November 27, 2017
Lesson Learned: Shirley’s second Pearl of Wisdom “Trust but Verify” resonated with me as much as her “you have to help other people” blog post #64. Shirley is a cautious and highly disciplined person, who in her professional career worked as an operating room nurse. She told me how important it was to her and the rest of the medical team to know that the needed surgical instruments and supplies had been properly replaced before each surgery. And while she had confidence in the ability of her team to accurately replenish the items, she always verified before the next surgery took place. In the OR, Shirley couldn’t afford to take any chances. She needed to verify.
“You gotta believe” and “Keep the faith” are popular imperatives used in everyday speech. It’s a good thing to trust. “Trust your instincts” is an equally valid command. In many cases the instincts are correct and valid. But before making important decisions, it can’t hurt to double check before continuing. That confirmation could make a huge difference in the outcome. It did for Shirley.
September 26, 2017
Lesson Learned: In the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that recently caused widespread destruction in the Caribbean, Texas, Louisiana and Florida, Shirley’s sentiment may seem so very obvious or matter-of-fact, given the tremendous need people in those areas are experiencing.
Shirley actually made this comment to me weeks before the hurricane season became the topic of concern of weather forecasters and residents alike. When tragedy strikes, people typically respond quickly and generously by donating time and money to assist those in need. It’s simply the right thing to do.
But for Shirley, helping others is a daily creed; a mantra she lives by. Help can come in many forms. She explained how powerful a genuine smile, gentle touch or kind word of encouragement can be for someone who is depressed, lonely or ill. Sometimes it’s the little things that help the most, she said with a confident nod. For Shirley, it’s not the size of the gift that matters. It’s all about making a positive difference in the lives of others that counts.
May 29, 2017
During the recent Memorial Day weekend, I had the chance to catch up on some recreational reading. I finally completed a book of short stories that had been compiled by a diverse group of people who shared personal tales from their childhood and youth with a popular German radio program decades ago. The narratives of these specific life experiences had played out in the early years of the 1900s and included references to the historical, political and social backdrop of the times. These were particularly fascinating as they gave a deeper perspective into the lives of the authors during those formative years.
I noted, with special interest, the life lessons that inspired three female contributors, who expressed being:
• thankful for being raised without hatred and prejudice (Lotte
• helpful to others in need (Elsbeth Kasser 1910*)
• taught to be responsible for what you say or do and to carry that in your heart. (Gertraud Uhl 1895*)
While the sentiments above guided these women who were born over a century ago, they still remain relevant for us today. We would be wise to learn from them and carry these values in our hearts also.
* = the contributor’s year of birth
April 30, 2017
After attending worship this morning, I stopped at our favorite Italian market to purchase some groceries for dinner. While waiting to pay for those items, I noticed that the older gentleman ahead of me at the cashier was proudly wearing a World War II Veteran hat. I always like to acknowledge a veteran’s service to our country, so I offered him my hand and thanks. He beamed and volunteered that he was 94 years old. I was impressed and inquired to what he attributed his longevity. A daily glass of wine perhaps? “No”, he replied with a smile. “I help people when I can.”
March 30, 2017
Lesson Learned: Elke “Strong”. This motto or rallying cry was coined by Elke M’s family to give them strength as they mourned her recent death.
Elke was known and loved by many because of her persistence, determination and unwavering faith. Her ever present smile and the twinkle in her eyes, which easily drew people to her, were her hallmark.
Her early years in war torn Germany, followed by immigration to the United States with two young daughters and eventually raising five children, made her strong and independent. Her door was always open to strangers, whom she would gladly feed. She was generous and kind. She spoke good old fashioned common sense and the simple truth, even when it wasn’t necessarily appreciated. (Okay, so my kitchen window is dirty…)
In later years, she bore the death of her husband and youngest son with dignity and grace. She took life as it came without complaints or drama, even as her health began to fail and she spent many a night in the ER after having fallen – again.
Unlike August II (1670 – 1733) – Elector of Saxony, Imperial Vicar, King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Lithuania, who earned the nickname, “the Strong”, because of his physical strength, Elke was a role model for her emotional strength and discipline. She may have been a simple, hardworking gentlewoman, but her legacy can easily live up to being named Elke “the Strong”.
February 27, 2017
Lesson Confirmed: Tom and Sue S. were interviewed for an article entitled “Retirement: Declutter – Now!” that appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer on August 23, 2015. The insights and suggestions they shared confirm and validate the guidance we routinely give our clients in transition. The points below capture the essence of Tom and Sue’s experience as they prepared for a move into a local retirement community.
- “Start decluttering – now!”
- “Do it while you’re in control of everything. Don’t wait until you have to depend on your kids to help sell the house, make the move, or care for the remaining spouse. The sooner you get out from under house and property care, the sooner you can be free of those expenses and concerns, the sooner you can really enjoy retirement and have the time to do what gives you pleasure.”
- Decluttering “holds people back from starting to act on their future.”
- “Today, we live in a two-bedroom apartment and have yet to find something that we ‘need’ from our former home.”
- It’s painful to realize that your family members don’t value your treasures as much as you do. It’s unsettling to put them up for sale at a tenth of their original price… If you try to get what you consider as ‘full value’, you’ll go crazy.”
- Instead, focus on the pleasure and use that these things provided. “You can’t move forward with all this ‘stuff’ holding you back.”
January 27, 2017
Lesson Learned: Progress is a strong, uplifting word with a particularly positive connotation. Growth, development, advancement, gradual betterment, and improvement could all be substituted as appropriate synonyms. When Aunt Marie uttered this simple and understated observation, she revealed just how important moving forward was to her.
It seems normal to want to see and experience progress. We delight in reading and hearing the words “making good progress” on report cards, performance evaluations and medical summaries. It seems natural to want progress to continue. But sometimes, in our daily lives, progress can seem alien or threatening when its benefits are not understood or it occurs unexpectedly and causes additional work or takes up more time. A new software program at work or a temporary road closure due to construction can be quite frustrating and stressful. It’s easy, then, to shun the anticipated advancement and clamor for the old status quo.
That wasn’t Aunt Marie’s mantra. She was progressive and modern in the way she embraced new trends, fashions and gadgets. She insisted on looking forward, not backwards.