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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Defining Success

To simplify my life, I wish I defined success by words that fit on a sepia coloured canvas just inside the front door.
  • Live Laugh Love
  • The best things in life are not things
  • The greatest of these is Love
  • Be the change you want to see
  • To your own self be true
  • Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt and dance like no one is watching
  • blah
  • blah, blah
  • blah

Plus a couple of lines about how loving your family is the greatest measure of success, how money isn't important, and how pouring yourself into your kids and learning how to can preserves will elevate you to some form of sainthood.

I wish I really felt that living a quiet life of laundry, salami slicing, and charitable giving was entirely fulfilling and all the success a gal could (should) ever wish for.

And on some level I really do believe some of that stuff.

But strip away all the ways I wish I felt, and how I suspect I ought to feel; or how so-and-so will think I'm evil for having these thoughts, and there's a whole different beast beneath. I figure that if I'm lucky, I'm already half dead. I still don't know geography or my times tables. I write everything down and then forget where I filed it. I built up a great charity and then got tired and bone dry.

I can't remember my cell phone number, what I said last week, whose mom has passed away, or your birthday. I don't remember how I made "that really great chicken we had last week", the bag I made for you, or if the bank closes at 12:00 or 1:00 on a Saturday.

I'm not describing some sort of memory decline that hit me in my forties. No, I am just a bear of very little brain.

If I'm completely honest, I'd have to admit that my idea of success includes a functioning bit of grey matter. That it's pretty hard to succeed in anything if you can barely remember your own name, your own medical conditions, or whether you're "left or right brained". It's hard to serve your children very well when you can't remember what the physiotherapist said about the girl's back, or why the boy needs braces? What the heck was it that the orthodontist said again?

I have a cell phone (for which I don't remember the number) which also has some handy functions like a list maker, a calculator, and a calendar. I don't know how to use them, and I can't find my phone.

I have a laptop with which at the click of a mouse, I can access hundreds of pretty and reassuring sayings about happiness and success. I've got plenty of love, lots of laughs, and believe me- you'd better hope no one is watching if I decide to dance. Even though I really love things - especially old, coloured, scraped and dented things- the greatest things in life are not the things. (they are the pursuit of those things- the hunt, the find, the thrill, the history. And of course I'm being ridiculous. I know I'm supposed to say that all i need is my family and that I wouldn't mind a bit if my house with all it's bits of ancient history went down in smoke tonight. But I'd be lying.)

To your own self be true- pfffffft. Self, shmelf. My main problem in life lies in being too introspective. Do any of us really want me to be more true to my own self? eeeeewwwww!!!

If I worked like I didn't need the money, I wouldn't have any money. Then, how would I deal with that whole thing about the orthodontist, the physiotherapist, and a hundred million things in between?!

Come on.

That would be about as dumb as living every day as though it were your last. I'd never pay my phone bill or have a shower at that rate.

How then shall we measure success? I have mental images right now of some people thinking right proper Biblical thoughts, and I'm sorry to have been such a disappointment to you. Just assume that the whole Jesus equasion is part of what I'm talking about but that I'm feeling too honest to just write down something trite and comforting right now. I figure God can tolerate honesty. Other people assume that I mean success in business, career, and/or finances. I say- kind of, but not really. I know that it's more of a mental, heart issue that's at stake here. To be dull and predictable, you might call it a sort of mid-life crisis. Others no doubt wonder why I'm so ungrateful- incredibly blessed with a gorgeous family, a home, a marriage, a fun job that fits with my lifestyle, a passion or two. What more could I possibly want?

But if you hear my heart just a tiny bit, and maybe even resonate- I thank you. Maybe we can ask some of these questions aloud this year? Explore them, arrest them, pursue them?



Judy said...


Mary K. said...

I hear your heart quite a big bit. Am just into the book The Dangerous Act of Worship. Today my heart was stirred by thinking about what my idol(s) is/are -- Is it my entitlements? which include "my people" and "my things". after all, these are MY friends, MY family, MY style of doing things...
I do love to contemplate these "things".

Anonymous said...




janice said...

I am in.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I am with you on all of the cliche bull%@$# and the "feel good" jargon. But Joycie, you languish a lot in self-depracation. If I tell you you are beautiful, talented and an uber fun Tapas hostess, you don't believe me. How can we make a believer out of you? How about giving us one blog message that acknowledges only the things you love about being you (in point form please). Then you can go right back to brow beating yourself as much as you like. Deal?

joyce said...

food for thought.
But take away my cynicism and self-depracation and I wouldn't be that much fun to be with!

Anonymous said...

Au contraire, I rather long to here you believe in yourself for a change :)