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A time for revitalization, renewal and respect

The etiquette guy
Published Saturday March 21, 2009

I think we would agree that spring came none too soon. This is the time of year for renewal and revitalization. Here in New Brunswick, we watch the snow recede and the ice melt. The ground comes alive again with colourful flowers and green grass. The robins have started to return while other birds have chosen their mates for the season. I, for one, am ready to get outside more regularly, take those much needed walks and get the first greens for our spring salads planted.

In some places, however, revitalization is a way of life throughout the year. Nowhere was this more evident than in New Orleans. This city continues to rebuild from the devastation suffered from Hurricane Katrina several years ago. It takes tremendous dedication, planning and hard work. It brings out the best in individuals when they proudly work together as a community to rebuild from physical and emotional devastation.

There are many things that we, too, can do for ourselves individually that can bring about dramatic change to our own lives and the lives of those around us by drawing on the strength of such strong examples as those in New Orleans.

This may be a great time to consider planting a vegetable garden to provide a source of chemical-free food. A vegetable garden of your own also provides the option of growing exactly what you like. Another consideration is buying fruit and vegetables from local farmers or joining a produce co-operative. A new coat of paint on a neglected section of your house or replacing a rotten door might be a small step to improving your environment. Consider eating a healthier diet by eliminating as much white flour and sugar as possible. Try walking for 30 minutes a day to increase your energy and lose those extra pounds. Altering our routines in any way invariably lifts our spirits and begins to give us a different outlook on the world.

The winter affords us the time to plan ahead.

What better time to be motivated than spring when new leaves burst forth on trees, flowers begin to break through the soil, birds begin nesting and the warmth of the sun invigorates our tired bodies.

Most importantly, we want to focus on building stronger personal relationships. One of the best ways to do this is to be ever mindful of others' feelings. Put family, friends and business associates ahead of ourselves by listening to what they say. A verbal response is not always as necessary as a willing ear. Listening is one of the most sincere ways to show that we have respect for others. In turn, we show we have respect for ourselves.

For personal spring cleaning, focus on the basics. Be polite and do not forget your manners whether at a tea party with friends, business mixer with associates or dinner with family.

Remember to always look the person to whom you address directly in the eye. Develop a firm, positive handshake, one that conveys genuine interest in the other person. In an introduction, repeat the person's name, then state it at least three times during your conversation as a way to remember it correctly. People appreciate it when you call them by their own name, not someone else's.

Smiling is a way to express confidence and reassure the other person that this encounter is pleasing. Appropriate dress is always appreciated. Shirttails tucked in, hair combed, fingernails cleaned and hats removed (if indoors) fit into the 'basics' category.

At home with our families, take the time to prepare and eat meals together as often as possible. Be gentle with one another. The special effort we make to help others feel good during holidays and birthdays needs to be practised throughout the year. Spring is a great time of year to renew lots of important values and to implement improvements for ourselves and our community.

Here in Charlotte County there is a group of community leaders who are focusing on eliminating poverty in the area. This will be an opportunity to participate in a community-wide win-win activity. The initiative is being spearheaded by the Fundy Community Foundation. Contact them at 529-4896 for more information.

Spring cleaning, renewal and revitalization can begin at home and spread throughout our world. Let's all get involved and show others the respect we have for one another at all times.

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