February 2011


One of my favorite motivational phrases is “Keep your eye on the prize.” I’ve chosen a goal, taken action steps and then some event comes along and threatens to de-rail me. Or, in some cases, I actually go off course. I lose focus, take a wrong turn, and end up on some path that takes me far away from my destination.

Several years ago, I had a certain goal. Wendy was my mentor and my writing partner at work, and I shared the goal with her.

Enthusiastically, she said, “Go for it! This is do-able!”

“Really? But how? Where do I start?”

Wendy and others helped me map out the path. More than once, there were roadblocks. And one time, there were serious financial challenges that threatened the entire process. I didn’t know how I would overcome them.

Wendy continued to encourage me. “OK. Let’s work these through, and remember, ‘Keep your eye on the prize.’”

My goal was a prize. I like prizes! It’s exciting to win and the prize itself is fun. Now the goal took on a different meaning. It would be a prize for successfully handling whatever challenges came toward me.

The result? I won the prize!

Got a goal – I mean “prize”? Keep your eye on that prize!

The full quote is, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt! My interpretation: Wherever I am, do what I can, with the resources available to me, and (my addition) – be inwardly happy! This statement is an important reminder to me. I’m reminded to use what’s available to me – not to my neighbor, not to a friend or relative.

What about my tag line – “be inwardly happy”? This means live life to a full extent, be completely at peace with what I have, smile, and do not be dependent upon outside circumstances to brighten me up. This is a tall order, however, achievable. How do I know? Because I have role models.

I have friends who have lived with tremendous challenges. They share their pain and sadness, yet uplift me by seeing the bright side or even the humor in a situation. They do what they can with what they have, where they are. One older friend lost her house to a fire and was living with her extended family. When I visited her, she still welcomed me royally. Although she couldn’t make me a home-cooked me during my visit, she did the next best thing: treated me to dinner at her son’s restaurant! And our conversation was lively, full of encouragement and, yes, some jokes!

Another friend lives alone, and has for many years. One night, during Chanukah, she called me and said, “I’m having a latke party tonight; can you come?”

“Sure! Sounds great! Who else is coming?”

“Just you and me – and some great music!”

Of course I went. Who said a party has to have tens (or hundreds) of people? We enjoyed trying to make latkes – and eating them was even more fun! It was a great party – my friend, me, and the lively music.

Then there’s the friend (L.) who lived with horrific pain due to her cancer (see https://sherrihenkin.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/tribute/). Although I didn’t visit her during this time, I’ve heard several stories that highlighted her ability to do what she could with what she had, and even maintain her sense of humor. One of our mutual friends visited L. during the last few months. They sat in the roof-top garden of her apartment, among fragrant flowers and stunning greenery, in the warm winter sun (that does exist in certain locales!). At one point, L. said, “When I get better, we’re going to do something FUN.” Her focus was on enjoying life, even in the face of tremendous physical pain.

Lessons learned:

  • I need to do what I can, what my mission is.
  • Use my gifts, talents, and physical assets.
  • Be where I am; use the resources available to me in my location.
  • Keep my sense of humor, and yes, see the fun (and funny) side of life!

OK. It’s the beginning of a new week. Clean the slate. Clean the desk (really?). Start fresh. Besides sleeping, eating, and work, there must be something exciting to focus on! (Not that work’s not exciting…)

What do I focus on this week?

  1. Housecleaning? Productive, but boring.
  2. Cleaning out last year’s financial files? Ditto #1 above.
  3. Shopping for new clothes? Expensive, time-consuming, and I don’t find this fun! (Hmm…”fun” – maybe that’s a clue for me…focus on something that’s fun for me!)
  4. Reading? Can be fun. Doesn’t always excite me.
  5. Writing? How? What? Where do I start?
  • Take a paper and my favorite purple pen and just start writing.
  • Enter a post on my long-neglected blog!
  • Write a story…or at least some lines.
  • Write something funny.
  • Just Write!

Hey! My heart rate is up after writing this list! I’m smiling. And I feel like dancing! Then that’s it! My focus for the week – my writing.

And I did start this blog post with paper and my purple pen:

What's this week's focus?