Nuggets of Wisdom from a 65-Year Old Woman
Maya Angelou and I share the same birth date (except the year). She is 21 years older than I am, and a great model of wisdom and womanhood to follow. I have neither the desire nor the ability to imitate her, but I learn from her stories of struggles and successes, from her continuing zest for life and from the wisdom in the words she has penned.
Maya is only one of the individuals from whom I continue to learn as I begin my 65th year. Other teachers include:
- my oldest living aunt who teaches me how to report the pains of aging with humor and reminds me to be grateful for the stabilizing bond of family;
- my mother, whose present condition as an Alzheimer’s victim leaves her lessons in hospitality and her legacy of good counsel untouched;
- my cousins and peers (male and female), who teach me the importance of connection;
- members of a writing community called HubPages, who thrill me with their creativity and resourcefulness;
- my son and daughter who occasionally walk ahead of me in the spirit of adventure, courage and expectations.
Still, the wisdom lessons I share best are those extracted from my own situations. Some of them took me years to learn. At 65, I begin to share them in nugget portions and address them especially to those who walk behind me.
(1) Smiles: Share Deliberately
You have been taught to flash a smile of welcome and recognition to anyone who enters your space or who makes eye contact with you. Beyond that, let your smiles be deliberate for people who deserve them—individuals who need a show of friendship, cheer, compassion and so on.
Some foolish people think that smiles are an invitation to become familiar. If you smile at their trashy jokes or rude behavior, they interpret your smile as support. Pay attention to the way your smile is received.
This advice goes against the merry advice to keep smiling, but it may come in handy.
(2) Words: Use Carefully
You do not have to own the words you use. You can quote other people’s words (as long as you do not take credit for them) when it is important to speak out. Too many people remain silent—not knowing the right words to say—when something needs to be said.
Not enough wisdom is spoken to offset the volume of nonsense spoken in public, by people who talk too much.
In personal relationships, be careful to communicate clearly and purposely. Talk through your feelings and give the other person opportunity to speak, so that you understand each other. Write your words when it is difficult to say them.
In general, use words to build, not to destroy. Specifically, when speaking to the children, use words worth remembering.
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(3) Time and Money: Invest Wisely
Procrastination and ignorance have been my lifelong enemies with regards to time and money. I used to have major regrets about this, but regret is useless. I believe that habits can change, going forward.
It is all about setting goals, devising a plan, and practicing zero tolerance for delay and distraction. Even at age 65, the struggle to break bad habits remain. But why am I still alive, if not to gain victories that eluded me in earlier years?
To those behind me, make the effort to learn time and money management. Write what you learn into your personal program. Use them and not let them use you. Decide where you need them on your list of priorities, but never place them above family.
(4) Forgiveness: Dispense Lavishly
Learn from your mistakes what they teach you about yourself and about life, but do not keep a list of your wrongdoings. Admit your imperfection and accept God’s forgiveness, which is how you forgive yourself.
Forgiving yourself makes it easier to forgive other people. Just remember that in forgiving others, you are only dispensing from the forgiveness which you receive. You receive it lavishly, so dispense it lavishly.
The freedom that comes from forgiveness is worth sharing. It frees your space from negative elements like selfishness, guilt, inferiority and hostility. You empower yourself to age gracefully.
(5) Worship: Participate Passionately
At age 65, I have had time to review and reflect on the beliefs I inherited. Some I have altered and some I have replaced. The end result is that I choose to worship the Creator God of heaven and earth, and to remain a Christian following the example and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Life is too confusing to live without having a a solid, divine connection. Prayer helps and worship sustains. Worship is best offered humbly in recognition of the fact that God is greater than we are; passionately, in response to the fact we need a relationship with Him more than with anyone or anything else.
Even the birds worship with songs.
My counsel to those behind me is to nurture your innate desire for worship. Some worship themselves, other people, possessions or causes. It makes sense to worship the Giver of Life, and to worship passionately in proportion to your gratitude.
(6) Life: Live Joyfully
"Don't get older just to get wiser...If you get older, you will be wiser...But get older because it's fun," said Maya Angelou on her 74th birthday.
Joy lives inside you. It finds things to celebrate. When you’re burnt out and it seems that there is nothing to be joyful about, look around you, find someone who is celebrating and share his or her joy. Or let nature help bring it to the surface; take a nature walk and enjoy the song of the birds, or the sprint of the squirrels. Or, play some music, sing and dance.
Your joy is your responsibility. It helps you maintain your health and your relationships. No better life than a life of joy!
This Summary of Nuggets
1. Smiles: Share Deliberately
2. Words: Use Carefully
3. Time and Money: Invest Wisely
4. Forgiveness: Dispense Lavishly
5. Worship: Participate Passionately
6. Life: Live Joyfully
Everyone is encouraged to compile and share wisdom nuggets gained from everyday experiences, as the opportunity arises. The more we share, the more we connect, and the wiser we will all be.
- Every day is a good day.
- Every person counts.
- Every situation teaches a lesson.
- Everyone who reads this is alive.
In appreciation for this great gift of life, the least we can do is enjoy it at whatever age we are.
© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers