“Just Breathing isn’t Living”

Dear Reader:

Thursday night I was surfing channels to no avail. I had about given up hope of finding anything worth watching…when I flipped on PBS and the English version of the movie Pollyanna was just about to start on Masterpiece Theatre.

I have always loved the Disney version of Pollyanna with Hailey Mills but I must confess the British knocked the socks off all other prior productions. It was mesmerizing with absolutely no commercials from beginning to end.

Instead of being set in Vermont… as the book originally was written…the setting for this Pollyanna was in the English countryside in a small town called Beldingsville.

What was so outstanding about this performance was that it centered on the evolving relationship between Pollyanna and Aunt Polly. (Letting the relationship slowly develop took center stage.) It made all the difference in the world.

Every character in the town, influenced by Pollyanna’s “Glad Game,” had important acting roles too…instead of just Pollyanna.

It is in one of the first scenes of the movie when Aunt Polly is dictating the stern, rigid daily schedule she has planned for her niece that poor Pollyanna gasps for air and says dramatically “Oh, but Aunt Polly,  you haven’t left me any time at all just to live… Just breathing isn’t living!” 

I quickly grabbed my pen and notebook and wrote the quote down. How appropriate it is for life and how many times have we gotten ourselves in a rut where we are doing just that…going through the motions of breathing without living a life of joy and happiness?

In Kelly Rae Roberts’ latest paintings she shared this one on her website. I read the writing running across her shoulders and smiled at the end.

Discover the stars, the twinkle, the sunbeams of your infinitely precious soul.”

(On one halo triangle..is the word journey.)

I realized that Kelly Rae Robers, through her art, was telling the same story as Pollyanna with her “Glad Game.

In the book/movie several townspeople of Beldingsville have lost hope that life is anything more than waking up and trying to get through another day. They are just “breathing” but certainly not “living.” Somewhere in their past they have felt betrayed by human love, or given in to a medical obstacle… using self-pity as an excuse to remain in bed, or let a moment of anger ruin an important chance at a lasting relationship. Worse of all pride restrains the characters from trying to find happiness and joy again.

Don’t we see these ghosts of the past walking by us daily… physically alive but emotionally and spiritually deceased? It is easy to spot them by their countenance, demeanor, and speech…or lack of.

One part of the movie I had forgotten about struck a chord with me. When I was thinking one day, a few years back after a health setback following another surgery, what scripture I would like read at my own funeral I knew it had to be lines talking about joy and rejoicing. What a wonderful, joyful life I have experienced and that is how I would like to be remembered …a joyful person…who loved playing “The Glad Game.”

*Pollyanna tells her Aunt Polly about a discovery her father, a pastor, made one day when he was feeling sad over her mother’s death…about the discovery of the number of scriptural lines in the Bible that talk about joy and rejoicing.

“Oh, yes,” nodded Pollyanna, emphatically. He [her father] said he felt better right away, that first day he thought to count ’em. He said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times [in the Bible] to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it – SOME.”

So until tomorrow…By simply smiling at people whose hope has diminished as evidenced by the loss of light in their eyes…sometimes our light can help re-light the eyes of another.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh





So many of you yesterday chimed in on the fun with the word “very’ while making Facebook and WordPress comments… a hoot to read.

*If any of you didn’t see this comment by Mary Fennemore, co-owner of Fifer Orchards in Wyoming, Delaware,  concerning the word “very”  read it now…Mary found another good line of scripture.

Hey Becky – I’m with you on VERY!! I even use Very, Very….!!! And if anyone needs further justification for using very, here’s another Scripture….Psalm 46:1 -God is our Refuge and Strength, a VERY present and well-proved help in trouble. AMEN.

PS ~ Thanks again for your wonderful writings! I enjoy them very, very much every morning!
With my love and prayers, Mary





About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to “Just Breathing isn’t Living”

  1. bcparkison says:

    Becky, This has been a God send. Lately I feel like I have been breathing and nothing else. Careing for my 95 year old parents is really about to get the best of me and it is only going to get worse before it get better. God is my refuge.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Beverly….what challenging times you are in right now. I remember reading one day that our generation is the first “sandwich” generation ….we are in the middle pulled by adult children/grandchildren and aging parents- each needing our help- since life spans have increased so over one generation. My heart goes out to you….I remember when mother was ill with dementia I was still working, traveling a lot for the state, while the children were in college and starting their careers I felt torn between both worlds too. God was there for me…but it was such an emotional roller coaster ride. You are in my prayers!. Sending lots of light your way!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Becky Dingle says:

    I agree…I thank my mother every single day for giving me the foundation as a child I needed to enter the world of possibilities…yes…but also the world of challenges which can be formidable at times. She showed me the faith needed in Someone more powerful than I to guide me through the ups and downs of life.


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