“Name one thing in your life that you are in total control of,” Marva said. “Think about it; what is the one thing you’re in absolute control of?”

I paused, running through an inventory of my life and searched for things, then she answered her own question.

“You’re in control of your joy. If you wake up in the morning and you have a roof over your head, enough food to keep you from starving and are alive, you have everything you need to start the day with joy.”

There are some conversations that I know are life changing while I’m having them; this was one. I was standing in our booth at the Rotary Convention in Hamburg, Germany, when Marva stopped by. She had been a nurse at Mount Sinai hospital, as well as president of the local collective bargaining for nurses group, in New York City.

“Imagine it like this,” Marva said. “You start the day with a full cup of joy and the trick is to have that same cup full by the time you go to bed. You see, all along the way every day, someone or something is going to try to steal joy from your cup. And you can’t let them. If you spill a little or lose a lot, you have keep filling it back up.”

“So how do you fill it back up?” I asked.

“You got to give it away. The only way you keep your cup full of joy and even running over is by giving it away. So if you’re cup of joy is empty, just make it a point to give someone else some joy. Tell them a joke. Compliment their smile. Congratulate them for a success even if you’ve done it before. They way you get joy is by giving it away.”

“This is simply Marvelous!” I said.

“That’s why they call me Marvelous Marva.”


Photo: I captured this image in the Butterfly Palace in Branson, MO. A great place to photograph!