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Life lessons learned during my time in Rugby

By Staff | Sep 3, 2010

Many of you may be familiar with a famous book out there entitled, “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”.

The author, Robert Fulghum, writes that most of what people really need to know about how to live and what to do, and how to be, is learned way back in kindergarten. Things like sharing, playing fairly, and taking personal responsibility are instilled by the time a kid has passed through his or her first year of formal education.

There’s a lot to be said about his theories. Maybe when you really think about it, most basic rules of life are learned in kindergarten. Here’s my spin on it. It’s similar to the book I mentioned, just tweaked a little.

Mine would be entitled, “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned While Living in a Small Town.”

These are the things I learned: Share everything. If you have extra zucchini from your garden, share it with your neighbor whether he likes it or not. Short an egg for that cake recipe? Go to your next door neighbor, she will certainly share whatever she has.

Play fairly. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. In a small town these are a must. You can’t mistreat your neighbor and get away with it. You will surely see that person at the grocery store, the post office, in church. It’s even harder to mistreat someone when you know you will see him or her again. In some places you may be mean and get away with it by being anonymous. There is no anonymity in a small town.

Always be kind to your neighbor. The Golden Rule never goes out of style.

Learn some and think some every day. The easy style of small-town living affords you time to do so.

Be aware of the wonder around you. The slower pace of the small town allows you to take the time and be aware of the wonder in this world like the breathtaking colors of the changing leaves in the fall, the fragrance of the blooming lilacs in the spring, the brilliant dancing hues of the Northern Lights.

Always do your part. Pitch in and take responsibility for your well being and for those around you. Take a turn on the library board, the chamber of commerce, the school’s PTO, the historical society. If we all take turns doing our part, things will get done.

I’m a small-town girl at heart. I always have been and always will be. But many of you know that my family and I recently left small-town living for the big city of Bismarck. Our leaving didn’t mean we were unhappy here. On the contrary, in most small towns (Rugby included), your friends and neighbors become more like a family. We moved to be closer to our family, our real biological family. It was difficult to leave our “adopted family” behind-our work family, our neighborhood family, and you-our readership family.

Through our personal columns we have shared many of our trials, tribulations, ideals and life’s lessons. We shared our experiences as newlyweds and as new parents. Our two young children have grown up before your eyes on the editorial pages. I’ve been writing a column in this newspaper for about 10 years. That means that roughly 500 times, I’ve shared my ideas, theories, struggles and triumphs with our readers. Through it all, we’ve become more like family.

The author of the aforementioned book about learning life’s lessons in kindergarten writes this, “Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.”

Now that we have said farewell to small-town living, we will take with us the wonderful memories of Rugby and the life lessons learned while living here. Just like that little seed in the cup, our roots will always run deep in this wonderful small town.

Thank you for being part of our family all these years.


This was Mullally’s final column for The Tribune

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