A Quarter Centry

by Ashley on April 30, 2012

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Your job is you. Unless you fill yourself up first, you have nothing to give anybody.  The Secret

A few days ago while spending time in the local nursing home for my Practicum class I met a man named Mr. Black.  One of the first few things this elderly man said to me was, “How old do you think I am?”

After long thought, “75?” I responded. That can be a dangerous question.

“That many years?!” he said.

“Alright then, 55?” I said. Now I knew he wasn’t 55, that’s way too close to my own dad’s age, but his shocked response to me guessing 75 made it seem as if I was far off.

“92,” he said so proudly.

Holy cow. 92, still completely sane, telling stories of his younger days, completely happy and content with his life.  What an inspiration.

Right after he told me that he was 92, I asked him to share with me his secret to life. “What’s the trick?” I asked.

Mr. Black made it seem so simple. “Do what you want in life.”

And just like that, life is good.  He said that he retired at 55 and spent from that day until 6 years prior when his wife died, traveling the country and world doing just as they pleased: they visited who they wanted, when they wanted.

With a birthday quickly approaching me, looking back over the past 25 years, doing what I truly want to do is something that I’ve struggled with in life.  Seems strange, right?  Whenever I am asked what my greatest weakness is, my answer is always the same: “The inability to say no.”

From the day I turned 16 and had a little bit more control over what I did with my life, I have spent far too much of my time doing things that I didn’t and don’t want to do.

As soon as one commitment ends, I quickly fill my time with something else.  I don’t want to look back in 25 more years at 50 years old and be able to say the same thing.  I want to devote this next 25 years (and beyond) of my life to doing what makes me happy and in doing so I will make others happy as well.

We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it. – Epicurus

By the time my sweet 16th birthday rolled around, I already had my first job lined up as a hostess at Longhorn Steakhouse.  Not because my parents made me, fortunately they were more than gracious and always willing to and did provide for me,  but because for some odd reason I’ve always felt a responsibility to work.  Soon after starting that job, I picked up another job as a server at a small local restaurant right near my high school.  No, I honestly didn’t even have time for the first job because of my role as the captain of my high school dance team, a member of the football cheerleading squad, on student government, Business Editor of the yearbook, DECA club member, and involved in many other organizations too long to list, but some how I managed to do it all.

Oh, I remember how. Killing myself to get it all done. School from 8-3:30, dance from 3:30-5:30, change in the car and race to work from 6-10:30, home for dinner and sleep by 11:30: all to do it again the next day. I spent the majority of my weekends cheering at football games on Friday nights and working at the two restaurants on Saturdays and Sundays. All at my own choice.

And then guess what?  I picked up a third job my senior year so that I could participate in the Work Exit Program. Scary, right? Instead of just enjoying my senior year like most 17-18 year olds, I opted to come work for my dad’s company so that I could leave school after fourth period.

Again filling my plate so full that I couldn’t even enjoy life.

This trend has continued obviously until now, here at almost 25, where I have spent the past two years of my life marching toward a goal and never stopping to reflect upon my accomplishments.

Dustin always reminds me of the importance of stopping to celebrate every goal that I do meet.  I tend to be so goal driven that once I meet one particular goal, I already have another one in my mind.  I remember thinking, “what am I going to do next?” on the way to my first marathon last November. TAKE. IT. EASY. is what I should have done. I was about to accomplish something so huge but still was only looking to what was next.

With that being said, and my 25th birthday approaching, I’ve decided it’s time to let go of such a strict, orderly life just a little bit and enjoy life a little more.  Taking more time for me seemed like such a selfish thought at first, but in fact I’ve learned that it really isn’t. Just as the quote above states, in order to have anything to give to others, I must give to myself as well.  I need to laugh more and worry less.  I need to take more time doing the things that I love, rather than doing the things that I feel like I have to do.  I need to allow myself to take a yoga class, rather than feeling like I have to teach it. On days that I don’t feel like working out, don’t. When I want to stay up a little too late even if I have to wake up early in the morning, do so.  Life is too short to not enjoy each and everyday.  After all, we never know which day will be our last.

Here’s a list of a few of those things that make me happy to help remind myself of the things I love and need to focus more time on:

  • Having a God that loves me unconditionally
  • Spending time with Dustin, our families, and friends
  • Walking and playing with my pups
  • Eating heathy and healthy foods
  • A good glass of wine
  • Reading a good book
  • Being at the beach
  • Self-control
  • Clean sheets
  • Exercising
  • A warm fire on a chilly night
  • Driving with the windows down in my car
  • Good music
  • Yoga
  • Sailing
  • Dancing
  • Watching the Braves
  • A good nights sleep
  • Laughing
  • Traveling
  • Flowers
  • Eating dinner outside

With that being said, here’s to a happy yesterday, today, and tomorrow! I hope your week is wonderful.

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today. – Dale Carnegie

Good health friends!

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