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Are you a Pollyanna?

One hundred years ago, Eleanor Porter brought 12-year old Pollyanna to life. Years later, someone twisted Pollyanna’s gift of infectious optimism into a perversely negative connotation. Now we often hear people say with scorn, “Don’t be such a Pollyanna.”

My contention is that the world needs more, not less Pollyannas.

The character of Pollyanna is neither blindly optimistic nor without struggle. Instead, she is a model of living two of the Revolutionary Agreements: seeing blessings in disguise in the midst of adversity, and seeing the best in others—releasing the light and love buried in the hearts of even her most crotchety community members. (You can enjoy her book free online: http://www.literaturepage.com/read/pollyanna.html)

Sailing with Dad circa 1967

I knew someone like Pollyanna in real life: my dad. He rose above seemingly insurmountable struggles to become a beacon of light for all those who were blessed by his presence. And today, on Father’s day, I honor him with all my heart.

“Honest Abe” was a model of positive thinking in action. Because I never heard him complain, I had no idea what a challenging life he had had until his sister sat me down to tell me some stories when I was in my thirties.

I learned that at the tender age of three after my father had lost his mother to tuberculosis, he was placed in an orphanage. When his eldest sister could no longer stand the heart-wrenching stories of his abuse in foster homes, she begged their father to allow this youngest of five children to return home, vowing to be responsible for little Abie. She stayed true to her promise, even taking him on her honeymoon when he was seven!

In his twenties, my father served our country on the front lines of WWII, ending his tour by liberating the Dachau concentration camp.  Years later, long after his death, I discovered photos he had taken of skeletons piled high outside the crematorium. I can only imagine how these images were emblazoned into his memory—they will never leave mine. He never spoke of it.

My father didn’t have the kind of carefree childhood he provided for me on our rural farm. He worked hard on that farm both before and after the war. When factory farms moved in, he moved on.

Dad had plenty of excuses to act like a victim; instead, he chose to act like Pollyanna. Perhaps because of his struggles, he appreciated more fully every moment of life. Perhaps because he had a challenging childhood, he created a stable and loving environment for his wife and children. Perhaps because he had to leave his farm he got to spread his light to the patrons on his postal route who came to love their merry mailman. Blessings in disguise?

Although he had never heard of the Revolutionary Agreements, my “Pollyanna” father was my greatest mentor for actually living them. Today I honor his memory by providing a place for you and I to meet in virtual time/space and share our stories of blessings in disguise. Please visit www.Facebook.com/BlessingStories today and share yours.

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news.
The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be!
How much you can love! What you can accomplish!
And what your potential is!”
–Anne Frank (p. 141, Revolutionary Agreements)

With love and gratitude,

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