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Another Day in the Country

© Another Day in the Country

We were at the 80th birthday celebration for my friend, Zeb, the other day. His grandkids did a little program for him where he was presented with gifts from each decade of his life. They started out in the 1930s when he was born, telling a little something about what was popular, the going rate for gasoline, and who else was born during that time period. Gas rose from 10 cents a gallon in the 30s to $3.29 (if you’re lucky) now. Being reminded of the changes through the decades was a fun thing to have happen at a party.

I thought I’d remember a whole bunch of the interesting facts; but instead I came away with just a few. For one thing, I was surprised about the exact decade things were invented — super glue, for instance — when it seemed such a common item that we’d had forever. (Forever is such a case-sensitive timeframe. For a child, forever could be an hour. For me, forever was fifty years — when it came to the super glue thing. It was invented in the 1960s.)

In the course of the party, as the price of gas and the cost of bread got higher and higher through the decades, I gleaned some interesting ideas from my 80-year-old friend. He gave me a piece of advice, a challenge, that he’s always strived to live by: “I wonder how much good I could do IF I didn’t care who got the credit?” This wasn’t exactly what I expected to hear from 80 years of experience; but it was thought provoking.

There was another quote, the gem of the afternoon in my opinion, when in the midst of telling an adventure he said, “You’re the only one who can change your life.” I decided, right then and there, that this would be what I wrote about this week in my column.

If circumstances have dealt you a low blow, if you’re sad, discouraged, dissatisfied, disgusted with what is happening in your life, YOU are the one to change it. It’s no one’s responsibility but yours. In fact, no one can make it happen but YOU.

In my friend’s case, he was retired, had recently lost a spouse, found himself lonely and at loose ends. So, one day he just rented his house, packed up his suitcase and hit the road. He didn’t know exactly what he was hunting for; but things had to change and he had the belief that any change would be for the better. It was! Through fascinating twists and turns, he met his soul mate, married her and now lives in Ramona. (I love stories with those kinds of happy endings.)

I’m not 80 yet, but if there was a piece of advice that I could give, it might be to make sure that there is a balance in your life between the list of “have to do” and “wanna do.” There were times when my list of responsibilities were so heavy that it left no room for fun. When I realized that I needed to make a change, I actually had trouble coming up with a list of fun (and affordable) things to do. What a plus it was to learn the concept of balance.

My sister says her advice would be to “follow your heart.” This may seem whimsical but actually following your heart means that you only do things that bring you joy, energy, fulfillment, health. This doesn’t mean you won’t constantly need to make course corrections and it doesn’t mean you don’t work hard — actually we enjoy work. It’s fun to accomplish something, finish a project, do a good job! Coming to Ramona was one of those “follow your heart” kind of deals.

Yesterday, Jess and I dug into the chicken house over at Jake’s Place to literally dust off the scarecrows that were stored there and decide which to keep and which to throw away. Jake’s is up for sale and we’ve been clearing the way for new ownership. It isn’t always easy to let something go; but we laughed as we refurbished the good scarecrows and put them up on Main Street.

In my yard, there’s a little kid on a bike that looks so realistic that every time I see it I think, “Whose kids have come to visit?” There’s also a scarecrow child up in a tree. I keep trying to make her look like she’s sitting on the lowest branch but Jess tells me she still looks like she’s falling.

Putting up scarecrows and decorating for fall was on my “Wanna Do” list. It brightens my little corner of the world and makes me smile, on another day in the country!

Last modified Oct. 6, 2011

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