Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

Last weekend, I attended the Smart Girl Summit in St Louis, MO. It was a bit of a last-minute decision to participate, but something I felt really strongly I wanted to do. One of the speakers was Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum and author of too many books for me to count on my two hands (and my feet!). I picked up a copy of her latest book, The Flipside of Feminism, and if the speech she gave is any indicator of how good the book is, let’s just say that I am really looking forward to reading it. What’s most amazing to me is that she has been at the forefront of the pro-family movement since before I was born, yet for some reason remained unknown to me. She was a prominent figure in helping to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and has just an amazing life story to tell. What I connected to the most is that her message (and life) exemplifies something that I have felt my entire adult life, but was unable to express, either because I couldn’t find the right words or because I felt almost every other woman I had met in my life disagreed with me, that my life experiences were, in some way, unique. Her message is simply this: that women are capable of succeeding entirely on their own, without the help of men (or even, imagine this…the government) to pave the way forward. That’s right. You heard me. Men did not give women the rights and power and freedom that they have today. It was there all the time, waiting for them to seize it.

See, I was born in 1977 and, while growing up, I repeatedly heard the message that the feminist movement had opened all these doorways that are available for me today and without them, I would simply be stuck raising children and cooking and cleaning. I considered myself fortunate to be born at such a great time, and still do, though not because of women’s rights, but because of all the modern conveniences that make our lives so leisurely. I was doubly fortunate to have parents who encouraged me in whatever interests I chose to pursue and taught me that the whole world was open to me. I had only to choose my dreams and work hard to pursue them.

If you would have asked me growing up if I was a “feminist,” I would have agreed quite heartily, “Of course, I believe in equal rights for women.”



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John Galt may be the man who stopped the motor of the world, but Craig Root is the man who stopped traffic…on I-95, anyway.

In August of 2009, our family made a move from Rhode Island to Florida. Shortly before crossing from Georgia into Florida, along I-95, we drove past a billboard that stuck out, if only for a brief moment, because it bore the single phrase “Who is John Galt?” in large white letters against a dark background. Now, I have to admit that I did not know, at that time, the origin of the bizarre question, hung so flagrantly in midair against the dark background of the nighttime sky and the trees enveloped within it. So, I wondered for a moment about the obscurity of it before shaking myself back to reality and the rest of the long drive that lay before me. It wouldn’t be long, however, before I would find my answer.

That Christmas, I received a copy of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. I had been spending a lot of time on the internet and everywhere I went the web was abuzz about what a great book it was. I had attempted to read The Fountainhead my senior year in high school, for a scholarship contest to which I wanted to apply, but didn’t make it very far before more interesting (read: frivolous and fun) endeavors caught my attention. (I never made it past the first chapter.) Needless to say, I was significantly more successful in this attempt and reaped the rewards of not only being able to now take part in conversations which were previously reserved for that exclusive crowd “in the know,” but also of having read one of the greatest works ever written. Ayn Rand was able to express things I had known and felt my entire life, but was never quite able to put into words…that man’s greatest virtue is not sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice alone, but rather discipline, drive, and dedication to fulfill one’s own needs and desires. It’s not giving to someone else that matters, but rather doing for yourself without taking advantage of others. I know, at first glance, that these ideas seem foreign and perhaps even a little outrageous. This was especially true when they were first written. At its heart, however, above all, it’s about personal responsibility. And that’s something I think everyone can agree is important.

So, I’ve taken this same route many times since then. Every time, I have forgotten about the billboard since my last trip and it jumps out at me as a pleasant surprise and makes me chuckle. By the time it occurs to me to take a picture, we’ve driven past and it remains only a memory, to be forgotten again by our next journey northward. I make a mental note, of course, to have my camera ready on my next trip. Each time, I reassure myself “next time…next time.” I spotted the billboard once again (almost two years later), still spreading its mysterious, yet meaningful, message to the world, on the drive home from Beaufort, South Carolina a few weeks ago. This time I became bound and determined, picture or not, to find out something more about this iconic landmark. (more…)

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Every life journey will inevitably be cobbled with periods of unrest and uncertainty. As we travel through life we will come upon paths that have become overgrown or muddied. It’s not easy to tell which direction to go. We quite easily lose our way.

It is during these times that we question our lives and the surroundings we find ourselves in. How did I get here? Where am I going? How will I know if I’m headed in the right direction? What tools and supplies will I need along the way to help me reach my destination? We search everywhere we can, trying to find clues. We often can’t tell if the paths that we find are the ones leading forward or the ones we came in on. The faster we charge ahead without any real direction, the more befuddled we become. Conviction is replaced by ambivalence. Our doubts quickly turn to fear.

We all experience these dilemmas in life, because some things are just universal.

But just as we are not the first to become lost, we will not be first to find our way forward. When we rely on the wisdom of those who have gone before us, we are able to find a unique clarity not apparent to those choosing to stumble through the brush without any guidance. And so it is today that I turn to a wiser and more learned man than myself.

There is a time-honored document, well known within Navy circles, that experiences little renown within the rest of society. Penned in 1896, by Ronald A Hopwood, an officer in the British Royal Navy, these “Laws” are just as valid today as they were at the time they were written and have inspired many a sailor to make enlightened, effective decisions throughout not only his Navy career, but his life. I hope that you will find them just as inspiring and that they will provide you some much needed guidance on your own journey through life.


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