A few weeks ago, I went on a trip with my brother to Florida. On our drive back home, we stopped at a Wendy’s in North Carolina. The woman who took our order was in her 40′s or 50′s…I couldn’t really tell, but she had a light within her that felt like a warm hug. It was so comforting to be in her presence for those few minutes as she asked what we wanted and took our money. The restaurant was busy, but she didn’t seem rushed.
She looked into my eyes when she spoke…and she smiled. It was obvious that she wasn’t wrapped up in her own mind, or lamenting that at her age, she should be somewhere other than working at Wendy’s. She wasn’t complaining about her lot, or her life, or the state of the world.
She was present. And maybe I noticed it because it seems to be a quality that is uncommon; being happy where we are, touching those around us with our light. Not striving to be important or noticed or acknowledged for “our work”. She showed me, in a brief moment what presence was, and she left an impression on me that felt like Love.
When I ask myself the question, “What should I do with my life!?”, as if living and loving and being kind isn’t really enough, then that question becomes a tyrant to me, prodding me, throwing examples before my eyes of all of the successful ones who have “made it” and who have done something big and have left their mark on the world in a big way (always as opposed to me). I don’t think that we can strive to find meaning in life. I think that striving and struggling make us tired and self-concerned.
I think it’s better to smile at ourselves in the mirror and to take that smile with us and share it with the world.
“For better or for worse, I’ve watched people die in front of me. I see how they are in the end. And they’re not cynical. In the end, they wanna hold somebody’s hand. And that’s real to me.” Mitch Albom
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Donna modeling one of the coats from Above and Beyond Boutique, 75 East Main St, Cambridge, NY 518-260-3757
A new consignment shop opened up in Cambridge and as I drove past last week, what caught my eye was a velvet jacket blowing in the breeze so I stopped in to see what the shop was like. As I opened the door, I was greeted by a lovely woman, Donna, who welcomed me and told me that the shop “emphasized plus sizes” As she showed me around, I was impressed by not only the really nice clothes, scarves, and jewelry but by the owner’s attitude. She said that it was her intention to make everyone feel welcome, and that feeling was certainly there. I know that I will be back…it is so nice to be welcomed, anyplace, with a smile!
“A good disposition, a smile, often opens the secret door; the Chinese say, ‘A man without a smiling face, must not open a shop.’ The success of a smile was brought out in a French moving-picture in which Chevalier took the lead, the picture was called, ‘With a Smile.’ One of the characters had become poor, dreary and almost a derelict; He said to Chevalier ‘What good has my honesty done me?’ Chevalier replied, ‘Even honesty won’t help you, without a smile:’ so the man changes on the spot, cheers up, and becomes very successful”. From The Secret Door to Success by Florence Shovel Shinn (published in 1941)
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Noah: the Zen kitty
A friend sent me a slide show last night of 50 photographs (the link is below). The images that I loved the most, were the ones that were not posed or trying to be dramatic; they just were. For a large part of my life, I have had the feeling that I should be something different than I was. When I was younger, I thought I wasn’t old enough to be respected and successful, and then I seemed to cross some line and started thinking that I was too old; that I had somehow missed the boat.
The idea that we are perfect just as we are, right now, and that our lives have been perfect, is something that I have recently started considering. What if everything has been right? What if there were no mistakes? What would my life feel like if I stopped blaming anyone (even myself…especially myself) for not being good enough (smart enough, ambitious enough, thin enough, wise enough, relaxed enough, focused enough, vigilant enough, disciplined enough….), and just said, “From now on, I am going to look for the perfection of life; in myself, in everyone and everything around me.”
You are not too late. You are not too early. You are right on time to live your perfect life now!
Click this link to look at some gorgeous photography that was sent to me (I don’t know who the photographers are but if you do, please let me know) foto12
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My mother (far left) with her brothers, sisters and parents 55 years ago
My mother told me yesterday that right before my grandfather died, she entered his hospital room and he said to the nurse at his bedside, “This is my beautiful daughter.” She smiled as she told me this and said, “I never told anyone this story before. It was the only time that my father ever said anything like that, so I guess that is why I remembered it.”
My grandparents were of the generation that did not compliment. They felt it would “go to your head” and make you haughty if you thought that you were OK. Life was a huge struggle for them. They believed that being hard, and pointing out all of the mistakes that their children were making, would prepare them for the harsh realities of the world….and it did. It prepared them to expect the world to be hard and harsh, to not believe in themselves, to expect life to be a constant struggle.
I see my mother trying so hard to drop these beliefs now. As I look at this photograph of her, I want to go back through time and hug her. Tell her how beautiful and capable and wonderful she is.
We’ve all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it’s more important to learn from successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors. Norman Vincent Peale
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