MAUREEN BURNS: Six little letters … three teeny words


By Maureen Burns • Last Updated 11:30 pm on Friday, December 16, 2011

Maureen Burns

Sometimes it isn’t the big things in life that are the most important. I am talking words here. We think big words mean someone is smart. That may be true. However it was brought to my attention the other day, that six letters made into three teeny words, really say a lot and can make a person feel mighty proud.

I recently stopped in to take my friend, Jo Switzer, some soup. Jo fell not long ago and broke one wrist and sprained the other. She met me with a brace on one and a cast on the other. Jo needs her hands, as we all do, to do all that has to be done in a day. She asked me to come into her bedroom and put the pillow cases on her pillows. I did it quickly — my wrists aren’t broken, so it was easy for me. She told me how she had changed the sheets by herself and then heard herself say three words she realized she was saying all the time these days — the profound wisdom of six powerful letters made into three teeny words. “I did it!”

Last week our Louie turned six. He was engrossed in putting together a puzzle. When he finished, he ran into the kitchen and yelled, “I did it!”

Yesterday a friend who hates early mornings, came to exercise early and was so proud of herself. “She did it!”
Last month my husband had knee surgery for a torn meniscus. His surgeon, Dr. Day, a young beautiful woman, came in and chatted with us. I asked her, “What was it like to replace the first knee you ever did all on your own?” I can’t imagine doing that, getting the tools, the hammers and saws and all, and then beginning. I am sure when she was done, she must have felt, “I did it!”

My friend, Laura, had a stroke this fall. She is my age. She has fought the comeback fight and now is back to driving and speaking normally. She radiates joy, beauty and a big smile. Her recovery shouts to all, “she did it”.

Another friend, Lynne, has just completed several grueling sessions of chemotherapy where she had to stay in the hospital for days to get it. She has tried to do water aerobics during the last few months but could only do ten minutes or so before she was exhausted and had to stop. The other day she did 30 minutes. The next time she came, she completed the entire class. “She did it!” What a milestone!

My husband worked, like many of you, raking leaves. It’s an insurmountable project that takes days and lots of hard physical work. What a smile he wore as he came in and said, “Job done for the season. I did it!”

We all have jobs, projects, things we are trying to improve on. When we get them done or achieved, the feeling of “I did it” is powerful. It propels us to do other things and is a positive example to others.

My friends, Lana and Kelly, both lost 25 to 30 pounds over last winter and have kept it off. (Unfortunately, their success did not rub off on me.) They both feel justly proud that “they did it”. Why is it so much easier to just think about it?

I have several friends going through huge lifestyle changes — some through divorce, some have been widowed. It is wonderful to see the strength and pride they show as they go on with their new life roles and radiate the feelings of, “I did it. I’m doing it.” Sometimes it is the things we aren’t sure we can do that make us the proudest when we “do them.”

Here we are at the holidays. I don’t know about you, but the season and all the work it entails – decorating, shopping, cards, etc. – wears me out just thinking about it. Due to some early holiday entertaining, I had to get my house decorated early. Now I am so grateful and happy that “I did it”. Kelly Thompson, has had all her decorating, shopping, and wrapping done for awhile. She loves to tell everyone that “she did it” and is just relaxed and enjoying the season.

For years, I have wanted to bake French bread like my friends, Linda and Karen, do. Theirs is always perfect. I bought the special pans a few years ago. They gave me the recipe. What I lacked was the courage. Although I love to cook and bake, I just didn’t have the feeling that I could actually make French bread and have it turn out.

Well, at last, “I did it!” And, it was easy. Too bad I let those years go by being stuck in my fear of failure. Yes, it is just bread, but isn’t it just like all the other things in life that we try or want to try?

A funny thing, as I was finishing this, I was at the Blodgett Hospital coffee shop, waiting for someone in surgery. I asked the volunteer cashier to add a tip to my credit card payment. She couldn’t and called for help. When she completed it, she pumped her arms high and yelled, “I did it.” And she didn’t even know about this column.

So, as we wrap up 2011, think back on all the things you can say that about — “you did it.” There is still time to tackle a few more things on your list. You could check it twice and then jump right in. When 2012 arrives, you can have an even bigger list that at the top says, “I did it!” Good luck.

If you would like the French Bread recipe, email me. You can surprise your family with it and say, “I did it!”

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author.

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