Damn … Michael J Fox … One of my childhood heroes for his roles as the smart-aleck in Family Ties and cocky, entreprising teen in Secret of my Success (I wanted to be just like him) and my adulthood hero for his courage and joie/de-vivre while battling Parkinson’s. Last night he reprised his guitar performance of Johnny B. Goode from the movie Back to the Future – for me one of the most awesome music scenes from pop culture because it made me feel happy and alive :)
Had I known I would have flown to NJ for the weekend for this :)
I believe it was while I lived in Malawi that I finally learned how to look for, find, and appreciate the little things in life, instead of just accidentally stumbling upon them. There was something I discovered in the Malawian people that filled me with joy – happiness, a satisfaction, an interest in others, deep echoing laughs, and beautiful smiles. I saw that they had genuine interest in the well-being of others. The place was not always a barrel of laughs for me – work didn’t always go smoothly, I sometimes had trouble finding diabetic-friendly foods, the power and/or the water would go out about once a day – but it taught me to be more resilient, helped me learn to live with less, and most of all, that I could find wonder and awesomeness in these incredible little moments during the day. In every day of my life now and frequently during those days, I find myself feeling grateful for the things that happen around me. The smile from a homeless man on the street, the succulent taste of a juicy red apple, and the glorious green of the leaves on the trees as summer approaches. This is what carpe diem means to me.
“The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught that the greatest struggle of our lives is the one that takes place in our own heart. To overcome our egos and become more patient and humble and generous for the sake of our families and communities.”
I learned an important lesson about myself some time ago. That when I relax and just let myself be, to be myself, then I begin to feel more natural, freer, and happier. I also feel a greater willingness to accept failure, learn from it, and keep plugging on, helping as many people as I can in the process with the lessons I have learned.
As my self-confidence grows, so does my ability to acknowledge my weaknesses and realize how they can hurt and help me. Facing this vulnerability and being authentic with the people around me has become one of my life’s passions. And the willingness to be true to myself, has helped me feel more confident in responding to those with whom I have differing points of view. And that has actually made those relationships stronger too because it fosters mutual respect and understanding. And sometimes, my points of view change as I realize I’m wrong.
I’m scared to grow old but also looking forward to it so much.
Yesterday I went hiking with a friend and her dog at Umstead State Park in North Carolina. The dog is a beautiful, gentle, black Labrador named Scout. He’s about 13 years old and has problems with his hips. My friend says that for the last month he has been moping about the house and seems to have lost his “puppydom”.
We decided to take advantage of the weather and take him out on the trails. As we approach the park, Scout’s ears perk up, and he gets super excited. Before long he’s running around all over the place, marking his territory, and scampering through the leaves. He always comes back to us and then takes off again. He’s panting heavily but showing no signs of slowing down. (Like me! Haha.)
After about 30 minutes, though, I noticed that Scout was getting a bit wobbly on his legs and was having some trouble walking. And I realized we might have to cut the hike short.
I was a bit disappointed. I had been really looking forward to getting a pretty vigorous hiking session in to keep up my momentum with my exercise. Having the dog along was slowing me down.
I can’t explain what happened next or what triggered the reflection but suddenly I saw how selfish I was being and felt ashamed. It dawned on me how happy this dog was to be out gallivanting in the forest. My friend was having a glorious time and enjoying herself. And for the 30 minutes we were outside, our furry little friend was having the time of his life. And it made me realize that we weren’t taking Scout for a walk but it was actually the other way around. This was his moment, his day.
In this strange and unexpected moment of clarity, I saw how important it is to look for and appreciate the really simple little pleasures. I also remembered the lesson I learned long ago and sometimes forget: that happiness is not about what you get but what you give to others. — at Umstead State Park.
Tyrese Gibson, an American actor and singer, coaches his daughter on positive thinking and self-confidence. What a fun and novel way for a father to be a good role model and life mentor for his children. Good for you Tyrese!
While I was having lunch today, I happened to gaze upon the couple sitting across the aisle from me. The woman was in a wheelchair and had a service dog next to her. She was holding the dog on a leash and stroking its ears. Her dining partner was a man who was also in a wheelchair. He had a speech impediment and difficulty maneuvering his hands well. On the back of the woman’s chair was a big rainbow decal that said “All Families Matter”. It made me think that these two have likely experienced a lot of hardship in their life and probably discrimination as well. Then, as I was watching, the woman gave an instruction to the dog. But the dog decided not to listen because at the same time the man took a potato wedge off his plate and fed it to the dog, who completely ignored the lady. The man started laughing so hard, and then the woman too. I was overcome with joy at watching this simple scene, so much gratitude for this moment they were experiencing and that I was able to experience with them simply through observation. These simple moments that make me happy. Life is good.