Are You Living a Feast or a Famine

auntiemameThe 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis that chronicles the madcap adventures of a boy, growing up as the ward of his deceased father’s eccentric sister, Auntie Mame, was a runaway best seller, setting records on the New York Times bestseller list, with more than two million copies in print during its initial publication. What was it about this book that captured the attention and of so many and continues to do so on Broadway and its latest release in September or 2001.

The character, Auntie Mame, based on his real-life aunt, Marian Tanner, is one of an unconventional individualist with a huge desire to live life to the fullest. In the story Mame lived during the loose and free roaring 20’s, through the challenges of the Great Depression and into a new era of social change. Despite her apparently care-free lifestyle, she embraced the opportunity to raise her orphaned nephew, Patrick, despite restrictions set up by the boy’s guardian.

She is thought to be eccentric and unconventional because of her colorful dress and an acerbic quip, her flamboyant style, and seemingly “devil may care” attitude. The real essence of her unconventionality was her authenticity. Her authentic self is expressed through her vibrancy and adventurous spirit, which she refuses to stifle to satisfy social norms or because of the ‘perceived’ outer appearances of lack or limitation around her. She is a true model of embracing the “all” of life – seeing possibility in everything – and never shying away from feeling and living fully because of what ‘might’ or ‘could’ or ‘did’ happen.

The lasting message of this wonderful novel and later musical, is to embrace everything life throws our way life – to never be afraid to try a new experiences and to keep an open mind about everything and everybody. As Mame so wisely says” life is banquet and most poor suckers are starving.” Mame understood that it’s not about what gets thrown at you, or even what you do with it that counts, it’s how you “be” with it. Part of what endears Mame to the audience is what she tries that doesn’t “succeed” in the eyes of the world around her. It’s not the outcome that’s important. It is always the integrity with her intuition, her instincts, and in the words of Joseph Campbell, “her bliss”. She understood that stepping fully into life is the true nourishment of the soul and the heart – and that is the secret of a happy and long life. Patrick Dennis’ real-life aunt lived to be close to 100 and reportedly died still looking forward to tomorrow.

In the early 1980s a study team from the University of California at San Francisco conducted a study of top level executives at the Bank of America and AT&Tto learn the effects of very high level stress experienced though what as then unprecedented times of deregulation and divestiture. 20% became ill during that time, and 5% of the group that became ill died. The “thrivers” saw life and the stressful change as achallenge to be met. “Ills” saw it as a problem, a threat, a nightmare. Thrivers had a commitment to taking a risk, getting involved. Thrivers felt that they were in control of their life, despite the circumstances. Ill’s felt Helpless, hopeless. Thrivers kept their sense of humor, about the world and themselves.

Regardless of what has been, who do you chose to be now? A “Thriver” or and “Ill” — someone who thrives at life’s banquet or starves?

Are you willing to be your own “Mame? Click here to move your life forward right now.

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