June 9, 2013
My values are guidelines that are both enjoyable and essential to me. Some of my values are different than my family’s values, and some values we share. I know this because I have grown up with some of my family members, and others I have interviewed.
Artistic expression, Bee-too-ee o-mah-noo-tee, just goes above and beyond a value for me. Most of my life includes artistic expression. Little pieces of it float around in me every hour of the day in the way I walk, dress, wear my hair, speak, learn, hold my body. One of the boldest ways my artistic expression shows is through my dancing. In dance there are routines. Just like a morning routine. And, artistic expression just winds its way through my life routine. When I dance, I feel focused, with grace and sophistication. I really enjoy that feeling. My great Grandmother, Jeannette Henigson Cowen, danced with Martha Graham, so she had a relationship to dance like I do. My mom used to be involved with theater, which was her form of artistic expression. My aunt Jennifer is an artist, so she clearly values artistic expression. My Aunt Tara bakes and frosts cupcakes, cookies and cakes like nobody’s business, and is studying painting as well, so artistic expression is important to her, too.
Courage, O-Metz lev, is a central value to me because I am a person who has often been timid about certain things in life. For instance, I am sometimes scared to go into a dark room or to sleep alone, but I have been determined to overcome some of my fears. Recently I started walking by myself in the neighborhood; this took a lot of courage, but I am glad I did it. I now understand that this fear of certain new experiences is part of my personality, which is why courage is an important value to me. My mom just got a tattoo of the word courage, so she also values courage like I do. I admire my mom because she is very honest and courageous. After all, she has learned to tolerate highschoolers; what’s more courageous than that?
Music, Moo-see-ka, is more of a friend to me then just a sound, and therefore I consider it to be an important value. You can rely on music in a way. When you are sad, there are probably more than 500 songs about what you are going through. When you are happy or scared or in love, there are probably more than 1,000 songs about what you are going through. I know I have heard songs that sound like they are made for me and only me, just the way a friend can feel for you. When I listen to music, it makes me feel good. It makes me almost feel like singing sometimes or dancing. So music is also a key value for me. When a song comes on that my mom likes, she will say “Georgia, come with me, dance with me” and I will look at her with an “are you kidding me” look. Then she will start dancing with her mouth wide open, which is part of her unconscious style. She likes and values music just like I do.
Everybody in my close family loves listening to music – My dad’s side of the family likes the Rolling Stones, and Elton John, and whenever we visit my Grandpa Bill, we always listen to music – from YoYo Ma to Frank Sinatra, while we relax on the summer porch or in the living room in from of the fireplace. My grandpa Marty sings whenever we see each other, and when I was small he sang silly songs to me. He also graces our holiday tables with his tenor voice singing all the traditional blessings. My grandma Judy and uncle Matthew love show music, as does my mom and Aunt Jennifer. Even though I didn’t know him well, I know that my grandpa Kurt loved opera, and would sing arias around the house. Clearly, I come from a big family where people don’t only like music, but need it around them during their daily lives.
Honesty, Ken-oot, is a very important value for me. A few years ago I got into the habit of not telling the truth about some of my behavior and actions. I have grown a lot since then, and I no longer act in the same way. Now I feel so strongly about being honest that if I do the slightest thing wrong, I feel guilty and apologize even if there is no need to. I have learned that being honest from the beginning is a good strategy because it helps you not always feel so guilty and pressured.
Honesty is an important value for someone who wants to be a good person, a good friend, and a good member of the community. My mom and dad have always told me that I can be honest with them, and they promise to always tell me the truth about everything – even sometimes when I wish they wouldn’t be quite so direct. They also value honesty. I still remember my brother Jake telling me that when you lie, it is like having a bunch of bricks on your back, and how when you tell the truth, the weight is lifted.
One of my mom’s most important values is education, Chee-nuch. She helped found, and works as an Assistant Principal of, a high school called The Global Learning Collaborative. She also volunteers at The City Congregation and helps supervise the KidSchool program. Education of all sorts is one of my mom’s most essential values. I like to joke that everybody in my family goes to school because my brother and I go to school, my mom is an assistant principal, and my dad runs an organization called Counseling in Schools!
Education and supporting students is also one of my Dad’s key values. When the earthquake happened in Haiti, I remember my dad working very hard so that his organization could help Haitian students who lost or were trying to reach family members in Haiti.
Another one of my Dad’s values is Cha-shee-vah bee-kor-tee, not being afraid to ask questions. He thinks it is okay to question your religion if you have questions. Nothing should be cut in stone. You should always be able to question and to be your own person. That is what my dad believes.
In the process of writing this paper, I have come to a realization: I share more of my family’s values than I thought! It is likely that as I get older, I will add new values that extend from the ones I have shared with you today.