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Grow Up And Get Wise!

“So you made a mistake in your past?  Who among us, was never young and stupid at one time or another?  So, you have a few skeletons in your closet…who doesn’t?  I don’t know anyone whose closet is that clean.  Your past does not define who you are now.  It is what you do, and how you live going forward that will ultimately define you and leave a lasting impression on those around you.   When you grow from your mistakes, you have gained that cardinal virtue called wisdom.”

~ Nonnie Jules

Nonnie Jules, founder and President of Rave Reviews Book Club, is a visionary, a creative administrator, is fiercely competitive, and a gifted writer. Besides writing poetry, novels, non-fiction, and her blogs, Nonnie also showcases a collection of original quotes on her website Books By Nonnie , and it is here that I found this quote. I find most of her quotes thought provoking, so I visit her site regularly for pearls of wisdom. Because Nonnie Jules is an inspirational leader, those who know her well like to refer to her as Wonder Woman!

The people I like to associate with, both online and offline, are positive individuals who honestly try to grow as time marches on. I believe that it is this kind of personal development that Nonnie is encouraging with these words. I admire my daughter, who is an insurance executive professionally, and a wife and mom in her personal life. She  refuses to hire negative people or include such individuals in her personal life. She adamantly maintains that negative people just drag her spirit down, and she won’t allow it! As I see it, that is a choice for personal growth.

The first section of the quote points out that none of us go through life as angels. We have hurt others or done things we’d prefer to forget about. Often, when we were younger, we did stupid things! As I read that, I smiled thinking about all the older folks who never grew up and persist in their foolish, self-centered behavior. In my experience, stupidity is not the sole province of the young! For the record, I define stupidity as the refusal to learn. I don’t believe that Nonnie is saying that only the young act foolishly, but it is true that many people do grow out of such behavior as they age. This kind of growth is no accident and it won’t happen just by wishing for it.

As Nonnie puts it, we all have skeletons in our closet. So what? she asks. We do not have to be prisoners of our past! We should never define ourselves by the skeletons, nor should we lock ourselves in that closet or in any other, for that matter. Who we were and what we did are certainly part of who we are today. As Nonnie asserts, who you are now as a person, is defined by how you act now – how you live as you navigate the present and move toward the future. For me, the key idea here is movement. If we stay in our closet, content with who we were, then that’s who we’ll always be. Just as our bodies need movement to function well and remain healthy, so does our spirit. Some people call it our soul, but no matter how you name it, it is our spirit that propels us forward, or not; seeks to learn and improve, or not; and it will define who we are now! That intangible force within us needs to be directed by a mind that is determined to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of personal development. Growth is an act of the will.

As I see it, growth is all-important. The alternative is ugly and tragic. I’ve seen elderly people who are angry, bitter and choose not to see any good in anything. These people may have chosen not to grow, to be negative, and discovered that negativity begets more negativity. It is a never-ending cycle of unhappiness. Nonnie talks in terms of leaving a lasting impression on people. That strikes a chord in me because I believe that we all have a responsibility to make this world a better place. Living as a wholesome and caring individual will not only impress people but it has the potential to inspire them as well. This is a great way to improve our world – to be the agent of positive change for those with whom we have contact. As we grow and become wiser, this enables us to leave a lasting positive impression on others. Wisdom, what a powerful, enviable legacy!


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

18 thoughts on “Grow Up And Get Wise!”

    1. Linda, you discovered that Nonnie Jules enjoys the interaction with her fellow members in the club. She’s not the President who stands aloof from the membership. It is just one of her endearing qualities! Thanks for stopping by and leaving this comment!


  1. Nonnie’s quote is so on point that one should have it as a mantra, especially those who allow their past to cripple their future. It is very easy for one to look back at a traumatizing past, and question one’s ability on the basis of that, to move forward. Indeed, our past should not determine our future. Thank you John for sharing.


  2. What can I say? I am humbled beyond words, and so not worthy of this very gracious surprise!

    Our world is filled with negativity and negative people. The ones that we have so lovingly “labeled” trolls in our industry (you know the one that troll Amazon striking your book down…LOL), seek to do nothing but harm others, for no earthly reason at all, other than the fact that they are miserable, and we know just how much misery loves company.

    As I stated, we all have some kind of skeleton, whether it be that we committed a petty crime and served time in prison for it, or we yelled at the elderly door greeter in Walmart because we were in a nasty mood, or even that we were wrongly accused of something which we might have found to be quite embarrassing. We all have our moments, and yes, at one time or another, we were all young and did stupid things. Heck, I know older folks who are old and still doing stupid things, but my point is, grow from those experiences, don’t hide from them. It’s what you do now, how you live your life now that matters. People change every day and growth is the gift that they give to the world. They become wiser. (Teresa Guidice of Real Housewives fame is spending a year in prison right now for some kind of fraud…let’s hope she will come out holding her head up when it’s all over. It would have been a skeleton in her closet had she not been living her life publicly, but it’s the embarrassment, the shame that initially broke her down).

    John, this post was wonderful and so timely. Thanks for sharing it with us. We so needed to hear this message…and we needed to hear this message today.


  3. Amen to all that, John – especially the bits about Wonder…. Nonnie! 😀

    The older I get the more I’m convinced that positivity is one of the main, if not THE most important survival trait for ‘strong’ human beings. I put the quotation marks on because we all need to find out what our strengths are, not just the physical or mental kind. For me it lay in choosing to break the cycle of acute depressive episodes I had fallen into with my entire lifestyle (not just work, or health, or relationships – everything) and looking inside myself for a way forward that I was solely responsible for instead of deferring to others, or finding excuses not to make drastic changes. Finding the positive, just in myself was the keystone to getting back in control of my life and what I needed/wanted to do with it.

    All of Nonnie’s quote rings true for me in that often paindful process and I’m certain it has resonance for everyone who has the courage to look inside themselves first and foremost and make the decision to strive for meaningful goals to improve and grow strong and happy.


    1. Thanks for sharing your struggles with us, Jan. Growth is never easy nor painless. It really is easier to hide in one’s closet, but it isn’t the life I’ve chosen for myself. I don’t believe that is the path to personal fulfillment and happiness.


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