“When you get, give. When you learn, teach.” Maya Angelou
I received an email from a friend, with these words of wisdom for the coming year:
“For each of us, eventually, whether we are ready or not, someday, it will come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame, and temporal power, will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned, or owed. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to do lists, will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from or on what side of the tracks you lived at the end. It won’t matter if you are beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So, what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built. Not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.”
“I realized for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days shining brightly, and we don’t know it.” Sue Monk Kidd
We’ve all overcome so much, and instead of dwelling on 2020, let’s reflect on what we can carry forward into 2021. I believe that reflecting on the past helps us to reshape our future.
The top ten takeaways froM 2020
10. We are not in control of our lives. If you’re a control freak, this was a challenging past year. We’ve learned to become more malleable about life.
9. Experiences in our lives were redesigned. We became creative using Zoom and other means to stay connected. This allowed us more time to reflect on ourselves and our lives and what we want and need to accomplish.
8. Friendships and relationships. We became more aware of the strong and weak relationships in our lives. The deeper and more intimate long-term relationships grew stronger and richer.
7. Family dynamics. Home schooling and working from home changed how we interacted. Some couples who had been separated by work because one of them traveled or worked long hours were thrust into discussing their problems in their relationships. This forced people to work-out their problems or come to the realization that their relationships were over.
6. Our pets were the ultimate winners in 2020. We interacted more with them, petted them more and loved on them more. In a sense, they became our “emotional support” animals.
5. Self-care became a priority. So many never had time or just kept putting off time for themselves. We came to the realization, if we are always running on empty and don’t take time and care for ourselves, it can affect us not only emotionally but physically. Getting in touch with our needs. Going for a short walk. Taking a relaxing bath. Shutting off the news for a few days. These small things can make a big difference in our quality of life.
4. The law of attraction. I’m not referring to sexual attraction. This law of attraction has to do with your attitude and outlook. If you’re negative, complaining and angry, chances are that’s what you’re going to receive from others. If you want kindness, love and good things in your life, you have to put out that energy.
3. Gratitude for what’s good. There are many little things in life to be grateful about. Be thankful you are not sitting in hours of traffic every day, now that you are working from home. Taking the time each day to thank people in your family, tribe or community. Nothing puts a smile on someone’s face as a simple thank you.
2. Offering grace to others. Millions of people went without this past year, died alone, suffered, lost loved ones. Listening and not talking when someone is sharing their hardships. Tom Hanks has a great acronym I try to live by: “WAIT” which stands for, why am I talking?
1. Never stop learning. We had more time in 2020 to read, learn a new skill, watch new content and even learn how to cook. We grew emotionally, intellectually and physically.
As we reset to live joyful, purposeful and intent-driven lives, let’s learn from our past and just hit that reboot button.
“There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth, though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world, though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.” Hannah Senesh
As I stare up at the last full moon of 2020, I reflect on this past year and previous happier New Years. The brilliant light of the moon brought back memories of a friend of mine. A friend I worked with, socialized with, and who I respected and admired for well over thirty years.
Though my friend and I didn’t see or talk daily, we always seemed to connect during the holidays. It was 2009 New Year’s Eve in California around 10:00 pm, a few years before this friend passed away. I was on my balcony looking up at the full radiant moon and I wondered if he too was looking up at the moon.
When I left my balcony and returned to my living room, I heard an incoming email notification on my laptop. I was astonished to see the email was from my friend. He was vacationing in Belize, as he always did during the holiday season. The email simply read:
JR, It’s midnight in Belize. I’m looking up at a magnificent moon over the bay here and am thinking of you. It’s still a wonder to me that we all can see the same moon from different places–albeit at different times and longitudes, but with no major physics correction involved. John Muir said, ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.’ Happy New Year
During the holidays, I find myself reminiscing about this dear friend. I miss him and our long talks about life, history, and whether or not we are alone in the Universe. I miss the special connection we had. A connection, I believe all of us have the ability of obtaining.
All of us have the energy and light within us to light the way for humankind.
As a child I was captivated by the French writer Alexandre Dumas 1844 novel, The Three Musketeers. Dumas was the Stan Lee of his time, creating the first youthful super heroes, Aramis, Porthos, Athos, and their protege D’Artagnan. The only difference is, Musketeers actually did exist and Dumas based his characters on some of the most famous of Musketeers.
Anything I could find to read or watch about the Musketeers was on my radar. Mostly because they were excellent equestrians and fencers, two of my favorite combinations, and all Musketeer entertainment had plenty of those two activities.
My late great uncle was an Olympic fencer. I never had the honor of meeting him, but I like to imagine his passion and talent for fencing was passed on to me. I was fortunate to attend a high school that offered beginning fencing, and this was my first hands-on introduction to this 14th century sport. It’s amazing how much fencing requires a great deal of mental and physical stamina, balance and fast reflexes. I took to this sport quickly, learning all the common moves and French words for them such as, Advance Lunge, Assault, Extension, Flick, Touché and the most famous En-garde.
Most are introduced to fencing through Hollywood movies. There have been numerous movies about the Musketeers dating as far back as the 1921 silent film adaptation starring Douglas Fairbanks. The first movie I remember watching about the Musketeers was on TV in the 1960s, and was the 1948 movie with Gene Kelly. It’s still one of my favorites because it not only had fencing and horses, but as an extra bonus it had Gene Kelly performing ballet type moves while fencing.
In the 1970s the studios came out with a Raquel Welch and Michael York Musketeer version, which wasn’t one of my favorites. As a little trivia note, this movie was originally proposed in the 1960s as a vehicle for The Beatles.
Disney released their Musketeer movie adaptation in 1993 starring Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt and Chris O’Donnell. This became my favorite version of all time, until now.
A few weeks back, I discovered on Amazon Prime a 2014 BBC Musketeer series. This exceptional rendition of the swashbuckling Musketeers is now one of my top go to TV series. The acting, costumes, romantic locations, storylines and cinematography is awe inspiring. If you’re looking for some great entertainment to fill your evenings, I highly recommend this series. It certainly is fulfilling my Musketeer mania.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl