Nana’s Rule # 4 Make Your Life a Story Worth Telling

January is a time for new beginnings—and although I do not make “resolutions”, January encourages me to look anew at my life. As I have reflected on the happenings of 2014 and my plans for 2015, Nana’s Rule #4 . . . . Make Your Life a Story Worth Telling….. has come to mind several times.

As past readers know, my goal with Nana’s Rules is to give my family a concrete understanding about the values that have formed the core basis for my life.  Some rules “teach” good manners such as Rule #2 –Say Thank You.

Some rules have a family story behind them such as Rule #8—Pack Peanut Butter Crackers. But Rule #4 is the foundation for decision making.  On many levels, I have always practiced this rule…..I just never articulated it in so few words.

The rule is based on this thought: every decision you make becomes a permanent part of the story of your life… your choices and the outcomes. But this rule is more than just about merely writing the story of your life….. instead, the focus is to write it so that your life can be an open book….. that the story created from your decisions is such that you can share the entire story with anyone you meet. It is a story you are proud of. You do not need to hide any of the pages.

Obviously, this rule comes into play more as my grandchildren get older. As we have Nana chats or dinners out, the challenge will to get them to ask …. as they look at choices and actions they can take… which choice is the one they want to become a permanent part of their life story.

I will challenge them to think…. if I take this course of action… if I respond in this way…. Will I be later able to share this story with my future wife, husband, children, and friends? Or will I feel compelled to hide it… will I be embarrassed….. will I hope no one ever finds out? Will taking this course of action lead to regrets? Or, could their actions become a part of someone else’s regrets?

The other part of this rule is to help them realize that some decisions have life lasting consequences. In a world where a very long time is 5 minutes, I realize this will be a tough sell. But there can be ramifications that affect not only them but others. We are masters at “justifying” decisions that can lead us down the wrong path—if I only do this, it is ok…. Or I deserve this ….they don’t understand how I feel…. Or it won’t hurt anyone else as long as no one knows.

But the truth of the matter is….. there are always consequences to our decisions. We can help or hurt someone else… perhaps for a brief time but perhaps longer. We can also hurt ourselves in a way that we would have to deal with forever.

As I look over my life, I will have to say I can share most of my story with anyone. There are, quite frankly, a few pages that I would rather rip out and burn…pages that I do not want to share….. pages I am not proud of. I made some mistakes and took some actions that I regret.

The good news is these events can be contained on a few pages—they would not take up multiple chapters—and I learned from them.

The story of my life that I have been writing since 2003 is one that I never envisioned. When 2003 began, I thought I had my life all figured out and I knew the story that was to unfold.  I would never imagined that I would be writing chapters that would include a divorce; trips to Europe by myself; selling my house and buying a ranch condo; working full-time as an administrative assistant for, how shall we say, a very busy man.

But, as I view the chapters written by the decisions I have made since 2003, I am proud of most of the pages. The ones I am not proud of deal with my lack of confidence in myself and times of self-pity.  I do reflect on those pages from time to time and they inspire me to make sure I do not write such words again.

My story is going to begin a brand new and exciting chapter this year as I will be retiring from Cobb County government at the end of March. I began working at Cobb in a part-time position on June 1, 2004 and took my current full-time position on March 21, 2005.

Thus Cobb County government has been a very important part of my story for the last 10+ years. I am so very grateful for the pages I have been able to write….. the experiences; the friendships; and the laughter. My life has been greatly enriched by being a part of the Cobb team.

But it is time for a change in my life. I want to spend more time with the Gentleman Caller with Smiling Eyes….. more time with my grandchildren, my family and friends….. I also want to spend a bit of time getting to know more about the woman I have become….. and to learn more about her talents and her dreams.

I feel blessed to have the opportunity at age of 63 (almost 64) to begin writing new chapters….. ones that I hope will contain love, joy, faith, and laughter. I will have many decisions to make and opportunities to pursue. As I face these opportunities, I do not want to lose sight of Nana’s Rule #4…. I want to continue to make decisions that will enhance, not distract, from my story.

And it is my hope, as my family and friends read these new chapters, they will think my story is one worth telling and sharing.    

jfh

04 Story of Your Life