At the end of the week, my niece Charlotte will march down the aisle to the beat of a static laced rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance”. She is the last of the three twirling girlies to collect her high school diploma. Maybe she cares, maybe not but I suppose it is only fitting that I offer up some sage advice. Okay, maybe it’s not so sage but I did it for her sisters. I wouldn’t want her to feel left out.
So, here goes. Be happy and live each day with enthusiasm and joy.
I can’t claim this wisdom as my own. Left to my own devices, I’m prone to a certain cynicism when it comes to exuberant displays of jocularity. I’m still tempted to narrow my eyes, give that happy-go-lucky character the once over, shrug and ask, “Really?” Of course, I’m too polite to actually do any of those things. However, there was a day when I might have come close.
It is my mother, Charlotte’s Meme, who convinced me that happy people live better lives. A doubter might argue that Mom got it backwards; that people with better lives are happier. Nope, that’s not the way works. A new pair of shoes won’t make you happy. Okay, maybe for a few hours or even a couple of days but long-term happiness comes from within. Happiness isn’t a fleeting shot of retail induced dopamine; it’s an on-going, every day state of mind.
My happiness conversion wasn’t easy. It took patience to win me over. It’s unlikely that I will ever emulate Mom’s unbridled spirit of fun. I’ve never danced with a vacuum cleaner while singing “When The Saints Go Marching In”. I doubt I ever will. However, put on some Motown and I will dance with unmitigated enthusiasm. Thanks to Mom, I am unapologetic in my optimism and joy.
Now eighty-six and with severe Alzheimer’s disease, my mother can still teach us a thing or two about happiness. Mom is bedbound and no longer able to speak. That is the reality of this awful disease. The reality of my mother is that happiness is indeed a state of mind; even one that is bruised and embattled.
Here is what my mother continues to teach me about happiness:
Happy people figure out what is important and make time for those people, places and things. My mother never stressed over keeping up with the Jones or wasted time comparing her lot with others.
Happy people treat family, friends, neighbors and strangers with respect. Mom always assumes the best in people. If I had to name only one, I’d say Mom’s superpower was her kindness.
Happy people get over it. Yes, bad things happen to good people. Mom has never wasted time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she gives her bootstraps a yank, smiles broadly and moves on.
Happy people live life to the fullest. They don’t yearn for past glories or dwell on old mistakes. Instead of worrying about the future, they do their best today. Mom embraces every day with optimism.
Happy people aren’t too cool to smile and laugh – loud and often. My mother’s smile and laugh are infectious.
Congratulations to Charlotte and the class of 2016. I wish you every happiness. Bon appétit!
1/3 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons cognac
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/2 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or your favorite chili paste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 (about 1 1/2 pounds each) pork tenderloins
Put the mustard, cognac, olive oil, garlic, onion, brown sugar, herbs and spices in a bowl and stir to combine.
Tuck and tie the narrow end of each tenderloin and then add ties about every 2 inches down the length of the roasts. Put the tenderloins in a dish, slather them with the mustard mixture, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Remove the pork from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the grill to high.
Arrange the tenderloins on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn and cook an additional 5-7 minutes or until the pork registers 140-145 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the tenderloins from the grill and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut the pork into 1-inch slices, transfer to a platter and serve.
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What’s your best advice for the class of 2016? Feel free to share.
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016