Most of us yearn to feel successful. We might not be trying to write a best seller or be a millionaire, but in our own way we want to find a measure of success, something we can point to and say, “Yes, I did that so well!”
In my recent travels to Costa Rica, I spent a few hours with a woman who reminds me of what it means to truly be successful. At this date in time, she’s ninety years old, still radiating poise and beauty, and she recently danced in the Costa Rica Independence Day parade wearing the proud colors of her country in native dress. Every smile from her is a beam of light. I don’t know enough about her, but I know a few things and I think she would agree that some of these principles shaped her life.
The Principles:
Love God as your Source of strength and purpose and be committed to him.
Love your family unconditionally—in her case, she was widowed early, raised her twin daughters, and now uses part of her home to allow one of her nieces to run a day care for small children. She also supports the dreams and education and business ideas of her children and grand- children.
Love your country—She was the first woman judge in Costa Rica and the fourth woman attorney. She was an ambassador to the United States and visited the White House and learned to speak English. To this day, she still offers advice to the President of Costa Rica about matters that concern working women and single mothers.
Love your neighbors—She embraced me from the moment we met and made me a friend, sharing her wisdom and her kindness with me.
Love what you can still do—At ninety years old, she can no longer do everything, but she does everything she can…baking breads for her family, adding to the joy of any celebration with the twinkle in her eye, offering wisdom and grace.

From any standard I could use, this woman is a remarkable success. She was the first in her field to make changes for women in her country, to see that they were properly cared for and legally protected. She was always first to see that her family had what they needed, and she was the first one on her knees when they didn’t.
“Abbey” as the family calls her, is an inspiration and a picture of encouragement. She reminds me that success depends on having an attitude that always seeks to offer the best a person has to give and about putting first things first.
Abbey, I pray God keeps you in good health and joy for many years to come! Thanks for showing me what a successful woman really looks like!