74 Years of Learning and Growing

old-age

 

Seventy four years ago today, my mother gave birth to me at the Pensacola Maternity Hospital. A lot has happened along the way and I’ve learned many things, some of which I would like to share with you.

  1. The most important things in life are people — both family and friends. You never know how long you will have them so spend as much time with them as possible. Look over the things that annoy you about them and appreciate the things that you love.
  2. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Let the little things and annoyances in life go. You’ll be a much happier person as a result.
  3. Birthdays just aren’t that important. You’ll have another one next year. If not, you won’t be here to worry about it.
  4. Don’t look down on anyone. You never know what is going on in their life.
  5. Go out of your way to be nice to everyone…even the people who aren’t nice to you!
  6. There are many ways of learning. A college degree doesn’t promise wisdom. I attended a very conservaative Southern Baptist all -girls Judson College in Alabama and then the very liberal University of California at Berkeley where I learned a lot. But I’ve learned even more since that time from things I have read, people I have met, and life. No matter how old you get, you’re never too old to learn something new, and you’ll find that just about anybody can teach you something about life.
  7. There is no one way to do things. There usually isn’t a right way or a wrong way. My way of doing things isn’t superior to your way. It may be different but it’s only one way.
  8. I don’t need a lot of stuff. The longer you live, the more you tend to accumulate. The same is true of being in business for a long time. I have much more than I can ever use and should spend a bit of time getting rid of much of it.
  9. What is inside a person is more important than outward appearances. That is good because the outward appearance usually goes downhill with time.
  10. There are good things about the downsides in my personality. I am quiet and an introvert. The upside of that is that I am a good listener and people tend to listen when I do speak.
  11. I don’t like the dark. Light affects my feelings and my mood. I don’t like a dark house but blossom in one with lots of light.
  12. I hate exercise but know that it is important in order for me to be healthy enough to enjoy this old age. I have to fight my inner resistance and just do it. I also like sugar but am trying to say “no” to that. Not easy though.
  13. I never want to look back and say, “What if?” I’ve learned that you’re never too old to follow your dreams.
  14. Your beliefs will change over time. I grew up in a conservative, Southern Baptist family in the midst of segregation in the deep South. I remember my pastor preaching that the Bible supported segregation. This one sermon made me begin to question my church because I knew he was wrong.I attended a small all-girls Baptist college in Marion, Alabama for my freshman year. I had had little contact with blacks before that, other than seeing them on the bus as they moved to the back. The maid at Judson, who cleaned my room, would stop to rest and talk with me. I learned about her own dreams, her kids who had moved north to pursue their dreams, and that she was really no different than I was.When I married and moved to Washington D.C, a future boss in a job interview asked me if it would bother me to work with blacks. The question puzzled me as I didn’t see why it should. Most of my co-workers were black and I made some wonderful friends.

    It wasn’t long after that when one of the black men that I worked in the kitchen with (to help pay for my education) was killed in the march from Selma, which was just a few miles from where I had attended school. This made my belief that segregation was wrong even stronger.

    Moving to California with my husband helped change my beliefs even more. The University of California at Berkeley was just at the brink of the “protest period.” Folk music was the norm. Peter, Paul, and Mary played in a college lounge. Long hair on men was just beginning to make its appearance. While in Berkeley, I grew even more.
    A few years later, I delved into politics myself, serving on the city council, planning commission, and school board. I learned that is is difficult to be an honest politician and that you can’t please everyone. There were many temptations offered to me even at this local level of politics that I had to resist.

    Fast forward to today, so many years later, when my belief system has evolved into the person that I am today — which is very different than when I was 18. I feel that all people are equal and should have the same opportunities. I have many good friends who aren’t the same color that I am and I admire and respect them as much as my white friends. I don’t like the games played in politics at the expense of the people. Honesty is a trait that I value highly.

    No, I’m not the same person I was when younger. But I think I am a better person.

  15. I’ve learned to walk away from situations where I can’t change someone’s mind or position.
  16. I’ve learned that I’m not perfect and that, at times, I have to laugh at myself. I try to be the best person that I can be but don’t take life or mistakes too seriously.
  17. I’ve learned to live every day as if it were my last. To appreciate what I have and to harbor no regrets.
  18. That I love working with new business owners. Their passion is catching.
  19. That I should have started a facebook group a long time ago.
  20. Life is a heck of a lot more fun when you are doing what you love.
  21. To spend time outside any chance I could get. The fresh air is better than two aspirin.
  22. Never go to sleep without learning something new each day.
  23. The only person you can really trust to meet your expectations is yourself but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to grow a successful business by just yourself.
  24. Fifteen minutes of YOU TIME every morning can change your life.
  25. Asking yourself “What can I be best in the world at?” can lead to some serious breakthroughs. Just as equally important is looking at what you can never be best at and eliminating.
  26. If you want to build a business on a budget, you have to commit to learning how to do a lot of the things yourself.
  27. I would not be where I am at without everyone around me. No one is self made.
  28. To give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  29. When you get away for a few ways, really get away.
  30. You learn too much too late about a person when you read their obituary.
  31. That Santa Cruz, CA, the town that I always wanted to return to as a place to live, now has too much traffic, too many homeless people walking the streets, and too many cars parked on the street in the residential areas. And Pensacola, Florida, the town that I grew up in has changed even more — but, hey, I left there 56 years ago. I realize now that both the place you once called home as well as you, yourself, changes and you can never return to what once was.
  32. That I’m not always right.
  33. You can be an asshole and become a millionaire, but to get to real success that makes you feel good inside, you must genuinely love and care for people.
  34. That people actually care about what I have to say.
  35. How to build a website, grow a business, and how to write and format a Kindle book.
  36. That a three-legged Scottie-Poodle mix can work his way into your heart very quickly.
  37. That I’m more fortunate than I could have ever guessed to have a husband who supports whatever I do and is wise enough to tell me that I am smart.
  38. That I like marketing more than I like making gift baskets.
  39. That there are lots of wonderful people out there and I will never be able to meet them all

And finally….after 73 years, I’m still learning and growing as a person and loving it. I don’t feel old and I’m not afraid of what lies ahead. Age only means what you allow it to mean. The wrinkles and grey hair have arrived but they mean little. I’m amazed that I’ve lived this long, feel this good, and am living the life of my dreams with a husband of 55 years who supports and loves me. Life is a precious gift and I have no idea when it will end for me. But when it does, I can honestly say, “I have no regrets.”

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