There is an old proverb (source unknown to me) that says “If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy. “
And there is something about how we grew up that no matter what happens to us will always be embedded in our memories. I cannot look at a picture like the one above without tears coming to my eyes, or listen to Dolly Pardon sing “Coat of Many Colors” without thinking of these days. The tears I feel are not from being ashamed but rather the feeling of having so much love that I cold reach around the world and still give more!
I grew up on a dairy farm with a father who was a hired herdsman. He left his own farm in Minnesota to come to North Carolina because my mother was so homesick that she was coming home with or without him. My mother sewed alterations and made hats as well as work on the farm. This was the love I grew up with! I had two siblings and was the first in line, my brother was the third. We had little money, but I always felt loved, not deprived. In many ways I was a rich person.
We had no TV or telephone. (No, I did not grow up with the dinosaurs). We did have electric lights and a radio and I was luckier than many I went to school with, we had indoor pluming!
What did I learn by growing up in these conditions?
1. I learned to share.
There were two of us girls and we slept in the same bedroom in a double bed. You name it, and we shared.
2. I learned to take good care of what little I had and be grateful.
We each had one pair of shoes, very few clothes all sewn by my mother (including under garments) out of feed sacks, and one toy for Christmas, so we took good care of what little we had and did not take it for granted. For birthdays, there was a cake baked and our present was getting to lick the bowl for the cake and icing.
3. I learned to use my imagination.
With very few toys we had to make your own. We walked on tall tomato cans with strips of rubber attached to hold them on our feet. We played with old tires and five gallon barrels by rolling them on their side. And stilts, we made ourselves.
4. I learned to eat until I was not hungry any more rather that when I was stuffed.
Food was limited, but balanced. We each got our share because my mother cut it up equally among us. (I never knew you could scoop ice cream out of the carton until I grew up, because my mother always cut a half gallon of ice cream into 10 equal pieces and that served us twice.)
In these days I never had a problem with weight, and this is because of the good eating habits and appreciation for the food we had.
5. I learned that it was the people who made a home, not the size of a house.
We may not have had much, but we had each other. We had each other to talk to, play with, and laugh with. (Sometimes to fight with.)
6. I learned to work together.
When you live in a small space you have to work as a team. You learn good working skills and what hard work is.
We earned money by working in the garden, learning to cook and keeping the four rooms of our house picked up, so there was room to walk.
As I look back on my childhood and the values it fostered, I realize I was a very lucky child. Yes, things are much better and easier now, but I know what to appreciate and what’s important to be happy.
It’s the people you share your life with—the memories you build and laughter you share.
Things are not what make you happy. It’s living in the moment and living everyday with love in your heart.
I only buy what I need, which controls the clutter. I have food, shelter, and water, air to breathe, and people to love that love me.
I appreciate what I already have to add comfort to my life. I take good care of my furniture, appliances, and the little things that make life more comfortable and easier.
We have the choice to change our life if we want. With hard work and a dream anything is possible. Obstacles can always be overcome. We learn from them and keep moving forward.
True happiness does not come with a price tag. Happiness is something we choose with our own attitude and gratitude.
I look at people today and all the material things they acquire, thinking they are going to find happiness, but happiness cannot be bought.
It’s in our attitude. The love in our heart. The people we know and love. The memories life brings.
When death is knocking at our door, what will be important is the way we loved and the memories we leave for the people left behind. They’re not going to remember the house you lived in or the beautiful things you may have had.
People will remember the laughter they shared with you, the long talks, lessons they may have learned from you, and most important, the love that was shared.
In the end it is who we were, how we touched other’s lives, and the love we gave and received that is going to count and be remembered.
I was inspired to share this based on a blog that I read daily that inspires me to grow and learn to deal with cancer. And because as I grow older my priorities in life change and I just don't want my life to flash in front of me someday unless it was worth watching!!!!
I have a picture of a woman on my desk (I do not know who she is) who inspires me in so many ways but most of all is the happiness she radiates!