I was standing in a slow-moving line at the post office. In situations when I know that I have no control over the time or state of affairs, I talk to others around me. Is that what you do too?
She was elegant in the style of the ’60s. Her carefully sculpted hair, large glasses and colorful dress went with her cat’s eyeglasses and red ruby lipstick. Her nails and makeup were impeccable, and the look seemed taken from the show Mad Men. I commented on how beautiful she looked and we got into a conversation. She told me that at 80, she was still working at a job that was interesting, creative and all-encompassing.
She seemed happy and vibrant. But her story was not what I expected. “You think I’m going to tell you that the secret to my health and longevity is love and a happy marriage. I stay alive and well because I can’t afford to die.” That last bit got to me.
When she was in her late sixties, she left an abusive marriage taking her handicapped daughter with her. She knew she would have to find a way to support them both at a time when most people were thinking of retirement.
“How,” I asked, “can you put in long days every day.” I couldn’t imagine working 8-10 hour days, and she had been doing this for 20 years.
She worked because she had to support both herself and her daughter. Her ex-husband was powerful and made sure that she got nothing when they left. When she first left, she couldn’t imagine how she was going to support them either. She went to her place of worship and sought the wisdom of her rabbi.
Her rabbi told her that to succeed; she must do what she could and a bit more. That ‘bit more’ kept her going. When she was ready to quit, she did a bit more.
“When I don’t think I can walk another step or go another day, I do a little bit more. It’s surprising what a little bit more will get you.”
I’ve thought about her when I’ve been ready to quit – I can do a little bit more. I will do what I can and a little bit more. I’ll be open to not always succeeding but know that in being vulnerable to new opportunities and trusting myself a bit more, I will succeed a bit more.
Take the step. Explore. Do what you can and a little bit more.