By Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA
July 16, 2019
Greetings one and all…
Over the past two months, I had the opportunity to meet people throughout the state of Colorado at various conferences, workshops, and educational events. Whether in the Denver Metro area or in a remote mountain village, I heard stories and witnessed situations reflective of the time honored adage that we reap what we sow in this life.
Sow Good Seeds
My mom shared those words of wisdom with me at a very early age. At the time, her admonition was offered to encourage the development of a caring, loving, and compassionate spirit in her young daughter. By caring for others, I would in turn receive compassionate care. By word and deed, my mom demonstrated the countless benefits reaped by sowing the seeds of gratitude, kindness, hope, and optimism into every step of the journey. I learned from the best!
Last week, I witnessed people reveling in the latter part of life—supported and supporting, blessed and a blessing, loved and loving. I also witnessed people raging at life —victims of their circumstances. Granted, it is not for me to judge how a person engages the aging process. However, by observation, I recognize the attitudes and responses that ultimately serve people well. As Viktor Frankl noted in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, we can’t control everything that happens in life. But we retain the freedom to choose an attitude in response to life. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to respond to life. How we respond – the seeds we sow – shapes our subsequent experience of life.
The Consequences of Caustic Seeds
One woman in particular prompted my reflection today. She approached me at the conclusion of a presentation this past weekend. After describing her situation, she asked if I knew of any beneficial community senior resources. Every agency or service noted was countered with a story of a previous negative interaction. I quickly realized that this woman had alienated every available resource due to her caustic nature. No one was ever good enough, did enough, or knew enough in her opinion. As a result, she suffered due to the inadequacies and incompetence of others. Sadly, she played the role of victim incredibly well. By so doing, she repels the people she needs the most. She is alone, isolated, and angry.
Different Approach (Seeds), Different Results
I must admit that I was thankful for an excuse to conclude my conversation with the angry woman. I was scheduled to present another program and thus bade her farewell. Reflecting on the encounter, I wish I had offered (and she had considered) a different approach when seeking assistance from her family, friends, and professional caregivers:
•Ask Instead of Demand – Requesting the assistance of others serves to sow the seeds of collaboration whereas telling people what to do – making unrealistic demands – rarely elicits the desired response. So remember, ask and you shall receive!
•Be Grateful Instead of Critical – Gratitude transforms the lived experience. Being grateful for the smallest acts of kindness sows the seeds of heartfelt appreciation and mutual respect. When appreciated, people go above and beyond the call of duty to serve those in their care.
•Be Constructive Instead of Destructive – Every day affords the opportunity to be a positive, creative force in the world. By sowing positive and creative seeds, you can create a life-giving experience for yourself and all who cross your path. Expect the best from others. See the gifts in others. Believe in others. Create a positive environment in which a mutually beneficial relationship can grow.
The people I met and the stories I heard recently have provided much food for thought. Although I have planted some good seeds in the past that serve me well today, I am motivated to consider the crops I will need in the future. What seeds am I sowing today? What seeds shall I sow to meet the future challenges of aging? Questions worthy of my consideration today. Perhaps yours as well? Take good care and enjoy the moment. Blessings on your journey……