Posted by: Maryann McCullough | October 31, 2013

Story for November 2013

A LESSON IN MY LATER YEARS

 

If you have ever had friends who suddenly “got religion” or who discovered sobriety, you know how annoying they can be. Especially those friends with late-in-life discoveries that engender a gushing enthusiasm on their part that is old news to the congregants grabbed by the ear and subjected to a sermon.

 And so, I am hesitant to continue.

 (And you, dear reader, are forewarned.)

 Because somewhere between milestones 69 and 71, I had one of those AHA moments, and while I’m still on the learning curve, still working on making my discovery a habit, I know with certainty that I am different from the person I used to be…and that is a very good thing.

A definite late bloomer when it came to this realization, I envy those who had the good fortune to come to it earlier in life as well as those fortunate few who entered this planet with the lesson pre-programmed.

What I have learned is how to be really happy. Curious? The news gets better.

It doesn’t involve money. (No, I do not have to visit three continents to find my bliss). It will not negatively impact the happiness of those I love and am responsible for. (No, it does not involve lying in bed all day with movie magazines and bon-bons.)  It does not require other people doing what I want. (No, Bill does not have to buy me a convertible and my sons do not have to move next door.)

I get to be “the decider” – the one who determines whether I am happy or not. And I do it by choosing what I allow to take residence in my head.

Like those consumers who don’t bring candy or ice cream into their homes (and therefore making it unlikely to get into their tummies), I am choosing to only entertain those thoughts which motivate to gratitude.

What I now realize is that my life is made up of the usual blend of sunny moments and those that promote frowns or tears. Most everyone’s life is. So it’s not the stuff of living that matters. It’s the stuff we choose to notice that matters.

It was such an empowering realization for me; but it was a long time in coming.

In my early years as an only child (well before I became the eldest of ten!) my mother had the leisure and the desire to teach me poetry. One of her favorites was Invictus by William Henley. “…For I am the master of my fate. I am the Captain of my soul.” The words still remain in my head, but the message was never imprinted.

Years later, in my black and white period, I remember writing my late-arriving younger brothers and sisters about Pollyanna and her “Glad Game.”  You may remember she had hoped for a doll for Christmas but when the box arrived from the charity providing the presents, her box contained a set of crutches. No tears as expected from such a young child; Polly said she was just grateful that she was someone who didn’t need crutches to walk.

Though, in delivering the parable of gratitude, I never thought to make it my own.

And the years passed.

There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I’m not sure that applies here because Maggi is my sister and appeared in my life some fifty-five years ago. But, perhaps at a time in my life when I might have felt justified in being sad, I noticed how she lived her life. Unlike my attempt to share, her lesson were not shared as stories. Her “teaching” was by example – a subliminal thing that I was ready to observe, and, in the most sincere form of flattery, something I chose to imitate.

A fellow writer (a much more famous fellow writer) summarizes the lesson Maggi lives.

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes everyday. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life, work on the mind. That is the only thing you should be trying to control.”

These are the recent words of Elizabeth Gilbert of EAT, PRAY, LOVE fame. (Elizabeth Gilbert of “searching three continents to find her bliss” fame)  Learning that these words now posted in my office were hers made me smile. Apparently, I am not the only late bloomer in the wisdom department!

So if you don’t have a Maggi in your life to “show” you, perhaps this bit of “telling” by Elizabeth and me will prove to be a valuable sharing. I hope so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Fantastic, Maryann! I love this, and I’m going to try this in my own life, too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom 🙂

  2. Always love what you have to say.

    Sent from my iPad

    >


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