I met Betty today.
I met her in the place you would least expect to find her. My Mom, who is visiting from DC and I were getting pedicures at a little toe shop in Santa Barbra. You know the kind, the nondescript store front with the neon-lights that say, "OPEN" in the strip mall. It has rows of sparkly clean and cozy chairs with little whirlpools for your feet. That was where my mother and I were getting emergency repairs for our beleaguered feet. The holidays were tough on our tired toes. Too many children with ever growing feet stepped on them! While mom was getting her "French" and I was watching my "Blame it on Rio" dry, in walked Betty. She spoke to the owner about getting her nails "buffed" and her toes "polished" and then as luck would have it, she sat in the chair next to me.
Betty had a little trouble getting into the chair and getting her black Reeboks off. I helped her stow her bag and she comfortably got her bright pink toes into the tub. No surprise to those who know me, I introduced myself and we started to chat. Turns out that her sparkly clear blue eyes had seen many things in her 92 years of living, including 4 children and over 70 years of marriage. Along the way she had lost one of her four Beauties and a year ago on December 23, she lost her True Love, her husband. I loved Betty from our hello. Betty is tiny, but not frail and she drove herself to get her nails done... I know right!!! Inside that tiny little body was more wisdom than I could get out in our brief conversation. We have a friend in common, Jeffrey's 101 year old Grandmother lives in the same complex. Apparently they are bingo buddies. Guess I may need to crash bingo next week.
I asked Betty what makes a happy life and what tips could she give me for launching happy, healthy and purposeful adults into our big world.
About the happy life, she told me simply that we live in a world full of judgments. In her experience, the happiest and most joyful folks were those who didn't judge, but who loved.
Betty tip number one: Don't judge--Love!
She also told me that none of us are perfect and that many people seem to take their time focusing on other's foibles and not seeing that they themselves have just as many shortcomings.
Betty tip number two: Remember you aren't perfect. Focus on everyone's strengths.
About raising Beauties, she explained that children learn from example. She talked about how she and her Love were partners in every sense. That neither of them were perfect individually, but by working together they became an amazing team. I'm thinking Betty created the term co-parenting! She emphasized that we are models and examples for our children in how we live our life... As we live our's, so they will live their's.
Betty tip number three: Lead by example.
Her last lesson was the best.
Betty told me that Mothers are by nature, made to nurture. She explained that it is one of our primary roles. Even after our children have grown or in my case while I'm still raising mine, I must pay attention to see others that need to be nurtured. And as mothers, it is our responsibility to reach out and fill that need.
Betty tip number four: Yep, we must find those who need our love and love'em.
It was a fascinating conversation. I was smitten by Betty, a women so open, so filled with life and joy and willing to share her truth in such a simple and beautiful way.
There we were, three Moms just sitting, talking over red toe nail polish... (She had tired of pink and needed something a little flashier!)
When I got up to leave, I couldn't resist, I walked over and gave her a hug. I told Betty she had made my day at 10:15 in the morning.
And I thanked her for providing us with an amazing exquisite moment at the start of a day that was planned to be filled with many more.
Today was filled with just that--so many moments and Betty was just the first one and it occurred when and where I least expected it.
Perhaps that is the most important lesson that Betty taught me.
Always be open and ready for an amazing Exquisite Moment. You never can know when they may occur.
Thank you Betty, wisdom figure, life teacher, wife, mother, grandmother and lover of red toes!