The Spirit of Mr. Rogers

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The other day, during indoor recess, I felt cold in my classroom, so I decided to put on a zip-up sweater. I happened to be standing over a table of students who were playing a card game of which I had never heard. Intrigued, but also cold, I put on my sweater while monitoring the game. I pulled the zipper all the way up to my chin and then artfully zipped it down in the style of Mr. Rogers, my favorite television neighbor.

“I’m Mr. Rogers,” I declared. This declaration was met by blank stares and it quickly dawned on me that none of them knew about Mr. Rogers. They’d of course heard of his popular puppet Daniel Striped Tiger because of the cartoon show, but Mr. Rogers was out of their frame of reference.

When I gushed about this realization to my colleague, who was also in the room, she responded, “To be fair, I never really watched that show either.” Even twenty-somethings aren’t as familiar with Mr. Rogers as I thought they were.

Of course, taking a step back, I realize that it’s not all that surprising that today’s generation of kids doesn’t know about Mr. Rogers. He died before they were born and most PBS stations stopped airing the show regularly. While it’s understandable that most kids today don’t know anything about the beloved TV man, it’s a shame.

Yes, there were and still are many children’s TV shows with positive messages, but few shared their messages the way Mr. Rogers did—by looking children directly in the eye and telling them they mattered and were loved just the way they were.

I’ve written before about all of the important life lessons imparted by Mr. Rogers and I want to know who is doing this today? Where does the spirit of Mr. Rogers live on?

According to the Atlantic, it’s in advice columns because that’s “where adult problems are considered with dignity, and where feelings are taken seriously.” A Reddit user believes  that it’s Neil deGrasse Tyson who cares the torch of Mr. Rogers’ spirit because he’s brilliant and kind and talks about living to make other’s lives better each day.

Just the other day, I came across an article in the Huffington Post about a Massachusetts teacher who created a music video called “Black Is Beautiful” for her female students who often expressed their dismay about their appearances. We need more of this kind of positivity for our children and ourselves.

Who else is encouraging children to be curious on a day-to-day basis? Who else continually reaffirms to them that they are great just the way you are? I believe that is the responsibility of all of us to carry on the spirit of Mr. Rogers.


[And now, because I couldn’t help myself, a video of my favorite Mr. Rogers Remix.]



Oh You Fancy, Huh?!

“You know you’re not in high finance considering secondhand underpants. Check your mind, how’d it get so bad? What happened to those other underpants you had?”- Flight of the Conchords, “Inner City Pressure

benjaminsIt’s difficult to lead a life of luxury when living in the most expensive city in the country, especially when student loans still need to be paid off and the job market isn’t quite trustworthy. Layoffs still seem to be happening more often than not and thus, excess money doesn’t really seem to be flowing into my pockets at the rate in which I’d like.

Excess money or not, I still believe everyone deserves to be pampered a bit. Just because I can’t afford a weekend getaway to Barbados doesn’t mean I can’t pamper myself within my means! Here are 5 things I like to do to make myself feel fancy without breaking the bank:

cheese plate1) Add a wine and cheese course to my dining ritual. It’s been a long day at the office and you deserve a break! You’ll be making dinner at some point in the evening, why not start with some hors d’oeuvres! When I come home from work, I love to sit down at the kitchen table, take out a block of aged gouda, pour myself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and catch up on the reading of my periodicals. After I’m pleasantly full, I begin thinking about what’s for dinner.

2) Start with a pre-dinner cocktail and finish with an after-dinner drink. When Sangriamy friends and I go out to eat, we usually start with a nice craft cocktail before even bothering to look at the menus. It’s a nice way to ease into the meal and enjoy one another’s company. It also makes me feel like a lady of leisure because I’m taking my time to dine. At the end of the meal, we love having our after-dinner drinks. More often than not, you’ll find me swirling my snifter of Courvoisier while we debate whether or not we’ve made room for dessert.

3) Create my very own spa experience in the comfort of my own bathroom. This can easily be accomplished by drawing a hot bubble bath for yourself or turning your shower on as hot as possible. Play some soothing classical music and light your favorite scented candle. I love anything vanilla-scented. Or fresh-linen scented.

4) Change my outfit at least once a day. Mr. Rogers really got me in the habit of coming home and changing into my house clothes after a day in the office. Throw your shoe over your head while you’re at it! Changing my outfits once a day makes me feel like I have an unlimited supply of clothes in my closet. Look at all my clothes, the poor didn’t want this one! On my days off, I like to start out by hanging around the house in lounge wear and then changing into my going out wear in the evening.

pinenuts5) Buy pine nuts. Have you ever seen how expensive pine nuts are? Buying pine nuts gives me the false sense of security that money is no object. In all seriousness, though, I think it’s important to splurge on a food item here and there, all in the name of good cooking! So while Ethel and Frank are in the nut aisle comparing the prices of walnuts versus almonds, I reach over their heads and grab for the pine nuts, the most expensive nut. Makes for a most delicious addition to a salad or a garnish for butternut squash soup.

What do you do to make yourself feel fancy without breaking the bank?