Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Culture of Zosia

My earlier post about culture clashes got me thinking about my own "culture" and where I am coming from.  I'm not talking about geography and familial status; rather I've been contemplating what are the values that I hold near and dear to me. What are the important traits I try to encompass and like to see in the people I am close to? And how to I react when my values are called into question or challenged by someone whose views differ from mine? I'd like to think that I am always accepting of other people's views but deep down, I know that many times I'm not.  Sometimes I am able to look the other way but other times I just can't.  On the same hand, I know there are times when I must compromise on my own values because of others.  Obviously it isn't always a clear and easy decision.  Sometimes I am able to easily move on but other times the issues nag at my conscience long after they should have dissipated.  Perhaps it is these lingering issues that are the ones that must mean the most to me.  

So how do I identify myself?  I'm a mother and military spouse (and a Navy spouse at that, because in my opinion, it does make a difference), but I'm also an individual whose fundamental identity was shaped long before I acquired these two other identifiers. With this primary identity comes my core values that shape not only how I live my life but also how I view the world around me.  Again, its not good or bad it is just what it is.  But after a lot of reflection, here's my list of what makes me tick:

  • Above all other things, I believe that respect is the most important value someone can demonstrate.  This includes respect for ones elders and people in positions of authority but I also believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.  After all, what does anyone have to gain from being rude?  Being respectful of others was important to me long before I became a Navy spouse but its importance has been driven home to me even more so in recent years.  The military structure works because of respect.  You don't always have to agree with or even like people in your chain of command but you must respect them.  And in the Navy, perhaps more so than in other branches, respect is conferred on spouses because of their husband or wife's official rank. This means that while I might not like Glenn's commanding officer's spouse, I must show her the same level of respect that Glenn bestows upon his boss and vice versa.  Like it or not, it when the chain of command in all aspects is respected, it works.  When it isn't havoc is likely to eventually ensue.
  • Having manners never goes out of style. In today's casual lifestyle, the traditional courtesies of instead of just showing up, bringing a hostess gift rather than arriving at the door empty handed, and promptly writing thank you notes often falls by the wayside.  Call me old school but I believe that these things are still important.  I recognize that many people don't abide by these standards but as both a regular hostess and guest, I always do my best to model this behavior that even my grandmother would be proud of.  And as a continuation of practicing good manners, dressing appropriately is a must.  If you are invited to a pool party dress for a pool party but please don't wear the bathing suit and flip flops to a formal reception.
  • Be on time.  (Honestly, I struggle with this one more often than I like to admit).  Whether for a business meeting, a get together with friends, or work related dinner, punctuality is important.  Lufthansa isn't going to hold the plane for you so why should you expect others to do the same?  As a hostess I'm not sure which irks me more, arriving so late that the food has turned cold or arriving so early that I'm still in the final throes of preparation when you ring the bell.  Both are just wrong and can only be compounded by not submitting a R.S.V.P. in the first place.  The start time isn't a mere suggestion, its the requirement.
  • I am a person of my word.  When I agree to do something I see it through regardless of how arduous or unpleasant it might become.  Whether it be jobs, friendships, or simply agreeing to volunteer my time, if I say I'll do it, I'm going to do it until the end.   Many times the best of intentions go awry but that isn't a reason to back out of a commitment.  Take a moment to think about how it feels to be left hanging when everyone cancels or doesn't show. Is it fair?
  • Call it like it is and be honest.  It may turn some people off but I completely believe in being forthright.  I'm not talking about intentionally hurting someone's feelings but I'm never going to fake it for the sake of making someone feel better.  If someone asks me for an honest opinion, they are going to get it.  If I see a problem, I'm going to pursue a resolution on my own rather than looking the other way or asking someone else to act on my behalf.  I believe that as adults we need to act responsibly and I try my best to be the good neighbor, friend, or co-worker. 
  • I am open minded.  One only has to look at a list of my Facebook friends, all but a handful of whom I know personally, to see how diverse my friendships are.  On any given day my Facebook page will simultaneously display comments supporting and denying gay rights or friends advocating for bans on handguns along side campaigns for arming every school teacher with their own personal weapon.  During the recent presidential campaign,  postings from Romney supporters were sandwiched between those from Obama and Ron Paul volunteers.  Do I agree with everything I read?  Absolutely not, but I can respect where each person is coming from.  I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, regardless of how far it may differ from my own.  Besides I've learned a lot about the world from all of my Facebook friends.
  • Outside of my own home, I abstain from heated discussions regarding topics like religion and politics.  If someone feels so strongly about an issue it is doubtful that even my most persuasive argument would change their mind.  I certainly have strong opinions about many issues regarding both religion and politics but I learned a long time ago that pushing the issue was more apt to turn my friends into enemies and not change anything than it was to create a convert to my way of thinking.  So I keep an open, if slightly bemused at times, mind and sit back and listen to the debates.  Often I learn something but rarely am I persuaded.  (If in doubt about this theory, see the above bullet point regarding being open minded).
So for better or worse, this is what makes me tick.  Ignore this post if you disagree, "like" it if it is right up your alley, or turn a blind eye if you are indifferent.  I'm being honest with myself and my readers and at the end of the day, that is what matters the most to me.


  1. First of all, that picture on your blog is breath taking. Now that we have that out of the way, some comments.

    I was a navy wife for nine years. Being a military is the hardest job you will ever have, and I think only police and firemen wife could understand your life. It is more than just getting use to the man in your life and raising kids and that is hard enough. When you add the schedules, the long absences, the six months cruices, it is back braking. We appreciate your service and your spouse's.

    I think that your word goes right up there with respect. In a world when most people are afraid to say no, saying yes just seems like the easy way out. It is always nice to see when the person keeps their word.

    I understand what you mean about having differing friends and I would like to add that as long as the conversation is kept at an adult level, I am all for it. There were several people I unfriended because of their childish, rude behavior on the internet during the election. I have no problem with disagreement, my husband and I have completely opposite political views. And yet, after 25 years of marriage, we have learned to agree to disagree without calling people names or getting into personal aspects of their lives.
    I think the most important thing about what you said is keeping yourself true to yourself. That is all we have.

    1. The picture is taken at Rosafa Castle in Shkodra, Albania looking north across Lake Shkodra to the Montenergo border.