Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Life Lessons with Bruce and Marilyn

I’m really trying to keep my eyes open for great interactions right now - slowing down and being aware of what and (more importantly) who is around me.  Stopping to smell the roses, really.

This morning, while dropping off the new ottoman Jason built to have the top upholstered, I met Bruce and his lovely wife Marilyn.  They are 81 years old, and so magnificently vibrant.  They could have retired years ago, but they choose to keep working part time because it makes them feel alive.  It’s just the two of them in this little section of a big warehouse, lovingly refinishing people’s treasures, both large and small. 

They’ve been at it forever, and don’t lack in clientele.  In fact, they do the upholstery for some major sports figures and actors who have retired here in Orlando, and their resulting stories from so many years of the business are just magnificent.  Bruce had me in tears of laughter telling me about playing golf with Mickey Rooney, and Marilyn, well, her childhood dream was to be a Rockette (she was too short, like me) so of course we bonded on the spot.

Our business was done within thirty minutes of my arrival, and I spent the next thirty minutes smiling so hard my cheeks hurt as I stood and chatted with Bruce and Marilyn. The only reason I left was because they had another customer, otherwise I’d still be there chatting with them.

In that short time they dropped some serious knowledge on me, all because I took the time to stop and really listen. So, here’s today’s Life Lessons, from the mouths of Bruce and Marilyn:

1. Work hard at whatever you do, always, and take pride in your work.  It has value.
2. The way you treat people counts. Everyone is important to someone, and they deserve to be treated with grace and kindness.
3. On the flip side of everyone having value, don’t over value someone just because they are powerful and famous.  People are just people - and at some basic level, we all have the same challenges and stresses, joys and pains.
4. Also, in the same vein of 2 and 3 - no one is REALLY a stranger.  The things that make us human bring us together, so rediscover the lost art of conversation, and really meet the people around you.
5. Don’t be afraid to swing for the fences. You may miss, but at least you can say you tried.
6. You have to have SOMETHING to do - even when you retire.  People need a purpose or they will curl up and die.  What is your purpose today?
7. Share your stories. Someone, somewhere, will value them.  Specifically, write about your life - the big stuff and the little stuff - because none of it is meaningless, and every second of your life has worth.
8.  Even when things don't end up the way you initially hoped, everything will work out - maybe even better than you originally planned.
9. Value your partner not just for their financial contributions, or their work ethic, but for who they are. Remember why you married them. And when they tell the same story for the umpteenth time, laugh all over again.

I really, really want to be like Bruce and Marilyn when I grow up - believing that age is just a number, and that it’s all about how old you FEEL.  I wonder if they’d let me come back and hang out with them for group therapy every week?

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