The Power of Discipline

Discipline. As a child, it’s hard to understand the importance of not despising discipline, much less liking it and realizing its importance. However, our world lacks so much of discipline. I’m sure it’s because it’s not something that comes instantly after one try. There is much value to be found in waiting. Discipline, itself, is often described as an artform.

Etiquette requires discipline. Similarly, it requires restraint. One of the biggest mistakes someone could make is to confuse meekness for weakness. It takes quite a bit of strength to have control over oneself – control over how you think, what you eat, how you feel, how you respond.

Once we lose the victim’s mentality of thinking everything is happening to us, we come to understand the power we have over ourselves and, thus, our situations.

I appreciate and understand how much etiquette helps with discipline. Those who understand and practice etiquette aren’t puppets. We simply know the how discipline makes us and our world better.

Sautéed Green Beans Recipe

For a very simple recipe, try my sautéed green beans! My kids love it, and it’s super fast to cook for company. The ingredients are very basic, and the process can be adapted for other veggies, such as asparagus and zucchini.

First, cut the ends off of your green beans (I used about 3/4 of a pound).

Slice half of a sweet onion into thin half moons.

Next, mince up a clove of garlic.

Smashing the head of garlic

In a skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. My favorite comes from Olive Paris!

Add in the onions to cook, sprinkling in a pinch of salt. Cook about 5 minutes.

Once the onions are translucent, add the green beans.

Give them about a minute just to get a teensy bit of color on the green beans before adding in one tablespoon of butter.

Next, add the garlic.

If you add the garlic too early, it will burn. Stir to combine and cover to fully cook green beans. Stir every couple of minutes for 10 minutes. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Reader Q&A

Reader Question: I was recently invited to dinner by my boss to celebrate my upcoming graduation from college. I have had to work while going to school, and I have a young son, so money is tight. I was happy to accept the dinner invitation. My husband planned to stay home with our son to help limit the money spent. However, my boss recently decided to change restaurant locations, and we truly cannot afford the new restaurant. I know that, per etiquette, I shouldn’t decline once I have accepted an invitation. I can’t put my family in financial harm, though. Is there an exception to the rule since the game was changed? Thank you!

Answer: Absolutely. First and foremost, congratulations on your upcoming graduation! You can tell by your letter that you have your priorities straight, and I truly admire that. The rule of not changing your response when accepted is for times when it’s simply that something more appealing comes up. In truth, your boss should treat you to dinner since the dinner is to celebrate you. You are the guest of honor. It it completely acceptable to let him/her know that the new restaurant choice isn’t in the family budget but that you appreciate his support of your graduation. He/she may affirm their intent to pay for your meal. If not, they may at least change back to the original location. I appreciate your question, as it helps highlight the importance of everyone (your boss, in this case) knowing how etiquette plays a role

As an aside, I think it is very important to highlight the importance understanding etiquette plays in not putting someone in an awkward situation. I encourage wording such as, “I would love to treat you to dinner to celebrate…” in order to let the other person know your intent, as, unfortunately, not everyone knows that when they invite someone to dinner, they should also pay.

Why It’s Important to Accept a Compliment

What is your initial response to someone giving you a sincere compliment? Do you say “thank you” or brush it off? An area of etiquette that many people struggle with is correctly responding to compliments. They have given me every excuse in the book – they feel that saying “thank you” makes them seem egotistical, they disagree with the person, they think the person may be teasing them, etc. The list goes on and on and on.

A little secret to etiquette is to focus more on the other person than yourself. You don’t have to justify why you’re dressed up or wearing make up. You don’t need to give a 20-minute monologue on where you found the top and the spectacular deal you got. Don’t fret over the fact you’re not where you want to be. You just need to say thanks. Genuine thanks.

We’re taught to keep to ourselves and to look out for ourselves. However, I truly believe that we are meant to be with others. We are meant to have relationships of all kinds and learning how to correctly interact with others is a key part of that relationship flourishing.

I encourage you to accept the compliment when someone steps out on a limb to give one instead of dismissing it, essentially dismissing their opinion and thought. It isn’t always easy to get out of your comfort zone and say something kind to a stranger. You are who you’re meant to be.

Etiquette In a World That Glorifies Mediocrity

I’ve hesitated on how/if to write this post. However, after numerous emails from people who are mainly put out with friends and family who seem to promote tardiness and flaunt disrespect, I’ve decided it’s time to go ahead and lay it all out there.

Today’s world seems to glorify mediocrity.

You’ve seen the memes that say, “I respect parents who have it all together. But parents who stumble in to drop their kids off at school, looking like they just got attacked by a flock of angry birds? Those are my people.” This post is not intended to shame anyone who is doing their best in the season they’re in. I’ve been there. I’ll soon be there again after baby #3’s arrival. (Side note….we need to pick a name…) There are seasons, sometimes ones that last for years, where we have to give ourselves lots and lots of grace. Perfection isn’t attainable all of the time. Nor is it wrong to show our realness and our flaws. But by promoting that it’s not only acceptable but desirable to be someone who isn’t considerate of other people’s time by being late consistently – where does this come from? Why do we accept the status quo and try play up the “cuteness” factor of not having it all together?

After truly thinking and praying on this subject, I think at the core, the real issue is that we have a culture who glorifies busyness. If you seem like you have it all together, you must not be doing enough. You must not be a parent who lets their kids be involved or you would be late to everything. You must be a subpar employee or you wouldn’t be able to leave to make your kid’s soccer practice on time. It’s almost as if someone decided that if they can’t be perfect all of the time, they’re going to do a 180 and be imperfect all of the time. We incorrectly associate busyness as progress. It is not.

If you bring Brookshire’s chicken to a potluck at church instead of fixing homemade, that is wonderful. If you deliberately show up 20 minutes late with wet hair and nothing in hand, I do think it may be time to step back and reexamine your priorities. We cannot do it all; why, though, are we allowing this to keep us from doing anything?

I’ve said it over and over, but it bears saying again. Etiquette is about respect of others and respect for ourselves. We should each respect our self enough to choose to be our best self – it will be unique for each person. We know, though, deep down, if we’re doing enough to just get by or if we’re choosing to prioritize ourselves and others. It is a subtle difference, but it’s enough to get recognized by others. Trust me when I say that people are drawn in by and attracted to this trait. It’s 100% okay to not be the best. Why, though, would you not want to be your best you?