What Donna taught me…

While in college, I worked in the Public Relations office.  This is where I met Donna.

Donna was well-traveled for being in her 50s and one thing I quickly learned about Donna was that she always had an upcoming trip on her calendar. She was a fascinating person to listen to as she shared about different sights she had seen and things she had experienced. (I can still picture her with her 35 mm camera hanging on a strap around her neck.)

We became such good friends that after I left college we would continue to stay in touch — she was like a Grandma to me. On one of my visits home, I went to visit her.  I was surprised to learn that Donna didn’t live in a brick and mortar house — her home was at a mobile home park. As I entered her small living space, my eyes quickly surveyed the room and noticed that not only did she have hand-crafted items for decor (like the vibrant afghan crocheted quilt that hung over the back of her sofa), but scattered throughout the room were found objects she had treasured and brought home with her from various trips from all around the world.

In the last five years since her passing, I have finally realized the greatest gift Donna gave me… I saw how she prioritized what mattered to her and on her one-income working as a professional she chose to live simple when it came to her physical home and live large in the world she loved to explore and travel.

Which brings me to an article today that really resonated with me…and reminded me of my friend Donna.

Jay Cassano of Fast Co. writes, “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

“The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things”

My friend Donna didn’t need scientific data to tell her that people mattered to her. Or that travel brought her a sense of happiness since she was an explorer at heart.

And those who are selling their homes and hitting the road in their RVs to work jobs from anywhere in the country are not odd or gypsies… they have simply decided, like my friend Donna, that stuff isn’t as important as experiencing life with others.

That’s why we do what we do. We live simply on one income and say ‘no’ to a lot of material things, so we can say ‘yes’ to experiences together as a family.

In the article, Cassano writes, “We consume experiences directly with other people,” says Gilovich. “And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.”  This is indeed true for me personally. My life intersected with Donna’s for a little while and she inspired me with how she chose to live life in setting priorities in order to do what she wanted to do. Thank you for that, Donna, I miss you friend. Today, I’m remembering your smile, the camera that hung around your neck, and the cardigans you crocheted for my twins when they were born. Donna, you are part of my story.  ♥

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