Somehow, another year has passed and I’m back here again celebrating my birthday. I’m so blessed to have made it to this stage in my life. I’m comfortable with who I am and what I have to offer, and I’ve worked hard so that I can enjoy these quieter years of my life.
As I turn 73 years young, I’ve taken a moment to reflect on the wonderful life lessons I’ve been fortunate to learn along the way, and since all good friends share with one another, I thought I’d share those lessons with y’all. Some you may already know and some may be gentle reminders of lessons you’ve lost sight of. Either way, I hope you’ll give them a thought or two.
- There’s no greater gift than family. I know that I’ve been blessed more than most. I can assure you that, given what I’ve been through in my life, that I don’t take it for granted. But the one thing that money can’t buy is the love of your family. My family is the most important thing in the world for me. I’d truly walk through fire for my husband, my children, and my grandchildren—they are my world. Of course, if you’re someone who may not have many blood relations left, just remember that family is what you make it. Good friends can become family all the same. Treasure them and treat them well. Material objects are fine and dandy, but you can’t take it with you. What you take are the memories and the love you’ve accumulated over the years.
- If you really want something, you have to work hard for it—don’t expect it to be handed to you. I’m proud to be an American; it’s a blessing to live in a land that allows and encourages you to work hard and fulfill your dreams. I spent too many years of my life waiting for good things to happen to me, but it wasn’t until I decided to take control of my own life that they started coming my way. After years of resenting my circumstances, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, took my last few dollars, and started a business. I worked sun up to sun down for more years than I can count, and slow and steady, I built that business from a lunch delivery service to a restaurant in a motel to a stand-alone restaurant, cookbooks, television shows, and a whole lot more. Now, I’m not saying that hard work can conquer it all—I certainly had a few lucky opportunities over the years that got me where I am, but when they came my way, I grabbed hold as tight as I could and I worked even harder to prove I was worthy of them. My skills in the kitchen are what I’m known for, but it was my work ethic that got me to where I am today.
- Food nourishes the soul as much as the body. I know that everyone today is becoming much more health-conscious, including myself. Since my diabetes diagnosis, I’ve learned the art of moderation and to love lighter, leaner dishes. But I’m a southern girl through and through, and I know that good old-fashioned comfort food makes me happy. Certain dishes bring me back to special moments in time—moments that mean something with people who mean even more. Food is more than sustenance for the body—it’s food for the soul, too.
- Surround yourself with people that are encouraging and positive. I’ve always heard that if you want to know who a person really is that you should take a look at the people they surround themselves with. I’ve really taken that to heart, as the people that you spend the most time with surely play a big role in shaping your character, your morals, and your habits. I’ve found that when I surround myself with people who are kind, generous, and hardworking, I’m not only more kind, more generous, and more hardworking, but I’m also a much happier person. Positivity and encouragement are infectious, but so is negativity and resentment. Which would you rather surround yourself with?
- You don’t have to look to movies or television to find heroes. The beautiful thing about heroes is that the greatest heroes are found right here in everyday life. Superheroes may be able to stop a speeding train, but superheroes aren’t real. The real heroes are the firefighters and police officers who risk their lives to protect ours, the moms that work three jobs so that her kids can live a better life, and the teachers who go out of their way to ensure that every kid has a full belly and a full mind. If you’re in need of a little inspiration, find the people in your life that inspire you, your family, and your community.