Rediscovering my Pollyanna


By Sharron Kitchen Miller

Let’s be honest. Life is hard. I’d like to think that the positives outweigh the negatives but some years, it’s a toss-up.

Today’s turbulent societal climate of “it’s us or them” adds to the stress of our everyday lives, affects our interactions with those around us and, whether we admit it or not, impacts our overall health. So… after finding this photo from a Christmas long past and remembering the joy I felt in receiving the much loved gift of a 36-inch Pollyanna doll — and yes, ladies and gentlemen, there was only one gift — I’ve made the conscious decision to rediscover: my Pollyanna. Or more precisely, my Pollyanna personality of an earlier time.

By definition, a Pollyanna is irrepressibly optimistic, with a tendency to find good in every situation. Admittedly, that will be a stretch for me, and pretty much anyone I know. But the truth is, we all need to work on our optimism, joy, gratitude, kindness and forgiveness — which I personally find the most difficult, and yet I persist.

The alternative is unacceptable at this point in my life. And by that, I mean navigating the senior citizen aspects of living — the prospect of losing friends and family to sudden death or disease, the uncertainty in our world, and the knowledge that I can neither change the unchangeable nor single-handedly save the planet as hard as I might try.

But what I can do is maintain the optimism that most days sustains me, and I hope that in projecting as much positivity as I can muster through my words and actions, I will encourage others to do the same. I’m willing to bet there’s a little Pollyanna in all of us!

Here’s to holidays past and a hopeful and happy 2020.

Sharron Kitchen Miller, a native of Newport News, is a retired pediatric administrator, community leader and volunteer. She is the widow of Senator John Miller, who represented the 1st Senate District for three terms in the Virginia Senate. She can be reached at

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