Polyanna and My Birthday Gifts


Pronunciation: \ˌpä-lē-ˈa-nə\
Function: noun
Etymology: Pollyanna, heroine of the novel Pollyanna (1913) by Eleanor Porter †1920 American fiction writer. Definition: A person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. From The Merriam Webster Dictionary

I am not Polyanna. Those who know me would have a hard time identifying me with the little girl who always has nice and happy thoughts.

However, something happened this morning. The thought struck me loud and clear: Regardless of who you are, what you do, how much money you make, what matters most is the people who matter – and, no, I am not being crafty here.

You do feel and think that some people play a big role in your life. You love them; they love you back; you care deeply for each other; you miss them when they are not around and it hurts. You may not have seen them for a long time, but next time you meet, you pick up exactly where you left off and boom! It’s that connection, the magic, the warm feeling in your stomach that there is care, and affection and love all around you.

So, this morning on the day of my birthday, I woke up and smiled. I looked at my life and knew right then and there that my gifts for the day were all inside me – in my head, in my heart. And, it’s these people who matter.

• Those friends who have nurtured my insecurities; accepted my criticism; laughed at my insults and kept on loving me; challenged my thinking and forced me to see another point of view; opened their arms and hugged me when I cried, and let me be who I am with no pretenses, no barriers, no walls.

• My son and daughter who have given me the love of tenderness and the opportunity to watch two incredibly smart young adults make their own life journey, resisting the beaten track, making me feel proud of being their parent.

• Those skeptics who have taught me how to look at things through a different and contrarian lense just to test the hypothesis of the moment.

• Those enemies who have made me brave by standing in battle – worthy opponents for the struggle of life, the need for perseverance, the inner need to win and the most valuable lesson of loss.

Today, (coincidentally on my birthday?), I decided to pay tribute to these people in my life who matter. As I transition back into the Bay Area lifestyle, having recently returned after more than a decade, I need the time to adjust and absorb the change and the difference. My journey is made so much easier with the presence – and in many instances the virtual presence – of these people.

So…Polyannish as this may sound – today, I made a choice.To accept that these people are gifts – they don’t have to be there; they don’t owe me; they are simply there and I am lucky to have them.You know who you are, and I thank you.

* This blog was inspired by Tal Ben-Sharar (link about him attached) whom I was fortunate enough to see last Saturday.

Here’s his tips:

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions — such as fear, sadness, or anxiety — as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events.

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do — or don’t do — with our bodies influences our mind.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to nature to a smile.

Thank you…

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