Wow, I can’t believe it took me watching the film, Mr. Rogers and Me to remember some of his simple words and how timeless they truly are.

I can watch disasters happen on TV and empathize deeply with the victims. However, I sob when they get to the part of the heroes. I always have. Just sitting here thinking about the word hero evokes all sorts of feelings in me. Deep respect, admiration, generosity. I feel it in my throat first, you know, that “I’m trying not to cry” feeling. It’s the vulnerable, REAL part of me. 

Susan Stamberg of NPR said when there was a disaster of some kind she would call Mr. Rogers for advice to parents about how to talk to the children, and in an honest way, he would not sugarcoat it, but he would say, “Look for the heroes!” 

Many of us think of heroes as those who protect our country, police, firefighters, doctors and nurses, emts, those who save lives. I particularly love hearing about those everyday people, those like you and me, who muster up the courage to do something for a stranger. Those mothers who put themselves in harms way, or who give up something significant to them for the sake of their children. They are heroes. Think about the Las Vegas gun shooting. How many strangers risked their lives for others? How many men threw themselves on top of other people? These are the actions that move me to tears. 

Think about people on a mission, those with high ideals that make a commitment to change, to democracy, to making the world a better, safer, kinder place. 

Mr. Rogers was that kind of hero. He taught children, in over 900 episodes over 17 years, that they were perfect as they are. 

I love you just the way you are!

Take that in. What does it mean to be loved just the way you are. That you are good enough. Seriously, I never heard that as a child. I never believed it and if truth be told, I still have trouble with it today. Even with my own children who I love and adore, I always pushed them to be better, do this, look this way, act that way. They did not, unfortunately, get the message from me, that they were perfect exactly as they are. 

We do better when we know better.

I see my granddaughter, and get into defensive grammy mode and I know, deep down inside me, she is perfect as she is. And, I revel in the joy of all of her. I’m not comparing her like I did my own kids. I want her to know kindness. I want her to know she is loved exactly as she is. I want her to know she is important and can do great things, big and small, to make a difference in the world. Just a smile, a kindness, being nice to her dog, all of that is enough, more than enough. 

Being kind and being present is what Mr. Rogers taught. He said to go deep with people. Be curious about them, be still with them, don’t rush off because you are too busy to listen, too busy to take the time. Notice nature, don’t rush through it. 

My new motto may just be, “what would Mr. Rogers do?” lol 

And without knowing it, I think that is why I’m doing more work with legacy. What is important at the end of life will never be the “stuff” we accumulated, it will be the people we’ve touched and those who have touched us. It will be the little kindnesses. 

It starts with ourselves. Can we love ourselves just the way we are? Can we forgive our perceived imperfections? Can we just give ourselves a break from beating ourselves up? 

Something to think about. In the meantime, be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Hopefully the rest will follow. 

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