Senior Living Advice: Lessons can be learned from Groundhog Day


By BETH DOW, Home Helpers of GA & AL

For some of you February means Valentine’s Day.  A day of love, chocolate and flowers.  But for me, February is all about the Groundhog.

I love Groundhog Day.  Full disclosure, it is my birthday….but it really is a cool tradition.

The first Groundhog Day was in 1887 and has its roots in ancient Christian and German traditions as a way of predicting weather.  In Germany, the rodent predictor of choice was a hedgehog.  German settlers in Pennsylvania switched to using groundhogs due to their abundance. Groundhogs are also called Woodchucks and whistle pigs – because they whistle when they are frightened or looking for a mate….which too can be frightening.

So as the story goes in 1887, a groundhog hunter from Punxsutawney declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. Since that time, other weather predicting groundhogs have  made their way across America – from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada, and our very own General Beauregard Lee.

But since 1993, our furry weather predicting friends have had to share their notoriety with weatherman Phil Conners, aka Bill Murray, in the movie Groundhog Day. In the film, Phil Conners re-lives the same day over and over.  Soon he learns that by making a few adjustments to his life, his day can net different results.  And the lessons relayed in this movie are more predictable than the weather.

Lesson 1:  Be kind to others.  I try to always remember that I do not know what others are going through, but there is a good chance they are struggling.  Try hard to remember that everyone is carrying something. Some folks hide it better than others, but we all have our junk.

Lesson 2: Try different things. Life is never boring.  You may just need to spice it up a little.  Take a class, try new foods, move outside of your comfort zone.  You are never too old to experience something new.

Lesson 3: You can’t fight the weather. Just because it is raining outside doesn’t mean it has to be dark and gloomy inside. Carry your own weather is a concept from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Carrying your weather can be as simple as keeping a pleasant or professional disposition or as challenging as consistently living by what you deeply value. At the heart of it, however, is always a choice.

Lesson 4: To find real love, work on you.  The right person may not be out there because you aren’t the right person yet.

Lesson 5: Life is what you make it. We often see examples of people coming from the same devastating situation, yet one thrives while the other is stagnant. Whatever life has dealt you, take it and make the most out of it.  If you allow your past to define you, your past wins.  Don’t let it.

Whatever General Lee’s prediction for weather, the real predictor of how our weather will go in 2023 is how well we can follow these lessons. Don’t be afraid of your shadow, step out into 2023 and shine!

Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd and Geriatric Care Manager. She is also the owner of Home Helpers of GA & AL in Newnan. Readers can contact her by email at  [email protected].

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