Learning from “The Oak Tree”

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

nature red forest leaves
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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???

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?!