Thursday, October 21, 2010

It was one of those nights. I fell asleep the minute my head hit the pillow, but at 2:45am my body must have thought it was time for breakfast. My stomach was growling so loudly I woke up. After 45 minutes of trying to solve the world’s problems, counting backwards from 100 and flopping around like a dog searching for a comfortable position, I gave up and got up.

With a bottle of water and a magazine, I went to my thinking chair. Then I was glad I was up. There was a near full moon over the lake and it was worth being awake to see. My stomach growled again. How could I be hungry? I was determined to not open the pantry or refrigerator for fear I might develop that disorder where you get up in the night and forage all through the kitchen and never remember it.

I ended up reading an article about Mr. Rogers in Success magazine. I knew he had done wonderful things for children and parents with his cardigan sweater and lace up tennis shoes, but I had no idea he had accumulated so many awards. He has the longest running show on public broadcasting. He won four Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards and Lifetime Achievement Awards and has more than 40 honorary degrees from colleges and universities.

Fred Rogers started life out shy and overweight with asthma so he spent a lot of time indoors with his piano and his maternal Grandfather Fred McFeely who helped him understand the tremendous worth of every person. One of the main characters on his show is a kind and loving Mr. McFeely. As he grew up he used his childhood experiences to write scripts that dealt with the issues kids face.

In 2003 Mr. Rogers died leaving behind a legacy to be enjoyed for a long time. The question was asked whether Mr. Rogers is relevant today with all the other fast paced, bright light options. My question is how can teaching kindness, love and high standards of integrity every go out of style?

I snuggled back into bed remembering the famous Mr. Rogers words, “You are special and I like you just the way you are.” I went right to sleep. There’s proof itself that calm and slower paced is good for children and adults too.

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