“Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” Jan. 16, 2023

This column is from Oct., 2020.

Seems there’s always something to worry about. As my mother used to say, “If it’s not one thing, it’s two.”

At times, it’s enough to make you want to put on a flea collar and hide under the porch with the dogs. I would never do that. I don’t have a porch. Or a dog.

But some people seem to worry a lot less than others do. Take, for example, Jonah.

My husband and I share eight grandchildren. Jonah is our youngest. I’ve been watching him closely since the day he was born 18 months ago. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

We live 382 miles apart, Jonah and I, so I mostly watch him in videos that his mama and daddy send me. Almost daily. Several times a day, if I’m lucky. And we FaceTime fairly often.

Jonah in video is not as much fun as Jonah in the flesh, but it’s a lot better than no Jonah at all. I wish I could’ve sent my mother videos of her grandkids. Maybe she’d have worried less and lived longer.

Watching Jonah has taught me a lot about how to avoid the ill effects of worry and stress. Here are some things that seem to work well for him:

_ First, he doesn’t watch TV. Except an occasional episode of “Peppa Pig.” And he doesn’t own a cell phone. He loves to grab his mom and dad’s phones, but they try to keep them out of his reach. So, unlike some of us, he isn’t glued to an electronic device. He’s far more in touch with the real world. The birds outside his window. The tickle of his dad’s beard. The smell of his mom’s hair. The temptation to try the big slide at the park or the joy of mastering a new word. (His latest favorite is “no.”)

_ He gets more exercise than a team of sled dogs. Runs more than he walks. Dances on tables. Splashes in a puddle or a bath or a lake. Keeps his mom and dad laughing and on their toes.

_ He sleeps like a baby. Limp as an over-cooked noodle. Naps if he feels like it. But sometimes he will wake in the night and try to rouse his dad to play.

_ He eats a healthy diet. Lots of veggies. No sugar. Only stuff that’s good for him. His parents make sure of it. He likes most everything they offer him. If he doesn’t like it, he spits it out.

_ He spends a lot of time outdoors, playing in the yard, going to the park with his mom or taking walks with his dad. He stays engaged with people who make him happy, not sad, and with things that are beautiful, not ugly. He cuddles with his mom. Reads with his dad. Plays with his cousins. FaceTimes with his nana. And loves to help. You should see him vacuum.

_ He never hides his emotions. He yells if his mom leaves the room. Gets mad if his dad won’t let him put the iPad in the fireplace. And if he falls down the stairs and bumps his head, he screams bloody murder. But when he stops hurting, he quits screaming and climbs back on the stairs. He cries when he feels like crying. And he laughs a lot more than he cries.

_ Finally, Jonah knows that he is loved. He has learned that the world isn’t perfect. It can be a painful and frustrating place. There are bees in the grass that can sting his feet. Stairs he can fall down. Cell phones and iPads and other expensive stuff his parents try not to let him break.

But mostly he sees the world as a good place—a place not for worrying, but for learning and exploring and being happy.

Jonah doesn’t have time to worry. He’s too busy having fun, living his one, sweet, beautiful life.

As adults, we seldom get to enjoy the kind of freedom we knew as children. We have jobs and responsibilities. Families to care for. Bills to pay. Decisions to weigh. We need to be vigilant and informed and involved.

But worry gains us nothing, and it robs us of peace and hope and joy. We can learn a lot from a toddler.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Jonah.


  1. Jody Sibley says

    Girl, I was getting ready to fire off a letter to our local newspaper regarding the absence of your column. Thankfully, I read that you are retiring. I will miss your column in our local paper every week but will keep up here. Thankful for you as I relate to so many of your stories of family and friends. I am looking forward to a book in the near future with every single one of your articles in one book😁😁😁😁😁. You always bring a smile (and occasionally a tear) of a memory of my childhood and family. Thanks for sharing your family and life with us. Love u and praying for a happy retirement filled with many happy memories with family and friends. Love u in Alabama.
    Jody Sibley

  2. Marie Disselhorst says

    I sure do miss your column in our paper but I understand retirement….Saw you a year or so ago in Wichita Falls, TX. So enjoyed it. Also have a picture with you that I treasure.

  3. Victoria Alldrin says

    So true, I have a granddaughter that is five and a grandson who is two. So much fun to watch them play and run around. They live in the country, so much to explore. They also don’t get to play with the gadgets too often. Really like that.

  4. Lorie Darcangelo says

    I’m watching my three-year-old grandson at play and reading this. Yes, we can learn a lot from the children in our lives. Life is short-enjoy all the wonderful things we are blessed to have!

  5. Thank you ever so much for these memories. I truly am encouraged and blessed by them. I love the innocent little ones. We don’t have any in our family right now. Even the greats are in school & learning more every day. God bless & keep you & yours. Please never quit sharing these. I truly am thankful for them.

  6. Joanne McClure says

    I am so glad that you have continued to post columns. Even previous ones because they are always a joy to read. It helps to look forward to them since we can’t enjoy your weekly newspaper ones anymore. Thank you! I was inspired to purchase your novel “The World and Then Some.” It didn’t take me long to dive into it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It brought me such pleasure. I do hope that you consider writing more novels in the future. 😉

    • I’ve just started reading The World and Then Some. It already exceeds my expectations! It’s full of that incomparable voice of Sharon Randall. I love that voice. It speaks of days gone by. It’s like sitting on your front porch with a friend talking about that girl who got on your nerves in 10th grade, while hemming your 18 year old son’s church slacks. It takes me back to times that were simplier. Summers that seemed to go on forever and catching lightning bugs and putting them in a quart jar. Long live Sharon Randall and her special voice that makes us feel like you can come home.

  7. Mary K Dixson says

    Thank you so much for this, it’s been super stressful since just after Thanksgiving, thanks for the reminder that it will all work out🤗Prayers of peace and joy to you and your family 🙏🤗❤️

  8. Don’t we all wish to be as loving’& carefree as a child. I know I wish I could. This makes me remember the times as a child when I would lay in the back yard & try to make out the shapes of the clouds. Great memories

  9. Russell Lutz says

    I remember reading your last column in the newspaper and I thought I wouldn’t be able to see anymore. Thanks to being on my phone I’ve got this column and can read it. It makes me a happy person. Thank you so much and don’t go away.

  10. Katie Musgrave says

    Oh, the lessons we learn from the little ones in our life. Thankful for these precious, joyful tykes. ❤️ Glad your col7mns are back. 5hey make m3 sm8le.

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