Attitude-Lessons from my Aunt Ruby

Attitude is Everything

We have all heard the phrase “attitude is everything.” I’m not sure if it really  is “everything” but I am certain that it can and does impact all of our life’s experiences. So I guess maybe it is “everything!”

I was named after my Aunt Ruby, my mom’s oldest sister. She is at the time of this writing 81 years young. My aunt is literally beloved by all who meet her. She has faced many challenges in life, beginning in childhood/teen years and into her current late adulthood. She had 12 children, 3 of whom are deceased due to various ailments including adult onset Leukemia.

She says that people expressed many judgements toward her because she had 12 children. She learned to brush off those judgements and negative attitudes by “not stressing.” Basically, not getting worked up about what other people thought about her. Many people say that they don’t let what others think of them bother them. But how many of us really  let it go? Rather than allowing those messages from others to seep into our self concept.

On Loss

Her husband of 50 plus years died. Then she found a new partner in her early 70’s and they planned to marry. Then he died before their wedding. She simply picked herself back up and kept moving forward. She was sad, but she didn’t focus on the loss. She had buried many people that she loved in her life. She didn’t figuratively fall or jump into the grave when they died. Her love for them didn’t diminish or go away. She didn’t honor them by never being okay again. Instead, she focused on living and the living.

Aunt Ruby worked in a factory for decades and only retired after having to have 2 knee replacements and severe rheumatoid arthritis in her hands. Despite all of this, she walks 10,000 steps a day and tracks it on her Fitbit. Her attitude is be in be present, move forward and don’t stress about things you can’t do anything about.

Everyone Struggles Under Difficult Circumstances

This is not to say that she doesn’t feel stressed by circumstances or events. No one is completely unflappable. Just today I went to retrieve Aunt Ruby and my mother from my mom’s house. There was a power outage due to tropical storm Irma. My mom told me that Aunt Ruby did not eat dinner the night before. I realized that when she is stressed, perhaps that is how her stress manifests – a disruption in appetite. After all, the gut is the seat of our neurotransmitters that impact mood.

As soon as my aunt knew I had arrived to pick them up, she came out of her room with her overnight bag and everything she needed. She sat in the sunroom waiting to leave. She wasn’t chatty. She didn’t complain. She was focused. She was ready for hot food, electricity, t.v. etc…

So even though she felt stress…she didn’t focus on it. She focused on what she was moving toward – the comforts of my home.

Master at Receiving

My aunt doesn’t appear to have our family’s heart health issues. Her primary ailments are connected to years of working hard on her feet and with her hands. Her attitude is one of resilience; she has an easy going nature. She doesn’t want to put anyone out of the way, but she is a master at receiving.

If you offer, she will receive it. She asks for help when she needs it and is not self conscious about her physical limitations. I gave her a glass for her water with dinner and she waited patiently until everyone was served and then asked for a lighter weight cup. She shared that she is not adept with heavy glasses, that her hands don’t allow it.

I happily went and got her another glass. The truth is, her attitude makes people happy to give to her and she is so self assured that she doesn’t resist help due to wanting to be in control or for any other reason that people tend to resist help.

We are all unique. I don’t know how this attitude and outlook would be for some. In fact, I know that some people who try to adopt this would feel like they were being fake. Pretending to be “okay” when they are not. I think the point is…even if you are not okay in this moment, you will be if you allow it.

Can you receive “okayness” in your life? I am hopeful that I can. I am ever grateful to be the namesake of this extraordinary woman!

Copyright © 2017 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

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