Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Get Lost in A Good Movie

Every once in a while, I'm trying to post interviews with amazing and insightful people who inspire me! Today's focus is Barbara.

Barbara is a fellow SLP I used to work with, who is also a doting grandmother to her two grandchildren, ages 10 and 5. Because her daughter has a chronic illness, Barbara keeps her grandchildren three days a week, and works closely with her ex-husband and their daughter to raise their grandchildren. All this in addition to her full time job! She has survived significant tragedy and hurt in her life, and yet is consistently positive, friendly, caring, and giving. One of the things I remember most about Barbara is that she always brought little gifts for the cafeteria workers and custodians at the school where we worked every Christmas. Also, (I didn’t work with her then, but other teachers told me this story) when one of the young teachers she worked with became pregnant (and wasn’t married—which was quite the scandal in a small town!), Barbara was the first to congratulate her and begin organizing a baby shower. She just has a huge heart for others. And I think we have a lot to learn from her. Anyway, here are Barbara’s answers to my happiness interview questions:

1. What's something small that you do regularly that makes you happy or cheers you up?

I go to the movies pretty regularly. This really cheers me up, because either I laugh a lot (comedies), or forget my own troubles for a while, and I often walk out inspired. I feel better even when I see a scary movie…because I am glad it doesn’t resemble my life at all. I’ll gladly take my own life back and not switch places.

2. What would you like for your children or grandchildren to know about happiness?

Abraham Lincoln’s quote of saying “people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” is what I believe to be true….which means Attitude and Perception is everything! The same thing can happen to two different people, and one person views it as a catastrophe, and the other views it as an opportunity for God and the Universe to surprise them with a happy outcome, or at the very least to learn a lesson or become stronger, more compassionate from having survived the ordeal. Every time we live through something difficult, we have more depth of character and empathy for others who have gone or will go through something similar.

3. What do you do to keep yourself and your family happy amidst life's struggles?

My grandchildren are the joy of my life! We read books and laugh together (yes, we aren’t afraid to act silly or have good, clean fun) and discuss things (deep things, too). I share inspiring stories about real people who have gone through real problems and managed to come out the other side with their Faith, Hope and Love in their heart intact, strengthened even. These are the things that have gotten me through a life of losing my parents (at 6 and 10), being neglected and abused, having chronic pain/illness, having a close relative murdered, and my daughter’s suicide. And I still believe God is Good, Loving, Forgiving, and that this is a loving, friendly Universe where most people are good and want to do good, and would not willingly hurt other people. We have the philosophy that “people are doing the best they can with what they know and who they are at any given moment.” (So who are we to judge?….live and let live.) These are the things our family concentrates on most, and are our philosophy of life!


I really love the part about how every experience gives us deeper empathy for others. And perhaps her great empathy is what makes her love movies so much...she can easily get sucked into the story, because she has such empathy even for characters in a movie.

What tough experiences in your life have given you broader empathy for others? For me, having a grandfather who was gay (even if I was young when he died), and learning the tragedy of his angry life trying to be a straight man, has given me a deep empathy for people who are lesbian and gay, since a young age. Do you think the hard experiences are worth it for the empathy you gain?

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