The Insidious Nature of ‘Nice’

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Growing up, I was your quintessential ‘nice girl.’ Teachers liked me. My parents trusted me. The mere thought of detention was enough to give me a panic attack. I smiled at people in the halls, served in student council, and mediated disputes between friends. My idea of trouble was sneaking a single wine spritzer from the garage on New Year’s Eve senior year and promptly blaming it on my sister. You get the idea…

For a long time, I derived a lot of my self-worth from that descriptor: ‘nice girl.’ And it wasn’t until I had a daughter of my own that I began to understand how truly sad that is.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that I have since thrown decency and decorum out the window—far from it. What it does mean is that I have come to realize how much value I ascribe to others’ opinions of me, and the many ways in which it has held me back from my true self.

When you’re a ‘nice girl,’ you don’t want to rock the boat; you hate confrontation; you are a born people pleaser. So it’s been hard taking those first tentative steps toward finding my voice and summoning the courage to make it public. But I have reached a point where it no longer feels optional. My kids need to know what it means to stand for something and I intend to be their teacher.

So I write.

I write about anything and everything that moves me. I write to be a voice for those unable or not yet ready to use their own. But I always write sincerely, with the intent of furthering an idea, a cause, or fractured dialogue. And, yes, sometimes—in fact, oftentimes—that includes writing about politics.

Trust me, I fully understand that a large percentage of the population has an aversion to it. Our elected officials, on the whole, make it pretty easy. And it’s hard to escape the pervasive belief that political opinions ought not to be shared. But I think there’s a danger in keeping silent about policies that change the fabric of our country; and I think we do a disservice to our children by modeling apathy and actively ignoring intellectual conversation. It’s okay to disagree. Our kids need to understand that.

And yet, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately. As it becomes ever more clear that our country is heading into turbulent times, as the average citizen feels more of a pull to weigh in on matters of state, there are those waiting in the wings to casually dismiss such commentary with empty platitudes.

Be nice, they plead.

Can’t we all just get along? 

I love everybody. Just agree to disagree.

If something doesn’t affect you, leave it alone.

Nice people of the world: I see you. I know your hearts are in the right place. But the world is not always as nice as you are. Bad things happen. Cultural turbulence and political unrest don’t bow down to adorable pictures of kittens and puppies. I mean, we all love them and thanks for reminding us of the good in the world, but don’t dismiss the voices you hear—from either side. Your reminders to be kind and compassionate are helpful and needed, but assuming passivity is the path to those ends is a dangerous mistake.

Listen, playing the referee and toeing the line is exhausting. I know; I did it for years. Just understand that it’s okay to allow yourself to be drawn into serious topics because they speak to your values and your vision for the future. You can be both polite and passionate. Your opinions matter. Your words matter. You matter.

So stop being ashamed that you are a fully functioning human with valid opinions. Don’t preface that lone partisan post with any variation of, “I promise, this is the only thing I’ll say about politics.” Just don’t. Stop. It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy.

And you know what? You’re still a good person, even when you shed the ‘nice girl’ image. I promise.

But, in the future, try not to worry so much about it. There’s something insidious about that word: ‘nice.’ It’s not always enough to be agreeable and pleasant. In fact, it’s not always appropriate to be those things.

‘Nice’ implies deference. It demands the quiet acceptance of completely unacceptable things. ‘Nice’ requires your silence so as not to ruffle feathers, to honor hazy rules of decorum. ‘Nice’ says, “honor congeniality above all else, principles and passions be damned.”

‘Nice,’ it turns out, is not very nice at all.

What you can be? Empathetic, respectful, informed, brave, and even outspoken—every day, without apology. Because when ‘nice’ demands your silence or shames you from civic-mindedness, it’s no longer a flattering descriptor.

These days, I’m not sure others would still describe me as a ‘nice girl.’ But these days, I grab my own damn wine spritzers whenever I want. Things change. You can, too.

  • C
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Blog Goals – 2017

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Well folks, two down and one to go! You’ve already read about our individual resolutions for this year, but what about the blog itself? We’ve got big goals on that front, as well. We hope you’ll stick around for the next twelve months and keep us accountable!

1.) Generate Discussion

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Beneath the many topics and opinions we cover, the underlying message of our blog never changes: we believe everyone, women especially, should be empowered to use their voices and speak up. We are not satisfied with passive discontent, and you shouldn’t be either. Nothing ever changes when silence overrules objection. This year, we’re going to rock the boat. We want you to rock it with us. We resolve to continue writing for you, but, we will also constantly be challenging you with a variety of other content via our social media pages. The hope is to facilitate discussion and work together to learn the art of listening to and appreciating opposing points of view. The topics may be silly or serious, but your commentary is always sincerely appreciated. If you are open to participating and helping us reach our goal, be sure to follow our social media pages below:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

2.) Expand Our Focus (Marketing and technology)

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Speaking of social media, uh… we’re still new to the game. Honestly, we’re pretty disappointing for a pair of Millenials, so our goal this year is to dedicate some serious time and energy into figuring out how to maximize our viewership through social media. We love to write. We love to write for you. But that doesn’t do much good when our readership is low. So tag all your friends! Share every post! Send us some love! We want to help all women find the courage to use their voice.

(Okay, okay, calling on you to increase our readership isn’t exactly the goal here… we know we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and get to work! …but you’re always free to send us some love!)

3.) Amplify Your Voices

Notice how we keep saying that our goal is to encourage women be vocal about issues that matter to them? We mean it! While the two of us have plenty to say, (seriously, one of us is almost always talking while the other always has conversations happening in her head. We’ll let you figure out who is who!) simply expressing our own opinions doesn’t fully embrace our mission. We want to hear from you!

Our goal for this year is to highlight voices from every background and persuasion. Have an idea you can’t get out of your head? Dying to share some profound or perfectly mundane insight about parenthood or careers? Passionate about a news story making the rounds and want to share your own opinion? Write it down and send it our way. We just might feature it on the blog! And don’t stress about whether or not you think you’re a good writer. Take a step out of your comfort zone and give it a whirl. We can tell you from experience, it’s worth the effort! When you’re ready, simply send us a message through any of our social media sites or email us at loudisladylike@gmail.com

Cheers to a new year, friends! 2017 is going to be great!

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  • K & C

Resolutions for 2017 – C

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Well, it’s a new year and that means it’s time for new resolutions! Being that we are already more than one week into 2017, timeliness is clearly not one of them. Sorry.

I’ve made resolutions in the past but, honestly, I can’t remember the last time I outlined a specific plan for myself that I successfully maintained. With little kids and hectic days, I’ve felt fairly successful just putting one foot in front of the other the last few years.

But goals are important. I want my kids to know they are important, too. That’s why I’m making a concerted effort this year to model what it looks like to set and achieve them.

Putting my goals in writing is a new and important step for me. Converting vague notions into concrete plans should keep me focused, while my own words will help to keep me accountable — hopefully!

So here goes…

1.) For My Health: Drink More Water

* The basic idea

I drink way too much diet soda and want to stop. I’ve gone long periods without it before but always come back and I think it’s because I try to deprive myself until I decide it’s no longer convenient or worthwhile. This time, the goal isn’t overtly to restrict drinking diet soda but to increase the amount of water I drink. If reaching for water becomes my new normal, then the amount of diet soda I drink will necessarily decrease. My mindset is all about feeling healthy instead of feeling like I’m making a sacrifice.

*The specific plan

I have already bought a 24 oz. water bottle with a straw, which I know makes it easier for me to consume more water. To meet recommendations for daily intake, I need to refill my bottle with water at least 3 times per day. That will be the goal!

2.) For My Happiness: Continue Writing

* The basic idea

Although it’s only been about 6 months, starting this blog with my sister has already brought so much fulfillment and reignited a passion for writing that I’ve had since I was a little kid. The goal is to simply keep it going! Sounds easy enough but it’s hard to carve out time for writing with toddlers running around all day (and sometimes all night). I’ve been in this place before, where I start writing and feeling great about what I’m doing only to let life get in the way. Hey there, unfinished novel — I’m talking about you!

* The specific plan

The mantra for this year will be: slow and steady wins the race. I’m realistic enough to know that my life is too crazy right now for any sort of daily expectations. That would only lead to failure at this point. The idea is just to keep putting pencil to paper on a consistent basis. I am challenging myself to write something (even just a rough draft) for the blog and at least one other endeavor each week. I was thrilled to have my writings featured in several publications this past year, but the long term goal is to start building an income, no matter how small. Money isn’t everything, of course, but the day I receive a check will be the day I really feel like a writer!

3.) For My Family: Put Down the Phone

* The basic idea

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve become glued to my phone over the past few years. Parenting as an introvert can be exhausting because I never get the kind of alone time I crave. Feeling touched out and overwhelmed makes it easy to slip into mindlessly checking social media or playing a game. The problem is that it is significantly harder to climb out of it and I sometimes end up responding to my kids or my husband without even looking up from the phone. That’s a problem. I know that kind of behavior is dismissive and detrimental to healthy relationships. I want my family to feel how much I love them by being present and attentive.

*The specific plan

Step 1: Delete games from my phone. There is only one game I ever play but it can really zone me out because it’s so mindless. That game is already gone and won’t be coming back.

Step 2: Replace it with reading or writing. Putting down my phone won’t change the fact that, as an introvert, I simply can’t engage on an intense level all day long or else I will lose my mind. And, you know what? Toddlers are super intense! The goal needs to be finding a more productive outlet to recharge. So instead of reaching for my phone, I will either reach for a book or grab my laptop to write. This makes so much more sense than playing a silly game because I love to read but feel like I never have enough time. In truth, I haven’t made time to the best of my ability. There’s also the bonus of modeling good habits for my kids, who I hope become readers too. And scribbling down a couple lines or ideas helps me achieve resolution #2! In the past, I’ve ignored these choices because I reasoned that I couldn’t get any quality reading or writing done with the kids around. But you know what? Something is always better than nothing. I’m a mom. The conditions are never just right. It’s time to fully digest that and move forward with goals outside of putting one foot in front of the other and surviving the day.

So will I be successful? Stay tuned to find out!

 

  • C

 

 

Published Articles

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We love sharing out stories and opinions with you. Occasionally, editors give us the opportunity to reach an even wider audience. Take a peek at our published pieces below and keep checking back as our outreach grows!

The Day It Dawned On Me That I’m Not So Young Anymore – Scary Mommy, 8 September 2016

Hey Kid, Get Outta My Bed! – Scary Mommy, 13 September 2016

The Truth About Sleepless Nights – Scary Mommy, 14 September 2016

A Vote Against Trump Is A Vote For My Daughter – The Huffington Post, 28 September 2016

I Had No Idea How Hard Being A Military Spouse Would Be – SheKnows, 9 October 2016 (originally published as “I Did Not Know”)

10 Things Your FRG Leader Wishes You Knew – Military Spouse, 1 November 2016

Stop Assuming It’s My Fault I That I Have A Fussy Baby – SheKnows, 12 November 2016 (originally published as “Insane Advice You Get When You Have A Fussy Baby)

I Don’t Care If Zumba Isn’t Cool Anymore – I Still Love It – SheKnows, 29 November 2016 (originally published as “5 Reasons Why Every Mom Needs to Hop on the Zumba Train”)

Why the “Heartbeat Bill” is Truly Heartless – The Huffington Post, 9 December 2016

Yes, There Are Advantages To My Husband Being Deployed – SheKnows, 24 December 2016 (originally published as “Don’t Just Survive Deployments, Embrace Them”)

It’s Inauguration Day And, Yes, I Am Watching – The Huffington Post, 20 January 2017

To My MilSpouse Friends: Politics Aside, I’m Still Me –  featured on NextGenMilSpouse, 11 March 2017

Compromise: I’ll Stop Talking Politics When You Quit Recruiting Me Into Your Leggings Cult – Scary Mommy, 14 April 2017

  • C & K

10(ish) Facebook Pages You Need to “Like” Today

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Admit it: you find yourself scrolling through some form of social media on a daily basis, sometimes mindlessly. We all do it – well, most of us anyway. We do it for a variety of reasons and in numerous ways but its influence is undeniable. It has simply become a way of life for many of us. Of course, we’ve all felt that tinge of guilt from time to time, too. After all, is it really worth quality time with friends and family to sneak a peak at the vacation pictures of a classmate you haven’t spoken to in a decade? Probably not.

Kick the guilt and tailor your social media in more positive ways instead. I’ve given you a head start with these 10(ish) Facebook pages to start following. Ranging from practical to educational to inspirational, they make your social media world a little more worthwhile and a lot more capable of changing your real life for the better.

1.)  Special Books by Special Kids

You may not be familiar with his site, but you have probably seen the videos of him complimenting his students as a daily ritual. A special education teacher, Chris Ulmer is on a mission to bring awareness and empathy to the joys and struggles of special needs individuals. To do so, he now travels the world interviewing children and adults, bringing much needed visibility to the community. Check out the Miracle Baby video where he talks with a family who is near and dear to my own heart.

2.) I fucking love science

Don’t let the language deter you. This page is definitely a keeper! They bill themselves as “the lighter side of science” – a description that fits well. From technology to astronomy to archeology, there’s something here for everyone. And if you’ve ever wondered why nipples get erections, you’re in luck! Bizarre and informative, this site is sure to teach you something new everyday.

Honorable mentions: LiveScienceScienceDump, and Science Channel.

(Like ’em all and watch your brain grow!)

3.) mental_floss

We all have that one annoying person in our lives who can whip out the most random piece of trivia at any given moment. If you’re me, you have two. But you love them anyway and secretly wish you could be like them. Well now you can! Keep your curiosity satiated and your pockets full of winnings from your local bar’s next trivia night. This is a page you can’t afford to pass up!

4.) Buy Me That

Guys, we are 116 days away from Christmas. If you think that sounds like a lot, you are either way more organized than I am or don’t have kids… or both. The truth is, we all know Santa is going to sneak up on us like the shifty home intruder he is so it’s time to start preparing! Check out this site for some truly unique gifts. It takes the stress out of store shopping and even gives you a heads up on all the best deals. I particularly love their ever changing “Can You Get Through This Post Without Spending $50?” And the answer is no. No, I cannot.

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You know you want it! (not the dysentery)

5.) Politifact

I realize this election year might be making you wish you were a fish or an alien or anything else that would negate your duties as an American citizen BUT it’s always important to stay informed of the world around you, even if that world seems to have been lifted straight out of a poorly written and confusing cartoon. Politifact saves the day with their easy to understand graphics and in depth explanations of statements made by government officials. Some cry bi-partisan reporting but since they have been accused by followers of both major parties, it’s safe to assume that the truth does, in fact, hurt. Their Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 2008 election ain’t too shabby, either.

6.) Tasty

One of the first things my husband learned about me when we moved in together was that I’m a terrible cook. Oops… I guess I forgot to mention it! Years later, I still feel uncomfortable in the kitchen but I truly love this page. Their quick videos provide dinner inspiration in our house at least 4 nights a week because they are so delicious and so easy. This will become your go to meal planning site, for sure!

7.) The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

When life gets you down and the news becomes too depressing to watch, you’ll be glad you’ve added this page. In addition to uplifting stories, they provide resources for teachers and concrete ways to make a difference. Their website opens with the following:

Imagine a world.
Where people look out for each other.
Where we all pay it forward.
Where success is measured in selfless acts.
Where kindness is the philosophy of life.

You need this in your life. Trust me.

8.) Weird History

Your textbooks didn’t cover cover it all. Not even close. This page takes an entertaining and informative approach to history that will keep you coming back for more.

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Because if you didn’t giggle before when you heard the name, President Johnson, you definitely will from now on.

If history is your thing, consider these as well: History In PicturesHistory Uncovered, and HistoryBuff.com

9.) FiveThirtyEight

Nate Silver is a renowned statistician who buoyed his original site into the larger umbrella of FiveThirtyEight. Dissecting politics, sports, economics, and a variety of other issues, it provides mere mortals, like me, with a data-driven understanding of the world in which we live. You’ll be intrigued by their predictions and appreciative of the follow up. In a world where we have such difficulty knowing who and what to believe, this page is refreshingly analytical and uncompromising.

10.) George Takei

You’ll come for the content but stay for the puns because George can always make you laugh.What I appreciate most about this page is that he constantly encourages discussion and healthy debate, just like we do here at Loud Is Ladylike. Trust me on this one, Sulu and his presentation of current events are out of this world.

….See what I did there?

Happy interneting, friends!

  • C

**C also writes for POMP USA, a start up company promoting businesses owned by service members, veterans, and their spouses.

Please visit www.pompusa.org for more information**

 

On Carnations and Memories

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I only remember snippets of it as I must have been only 4 or 5, but I recall waiting in a velour red dress at the base of the neighbor girl’s spiral staircase. You were there in a gray suit laughing and conversing with her father. Each us us girls – myself, my older sister, and the neighbor – were given corsages made of carnations which was a tremendous thrill! We had yet to grow up and be spoiled by giant bouquets and wedding nosegays.

At some point, we all must’ve made our way to a Daddy Daughter dance because my next recollection is of being in a large, brightly-lit room filled with cookies and punch. It doesn’t appear in my memories to be a particularly familiar place but it may very well have been the local elementary school or community center. Age and time have a funny way of changing one’s perspective so that what is now well-known seems altogether foreign.

Within this dream-like memory, I recall a competition taking place; one that required us to dance together to “Twist and Shout.” The details are quite hazy. Did the rules stipulate that we not stop moving? Did a judge call people out based on some sort of criteria? Who knows. But I do know that we were somehow one of the last groups on the floor. We were going to win! I just knew it! I was so so excited and then… a side cramp hit and we were out.

Just like that.

I was devastated. Heartbroken. We had lost and it was all my fault! The term “devastation” may seem over-the-top but the fact that this memory stays with me after a good 25 years seems to indicate that the shoe fits. But you know what else has stuck with me through all these years? Your reaction. You gave me a hug and acknowledged that losing can be hard but that dancing together, not winning, was what made you most happy. In that moment, you taught me to go easy on myself and helped me recognize in your gentle way that losing is an inevitable and essential part of life.

Fast forward a decade and some odd years. I am sitting on my bed, a miserable sobbing mess, as you eye my report card. As I nervously await your response, I am sure that I am doomed. Doomed! I had failed a class. Me! Miss teacher’s pet. Miss overachiever. Miss people pleaser. Surely, you would make me feel your disappointment in a way that would shake my bones. Surely, your anger would fill up the room and rain down upon me.

But it didn’t happen.

Instead, you pulled out a paper shredder and let it eat up all those terrible feelings that had been gnawing me to the core. You saw my shame and, instead of exposing it, wiped it clean. It was an act of tenderness and love that I will never forget. In that moment, you showed me the power of compassion over punishment. With that single action, you empowered me to move forward and not let guilt impede my future achievements.

In those days, boys came and went. I was certainly no serial dater but when I did fall, I fell hard. Their gifts of roses and jewelry made me feel special; and the feeling of being wanted, as you know, is just about the pinnacle of teenage objectives. You were always polite toward those few boys who made it through our front door but there was a noticeable absence of enthusiasm on your part. It didn’t sting or feel particularly meaningful at the time but, looking back, it spoke volumes. You were pleading with me through that stillness to see that neither roses nor their absence should ever define me. You needed me to know that my self-worth should never depend on the affections of a boy. I got there… eventually.

The years passed quickly. You saw me through both high school and college graduations (never again coming even close to failing a class thank you very much).  I saw myself as a bonafide adult while you continued to see in my eyes that freckle faced little girl of my youth; and, in many ways, I was.

I had no idea what I was in for when I decided to move halfway across the country to be with the man I would spend the rest of my life with. But you helped me load up a small moving truck and drive far away from the only home I had ever known anyway. I was ecstatic. You, I’m sure, were not; though you never let on. In my doe-eyed, love struck stupor, I was certain that eternal bliss was within grasp.

Of course, you knew better. Anyone who has ever been married knows better. But you also knew we would have to figure that out ourselves; so without betraying your insight into my blind optimism, you pulled me into a giant bear hug when all the unpacking was finished and simply said, “I’m not sure I’m ready for this.” I playfully rolled my eyes and mentioned I would be home to visit soon but we both knew that our lives were changing forever. And, in that moment, you showed me the strength in letting go, of giving your love away willingly to someone else even when it hurts.

We have spent countless precious moments together. Teachable moments. Moments that have stuck with me, that have made an impact, even when they seem to have slipped by unnoticed. I want you to know today that I do notice them. I cherish them, even now – perhaps especially now – as I parent my own children and strive to follow your example. You were my first and best teacher. And while it may have been years since I last sat behind a desk, Lord knows those freckles still come out when the sun shines and your little girl will always be thrilled by a carnation from her daddy.

 

  • C

 

**C also writes for POMP USA, a start up company promoting businesses owned by service members, veterans, and their spouses.

Please visit www.pompusa.org for more information**

 

 

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The Mistake I Had No Excuse To Make

Today I had to attend a training for work. It was a training that is done once a year, every year. I was already annoyed about it because we were given last minute notice about the training (I get frustrated when I feel like my time is being disrespected – but that’s another post for another time). As I got up from my desk to walk to the training across base I thought to myself, “I’ll just look through the cute pictures on my phone of Quinn during it”. The training was being held in a large auditorium and there would be tons of people. Nobody will even notice, right?

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As I took my seat in the auditorium, all set to pull out my phone I had another thought, “What if I was the one giving today’s training?” If I were the one giving today’s training would I feel disrespected if someone was looking at their phone the whole time? Yes. If I were the one giving today’s training would I find it appropriate for anyone to be on their phone or slouching over in their chair? No.

You see it doesn’t matter if I have attended the training one time before or a hundred times before. It’s not about the training, it’s about respect. My original thought was focused on me, and only me. I have attended this training before and so I don’t want to again. All along, I should have been thinking about others. The people who took the time to put the PowerPoint together, the gentlemen talking in front of hundreds of people, the triad of our base who took the time to make sure they were there and representing. How disrespectful of me to think that the amount of time they put into today’s training was not worth my time.

You know what though? I wasn’t totally wrong in thinking about myself. I should have been thinking, how do I want to represent myself? How do I want to represent my husband? How do I want to represent the organization that I work for? What would I want my daughter to do one day when she’s in the same position?

Yes, I may just be one person on my phone, and maybe no one would see me looking down at it. But if I had that thought, what if half or even a quarter of the attendees had the same thought? Have you ever stood in front of a group of people giving a presentation? It doesn’t matter if it’s 20 people or hundreds, you better damn well believe you can see it all. You see those looking at their phones, you see those sleeping, you see those who are making it overwhelmingly clear with their posture that the last place they want to be is right there. I imagine that can be so deflating for a presenter. I KNOW it can be.

I can’t forget to mention the narrow-mindedness of it all. Yes, I’ve had this training two times already before, but does that mean that I won’t learn something new? Even if it’s the smallest new detail that was a new bit of information for me then it was a success. Even if I didn’t learn anything new but I respectfully went, listened and carried myself in such a way that didn’t deflate the speaker and therefore someone else who hadn’t had the training before learned something new, it was a success. I previously mentioned how I hate when my time is feeling disrespected. Then how come I felt it was okay to disrespect someone else’s time?

Respect. One simple word that it all comes down to. One simple concept that is all too easily thrown aside for selfish reasons. I didn’t want to go. That was it, that was the only reason I had to give for being disrespectful to others. When did it become okay to be on our phones when others were talking? When did it become okay for us to not look at someone who is addressing us? When did it become okay for us to slouch in our chairs while someone is taking time out of their day to provide us with information?

It’s not.

Yet it happens all the time. I know that I’m not the only one to have the thought of being on my phone today. I can guarantee there are people who did sit through the training sleeping or on their phone. I saw plenty who were slouched over in their chairs so “burdened” with the task of being there. Today, so many people seem to have this notion that what they want is supposed to come first. Like we are entitled to always decide when and how we want to do something. When it doesn’t go our way, we interpret it as a personal attack. Well tough. This is life, and sometimes we’re all going to have to do things we don’t want to do. That should never negate our responsibility to be respectful to one another.

I’m grateful I caught myself and looked at the greater picture and implications if I were to make that choice. It’s easy to forget the power of one. Each of us has a choice every day to be a positive impact or negative one. I’m not perfect, and some days in my weak moments, I’m sure I’ll make the lesser choice. This is an easy one though. There is no reason for any of us to make the lesser choice in this type of situation. In a world today where other distractions are so easily accessible we need to remember that respect should come first, needs to come first. We all need to do better.

• K