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Two Words


How were you raised? That’s a broad question, but today I want you to think about some of the home teachings you received as a child.

I grew up in a household where my parents emphasized manners. My five sisters and I were always encouraged to say, please, thank you, and you're welcome.

Did I always follow my parents’ rules? No, but the seeds of politeness were planted in me as a child. My mom and dad hoped that I would grow from a mannish boy to a respectable man.

Partnered with my wife, I do my best to instill in our three children the importance of saying thank you and demonstrating other polite behaviors toward anyone they meet in this vast world. Today, we celebrate five years abroad. Are we perfect parents? No.

Keep reading because I am taking you somewhere in this post.

Last week, I taught a virtual capoeira class for an elementary school in Los Angeles. A second-grade teacher contacted me for help with a unit on Afro-Brazilian and Latinx resistance movements. I shared some resources with her and agreed to provide an interactive presentation for her students via Zoom.

The history of capoeira’s involvement in the struggle for freedom in Brazil aligned with the teacher’s learning objectives. I gave thanks to God and the ancestors for the opportunity to share capoeira with young people in the States from my home in Antigua.

My guest presentation consisted of a brief history lesson and an introduction to the percussion instruments and movements of capoeira with my children. I could tell that the students loved what I taught them from the multiple smiles and questions.

The next day, I received an email from the teacher. She shared with me a video and pictures of thank you cards from the students.

The thank you cards and the video made a great start to a week, where we celebrated World Teacher’s Day. This week, they remained with me as I acknowledged Indigenous Peoples' Day and reflected on my ancestors' contributions to a society that makes similar holidays necessary.

When is the last time you said thank you? You don’t know how far these two words can go to bless someone else.

Maybe my parents knew about the power of polite behaviors, and that’s why they insisted we adopt manners. I resisted many of my parents' teachings as a child because I assumed it was another attempt to mold me into the perfect church boy. As a parent and teacher, I now understand the significance of embodying kindness and expressing gratitude toward others.

Do I still have my moments? Absolutely! When I ask my children to bring me something, I don’t always say thank you.

If you could read the thoughts in my brain, you would see phrases such as, “I’m their father. They should do what I tell them. The thank you is in the food they eat and the warm beds where they sleep!”

What about you? Are there times when you take others for granted?

Do you struggle with accepting thank you after someone delivers you a compliment? Instead of saying you're welcome or another appropriate response, you brush it off. You say, “it’s no big deal!” I struggle with accepting praise also.

This week, I want to encourage you to say thank you to one person. Say thank you to the person who bags your groceries. Take it further and send someone a digital or paper thank you card.

To practice what I preach, I made myself say thank you to the dentist responsible for numbing my gums with two injections this week to fill cavities. The pain and discomfort didn't help me to say anything to him, but an incoherent thank you rolled off my sore tongue.

Polite gestures help others understand that you appreciate their time, effort, skills, talent, or presence in your life. So do me a favor and share this post with one person in your circle. I thank you in advance!

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Bless you seems to be said to a person only when they sneeze. I have heard sneezing is as close as one can come to death and still live. Wouldn't it be good to bless someone without having them come close to death.

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