Yearly Archives:2016

Doing What Makes You Happy

MGM smaller fileBy Mary Grace Musuneggi

I once heard a story about a little boy who day after day would walk to a neighborhood park carrying with him a bag of chocolate candy. He would sit on a bench, and he would eat and eat until all the candy was gone. The remnants of the wrappers would be in his lap, and his face would be smeared with chocolate.

He would clean up the aftermath, wipe off his face and head on home…only to return the next day to do the same. After a time an old man who also came to the park every day just couldn’t watch this any longer without saying something to the boy.

“Young man. Do you know that it is very unhealthy to eat that much chocolate every day? You really should not do that.”

To which the little boy answered, “Sir, do not worry, my grandfather lived to be 100.”

“And did he each chocolate every day, too?” asked the old man. “No,” said the little boy. “He minded his own business.”

The moral of the story is: If you are doing something that makes you happy, maybe you shouldn’t let other people tell you what to do.

The Story of the Beads

MGM smaller fileBy Mary Grace Musuneggi

Once upon a time there was a man named Donny who had been diagnosed with cancer and given only a year to live. He could only imagine what that year would be like, but he knew if it was his last then it was his last chance to make each day special.

Not wanting to risk that any day would go by without making it the best it could possibly be, Donny decided he needed a way every day to remind himself of the limits of his life span. So he went to a craft store and purchased a glass jar and 365 small, round colorful beads. Each morning when he arose, he took a bead, meditated on it and on what he would do with the 24 hours ahead of him, and then he tossed the bead away.

The first time I heard this story, I thought it was sad and morbid to be counting down the days, watching them slip by as the jar became more and more empty. But I then learned that Donny went through all the beads in the jar and he was still here. In fact, he filled the jar once again and managed to stay in the world for another six months before his life came to an end. Donny deliberately lived and experienced 545 very special days.

No matter how old we are, can any of us truly say that we have planned and executed 545 special days?

How great would it be if we could as we go forward? If our life expectancy is age 90 or 95 or more, how many days do we have? How many beads would that be? And since tomorrow is never promised to anyone, maybe we need to fill our own jars with 365 beads and repeat this year after year.

In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

So let’s spend each in the spirit of carpe diem and seize the day. Pick up a bead and have a great day!

Surviving Valentine’s Day

A Personal Note from Mary Grace Musuneggi

It seems we have barely finished taking down the Christmas decorations, when in every store Valentines appear. And, although Valentine’s Day should be something to look forward to in the doldrums of the winter, for many women Valentine’s Day can bring the cold reality of defining themselves in terms of their romantic relationships…or lack thereof.

Remember how in elementary school, you would spend days decorating that shoe box, writing out your cards and choosing the best card for that “someone special,” only to watch that “someone special” walk past your desk to give his “someone special” card to that too adorable, too sweet, “teacher’s pet” little girl who wouldn’t have much as given him the time of day. She would take the card and put it in her box with the other 15 “someone special’ cards she got that day. By the end of the school day, the amount and size and shape of the cards we received defined us as popular…or not; in the right clique…or not; pretty…or not…and so on.

And somehow 20, 30, 40 years later, nothing has changed. Unless our current relationship is with our prince charming, soul mate, life partner–or we are the adult version of the “teacher’s pet”–Valentine’s Day defines us as single, divorced, widowed; unhappily attached; sadly attached; in the wrong relationship with the wrong person; or living with the guy who just will never think to buy us flowers and candy, but he will get our car washed. No matter what, we will define ourselves in terms of our relationship on that day. This holiday can attack self-esteem, produce anxiety, create confusion over lifestyles, and cause a sense of inadequacy for women who are normally intelligent, successful, self-confident and self-assured.

The whole reason for this is that we all have the need to be loved. And thanks to Cinderella and “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, we believe that romantic love is the ultimate form of love. And Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love.

So how do you survive this if you are not currently in a romantically loving relationship?

You can begin by focusing on who you love and who loves you. Even if this is your kid sister or your mom, you can be reassured that you are a lovable person. Hang out with your mom. Take your little sister shopping. Spend some time being grateful for who you are and what is special about you. These thoughts will reassure you and remind you of your self-worth while restoring your self-esteem. Plan to spend February revisiting the goals you had set for yourself going into the new year. Concentrate on the things that are important to you.

Do something special for yourself. Go to a spa, get a professional pedicure, or get a massage. Send Valentine’s cards to everyone you know. You will feel good for doing it and they will feel great for receiving it. And for some people, this may be the only card they get. Write on each card, “For Someone Special.” Prepare your favorite dinner, have a glass of wine and watch your favorite movie. Use this time to become the kind of person you would love or the person you would love to be. Use the day to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Create a special memory. Valentine’s Day will come and go. Memories can last forever.