What Have You Learned?

After an ardous three months of full time work, continuing my education towards my doctorate, establishing a new practice, working on my thesis, volunteering and serving at church, while dealing with everything else we face in our daily lives, I also celebrated another birthday last week.

Friends and family helped me celebrate the occasion, and they started early. A group of friends treated me to lunch on Thursday, a day before my actual birthday. As I enjoyed a delicious dish of Gheyme Bademjan stew, one of my friends asked, "So, Patty, she said, what did you learn this past year?"

Her question has caused some introspection. Not necessarily on what I did learn this past year, but rather on what I have learned during what it is proving to be a rather long life. I have come to realize that I have lived my life seeking knowledge and wisdom, so yes, I have, indeed, learned some things.

I have learned my life is made of precious little instances and events which make a tapestry as colorful and joyful as the color and joy I inject in them. I have learned not to sweat the little things. A glass of spilt milk, a broken vase or a messy house are less important than relationships and the memories I seek to create. Though I still like neatness and order, I have learned to relax when my little ones are a bit rambunctious and playful. The memory I want to create in them is how accepted and loved they were at Tia Patty's home, and not how many beautiful Lladro and Murano figurines she accumulated and they were not allowed to touch.

I have learned to say I am sorry, and hold myself accountable for my mistakes, without placing blame on others. Only then, I have learned not to repeat them.

I have learned that the talents I was blessed with have been given to me with a responsibility. The responsibility to use them to bless others less fortunate, and not to make me richer. I have also learned that for every dollar I give readily to the least of His children, God usually gives me four in return.

I have learned that money cannot buy me the love of my family, the esteem of my friends, the trust of my patients, the respect of those who surround me. These things are earned through the love, service, integrity and loyalty I display.

I was born of noble stock. People who came from all walks of life. Some were of humble means, others knew fame and fortune. Some worked hard to build fortunes. Others lost them or never had them. But all of them, lived their lives with purpose and honesty, leaving behind a legacy I am proud of.

I have learned to stand up for my convictions, for I am the only one who has to live with my conscience. My peace of mind comes from living accordingly to the principles I believe to be true.

I have learned to say I love you readily and without shame. I have learned that a hug can say just as much as the most elonquent speech. I have learned to be grateful, and count my blessings. To reach for the stars, and never stop dreaming. To wait for the sunshine and rainbows which always come after the rain. To weather the storms with faith in a brighter morning. To stand tall and reach even for the impossible dream. I have learned to value myself, with my weaknesses and strengths. I have learned to value others for who they are, regardless of how different they may seem from me. Lastly, I have learned that happiness does not reside in how much I have or possess, but rather in who I have become...Yes, indeed, I have learned.

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