The (Almost) Daily Dose: Carpe Your Diem*

We have the power to be active (and grateful) participants in our own lives
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(*A little note of intro. Lest any of you think I write these words because I have it down. I need to make it clear, I do not. It’s a day-to-day thing. I write these words to remind myself of how I’d like to go about it.)

There’s a fabulous school in Denver called Florence Crittenton High School that helps pregnant teens and their babies. It educates both moms and kiddos. It gives young moms the tools to be self-sufficient, thus breaking the cycle of poverty that often passes from one generation to the next. It’s a powerful place and at one of the school’s fundraiser luncheons I heard the marvelous Lucille O’Neal (mother of Shaquille) speak.

I have loved basketball since before I had the strength to shoot a foul shot, and the first column I wrote for Entertainment Weekly magazine was about sporting events on television that were on during the current week and what to watch. One of my early pieces explained why it was a must-see to witness a young man named Shaquille O’Neal play basketball for Louisiana State University, so it was with great delight that I went to hear Lucille.

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She was wonderful, funny, loving, and warm and she told this story of how when Shaq signed with the Orlando Magic he asked his mother what she wanted, and he meant ANYTHING… and this fabulous woman said she wanted an education. Shaq responded by saying, “I can make that happen…. but you have to keep your grades up.”

She now has a master’s degree and travels the world as a motivational speaker. And the most wonderful thing I took away from hearing Lucille was her morning prayer, “Lord, thank you for this beautiful day and help me not mess it up.”

I think of this often. Every day is a gift. We don’t get a do over. We have the power to be grateful for it, mindful of it and to honor it by giving it our best. That doesn’t mean there won’t be days when the wave of life knocks you over or the computer with your life’s work crashes or your heart gets broken into a zillion pieces on the floor.

It does mean that we get to choose whether we are going to sulk and play the woe-is-me card or take responsibility for our own happiness. (Minor sulking is allowed on a very limited basis—say ten minutes).  Even when sadness is real and necessary, we are in charge and we have the power to still be active (and grateful) participants in our own lives.

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