Learning from “The Oak Tree”

“The Oak Tree” by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr. reminds us of our strength.

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Let me just start by saying that I am definitely not a cryer.  While I often feel like crying, for whatever reason (not to be explored here!) I don’t often experience that luxury.

The other day I did cry. What brought me to tears was hearing this poem for the first time.

                   The Oak Tree
            by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew.

As I read this poem again, tears threaten. Something tells me that, like me, you have at times felt “at the end of your rope,” wondering how you could possibly face another minute, another hour, another day. Isn’t it wonderful when we recognize that we have strength we didn’t realize we had? And isn’t it also wonderful that, when we need it most, a friend will reach out to help us be strong?

Just one more thing. Let’s never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help when we need it is a sign of strength rather than weakness. Fellow travelers on this journey of aging are within reach, ready and willing to help. As the Beatles reminded us a few decades ago, “I get by with a little help from my friends!

Choose to be The Oak Tree, my friends!

Care to share??

This Little Light of Mine…

This song never fails to bring a smile to my face!

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I’m sure you’ve heard the little song This Little Light of Mine.  Take a listen now! (It’s a “toe tapper”!) This song never fails to bring a smile to my face!

While we might think of this as a kid’s song – and I do love to hear children sing it – it really has a message for all of us, even those of us in the Celebrating70 community!  When we “shine our light” we share our knowledge, our experience, our talents, our time, our energy, our caring, and much more.

Just think about it. We could make it our goal that:

Everywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine.
All up in my house, I’m gonna let it shine.
Out there in the dark, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

So…just how are we “gonna” let our light shine?  Will we call a friend we haven’t talked to in way too long? Will we volunteer a bit of time for an organization we admire? (I volunteer for the Make-A-Wish foundation!) Will we reach out to someone going through a difficult time and ask, “How can I help?” Or maybe we’ll simply put a big smile on our face and say hello to a couple of folks who look like they could use a kind word. Even the smallest gestures make a difference and we’re setting a great example for others to follow. In today’s very difficult world, letting our light shine could have a much more far-reaching impact than we can imagine.

From another perspective, letting our lights shine doesn’t just help others. It can provide meaning in our lives and “satisfy the soul.” It feels good inside to make a difference, no matter how small.

Yes, this little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine!

How ’bout you? Any ideas on how you can let your light shine???

Discovering Our Own Unique “Right Life”

So…do the people, places and activities in your life contribute to your happiness and well-being??

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If I read a book and learn something new that I remember for a really long time, then reading that book was worth my time.  Reading Finding My Own North Star by Martha Beck – which I read at least ten years ago – was definitely worth my time!  In this book Dr. Beck shares her advice on discovering our own unique “right life” – or, as she refers to it, our Own North Star.

Before I get to what I remember most about this book (and please keep reading!), let me share a few valuable insights that Dr. Beck provided. First, none of the individuals that have touched our lives have the ability to control our choices. We do sometimes forget that. Second, accepting impermanence means embracing the world as it is, complete with loss. That acceptance becomes even more important as we grow older. Next, it’s important to “hang out with our favorite people” – our “tribe.” Can’t argue with that!

Now on to my very favorite part of Dr. Beck’s book!  The Lifestyle Profile allows us to plot along a negative-to-positive continuum how our body reacts to the people in our lives, the activities in our lives, and the places where we spend our time.  I’ve attached a somewhat abbreviated version of the Profile if you’d like to give it a try. Please take a look!

Now, hopefully we inherently know what and who have either positive or negative impacts on our lives. However, seeing that “in black and white” can be eye-opening – at the very least – or even at times alarming.  Right there in front of us, on that piece of paper, we can see where we just might want to make some changes in our life!

All in all, Finding Your Own North Star offers some helpful advice for “turning your life into a work of art.” Just as the “real” North Star up in the heavens helps sailors navigate on stormy seas, our own North Star can help us find our way back “home” when we veer off course, which we sometimes do. Personally, I’ll take all the help I can get!

And our journey continues at the great University of Life!

What Matters Most Is How You See Yourself

When you look in the mirror, who do you see?

IMAGE -- What matters mostWhen you look in the mirror, who do you see? Okay, sometimes I can’t believe the image I see in the mirror! Who is that person and just where did she come from???

All joking aside, how we truly view ourselves and describe ourselves has such an impact on our lives. Our self-perceptions influence who we believe we are, what we expect of and for ourselves, how we interact with the world around us, and how we expect others to treat us. Quite simply, how we “see” ourselves influences the quality of our lives in many ways.

So…Who do you think you are? That makes a difference! Our thinking – our self-talk – what we say to ourselves all day long – can be either helpful or sometimes very, very hurtful.  We make choices in our lives based on those thoughts! “Stinking thinking” – or “stinkin’ thinkin’” as I prefer to think of it – is term that originated in Alcoholics Anonymous and it has meaning for all of us. In the simplest terms, stinkin’ thinkin’ is negative self-talk. We can’t continually give ourselves negative messages and then expect to make positive choices.  If you’re doing that, cut it out!!

Muhammad Ali once revealed that, “I was saying ‘I am the greatest’ long before I believed it.” Can that acknowledgement in any way be a lesson for us?

We can choose what we believe about ourselves. While that might not be easy at times, it is essential to our self-confidence, our sense of peace, and our ability to maintain an optimistic perspective, especially as we grow older. Yes, positive expectations and a hopeful perspective can be learned. (Could that be a future goal?!)

Let’s have the audacity to do whatever it takes to think differently and recognize ourselves as the valuable human beings that we are!

Our happiness might just depend on it!  

So…kitten or lion, my friend??? Or maybe something else?!

 

A Few of My Favorite Things…

Margaritas and so much more!

BALLOON V2In Sound of Music Julie Andrews sang about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and even bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Well, those are all great…but they’re not my favorite things!!

My list goes something like this:

  • Front porches and porch swings.  No home should be without them.
  • My Cousin Vinny.  It always makes me laugh!
  • The Locomotion.  Oh my goodness. I sure love to “do The Locomotion”!
  • Iridescent jewelry. It makes me happy just to look at it…and when I wear it.
  • San Francisco. I think I did leave a little piece of my heart there.
  • Pizza. I grab a slice at my favorite pizza place whenever I’m in the neighborhood.
  • Pretty Woman.  My “most watched” movie for sure!
  • Rocking chairs. How could we care for precious grandchildren — or great-grandchildren! — without one?
  • Margaritas. Straight up, with salt. Yum!
  • Pepsi. While I love margaritas, those are often few and far between. Pepsi, on the other hand, is usually close at hand.
  • Beautiful rolling hills.  I grew up surrounded by hills and I do miss them when they’re not nearby.
  • Black clothes.  Can’t help myself!
  • Salzburg, Austria. When I flew out of magnificent Salzburg many years ago I had tears in my eyes…
  • Dancing. Where the heck can a 70 year go to dance these days?
  • Murder mystery novels. David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly and J. D. Robb come to mind.
  • Old time rock ’n’ rollWe do know that “today’s music ain’t got the same soul”!

I could go on and on. I could even make a list of more serious favorites; being a grandmother would definitely top that list! But enough for today.

As Julie Andrews tells us, “When I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.” Hey, it really does work!

So I ask: What are a few of your favorite things???

 

 

 

Hold a True Friend with Both Your Hands

There are some blessings in this life that money just can’t buy!

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This African proverb offers sage advice. There are blessings in this life that money just can’t buy.  Friendship is one of them!

Little did I know when I introduced myself to a co-worker way back in 1973 that I had just met my best friend for life. Today – more than forty years later – Liz and I are still BFFs. When I count my blessings, I absolutely count Liz twice! We have shared interests, shared values and shared goals. Liz has been with me “through thick and thin” and has never, ever let me down. God bless Liz…

Looking back into my childhood, Sheila was my best friend. Sheila and I together rode her dappled pony Prince through our rural “neighborhood.” Bareback, no helmets, often no shoes, our hair blowing in the wind. Boy, did we have a good time!

Friendships most often come to us through serendipity. We meet someone, strike up a conversation, recognize some commonality, make a few plans, and then a friendship starts to grow. Do all of our friendships last forever? Absolutely not. For a variety of reasons some valued friendships fade and are in dire need of nurturing and reconnection. (That sounds like a great goal to me!) Others were simply good while they lasted – perhaps meeting mutual needs for a time or a season – but not destined for the long term. And that’s okay.

Each and every day we have an opportunity to make a new friend. Being open to that possibility – and that continued serendipity – is paramount. “Back in the day” we generally met friends through face-to-face encounters.  Today we can meet friends with the help of technology…and they can be anywhere in this big world! How great is that?!

Friends make our lives richer, more meaningful, and happier. They can give us an opportunity to see life from a different perspective. They share our joys, share our sorrows and lift us up when we need it most.

Yes, we would be well-advised to hold a true friend with both our hands!

Would you agree?

Old Age Ain’t No Place for Sissies

When we are blessed with many birthdays, we have already faced many challenges…and will continue to face challenges for as long as we are given the gift of life.

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Bette Davis was right! (Younger folks might have never heard of Bette Davis.  “Oldsters” like me recognize that name.) Yes, Ms. Davis was “on the money” when she made the declaration that “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Obviously she was old enough to know that when we are blessed with many birthdays, we have already faced many challenges…and will continue to face challenges for as long as we are given the gift of life.

Do you know any aging folks who seem to have given up and sometimes almost relish wallowing in some kind of self-imposed purgatory? How sad is that???

Let’s see. I’ve experienced the death of both of my parents and my big brother, Tim. I said good-bye to my precious grandparents, “Munner” and “Pap,” so many years ago. Today I am trying to help a very close family member navigate more-than-difficult life twists and turns that have come her way. Tomorrow? Who knows?

But…I have also been blessed through the years with two wonderful daughters and two grandsons that I love more than life itself. My best friend of close to fifty years  has brought me so much strength, happiness and balance as we have lived our lives and faced life’s challenges. While we live miles apart, we are always close at heart!

In other words, Bette Davis was indeed right. Old age ain’t no place for sissies! It’s a place for those who have both survived challenges and been blessed beyond measure.

Get on board the old age train to contentment, acceptance, happiness and thankfulness. You’re in good company!

Do you have any inspiring “old age quotes” to pass along??