Category Archives: lessons learned


Me and Mrs. Baker
Me and Mrs. Baker

Mrs. Baker lived across the street from my parents when I was born in 1980. I’ve literally known her my whole life. And while my family long ago moved from that small town, and I’ve since moved to another state, Mrs. Baker is still in her house at the end of the cul de sac in that small town where I was born.

Now here is the kicker of it all: Mrs. Baker is 92-years-old and still just as sharp as a tack. Further, she is one of the most positive people I know.

My parents and I went to visit Mrs. Baker on Sunday, and when I left her house I had to marvel at how many lessons this woman has been teaching me through the years — most specifically the last few years — and how I really want to take those lessons and put them into action.

Lessons I’ve learned, or am trying to learn, from Mrs. Baker:

1. Everyone has problems. When I think I’ve got problems, I need to take a step back and realize I am not unique in those problems.

Every time I get a letter from Mrs. Baker — whose letters are one of the few items of mail that are opened immediately — she will mention that her rhumatoid arthritis is bothering her, or perhaps she’s come down with a cold. But it never fails that she follows that statement with something about having nothing to complain about and that there are others worse off than she is. When we go to visit her, she’ll in passing mention how she broke her shoulder earlier this year, but its not to complain that it happened. No, it’s to tell us about something that happened on the day she came home from the hospital. It’s never a complaint. And when someone comes to her to complain or whine about something, she’ll just reply, “Everyone has problems.”

Words of wisdom from a 92-year-old.

2. I have many blessings. Going hand in hand with not complaining comes the reminder that I have many more blessings than hardships. So I have a few bills that are late. Instead of moping about that, I should instead be grateful I have a job to make the money to pay those bills… even if they are late.

As we left, Mrs. Baker commented that she doesn’t go anywhere any more. She long ago gave up driving. And she only leaves to go to the doctor occasionally. She has a woman who comes to help her six days a week with chores around the house, and a neighbor keeps her lawn in shape. She is homebound, but instead of moping around the house she marvels at how blessed she is to still live at home and not in a rest home.

There’s a way of looking at any issue and instead of focusing on the negative aspects of it, to instead count ones blessings.

3. Friends are a priceless entity. It’s impossible to go visit Mrs. Baker and her phone not ring countless times in a couple of hours time. I truly believe her friends are what keep her going.

It makes me smile how she has a certain time she calls certain friends each day. And she knows that they will call her at certain times as well. The conversation may not last but a minute, but its that voice on the other end of the line that makes her smile and laugh. We need human contact to bring joy to our lives. Friends are not only a blessing, but an important part of a long, happy, healthy life.

4. Put your mind to it. We had a long conversation today about how many things in life can be accomplished simply by putting your mind to it.

There are thousands of self help books that promote the success of positive thinking. If you think it, you can do it. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. How one thinks affects everything in their life. So much of our life is really in our power and up to us to just choose to do or have. All too often we left outside forces make up our minds for us. Don’t. Be yourself. Take your life in your own hands and make it what you want.

5. The power of prayer. Mrs. Baker long ago had to stop going to church when she gave up driving. However, she is just as devout of a Christian as ever and just as active in church as before. She’s chairwoman of the prayer chain. Its up to her to let others know of anything that happens to a member of the church in which they need prayers. Be it illness or injury or any number of needs. She prays for many others, and they in turn pray for her.

I think we could all learn so much from one another, if we’d only just pay attention.

I know there are countless more lessons I could learn from Mrs. Baker, as well as from others. I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. And I, for one, never want to stop learning.

Three strikes, times two

I have a fairly staunch rule I set into place years ago.

I don’t let random men buy me drinks in bars. I know, many just gasped in horror, but its my rule and its served me well for many years and avoided many misunderstandings.

The other night, I was at a bar in downtown Nashville, visiting with friends and watching my husband play, when a guy decided to buy me and another friend of mine a drink. Under the impression (based on the conversation, etc.) that he knew my friend, I broke my rule and went along with it in the spirit of socializing with my friends.

I felt the need to walk away, though, when he would not take me seriously when I stated that my dream in life is to be a writer and that that is indeed what I have chosen as my career. Writing apparently was not a good enough for him and he kept pestering me for a different answer, and it was on that note that I walked away. I simply walked away and visited elsewhere until he left.

It was after this that I learned that he had been making a pill of himself with ALL the ladies in the bar and he was not, in fact, an acquaintance of my friend as I had believed. If he felt himself a “player,” he’d failed miserably.

Strike one: being a pill to all. Strike two: misrepresentation. Strike three: not taking me seriously.

It is cases like this that interactions both socially and professionally can be quite the minefield. You never know when someone is going to be legitimate. And it is within this uncertainty that I made my own three strikes in my discussion with this person.

1 – They make the first move, but reveal nothing about themselves.
In my interaction with this guy, I realized he told me nothing about himself, and I told him random facts about me. I was cagey, yes, but he learned I am married, work part-time at the bar, went to Texas A&M and that my passion is writing. None of this is exactly a secret, but its still more than I learned about him. I never asked, I admit. I didn’t want to know, and I hoped my disinterest in him would make it clear he needed to leave me alone. When it didn’t, I chose to walk away. But it is within this that I realized that I knew nothing about this guy. Nothing except that I didn’t trust him…

2 – Making an assumption.
No one told me this guy was an acquaintance of my friend. I drew that conclusion based on the fact that he was talking with my friend in close proximity, bought her a drink as well, and that they knew where one another was originally from. With those facts in hand, I made an assumption.

As my Dad reminds me regularly. Never assume. It makes an ass out of you and me. Call this a lesson proven true.

3 – Breaking my own rules.
When you have those personal rules, you stick with them. Go with your gut. Even if its not the most “cool” thing to do. Your instincts are there for a reason. Listen to them. I didn’t and I broke my rule of “no strange guy buying me a drink.” My very own strike three.

This whole thing is in the past and thus not worth my time to think about… however, its also a lesson to myself that I learned and will heed in the future.