My Aunt’s Wisdom Has Helped Me Become More Disciplined

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” – Jim Rohn

Last weekend was really good for me. I had a chance to relax a little and celebrate my aunt’s 90th birthday. Although she wasn’t the youngest, she’s the last of my great-grandparents’ 11 children.

Since she’s in South Carolina and I’m in Philadelphia, her daughter and grandkids arranged a Facebook Live event. Folks were able to drive past her house to wish her well and drop off gifts. Some even managed to take socially distanced pictures with her. I wish I could’ve been there with everyone, but this is where we are now.  

On several occasions when I was in the hospital dealing with my sarcoidosis issues, my aunt would call twice a week to check on me. I even saved her voicemails on my phone if I missed her call. I’m not sure if that makes me one of her favorites, but being the family troublemaker has its perks!

As the matriarch of our family, my aunt has a lot of life lessons to share with us. Whether you want to hear it or not, you will get one of her free life-lesson talks whenever you’re around her. They are definitely something you don’t want to miss.

When I look back on my hospitalizations, I remember telling my aunt that when I got out, I would do this and that. I had just been laid off and wasn’t working, and thought these events might be a sign for me to jump back into gear and go after a bigger and better job than I had before. Needless to say, this was easier said than done.

I’ve written about the importance of being able to talk to someone about the changes we experience when an illness starts to affect us and our lifestyle. I knew what I wanted to accomplish, but I didn’t realize how much discipline I lacked. 

Because she’s my family’s oldest living relative, I tend to hang on to my aunt’s every word. Not only because she’s willing to share her gems of wisdom, but also because she’s hilarious. I definitely get my sense of humor from her and her brothers.

When I told her about my multiple spontaneous pneumothoraces, I said they were probably caused by pulmonary sarcoidosis. I explained in detail what that entailed.

When I finished explaining everything to her, she responded in her strong Southern drawl: “Well, I guess you know what you gotta do to move ahead.”

My immediate response was that I first needed to get myself together and find a job. She said, “No, you need to focus on getting yourself back to a place where you can be useful to yourself and your family.”

I hadn’t really thought about it like that. All I know is that I have to keep moving, physically and mentally. Otherwise, I’ll accomplish nothing worthwhile, and if that happens, I’ll become a burden.

The first time I was hospitalized, my aunt was 87. The next time we had this conversation, she was 88. We still talk often, but mostly we text and chat on Facebook. I have a habit of posting a lot of pictures of the food I cook, which she loves viewing — and critiquing: 

“I see you’re still cooking that good-looking food. You still learnin’!” she said.

“No, ma’am, not learnin’. It’s my therapy!” I replied. “Cooking keeps me relaxed and creating.”

“Oh, OK! As long as you’re sticking to it, keep on moving so you can better feed everyone.”

“I’m trying, I’m trying! One day I’ll be as good as you, or I’ll get fat trying to prove it!”

“You’re already fat …”

“Then I’ve accomplished something!”


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Debra avatar


Your aunt obviously knows what she's talking write a column after-all! And a good one. We can't sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We've got to do what we can with what we've got and somedays we have a little more than others. Your aunt knows how it goes.

Heather parker avatar

Heather parker

Yes mother knew best. Where there’s a will there’s a way! I’m just a small woman but when your weak in strength you learn to improvise with what you want to achieve. Mats to move furniture- sit on the floor and push with your feet. Mind over matter does work but so does pacing yourself. You want to get there and you will with patience! I’ve not got sarcoidosis but my husband has had it over 30 years. We have both learned to adapt to the situation. It’s tough at times but you can achieve if you will yourself to do whatever it is you need to.


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