The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 22, 2013

Thinking about wishes as we grow older

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News & Eagle

— If you had only one wish, what would it be? Think about it.

When I was a little girl, I just wanted to be older. Boy, if I were older, think of the things I could do ... or would be. I could drive. I could date. I could make my own decisions. I could make my own money and be out on my own. I thought that being older and grown up meant that one was independent and smart. Well, I have given up wanting to be older. I like where I am right now. I wouldn’t go back to being a kid even if I could, although I had a wonderful childhood.

Somehow, we always think that we want to be wealthy. We tell ourselves if we just had so many more dollars, we could do so much more and have so many more things. More money does not take care of our money problems. Living within our means cures our financial problems. The more money we have, the more responsibility we have to go with it.

We just know if we won a lottery or a huge amount in a casino, that we would say goodbye to our day jobs and just travel the world and not work another day in our lives. But wouldn’t we get homesick for our cozy homes and get tired of shopping after a while? And just think, all the relatives that we had not seen for decades would be coming around for a handout.

Most people say, “I just want to be happy.” Well, happiness is attainable if we work at it. It doesn’t just happen. We are about as happy as we make up our minds we will be. That is what Abe Lincoln said. He had to work every day at being happy. He had a hard life and a turbulent marriage, yet he was relatively happy ... because he made up his mind he would be.

I sometimes think happiness eludes us because we expect too much. We expect big things to make us happy, when it is really the little things that count. Happiness comes in simple things. Happiness is not how much we have or how much we accomplish as it is simply what we are and what brings us pleasure.

People come back from vacations or cruises and speak of the beautiful sunsets they were privileged to see. That same sun sets in their own back yards every evening, but we get so busy, we fail to look at it. We rave at the beauty in a dozen long-stem roses, but sometime, take time to just look inside a dandelion and see the simple beauty in its bloom. Nothing is more beautiful than a smile, or a baby anything. Beauty is all around us and happiness is found in that beauty.

Many people are in pain every day of their lives, but they are still happy. We see people who have lost their homes or never had one to begin with, but they seem happy inside. Happiness is a state of mind. Happiness comes from within, not from outside sources. That is faith and love.

Nowadays, it seems people just want to be beautiful at any cost. This is the era of the beautiful people. Beauty can open lots of doors for those who have it. But after a while, that beauty wears thin if there is nothing more to a person that outward beauty. “Pretty is, as pretty does,” Mama used to say. There has to be a pretty person inside to really shine through, or one doesn’t appear beautiful long. A bubbly personality, kindness, manners, thoughtfulness, consideration, empathy, and simply caring about others make any person beautiful.

As we grow older most of us are wishing for better health. We never dreamed we would be in pain or having the medical problems that so many of us have. I asked Jim what he would wish for if he had only one wish, and it was to have better health. It is something we take for granted when we are young and foolish. Jim has outlived the prediction of the surgeon who patched him up when he was shot through the stomach during World War II. His doctor thought he would do well to make it to age 65. Jim is now 86, and feels that he still has some good years ahead of him. We just don’t move as fast or as easily as we used to, and we don’t travel and go places anymore. And we don’t like to drive at night. Things change, but the happy attitude remains the same.

Good health is something we take for granted when we are young. Then when health begins to fail, it becomes all important. My wonderful younger brother can attest to that, since he is dealing with cancer. We begin to take better care of ourselves with exercise and proper diet and being aware of our surroundings. Our social life in in the doctor’s reception areas.

We are pleased and amazed at the number of people who regularly exercise with Jim at rehab. They inspire us to keep moving. And I would hope we inspire them too. We have such a good time there, improving our health.

Isn’t if funny how our wishes change as we mature? Beauty is not as important as it once was. Money is only important to take care of our needs, not excessive wants. Happiness is pretty much established, and we accept who and what we are. Peace and contentment are very important to us now. Our faith is growing as we become more aware of time passing so quickly. We continue to be active and creative. Naps are relevant now. Our needs are different. We just want things to go on like they have been for the past few years: together, and enjoying life

Wishing for a meal to prepare with little fuss and a lot of pleasure? This fits the bill:

Baked Chicken Salad

4 cups cooked diced chicken

2 cups celery, diced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 hard cooked eggs, cut up

2⁄3 cup almonds

1 small jar diced pimentos

11⁄2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 cup grated cheese

11⁄2 cup crushed potato chips

Combine all ingredients except cheese and chips. Toss gently. Pour into 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with grated cheese and crushed potato chips. Bake in 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

This will serve about 12 people, but can easily be cut in half and baked in an 8-by-8-inch dish. It is also good with diced turkey, shrimp, crab, scallops or a combination of seafood instead of chicken.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.