We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day.

-- Edith Lovejoy Pierce



My 2011 Christmas holiday was wonderful because I decided that it would be. And so it is with the upcoming new year of 2012. A door of opportunity is now set before me. Great accomplishments are waiting for me to reach out and grasp them. No one can do that for me; I must do it myself. It is up to me to decide what will make me happy. What roads I embark upon is something that only I can choose.



     First I must look back on the year that has just passed. In reflecting on the things I have done, and the things I have failed to do, I let go and move on. I cannot change the past. I can, however, decide what my future is going to be. The book called Opportunity is set before me.



     In turning back the pages of my life, ghosts of Christmas past remind me of both happy and sorrowful times. In memory I recall Christmas Eve of 1966 alone in a theatre on Hollywood Boulevard watching the MGM musical classic "Meet Me In St. Louis". Tears streamed down my face as Judy Garland sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". A longing to go back to my childhood days overwhelmed me. I also remember Christmas Eve of 1970 with a group of hippies, listening to George Harrison sing "My Sweet Lord", when I was filled with inner contentment and happiness. One yuletide season feeling sad and lonely -- another festive holiday filled with great joy and peace.



     When I get my feelings hurt, I brood. Sometimes it takes time for me to get over it. Time does work magic in bringing about emotional healing. And yet, a valuable lesson is that I do not have to spend hours or days to get back into a good space. The solution is so simple that a child can understand it, and yet so powerful and effective that many folks miss it. One can decide what thoughts are going to occupy their mind, be they postive or negative.


     Everyone occasionally experience negative emotions. The dynamic secret is that no one has to hold on to those feelings for any length of time unless they choose to. In early December I said to myself: "Paula, you are 73 years old and you don't know how many Christmas seasons you have left. Make up your mind that you are going to enjoy them." Something happened a few weeks before Christmas, 2011 that could have ruined my holiday festivities. Listening to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, I put my hurt feelings right out of mind by calling friends and talking about things I enjoy. And then I went out and enjoyed the beautiful Christmas tree in Pioneer Square, and browsed through the stores to enjoy the wonderful holiday atmosphere. I thought about all of the wonderful people in my life. As a result, hurt feelings that could have thrown me into depression had totally dissolved. 2011 became one of the most meaningful Christmas holiday seasons I have ever had. I was genuinely happy because I chose to be.



     And then the Lord gently tapped me on the shoulder and said: "Paula, this same principle that worked well for you over the Christmas holiday season can work for you all of the time."



     Start filling the blank pages of the book called Opportunity. An important step is to begin your new year by letting go of unforgiveness. If there is someone whose friendship you have lost, please do this: Let bygones be bygones, forget what's been said. Regain that friend right away. Too many of us have been living too long in those old feuds of yesterday. Set goals and move in the direction to make them happen.



     Someone once said that the secret of happiness is to maintain a positive attitude in times of adversity. It is not how we act when things are going our way. The proof of the pudding is now we act when things are not what we want them to be. 


     Your book called Opportunity is open. Whether starting out a new day or a new year, a golden opportunity is open to you. It all depends on the thoughts you decide to dwell upon.



     In 1960 Sophie Tucker delivered this wonderful piece on the Ed Sullivan show. Its words are just as true today as they were back then:



You be in the business of staying young,

make staying young a career

Don't sit around and sigh, and let the world pass you by,

But get with it, stay with it, as long as you're here.


And don't be living in the past, you plan a future

and look forward to each added year,

I tell you there's no greater thrill, no greater satisfaction

when you can say "Yes I'm up in years, but I am still in action"

You be in the business of staying young, make staying young a career.


And, ladies & gentlemen, I practice what I preach

I've been in the business of staying young

ever since I hit the 50 mark

And believe me its a wonderful business

in which all of you can embark

It gives you that happy feeling,

of starting life anew

And like any business it requires

your time and attention too.


Its compensations are many

and it pays big dividends

And you'll find as you go along

you accumulate a fortune in new friends.

You will profit by acconmplisment

find something new to do

Just give it a try and remember,

all you'll risk is a bit of you.


There's a place for you in this world

and jobs that can be done

Just make up your mind you are never too old

to try and help someone

It will help you face those coming years

with courage and a smile

If each day you can honestly say

I'm doing something worthwhile.


Age can be a frightening thing

if you let yourself fear it

You can't help it if you're up in years

but you don't have to be down in spirit.


Take pride in your appearance

try to look up to par

That's the only way of having people forget

how old you really are.


My friends, I've told you time and again

in songs that I have sung

That I will always be engaged

in the business of staying young.

I know I'm not indestructible

time is exacting its toll

But I had a goal I've wanted to reach

and I think I have reached my goal.


So you get busy and be useful

every day that you're on earth

And with your talents and your efforts

go ahead and prove your worth.

And be grateful that you're living

in the world of youth today

And you too can be youthful'

If you'll think and live that way.


So you be in the business of staying young

make staying young a career.

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