My dad was a laid back type of fellow unless he got crossed. He was a junior high schoolteacher – English and Science. His students knew he meant business when he was crossed and some of the other teachers would draft him to keep order in their classrooms when they had rowdy students. Most of the time, however, he was telling stories about things that happened in the Navy, in schools, on the farm and joking with his dry sense of humor. There aren’t many pictures of him smiling because he thought he looked silly smiling in pictures – but, smiling was his natural state.
Dad also ran our farm. He was always up early year-round to build a fire in the winter to keep us warm and take care of the animals before heading off to school. Sometimes this meant breaking ice with his axe so the animals could drink during the coldest months.
Teaching also gave Dad the summers to work on the farm. We didn’t have air conditioning and so sitting on the porch or out under the trees where there was a cool breeze were our favorite spots. We also didn’t wear any more clothes than were necessary to look decent. So, Dad often took off his shirt with his overalls when it was especially hot or he was hot from working.
As I said, Dad was usually laid-back and didn’t get in much of a hurry. One day, however, I saw him running like a spooked deer through the backyard toward the barn. It seems that he had gotten into a nest of yellowjackets that subsequently got into his overalls. Never before or since had I seen Dad run so fast! Anyone stung by a yellowjacket knows that it is quite painful – it seems that they just keep stinging until one is rid of them – and he had his overalls full.
We can often be complacent about life until something happens to wake us up and get us moving. Hopefully, it won’t be getting your overalls full of yellowjackets; but, I had a wakeup call this past year with a bout of cancer.
None of us is immune to death – it happens to all of us eventually. What we can do is to make each day and each life as much the way we want it to be. That is our choice – to live each day fully, to take the best care of ourselves as we can – not to overdo, but to do the things today that we would wish we had done if something happens to us tomorrow.
When faced with your mortality, you think about the things you would miss, the grandchildren you might not see, the children’s marriages you might miss, waking up in the morning with your spouse or family, the Christmases and birthdays . . . Everyone’s list is different, and yet the same: It is a life unfinished.
I have dedicated my life and my company to helping people to reach their optimal health and beauty, to balance their lives and to be freer of stress. These concepts are also different for everyone. Everyone has their own needs and ideals of health and beauty and what stress means to each of them. So, I do individualized health programs, custom blended makeup, etc.
My dad often said, “Someday, I’m going to ___________.” The blank was things such as, hiking the Appalachian Trail, writing a book (although he often wrote poetry and prose), etc. Until one day, he said that he guessed he would never do those things. That was a sad day. While it is much healthier to be laid-back rather than a Type A personality and always be on the go and overdo, there is a balance in life. You must do what is important to you, and to take care of your health, to be able to feel that you have done your best to live the life you want. When the time comes to leave this life behind, you can remember those bees in your overalls as a fond memory.
Ann Marie Byars
Balanced Lives Resources