Janet Reno’s Mother Built The Family’s Home

Summer is here, and with it, a little more flexibility about how I spend my days.  As a college professor, I think every year this time:  this must be Heaven:  going with pleasure from one little (or big) project to the next, at my own pace.  I dash from researching women who could have been president, exercising, contemplating home improvement projects (and actually doing some),  and spending more time with my family.  And I’ve been reading a lot.   Recently, I read a chapter about Janet Reno, the former United States attorney general and I was thinking about the powerful message her mother sent the family when she literally built the family a new home.   Reno said, “she went to the brick mason, she went to the electrician, she talked to them about how to build a house.  She came home and over the next two years she dug the foundation with her own hands with a pick and shovel, laid the blocks, put in the wiring and the plumbing…and that house was a symbol to me that you can do anything you really want to if you work hard enough at it, and it is the right thing to do.”  I was thinking about the powerful role model that anyone doing something he or she  is passionate about and that is the right thing to do offers us.

 One of my favorite lines:  “action beats inaction”, or what Cindy Ratzlaff said at a Power of Women meeting “imperfect action beats inaction.”  She must have seen me on one of my morning runs. 

I’ve always been interested in invention, in speech, the idea of how an utterance came about;  in writing, what made the work take shape, and of course good, old fashion Ben Franklin-type invention.  I think:  “How’d you think of that??”  Invention to me is a spark of an idea, acted upon. 

It’s one of the reasons I urge people to speak about their passions.  You never know who you’ll inspire.  It might even be yourself.


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