I got an email from an old friend Saturday morning, telling me about a song she had discovered because of her daughters. She described the song in such a way that it made me want to hear it for myself.
I was touched by the words, ďThatís something to be proud of; thatís a life you can hang your hat on. You donít need to make a million, just be thankful to be working. If youíre doing what youíre able, putting food there on the table and providing for the family that you love. Thatís something to be proud of.Ē
The song really made me think about several conversations I had with family, friends and colleagues, during the week. I know so many people who have done so many amazing things that I would be proud of, yet they are not. It saddens me that they donít see their lives as something to be proud of.
So I want to take this time to tell all of them I am proud of you and this is why:
Going to college, while working at WalMart, McDonaldís or Taco Bell is something to be proud of. Itís not easy to balance work, school and a personal life. That busy kind of life takes talent, organizational skills, determination, patience, endurance and faith in yourself.
Relaxing at home as a retiree from the military is something to be proud of. Itís not easy to leave family, friends and the only life youíve ever known to travel the world and serve our country. Itís not easy to witness chaos and destruction and be changed because of it. Itís impossible to come back the same person, but it is possible to come back a better person. You deserve to be able to relax and enjoy life. That kind of service takes faith, love, bravery and passion.
Staying home to take care of your little children is something to be proud of. Though you donít get paid, it is a full time job. It takes energy to keep up with a toddler, patience to clean up after their daily messes, good planning skills to organize play dates and doctorís appointments. It takes time to teach them how to love, be respectful, read, write, share and forgive. A parentís job is never done and lasts a lifetime.
Caring for an elderly mother or father is something to be proud of. Whether you moved back in with them, moved them into your home or go to their home on a daily basis, it is not easy to watch someone who was once strong, once your hero became weaker and slowed by age. Taking care of another person takes time, strength, understanding and great love.
Being cared for by your children as youíve reached your golden years is something to be proud of. It means you raised your kids well, you loved them well and they are honoring your lifetime of parenting. Being cared for by others takes patience, understanding, humility and strength.
Working in the potato fields, at a factory, as a cashier, as a teacher, or in any job for that matter is something to be proud of. Like the song said ďyou donítí need to make a million, just be thankful to be working.Ē
Surviving day by day after making a commitment to quit drinking or doing drugs is something to be proud of. Itís easy to become addicted to something, itís hard to end the addiction. That decision takes great courage, faith in yourself that you can do it, love for your family that they are worth it, and strength to daily say ďyes I can!Ē Itís easy to beat yourself up and focus on the fact that you may be experiencing cravings, itís hard to focus on the fact that you are able, willing, and actually fighting those cravings, withdrawals, and desires. Give yourself the credit you deserve.
Making it through another day without the person you love after theyíve passed away is something to be proud of. Having loved so deeply, so passionately that you feel it even after that person has gone is not a bad thing. There are many who would envy you, because theyíve never felt that kind of love. Love is the greatest gift in life and having lost it can be painful. So, making it through one day at a time is ok, itís to be expected. Just focus on the good times, on the love and if youíre lucky that love will never go away, but it may take on new forms, so be open and on the look out.
Weíve all be told that we need to attain the ďAmerican DreamĒ of having an expensive car, a fancy house, a job that pays well and where we donít have to work long hours at. But thatís just corporate Americaís idea of what they want Americans to buy into. They want us to spend money so they can make money. But often that dream is unrealistic. No one tells you that the high paying jobs require 60 hour work weeks Ė been there, done that and found out it wasnít for me. They tell us to aim high. There is nothing wrong with aiming high, because very often we aim too low and when we reach our goal we then feel purposeless and lost, so we shouldnít aim too low, but aiming unrealistically high isnít what we need either.
As with all things in life we need balance. We need just the right goals to keep us motivated, determined, and working hard with passion and purpose. A life lived with purpose and meaning is a life well lived. Researchers have discovered that optimistic people who find meaning and purpose in their life live 19 percent or approximately 5-10 years longer than pessimistic people who have no purpose or meaning in their life. Dr Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, said: ďNow I believe we have converging and compelling evidence that optimists and pessimists differ markedly in how long they will live.Ē
We each have the right, and ability to decide our own dream life. We each have the right to enjoy the life we have right now, the life weíve worked hard to have; a life that is something to be proud of.
So I urge you to enjoy the journey of life, because it is a journey. The paths you take mean just as much, and sometimes more, than the destination. Enjoy the road you are taking to something better, and never forget where you came from. Look at your life and I am sure you can find something to be proud of.
Tori Vigil is an author, inspirational speaker, and reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.