Lessons We Learn….(About Gumption….)

“I’ve learned that when I awake aching in various joints and thinking ‘Oh, what’s the use?’, if I get out of bed, don some clothes, splash cold water on my face, put on a little lipstick I can face the world for another day!”

I think this 86-year-old’s observation about just getting out of bed in the morning is a perfect example of gumption.  By definition on dictionary.com, gumption is, 1) initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness: 2) courage; spunk; guts:  3) common sense; shrewdness.  Just knowing how a 50-year-old body can feel in the morning, I have to believe that getting out of bed at 86 will require all of the above!  You have to have the common sense to know that you can’t just stay there and the initiative and spunk to get you up and out!   It could also require some courage and resourcefulness at that age depending on your challenges.

Gumption can take you far in life and little of great importance can be done without it.  Gumption coupled with determination is a winning combination.  It can be used over and over again in a variety of ways in your life to help you get where you want to be.

My daughter is loaded with gumption and determination and has the achievements to show for it!  When she was in the 10th grade it was clear that she was ready to be done with high school so that she could get on with life.  She had decided that she wanted to be a music teacher back in elementary school and had not wavered in her plan.

I encouraged her to find out what it would take to graduate a year early so that she could move on to college.  It turns out that all that was required were several classes at the local community college to get credits in a couple of subjects.  She did some of these during the summer and some during her 11th grade year.

So then on to college at 17 and again the gumption kicked in.  She achieved 2 bachelor’s degrees in 4 years (again with summer school each summer) and has since completed her master’s degree (by age 24) while teaching middle school music!

To be honest, my daughter seems to have way more gumption than her mother but there have been times when my gumption has come in to play too.  One time was when I returned to school to get my nursing degree while I still had young children.  That certainly took some gumption and determination.  It also took letting some things go….it was during that time that I decided bag salad was OK and that dust was a protective coating!

My daughter and I must come by our gumption naturally though.  My mother too has huge amounts of gumption!  She was the fearless leader of a Girl Scout Troop (taking the troop camping multiple times); moved the family to Germany not once, but twice when my father went on sabbatical; agreed to a first family camping trip all the way from Washington D.C. to the Rockies in a car with 3 small children (the youngest of us 2) and a tent; was, in the words of her physician, a ‘poster child’ following knee replacement surgery; and learned to use a computer at 78-years-old.

It is clear that no matter the age, gumption gets you through things.  It is that quality that allows you to take on life and win.  It’s what provides you with rich experiences and leaves you looking back at a life well lived and, hopefully, without regrets.  It’s the quality that shores you up when you just don’t think you can do it anymore.

Just get up.  Put on your clothes.  Splash some cold water on your face.  Put on lipstick if it helps (or if it suits and looks nice) and get out the door.  Life is waiting for us!

On the journey with you…….Kathy

(Quote:  Age 86- The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)


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