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What Is True Success?

Updated: Oct 11, 2018

I love my daughter's current time of life. 21 is just the beginning for her. I look back on my 21-year-old self and have a few regrets. Do you ever think if you could, you would go back in time and change a few things? I do. I would love to have the opportunity to tell the 21-year-old me a few things. A “Back To The Future” Delorean would come in handy. Maybe I would tell the younger me, “Don’t give up so easily. Even when life throws you curveballs that feel like bowling balls, stay the path.” I know what the 21-year-old me would say, “I got this.”

I was often a sick baby and young child. My mother would tell the story about how many times she almost lost me to pneumonia and asthma. The street I grew up on was at the bottom of a steep hill. My mother was over-protective and never allowed me to join my older siblings to play with the neighborhood kids up the hill. It was my dividing line. “Stay where I can see you,” she’d say. Always keeping an eye out for me, frequently peeking out the window.

Once, I struggled so badly with bronchitis that my older brother carried me up the hill with a worried look on his face, my mother close behind. It was fortunate that our family friend and pediatrician lived a few houses up. That’s the only glimpse of that memory I have. Of course, I made it through that day being given meds to open my airways. My childhood memories were of being sick so often, it left an impression on me into my early adulthood.

It’s interesting how events affect us in our formative years. Who we become can be directly linked to much of what happens to us. My first pregnancy ended early in a miscarriage. It was completely devastating. Good friends of ours had their first child and while I was thrilled for them, I couldn’t help but be heart-broken for my own. To be able to tell that 26-year-old me that it’s ok, not to worry, not only would she have an unbelievably strong, independent and talented daughter, she would also one day have two strapping, young sons to whom she refers as her “Sons of Thunder.”

At dinner the other night, I listened to our children’s conversations. My husband and I were discussing how much we enjoyed their exchange. Life is so different in this season. The topics are so heavy, mature. I marvel at how they reason, use the world view they’ve been raised with and apply logic. I think, “We didn’t do such a bad job after all.” Then a thought popped into my mind, “What happens to us doesn’t have to define us.”

I read an article that describes the definition of success. It referred to Winston Churchill’s definition: "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." He believed success was not about winning or popularity. It is about moving from one failure to the next with grace. Real success is resilience resulting in strength. The idea “without the loss of enthusiasm” suggests you adopt the attitude to bounce back. My son Andy and I have a favorite movie, “Meet the Robinson’s”. The family motto is “keep moving forward”. Fall down, brush yourself off, get back up and keep going. Good advice.

So, I’d tell that 21-year-old me, "Wisdom comes with age and struggle, but don’t worry. You'll have your turn. The years, although unkind at times, will also be rewarding." It’s an interesting time of life for both myself and my daughter. Ellie is in her last year of college studying her field at a top Art school in Manhattan and traveled to Europe to study the “greats”. She's just beginning her life. I am a proud momma and so happy for her. We’ve sacrificed much to be able to afford her this opportunity . So, on second thought, forget the Dolorean...I wouldn’t change a thing.

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