I think I’ve discovered my mantra, or as close as I’ll get to having a mantra.
Maybe mantra isn’t the right word.
I discovered this delightful phrase while re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
This was my second read of Ms. Gilbert’s book. The first time was three years ago. That time, I read the book, used my highlighter to mark “stubborn gladness,” and that was the end of it.
This time, “stubborn gladness” grabbed me. It stopped me from reading. I attached a purple Post-It to the page. And, surprisingly, it’s been my biggest takeaway from this read.
Ms. Gilbert explains that it is her destiny to be a writer. “I’ve decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can – because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice.”
She goes on: “My ultimate choice, then, is to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness.”
This time, when I read that passage I immediately saw its relevance to my life with an invisible disability.
I certainly don’t approach doctors’ appointments, lab work, and MRIs with “stubborn gladness.”
And there’s nothing “glad” about daily pain.
But I most definitely, absolutely, positively approach my day-to-day life with “stubborn gladness.”
That’s the reason why I do the things I do.
The reason why I bought myself a new bike.
The reason why I go for neighborhood walks with my son and coffee walks with my husband.
The reason why I went horseback riding this summer. (Before he started preschool, we took Ryan to Disneyland for a “big adventure.” It’s the one and only time he’s been. The summer before he started kindergarten, we took Ryan on his first hotel trip, spending a few days in Cambria, California. This summer, before starting middle school, Ryan chose horseback riding as his big adventure.)
I do these things, big things and little things and everything-in-between-things with “stubborn gladness.”
Because I can’t change my health. I can’t make my autoimmune disease go away. I have to learn to live with it, to handle it, to live with my life as fully as I can – with “stubborn gladness.”
7 thoughts on “Announcing My Motto for Life”
Hi Wendy, Your articles always draw me in. I’ve been wondering now what motto fits my own life. ‘Stubborn Gladness’ doesn’t quite fit me. And if I do embrace a motto, I wonder if those who know me well would agree. For now, I’d say ‘Resilient Gratitude’ seems right. Maybe it’s only semantics, but it’s worth thinking about.
John, maybe our mottos change and evolve over time. And maybe we don’t need approval from others. If “resilient gratitude” seems right, I say embrace it!
As an 85-year-old woman with both physical and memory challenges, I find your phrase “stubborn gladness” a perfect description of how I view life at this stage. I am determined to make every day one that has moments–even hours–of joy and fulfillment, and I know that I am the only one who can make that happen. I so enjoy reading your insightful and beautifully expressed posts. Keep writing and inspiring, both yourself and those of us who are fortunate enough to have “Wendy connections.”
Zhita, thank you for your lovely comment and kind words! Thank you for the continued support and encouragement! It means so much to me! Wendy
Thanks for reminding me about stubborn gladness!
Thank you, Nina, for all your support!
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