Focusing on what's important

Sherry Farrell

Many years ago a great attorney named Lonny Dolin from upstate New York. She helped John and I with a few things when we were a very young couple.

John and I were so excited, hanging on every minute, to get word on the events that Lonny was helping us with. Honestly, it was all we could think of day and night.

Lonny was older than we were and she had wisdom that we needed and appreciated. When a few days would turn into a couple weeks, she had a great saying that she would always remind us of when we were getting antsy.

“Just because it is the most important thing on your plate, it doesn’t mean that it is on someone else’s,” she said.

What Lonny meant was that to us it was the most important thing and we could not stop thinking about it. That’s natural. But she wanted us to remember that to the people in another office, or another state processing things, it was not the most important thing or even the only thing making up their day.

We were just one of 10, 20 or many more things that they had to deal with. It was the most important thing to us, but not necessarily to everyone else involved.

It was a powerful, much needed reminder to all of us as we move through life.

I have repeated this to our girls, family, friends and residents so many times throughout the years when they are in that horrible waiting period for information or results. Think of it with job offers, getting into schools, and so many other things.

I always thought it was a quote that Lonny must have read somewhere. I thought some famous, great thinker must have coined it and I wanted to tell you its history. Well absolutely nothing is out there about it in Google. Looks like this great attorney came up with it all on her own and John and I have been sharing it and reminding each other for the last 20 years.

The reason I was thinking of it so much this week was because last week was the New Hampshire Municipal City and Town Clerks Week. A big week for all of us and our offices throughout the state, for so many reasons. I have been knocking on every door possible to spread the word throughout our state. Honestly, it was one of the biggest things on my plate the last few weeks.

Everyone responded with baby steps I guess you could say. My favorite channel, WMUR, didn’t respond and they always do. Neal White of WZID always tries to share the good news across the state and he did. Our governor tried, but honestly I wanted him to do more. Sen. Sharon Carson did her best for us, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, and state Speaker of the House Sherman Packard, too!

What I did not realize until this weekend was that while I was so focused on our special week there should have been other very important week celebrations going on too! How did I miss them? No wonder all of these good people could only do so much. They had other people that needed celebrating, too.

Right under my nose Teacher Appreciation Week was happening. I used to be a teacher myself. I almost reached out to our own Katie Sullivan, who is a gifted educator and never asks for any praise in return for all she does, to announce “us” on the school message board. Thank goodness I never got to it. Our teachers need to be celebrated. What an unprecedented year they had. I hope special things and recognition were done for our educators across the state. I didn’t hear much about it sadly. It’s never too late though.

The next appreciation week I completely missed was National Nurses Week. I guess it started officially on May 6, so we didn’t miss this one completely.

My daughter Mackensie had her pinning ceremony for becoming a registered nurse last week. One of the most memorable days in a nurse’s life. We were able to watch via livestream, but it never crossed my self-focused mind that it was the start of National Nurses Week, too.

During the pinning ceremony, they spoke of the Nightingale Pledge, which applies to all of these appreciation weeks that we should pause and remember.

Now, just by chance, a wonderful police officer in the Londonderry Police Department, Mark Morrison, mentioned that National Police Week started Sunday. I almost missed that, too. God bless all of wonderful people who go above and beyond every day against many odds.

The Nightingale Pledge could be summarized to describe all of these humble servants.

"I will devote myself to the healing, protection, and welfare of those around me. I will respect others' privacy and always act with compassion. I recognize the importance of personal accountability. I will show respect and consideration to those around me. I will maintain and elevate the standard of my profession. I commit myself to lifelong learning. I accept the responsibility to work for the improvement of others. Most importantly I am honored to accept my calling." 

Sherry Farrell is the Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.

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