Doing It Right

“You’re not doing it right!” How many times I have heard that screeched in my ear, I can’t begin to count.

I heard those words many times from my older siblings when I was in the first grade and just learning to write the alphabet in cursive. They would stand over me as I tried to keep those large letters in between the dotted lines on the paper tablet, only making it worse because I was using an oversized pencil that was not so comfortable in my small hands.

I’ve heard some schools do not even teach cursive or penmanship anymore because we are the age of computers, texting and other devices that do not require putting a pen to paper.

That’s too bad. A handwritten note just seems to say more about a person. It’s personal in a way no texting device can approach.

It was a grand thing to receive a nice fountain pen as a gift, even though they were messy with all those ink cartridges and smudges. I still like a good pen in my hand and often take story notes by hand.

By middle school age, I learned to make book covers out of brown paper grocery bags and scotch tape and covered all my school books. That also was a requirement back in the day. You were considered a master coverer of books if you managed to create the correct folds and creases without using any tape. I never got that far and, anyway, someone was always telling me “you’re not doing it right.”

When I married and had to begin cooking meals for my husband, I learned a lot by watching the older women in our families and tried to copy their cooking skills. Sometimes I failed but I was fortunate enough to have women who, instead of saying “you’re not doing it right,” would write down the recipe or show me just how to perfect a dish.

I have tried to pay that kindness forward by biting my tongue when I, too, was tempted to just say “you’re not doing it right” to a child or new reporter on the staff.

As much as I hated hearing those words throughout my life, they ring in my ear as I think about heading to the polling booth in just three days in West Virginia. There are truly some incumbents who are not doing it right.

What I think about is that I can change that. I can tell them they’re not doing it right.

There are many important races at stake and I’ve heard some folks say they just aren’t going to bother to vote this year. That would be sad for everyone. It’s a great honor we have to even be able to walk, ride or run into a polling booth and let our voices be heard.

And remember, if you don’t vote, you can’t say “you’re not doing it right” later on.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at