation use to say? Home is where your heart is. Well, it’s true.


Okay, now you have 4 square walls with a roof over them. Add heat and electricity. If you’re lucky, add plumbing. Beyond that the rest is what you want but you’ve fulfilled the necessity part of the deal. Congratulations.


For many it’s a major breakthrough. In achieving this you’ve made a step towards defining your priorities.


If you wish to become a gourmet cook, do it. Be aware that what is important is to eat correctly and to feed your children correctly… the rest really is gravy! In seeking your priorities, perspective is important too. The cost of 100 grams of Russian caviar can feed a family of 4 for several days.


If you wish to sign your kids up for little league team sports, do it. But ask yourself why you are doing it… for them, or for something you didn’t achieve for yourself? Does your son really WANT to play football? Does your daughter really WANT to be on the gymnastic team?


This is not to second-guess parents who think their children will benefit from a team sport because they need to build confidence in themselves. We did it to our son who – at age seven – had a terrible time making friends, AND he needed to do a sport that helped him develop his right-left equilibrium. Did we force him for two years? Yes. Did he learn (with much difficulty) to be part of a group? Yes. Did he form friendships that, amusingly enough, he’ll probably have for the rest of his life? Yes. Has he turned out to be a good team player? Yes, in fact he has realized that he works better with a team in his job.


Being part of that sports team (they weren’t very good), he learned how to lose better than he learned to win. However, when they DID win, they collectively enjoyed having won together. This was a choice we made. It became a priority in our daily lives. We LIVED that team sport for more than 12 years – to the point that one of us became active in the team’s parents’ association and his little brother and sister also played. When our son asked to stop playing, we asked why and his reasons were valid. He was old enough to make that decision on his own. It’s his life; it’s his choice; it’s his list of priorities (though with a little guidance from his parents!).


Do you see what I mean by daily life priorities? We could have put him on that team but not backed it up with our time. Would we have accomplished the same thing? No, I don’t think so. Did we give up things to be there at every match to support him and his team? Yes and no. We gave up family time doing other things, but we were still all together as a family. Everyone went to the matches and, as already noted, his younger brother and little sister joined the team too. It was a choice we made as a family. For us, participation in a team sport was important and our children didn’t have that opportunity at school.




When your boss asks you to give him a plan of what you are going to do next month, it’s a way for your boss to see if you are organized and potentially productive. Can you do the same thing with your personal life? Can you see in advance that you have to be at your daughter’s dance recital or judo competition? Your son’s class has a theatrical production at school – mid-week – and he desperately wants you to be there so that you can see him be a singing rain cloud. Can you be there? How much courage does it take to ask your boss if that’s okay?


Actually, unless you have a saint for a boss, it takes a lot of courage. How many of us actually negotiated life’s little priorities into our work contract… not many, I suspect. What I am trying to say is that we all have to set an example. Don’t take advantage of your boss or your time away from the office. If your boss refuses to let you go, cope. Send your spouse with the video camera. In a few years the school will probably have a web cam (if they don’t already!) and you can watch it live without ever leaving your office. However, if a lower ranking team member or your personal assistant asks the same thing, don’t be your boss. Make the decision that you think is just and fair…put yourself in the other person’s shoes.


The bosses of this world were formed by their bosses. They fully believe that they have certain standards to maintain (of course, these standards were originally formed by reading Charles Dickens and they never finished the book to find out that Scrooge was reformed at the end). If we are going to put new priorities in place in the 21st century, we have to be patient.


Just try to focus on the time when your boss will retire, and you (hopefully) will be selected to take his place, and when you get there you will judiciously allow your employees to go home early (with their laptops and high speed internet connections) to see their kids be singing rain clouds. You see, some choices mean putting the priorities on creating happy, productive employees, too.


. . .


Okay, I think you see where I’m going with this discussion about daily life priorities. I do have one last word to say on the subject. Do you and your significant other both know how to cook? Do you both know how to do dishes and clean up the kitchen? Do you both know how to do the grocery shopping and run the washer and dryer? Good. That’s an excellent answer. There’s nothing more irritating to one partner (most notably, the wife) than to be expected to come home every night after work and cook dinner and clean up and do all the laundry.


We are no longer in a one-income world; we haven’t been for quite some time. Everyone has to work, but not everyone has to cook dinner every night…. (Was that clear enough?)


Priorities also mean understanding other people’s priorities. Learning to share the workload is a good start to a relationship.