Twice a month, on Friday evening, I accompany my wife, Cantor Laurel Barr, on guitar while she leads worship services for the senior citizens at a local assisted living apartment complex. Here, we sing and pray with grandparents and great-grandparents, many with canes, walkers and wheelchairs, some tethered to oxygen tanks or nursing assistants, and bring joy and light into their lives for 45 precious minutes.
With reverence and with humor, these few moments shared with these special seniors serve to teach me many lessons that I can apply to my life and work; lessons learned through their joys, sadness’s and challenges. They are all too eager to volunteer when asked about a moral question arising from a biblical passage or to remember how a life event, good or bad, has impacted how they view and live their golden years. I’m always amazed at their optimism and want to share what I have gleaned from their wisdom with you.
- Physical aches and pains are just reminders that we are still alive and that our lives still have meaning. In my business life too, painful challenges arise that say, “here I grow again!”
- Memories, even sad ones, can still bring comfort. When I think of those who are no longer in my life that had a great impact on me, the memories evoke a greater passion inside that help me accomplish my business goals with clients from a perspective of true compassion, purpose and caring.
- Sitting back and letting fatigue take over isn’t a bad thing! Everyone needs a good rest and time to reenergize after an intense day at work or a lifetime of doing.
- Worrying, even for a minute, takes away 60 seconds of gratitude and joy. I’ve learned that trying to control every aspect of business is impossible and it’s more beneficial to stop worrying over every detail and little thing. Somehow, perhaps magically, everything works out.
- Smile. The music and prayer brings out the best and most joyous feelings in all of them. A smile, while speaking on the phone or Skype, lifts my conversations to a more positive and higher level.
- Be grateful. These folks appreciate everything around them; the kindness of the staff, a warm sweater, (even in the heat), the delicious food that someone else prepared after a life of having to cook for themselves and the privilege of joining together in song with the community there. Though most are widows or widowers, they find the joy of friendship more valuable now than the money earned during their lives and careers. I strive to keep my eye on the prize which doesn’t mean only financial goals but good health, meaning, contribution, impact, friends, family, clients, and the beauty of nature that I can capture through my photography.
I can count my days, work to improve my business and the success of my clients, but must also make my days count. When I’m in my golden years, I want to look back with the spark of joy that I see in their eyes.
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