Polish your own apple

shiny appleThis week a friend of mine was struggling with her ability to please someone in her life. She was feeling really poor and was teary eyed as she told her story. She had been working hard all year to please another individual but the person remained unsatisfied. My friend is an outstanding, caring, passionate individual, so it was hard for me to understand how a such a dedicated and loyal person could go unnoticed. I listened with empathy and love, and out of my mouth organically came this saying:

“My friend, you have to polish your own apple.”

She cried and hugged me and off we went to finish the rest of our day.

As I was driving, the thought, “Polish your own apple” was recurring in my head. This was one of my favorite sayings of my Mother-in-law, Dolores. When I was a young professional, fresh out of college, I was struggling to progress my career. She used to say, “You must not be polishing your own apple, you can’t wait around for someone to do that for you.”

Mom graduated from college in 1940’s, operated a one-room school-house and taught children from kindergarten to high school in one class room. She said in those days, you had to shovel the sidewalk, put coal in the furnace and make the hot lunch for children ages 5-18.

She said, “As a woman teacher in 1940, you had to learn how to “polish your own apple.” There were no large bureaucracies, superintendents, board of directors, performance appraisals or supervision. She developed her school curriculums at her kitchen table in her homestead in Cato Wisconsin. She worked tirelessly to focus on the most important aspect of her role, teaching the children.

I can only imagine how Mom had to learn to polish her own apple.

I miss you Mom.

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