Sunday, January 4, 2015

Then and Now

As I review 2014, I see that I did not post every Sunday as I had planned. One of my many shortcomings is my all-or-nothing trait. This meant, at a younger age, that if I couldn't be 100 percent, my natural tendency was to claim failure and throw in the towel. But Perfection is no longer my egotistical god, thanks to my friend and mentor Jackie Crowley, who taught me years ago that on a scale 1-10, a 7 is pretty darn good.

Looking back on Jackie's and my thirty-plus years of friendship, I realize what a great mentor she's been. She's ten years older than me and she models the next decade for me by  her example. Over the years, she has shown me the advantage of  being a servant leader with a collaborative view rather than building a silo over which to rule as the Iron Queen. She has taught me to see the best in people and encourage them in their strengths rather than criticizing and ostracizing  them for their shortcomings. (As she's reminded me more than once, given the choice, do we want to be judged with mercy or justice? This is an easy answer for me--I choose mercy every time.)

These days she is living halfway across the nation in the state of Washington. She lives with her grandchildren, showing them the wisdom and delight that comes with aging. She's never been a didactic, moralizing person, so they are learning from her as I did--from her exceptional example and through a dynamic, developing relationship that embraces honesty, humor, and happiness as its guiding principles. 

As a result of trying to follow her example, I believe my relationships with family, friends, and associates have prospered. I know for sure that I am a better person for having known her. She is truly one of my life's blessings.

I had a health scare recently, which put me in the hospital right before Christmas for an 8-day stay. Everything is fine now, but the experience forced me to halt my usual swirling dervish dance moves,  think about where I am in my life, take a good look at my choices, and imagine what my future can look like.

I'm ready for some changes. A new year means beginning anew, a fresh start. So here I am, beginning 2015 with renewed excitement. What will I bring with me into the new year and what will I leave behind?  Jackie recently sent me a book of prompts for grandparents to use to write stories from their lives for the next generation, which got me thinking. I love writing, I love people, and I love helping people write, especially--but not only--the stories of their lives. That sounds like a Sizzling 7, don't you think?

I invite you to think about your own situation. What in your life needs to continue in the new year? What needs left behind?