December 20, 2014

Reflections from a La-Z-Boy: Wise Words for the New Year.

Over the years, I have spent countless hours in Senior’s Facilities.

Typically engulfed in a comfortable Lazy-Boy recliner, softly rocking back and forth, as elders share the personal narratives that create the storybook of their lives.

As a self-professed introvert, I excel at kicking back and relishing in these tales. I have noticed during these conversations common threads of advice, each wisely scaffolded from years of lived experience.

I offer these insights—echoed from the wise voices that have touched my life–to help guide the internal compass as we begin to navigate our way through a new year.

Create Love Stories.

Like dreamy Prince-Charming-meets-Cinderella love stories. Throughout conversations, regardless of memory impairments, medical ailments and life circumstances, tales of love gained and love lost, inherently dominate conversations.

I’m always amazed at how pristine and perfectly intact these memoirs of love remain.

Gazes lift, eyes twinkle and checks blush as recollections of these personal fairytales unfold. These stories of love do not include details of double paycheck engagement rings or lavishly expensive wedding costs.

Instead, what remains true to these memories are the emotions and feelings evoked by this deepest form of soul-rocking, heart-exploding, pulse-racing human connection.

Forge and nurture opportunities for love. Do not settle for less.

Happiness: Undefined.

Undeniably, our culture has pre-fabricated a deeply engrained definition of happiness—which typically entails a studious academic career, a notable profession (paired with a generous annual salary), a frivolous white wedding and a mini-van full of car seats and off-spring.

Through these wise conversations, I am always reminded and encouraged, to let-go of this faulty definition of happiness that is all-too-often mindlessly pursued.

Instead, let’s sit down and create our own personal definition of this noun. Once the pen has lifted and the ink has dried, pursue that.

Whether it’s traveling the world, obtaining the job we’ve always dreamed about, or climbing that unimaginable peak.

Do that. That is personal happiness.

Up, Up, and Away.

This one’s tough. It’s the feelings we’ve buried deep down in the darkest of depths?  Those words fought so hard to hold back and keep inside? That emotion hidden behind a crowd-pleasing smile?

Well all that stuff eventually bubbles to the surface.

Those unsaid feelings, emotions and thoughts, have a really crafty way of eventually spilling out. Often, at an inopportune time.

Be vulnerable.

Let those unsaid words, thoughts and/or emotions out now. As quoted in a memorable conversation with a ninety-something year old friend:

“I feel like a hot air balloon. When I let a little air out by telling you my deepest thoughts, I feel so much lighter.”

Be bold enough to use our voice.

Pursue our Passions.

Oftentimes, we spend so much time trying to get “our ducks in a row” that we sacrifice our truest goals, passions and desires.

Before we know it, time has passed and life has dealt us and unfair hand, leaving us with a lengthy bucket-list of unchecked aspirations. I have listened to countless stories of regret, detailing lost opportunities due to busy Monday to Friday schedules.

Stop building a mountain of excuses; pursue our goals and desires now.

My biggest teacher of this lesson was my father. A man whose passion was to travel. He filled each and every opportunity available to explore places he read about in history books, researched online or saw depicted on television.

Like many, his time had come all too soon—his life ending in a completely unpredictable conclusion. Though, when that time did arrive, I remember him indicating that he only had one remaining bucket-list trip left to pursue.

If I make it to that final breath, with solely one box left unchecked, that will truly be something celebrate. Pursue our passions now.

So, as we bravely step forward into a new year, I encourage all of us, to forge and nurture opportunities for love, create a personal definition of “happiness,” be bold enough to use our voice and have the courage to pursue your passions.


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Author: Marnie Oatway

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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