Build your legacy today for you will surely own it tomorrow.

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I had a wicked step-mother. Hans Andersen, the brothers Grimm, and even old Aesop could have scared more children if they’d known about her. Her selfishness and cruelty hated me into a dark place. I rarely think about her today.

On the good side were Aunt Jonnie, Uncle Neil, and Miss Annie, a holy triumvirate of relatives and mentors who told me a better tale. I also had my grandparents who were shining beacons of hope at a time when hopelessness banged on my door. They loved me into a better place and I think of them quite often. They taught me tolerance, honesty, kindness, manners, personal responsibility, work ethic, confidence, persistence, compassion, and when to stand up and employ one’s spine—all things that make one successful.

I’m telling you this because you have a choice every day. You can hate people into a bad place or you can love them into a good place.

Many years from now, the people you mistreat will have forgotten you as will everyone else. As a rule, people clear their minds of the wicked step-mothers they encounter. Those you love will remember you fondly, and will often pay the good forward. Your legacy is yours to build today and yours to own tomorrow.

Bright person that you are, you can think of a thousand other reasons to treat people with respect, dignity, honesty, and enough caring to make it easier for them to do the right thing. These are the elements of love.